Eriksgata

Eriksgata

Eriksgata is the name of the traditional journey of the newly elected medieval Swedish kings through the important provinces to have their election confirmed by the local assemblies. The actual election took place at the Stone of Mora in Uppland and participation was originally restricted to the people in Uppland or Svealand, hence the need for having the election confirmed by the other regions. The Eriksgata gradually lost its influence when representatives from almost all parts of Sweden participated in the election at the stone of Mora from the 14th century. After 1544 the Swedish king was no longer elected and instead inherited his throne. This meant that the Eriksgata thereafter had only symbolic importance. The last king to travel the Eriksgata according to the old law was Charles IX (1604-1611). Later kings have made visits to Swedish provinces and called them a "Eriksgata", but those visits have no resemblance to the old medieval tradition.

The earliest reference of an Eriksgata is probably from Saxo Grammaticus who c. 1200 wrote about the struggle for the Swedish crown in the 1120s in his Gesta Danorum. But the tradition is probably much older than that.

The Eriksgata journey was not without risks since there is at least one example of a king being killed during his Eriksgata. This is the incident from the 1120s that Saxo Grammaticus and also the appendix to the Västgöta law have recorded. According to these sources, the newly elected king Ragnvald Knaphövde decided carelessly to refuse to have a customary hostage of local noblemen with him while travelling through Västergötland. This was done dispite the fact that a pretender to the throne had gained support in the province. According to Västgötalagen was Ragnvald's decision taken as an insult to the people of Västergötland, as he showed that he did not fear them. The people of Västergötland took however advantage of this and killed him in Karlepitt (an unknown location in Västergötland).

External links

* [http://www.kulturarvostergotland.se/eriksgata/index.htm Eriksgata in Östergötland]


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