Eric III of Denmark

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Eric III Lamb
Erik lam.jpg
King of Denmark
Reign 1137–1146[1]
Predecessor Eric II
Successor Sweyn III, Canute V, Valdemar I
Born c. 1120[2]
Died 27 August 1146 (aged 25–26)
Burial St. Canute's Abbey, Odense
Consort Lutgard of Salzwedel
Issue Magnus Eriksen (illegitimate)
Full name
Eric Haakonsen
House House of Estridsen
Father Hakon Sunnivasson
Mother Ragnhild of Denmark

Eric III Lamb (Danish: Erik III Lam) (c. 1120 – 27 August 1146) was the King of Denmark from 1137 until 1146. He was the grandson of Eric I of Denmark and the nephew of Eric II of Denmark, whom he succeeded on the throne. He abdicated in 1146, as the first and only Danish monarch to do so. His succession led to a period of civil war between Sweyn III, Canute V, and Valdemar I.


Eric was born on Funen. His mother was princess Ragnhild of Denmark, the daughter of late Eric I of Denmark,[1] and his father the Danish nobleman Hakon Sunnivasson, a great-grandson of King Magnus the Good of Norway and Denmark.[3] Eric was the nephew of Eric II of Denmark, fighting for him at the decisive Battle of Fotevik in 1134,[4] and succeeded Eric II to the throne when he was murdered in 1137. Not much is known of Eric's kingship.[2] Contemporary chroniclers highly disagree about the personality of this king, and he portrayed both as a passive and irresolute man, as well as an eager and brave fighter.[5]

Eric had to fight for his kingship against his cousin Olaf Haraldsen, sometimes called Olaf II. Olaf established a base of power in Scania in 1139 and tried to conquer the throne from there, until Eric defeated and killed him in 1141 near Helsingborg. During the civil wars, the Wends raided the Danish coasts and sounds without much Danish resistance. Eric supported Magnus the Blind and Sigurd Slembe in the Norwegian civil war.[4] He worked to aggrandize the church, especially St. Canute's Abbey in Odense,[2] and had a close relationship with bishop Eskil of Roskilde.[4]

In 1146, Eric abdicated, as the only Danish king in history,[2] for unknown reasons. He entered St. Canute's Abbey where died there on 27 August 1146, and was buried at the cloister.[4] His abdication has been explained as being rooted either in his realization of his inability to govern,[5] or an illness which ultimately killed him.[4]


His nickname “Lam” means "lamb". This is taken to either reference the Lamb of God as he was seen as a pious man,[1] as describing his mildhearted and generous nature,[4] or indicating a weak and soft king.[5] He married Lutgard of Salzwedel in 1144, which indicated an increasing German influence on Denmark. He and Lutgard did not have any children, though Eric had the son Magnus out of wedlock. After Eric died, Lutgard married Herman II of Winzenburg.[5]



Media related to Eric III of Denmark at Wikimedia Commons

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Monarkiet i Danmark - Kongerækken at The Danish Monarchy
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Erik 3. Lam at Gyldendals Åbne Encyklopædi
  3. Carl Frederik Bricka (1887–1905). "Hakon Jyde". Dansk biografisk Lexikon (in Danish). VI. pp. 489–490. Retrieved 4 February 2011.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Stefan Pajung, Erik Lam ca. 1100-1147, Aarhus University, January 20, 2010
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Carl Frederik Bricka, Dansk Biografisk Lexikon, vol. IV [Clemens - Eynden], 1890, pp.541-542.
Eric Lamb
Born: c. 1100 Died: 27 August 1146
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Eric the Memorable
King of Denmark
Succeeded by
Sweyn III
& Canute V &
Valdemar I