Christian II’s expedition to Norway 1531

Danish Bible 1500 - Christian 2

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Christian II (1481-1559) ruled Denmark and Norway from 1513 to 1523 as well as Sweden for some of that time, from 1520 to 1521. In Sweden, Christian II is best known for the Stockholm Massacre of November 1520. Immediately following his coronation as King of Sweden, he had more than 80 members of the Swedish aristocracy executed in Stockholm even though he had promised amnesty to everyone who had supported his Swedish opponent, Sten Sture.

Shortly thereafter, Gustav Vasa rose rapidly to reign Sweden and, when the country claimed independence from Denmark and the Kalmar Union, King Christian became known as ‘Kristian Tyrann’ (Christian Tyrant) as a result of the massacre. His tyrannical nature was described in official Swedish propaganda, and Swedish war songs derided and threatened him. In the writings of Laurentius Petri and Peder Swart, who chronicled the period of Gustav Vasa, Christian was condemned, and even the new king Gustav’s Swedish enemies, such as Johannes Magnus and Olaus Magnus, disapproved of Christian. This was most likely because they were Catholics and wished to distance themselves from Christian’s interest in Luther’s teachings.

In 1523 King Christian II. of Denmark was expelled from Denmark, while Sweden reestablished her independence. Søren Norby, King Christian’s Captain on Gotland, held his position until 1525 when he even attempted to start a rebellion in Skåne (Scania), but failed. With him, Christian lost his last supporter of rank in the Kalmar Union kingdoms.
Christian II. went to the court of Charles V. and gained his favour. In exile Christian led a humble life in the city of Lier in the Netherlands (now in Belgium), waiting for military help from his brother-in-law Charles V. Christian corresponded with Martin Luther and he became a Lutheran for some time; he even commissioned a translation of the New Testament into Danish. Isabella died in January 1526, and Christian’s children were taken by her family so as not to be raised as heretics.

Christian had reverted to Catholicism by 1531, and reconciled with the Emperor.

The Expedition

In 1531 he went to the Netherlands (King Christian II. had a Dutch mistress, the mother of which was one of his principle advisers) and prepared an expedition against Norway. Norway was the most neglected of Scandinavia’s three kingdoms; while Denmark and Sweden had expelled King Christian, Norway had not formally revoked her loyalty to the king.

On 24 October 1531 Christian II left the harbour of Medemblik, Holland and sailed to Norway. Among his leaders where Kort Pfenning as highest leader, Eberhard Quelaker og Meinhard v. Hamm which all played an vital role in the battles that followed. Further more there was Skipper Klement, Hans Bogbinder and the exiled Swede Thure Jønsøn from the family “Tre Roser”, close friend with Knut Alvssøn.

The towns of holland had provided him with twelve ships, although he asked for 30 ships. The total fleet must have been bigger since his army counted between 7000 and 8000 men (Some sources count 6-7000). On the morning of 25 October 1531 there was was a formidable Storm hitting the fleet from East Southeast that lasted for several days and split up the fleet and artillery had to be trown over board and the War Chest was totally lost in one of the sunk ships. In November 1531 Christian II landed on the south coast of Norway (Hesnes, Fjære), but had lost many ships in the stormy voyage. Some of the ships ended up over at Scotlands coast, one went under with everyone on board. One founderd outside Ems, others outside of Jyllands coats, and others again outside Jæren and Ryfylke. But some of the ships got safely into the Coast of Bohuslen and Halland, Sweden. Only four (4) ships survived the voyage and landed at Hesnes. From Hesnes to Oslo another Storm came upon them, and more damage was made,

On 9th and 10th of November Christian II landed his approx.. 1200 men in Oslo without any resistance from the people.He was proclaimed king of Norway 29 November. However, even though Cristian gain support from Archbishop Olav, nobility, burghers and farmers he was not able to take Akershus Castle. After giving up the struggle the following year, Christian’s fleet was destroyed by an army of 6000 men coming from Denmark May 1532. On July 1st, Christian II. surrendered to his uncle Frederik I. after negotiation (Convention of Oslo). Later that year, trusting in safe passage granted to him by King Frederik I. of Denmark, King Christian II. travelled there, only to be arrested and incarcerated at Sønderborg Castle and after 1549 at Kalundborg Castle. Christian II died 77 years old 25 January 1559.

The Legacy

King Frederik I. removed his rival without a sword being drawn; Danish rule in Norway would soon be restored, the Lutheran Reformation introduced in both countries (1536, 1537).
King Christian II.’s expedition had a side effect : the Netherlands depended on grain imports, the grain originating from Poland and being shipped through the Øresund (Sound), which again was controlled by Denmark. King Frederik I. interpreted Dutch support for King Christian II. as a hostile act, and, together with Lübeck, blocked the Sound for Dutch ships, causing a famine in the Netherlands

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