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pleasure, and such a liking for bad favourites, that the people in both countries soon lost all their love and respect for them."

Things went on from bad to worse until at last, in the year 1350, the king's elder son, Prince Erik, put himself at the head of a large army of the best men in the kingdom of Sweden, and demanded that his parents should send away their unworthy favourite, Bengl Algotsson. At the same time the Norwegians demanded to have Hakon, the second son of King Magnus, to govern them; and thus the people in both kingdoms showed how glad they would be to get rid of their weak king. The sudden death of Prince Erik caused very great sorrow amongst the Swedes, who thought that he had died by poison given to him by his mother, Queen Blanka. Magnus in the meanwhile still further enraged his subjects by the friendship he showed towards King Valdemar Atterdag of Denmark, who had had the craft to regain the provinces of Skaania, Halland, and Bleking in return for a promise of help against the Swedish Council of State, and thus Sweden lost those valuable districts, which the people had hoped would remain for ever united with the Swedish crown lands. When it was known that Valdemar had induced Magnus to agree to a marriage between his little daughter Margaret and Hakon, heir to Norway and Sweden, the Council of State did their best to prevent it, and at first it seemed as if the plans of the Danish king would all be thwarted, for by their advice, young King Hakon withdrew his consent to marry Margaret, and offered to take Elizabeth of Holstein, as his people wished, to be his queen. But soon after this marriage appeared to be settled, everything was again upset, and Hakon became reconciled to his mother and his father, and went to Copenhagen to marry the little Princess Margaret. In the meanwhile, as we have seen in a former chapter, poor Elizabeth, who had set sail for Sweden, lost both husband and freedom; for having been driven by stress of weather into a Danish port, she was detained there, on some pretence or other, for a long time by King Valdemar, and at last she had to send for help to her brothers before she could regain her liberty. After the marriage of his son and the little Danish princess King Magnus, thinking he might now take his own way, ordered twenty-four of the first nobles of Sweden, against whom he had some ill-will, to leave the kingdom without delay, and not return till he gave them permission, on pain of being outlawed.

1 The nickname Smck was given to Magnus to betoken his low vicious habits.

The outlawed nobles made haste to leave Sweden, but it was only to betake themselves to the court of Mecklenburg, where they offered the Swedish crown to Albert, Count of Mecklenburg, son of King Magnus's only sister Euphemia. The count accepted their offer with joy, and in the autumn of the same year, 1363, he landed in Sweden, together with the twenty-four banished nobles, and was at once chosen king by the Great Thing, which at the same time declared that Magnus and Hakon had both forfeited the allegiance of the people on account of their want of good faith to their own subjects, and their friendly conduct to the enemies of the kingdom. In a battle fought between the rival kings at Enköping in 1365, Magnus was taken captive, and not again set free till 1371, when by a treaty between Albert of Sweden and Hakon of Norway, it was settled that he might enjoy certain revenues and remain with his son, on condition that he made no attempt to regain the Swedish crown. His death in the year 1374 freed Albert of Mecklenburg from the chief cause of disturbance in his new possessions, for King Hakon never showed any wish to get back the Swedish crown for himself.

PART IV.

SWEDEN UNDER FOREIGN RULE.

Albert, 1363–1389.-Albert had been chosen by the nobles of Sweden under the idea that he would be a mere puppet in their hands, but they found that his obstinacy made him less easy to manage than they had supposed ; and their anger was soon turned against the crowd of Germans who had followed him into Sweden, and to whom he had given all the offices of state that he could dispose of. Hatred of the foreigners made many of the knights and lesser nobles join the Bondar in an attempt to bring back King Magnus, and they ali united together in an appeal to the Council of State, praying them to relieve the nation of their heavy burdens. But the great nobles cared very little about the troubles of the poorer people, and so in spite of their own causes of discontent against the king, they did nothing to help their countrymen. What made matters worse was that the Hansers gave their support to the German king, and in return for great privileges in their trade, guarded the shores of Sweden for him and kept him free from all attacks by sea.

Bo Jonsson rules. After a time, however, the Council of State took offence at Albert's conduct, and they made him understand that, if he wished to keep the crown of Sweden, he must not put his German friends into the command of the royal fortresses, or attempt to raise them above the Swedish nobles; indeed, they even threatened to depose him at once if he did not obey their directions. Then King Albert to save himself, made choice in 1371 of Bo Jonsson, the richest noble in Sweden, to be his all powerful Helper,as he called it, and to rule for him “over his court, his house, his lands, his officers, and servants, to choose the members of the Council of State when any should be removed by death, and in all things to enjoy the same power as himself.” From that time till his death, in 1385, Bo Jonsson "ruled the land with a glance of his eye,” as the Rhyming Chronicle of those times expresses it; but nothing could exceed the licence of the nobles at this period, for they and the knights and bishops carried on their private quarrels without any regard to the laws. Bo Jonsson himself on one occasion followed his foe, the knight Karl Nilsson, into the church of the Franciscans at Stockholm, and hacked him to pieces before the high altar. Where the great men of the land could do such deeds without being punished for them, the poorer classes had little chance of meeting with right and justice.

When Bo Jonsson died, King Albert thought that there was a good chance for him to free himself from the power of the nobles, but the latter were not so easily put down, and after a fierce civil war and much trouble the heirs of Bo Jonsson, to whom he had left by will all his power in the state, as if it were his own to dispose of, made an offer of the throne to Queen Margaret of Denmark and Norway.

This act was the signal for new wars and fresh troubles of every kind. The Hansers and some of the German princes sent ships and troops to Sweden to help King Albert, and a small number of Swedes still held to him, but this they did less from regard for his person, than from the hatred which they bore to Denmark, and the fear they had of having a Danish ruler over them. Between pirates and armed foes threatening the coasts, and war on land, with bad crops, famine and disease in all parts of the kingdom, few nations could have been in a worse state than the Swedes at that time.

Margaret in Sweden.—Margaret proved a far more dangerous foe to King Albert than any he had ever had to deal with, as he found to his cost, in spite of his folly in despising her. As soon as she had formally accepted the offer of the Swedish crown made to her by Bo Jonsson's heirs and some of their friends, she lost no time in sending an army_into Sweden, which gave Albert's German troops battle at Falköping and defeated them; after which she kept Albert and his son shut up in prison till the year 1395. When he was set free, King Albert found he could no longer stay in Sweden, and he then returned to his old home in Mecklenburg, where he spent the rest of his days, in neglect and want, and died, it is said, in the same year as Queen Margaret. As his only son had lost his life in 1397, there was no one of the family left to dispute the claims of Margaret's adopted son and heir, Erik of Pomerania, to be king of Sweden after her.

Queen Margaret ruled the Swedish kingdom so ably, and managed the nobles so cleverly, that none of them seemed to have thought of going against her wishes, although she called upon them to pay taxes, and to give back the castles and lands which they held in pawn, and to do many other things which former kings of Sweden had never asked of their subjects without getting themselves into trouble, and running the risk of losing the crown. Margaret even persuaded the Swedes in 1396-although much against their will—to crown her nephew Erik, and to do homage to him as joint king with herself. Not content with this, she induced them in the following year tə consent to the union of the kingdom of Sweden with Norway and Denmark under one ruler. But although as long as she lived she kept the Swedish people quiet, and content to have a foreign ruler over them, it was very different when she was no longer at hand to maintain peace amongst them.

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