Eric I of Denmark

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Eric I[1] (c. 1060 – 10 July 1103), also known as Eric the Good,[2][3][4] (Danish: Erik Ejegod), was King of Denmark following his brother Olaf I Hunger in 1095. He was a son of Sweyn II. His mother's identity is unknown. He married Boedil Thurgotsdatter.


File:Eric I of Denmark.JPG
Plaque commemorating Eric I's burial in Paphos, Cyprus

Eric was born in the town of Slangerup in North Zealand. During the rule of his half-brother Canute IV he was an eager supporter of the king, but he was spared during the rebellion against Canute IV. Eric remained at the royal farm instead of accompanying Canute IV to St Albans priory in Odense where Canute IV was killed. Eric talked his way off the farm and fled to Zealand then fled to Scania which was part of Denmark at the time. Olaf I Hunger was elected King of Denmark, but his reign was short. At last Eric was elected as a king at the several landsting assemblies in 1095. Eric was well liked by the people and the famines that had plagued Denmark during Olaf Hunger's reign ceased. For many it seemed a sign from God that Eric was the right king for Denmark.

Medieval chroniclers, such as Saxo Grammaticus, and myths portrayed Eric a “strapping fellow” appealing to the common people. He could keep his place when four men tried their best to move him. Eric was a good speaker, people went out of their way to hear him. After a ting assembly concluded, he went about the neighborhood greeting men, women and children at their homesteads. He had a reputation as a loud man who liked parties and who led a rather dissipated private life. Though a presumed supporter of a strong centralized royal power, he seems to have behaved like a diplomat avoiding any clash with the magnates. He had a reputation for being ruthless to robbers and pirates.

On a visit to the Pope in Rome he obtained canonization for his late brother, Canute IV, and an archbishopric for Denmark (now Lund in Scania), instead of being under the Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen. Bishop Asser then became the first Archbishop of Lund.

King Eric announced at the Viborg assembly that he had decided to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The cause, according to Danmarks Riges Krønike, was the murder of four of his own men while drunk at a feast in his own hall. Despite the pleadings of his subjects, he would not be deterred. Eric appointed his son, Harald Kesja, and Bishop Asser as regents.

Eric and Boedil and a large company traveled through Russia to Constantinople where he was a guest of the emperor. While there, he became ill, but took ship for Cyprus anyway. He died at Paphos, Cyprus in July 1103. The queen had him buried there. He was the first king to go on pilgrimage after Jerusalem was conquered during the First Crusade.[5] Queen Boedil also became ill, but made it to Jerusalem where she died. She was buried at the foot of the Mount of Olives in the Valley of Josaphat.

File:Erik Ejegod.JPG
Memorial stone in Borgvold, Viborg, Denmark


Eric and Boedil had one legitimate son, Canute Lavard. Harald Kesja was Canute's half-brother. Eric had two sons outside marriage Eric II the Memorable and Benedict, and the daughter Ragnhilde (mother of the future king Eric III Lamb).[6]

Canute Lavard was king Eric's eldest son, and he was a chivalrous and popular Danish prince. Canute was murdered 7 January 1131 by Eric's nephew Magnus the Strong, the son of King Niels, who viewed Canute as a likely competitor for the throne. Canute's death occurred days before the birth of his child, Valdemar I the Great, who would become King of Denmark from 1157 to 1182. Eric Ejegod is the ancestor of later Danish monarchs.



  1. Sifakis, Carl (1984). The Dictionary of Historic Nicknames. Facts on File Publications. ISBN 0-87196-561-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Dunham, Samuel (1839). The cabinet cyclopaedia: History of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, Vol. 2. Longman, Orme, Brown, Green & Longmans and John Taylor.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Eiríkr, Magnússon; Morris, William (1905). The Saga Library, Vol. 6. B. Quaritch.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Vigfússon, Guðbrandur; Sæmunder, Edda; Powell, Frederick York (1883). Corpus Poeticvm Boreale: The Poetry of the Old Northern Tongue, from the Earliest Times to the Thirteenth Century, Vol. 2. Clarendon Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Denmark and Cyprus pay tribute to 12th century king". Reuters. 26 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Huitfeldt, Arild. Danmarks Riges Krønike
Eric Evergood
Born: c. 1060 – Slangerup Died: July 10 1103
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Olaf I
King of Denmark
Succeeded by