Scandinavian countries in the 12th-15th centuries

Since the XII century, the population of Northern Europe has been growing rapidly. With the cessation of marches, the main source of the nobility’s profits is agriculture, so it starts actively appropriating land. Some of the free peasants found themselves in land dependence. The land was distributed to peasants for temporary use, for which it was necessary to pay the rent in kind. However, many peasants still retained the right to own land. They were obliged to pay taxes to the state.

The championship among the countries of Scandinavia belonged to Denmark. The Danish king had subjects more than the Swedish and Norwegian combined. The advantages of Denmark were that it owned large areas and straits that connected the Atlantic, the North and the Baltic Seas.

Danes grew quickly in Denmark. Thus, in 1167, Copenhagen was founded, the future capital of the country. From the second half of the XII century. the main support of the Danish king is the knight army.


the strengthening of royal power, each of the three northern states led an aggressive foreign policy. In the XII century. Denmark directed its forces against the Baltic and Pomeranian Slavs, conducting them under the slogan of the Crusades. The Slavs were conquered, forcibly baptized and taxed. At the beginning of the XIII century. Denmark conquered Northern Estonia.

In 1219 the Estonians submitted to the Danish king Valdemar the Victory, who wanted to baptize them. But at night they came to the Danish camp, killed the bishop and drove the Crusaders to the sea. In the legend it is told that the fate of the battle changed only when a red cross with a white cross from the skies and a voice sounded, urging the Danes to gather around it. Waldemar defeated and founded the city of Tallinn, and the red cross with a white cross became the national flag of the Danes. Tallinn is now the capital of Estonia.

Sweden conquered part of Finland, the power of Norwegian kings recognized Greenland and Iceland.

From the middle of the XIV century. In the Scandinavian countries the influence of the German Hansa intensified.

The dominance of the Hanseatic merchants was especially dangerous for Denmark. An attempt by the Danish king Valdemar IV to throw off the Hanseatic trade domination led to a war that ended in the defeat of Denmark.

To protect against the onslaught of the Hansa and the north-German princes, three Scandinavian countries decided to unite. In 1397 Denmark, Norway and Sweden concluded the Kalmar Union. Its name, she learned from the Swedish city of Kalmar, where she was signed. The inspiration of the union was the Danish Queen Margaret, daughter of Valdemar IV. Under the terms of the union, all the three countries were distributed to lay one king, but in each of the states their laws and authorities remained. The primacy in the union belonged to Denmark, and the full power assumed by Queen Margaret, the king became her relative Erik Pomeransky. However, at the end of the XV century. Sweden and Norway began an active struggle to break the union and their own independence.

1397. From the Treaty of Union of Denmark, Sweden and Norway

1) First of all, from now on, these three kingdoms must have one king, namely King Eric, until his death. Then these three kingdoms must forever have one king, and no more, over all three kingdoms, so that if the will of the Lord is ever again not separated. Then, after the death of this king, over all three kingdoms must choose and proclaim one king and no more, and no kingdom dares to proclaim the king without the full consent and approval of all three kingdoms…

2) And all three kingdoms must live in love and harmony… However, if one of the kingdoms starts a war, any attack by foreigners, then it will concern all three; everyone must help the other with all devotion and all the strength, so that the kingdom remains in its own law and law.

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Scandinavian countries in the 12th-15th centuries