Gustav Erikson was born at the Rydaholm Castle into the well-off Vasa noble family. His father was Erik Johansson Vasa, and his mother was Cecilia Mansdotter Eka.
Resistance Against The Kalmar Union
In the 14th century, Sweden entered into the Kalmar Union with Denmark and Norway. However, Sweden lacked authority in the relationship, and Gustav’s childhood was full of Swedish uprisings in the hope of making Sweden an independent nation. One particular favorite of the family was Sten Sture the Younger, who fought against the Danish King Christian II. After Sture defeated Christian in the battle of Brannkyrka, the two men agreed to meet to discuss negotiations. However, Christian never showed up and instead took the Swedes hostage, including Gustav.
Gustav managed to escape by disguising himself as a bullocky, which, to his dismay, earned him the nicknames Gustav Cow Butt and King Oxtail.
The Stockholm Bloodbath
Christian II eventually defeated Sture and took over as King of Sweden. After promising peace to all his former enemies, the new King invited everyone to a coronation festival. Once the festivities ended, however, Sture’s supporters were put into prison, and nearly 100 people were executed in the public square. Among these were the Swedish nobles, including Gustav’s father, uncles, and nephew.
Gustav Takes Over
After a series of rebellions, Christian II was overthrown, and Gustav was eventually elected as King. Eleven days later, Gustav entered Stockholm and ended Sweden’s participation in the Kalmar Union. He was later named Gustav Vasa or Gustav I after his crowning on January 12, 1528.
The Legacy of Gustav I
Under the reign of Gustav I, Sweden cut ties with the Roman Catholic Church and the Norwegian Supremacy. He also worked to bring about a reformation in the country through increased taxes and replacing noblemen and clergymen with governors and appointed bishops. He is widely considered the father of the nation and the founder of modern Sweden.
Gustav ruled for 37 years, the longest in Swedish history at the time, until his death on September 29, 1560.