Portrait of Christian II (1481-1559), King of Denmark and Norway (1513-1523), King of Sweden (1520-1521), Duke of Holstein and Schleswig (1513-1523), 1523
Christian II (1 July 1481 – 25 January 1559) was a Scandinavian monarch under the Kalmar Union. He reigned as King of Denmark and Norway from 1513 until 1523 and of Sweden from 1520 until 1521. From 1513 to 1523, he was concurrently Duke of Schleswig and Holstein in joint rule with his uncle Frederick. Christian was the oldest son of King John and belonged to the House of Oldenburg. Denmark was then an elective monarchy in which the nobility elected the new king (from among the sons or close male relatives of the previous monarch), who had to share his power with them. He came into conflict with the Danish nobility when he was forced to sign a charter, more strict than any previous, to ensure his access to the throne. Through domestic reforms he later sought to evade being restricted by the provisions of the charter. Internationally, he tried to maintain the Kalmar Union between the Scandinavian countries which brought him to war with Sweden, lasting between 1518 and 1523. Though he captured the country in 1520, his slaughter of leading Swedish nobility afterwards (known as the Stockholm Bloodbath) made him despised and after a short reign in Sweden, where to this day he is known as Christian the Tyrant (Kristian Tyrann), he was deposed in a rebellion led by the nobleman Gustav Vasa. His problems grew as he tried to limit the influence of foreign trading nations in Denmark. His reign in Denmark and Norway was cut short in 1523 when his uncle deposed him and took the thrones as Frederick I. Christian was exiled to the Netherlands, ruled by his brother-in-law, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. After attempting to reclaim the thrones in 1531, he was arrested and held in captivity for the rest of his life, first in Sønderborg Castle and later at Kalundborg Castle. Supporters tried to restore him to power both during his exile and his imprisonment but they were defeated decisively during the Count's Feud in 1536. In 1515, he married Isabella of Austria, granddaughter of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor. His wife was invited to remain in Denmark rather than live in exile but declined and died in 1526, after which her family took Christian's children from him. Christian tried to have his son John recognized as heir to the throne; however, this was denied and John died a year later. His daughters, Dorothea and Christina, the children of his to survive childhood, also made claims to the throne on behalf of themselves or their children but likewise in vain. Christian was born at Nyborg Castle in 1481 as the son of King John and his wife, Christina of Saxony. He died aged 77, outliving his uncle and his cousin, King Christian III.
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