Philippa of England

Photo of stained glass window depicting Philippa of England, queen of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, at Vadstena Monastery (1890s). Image Credit: WikiCommons

By Gabby Storey

Philippa was born to Henry Bolingbroke, later Henry IV, and Mary de Bohun, at Peterborough Castle in 1394. As with many royal children she is occasionally mentioned for travels and appearances at ceremonies, such as Henry’s wedding to Joan of Navarre.

The marital alliance between England and the Kalmar Union was proposed in 1400/01 by Henry to Margaret I, however it did not develop due to disagreement regarding the terms of the alliance. In 1405, a Scandinavian embassy negotiated the marriage between Philippa and Eric of Pomerania, the heir to the Kalmar Union.

Though Eric was proclaimed king of Denmark and Sweden in 1396, and Norway in 1389, Margaret continued to rule until her death in 1412. Despite this, upon the proxy marriage between Philippa and Eric on 26 November 1405, Philippa was proclaimed queen of the three realms.

Their wedding took place in Lund Cathedral on 26 October 1406, followed by her coronation. Philippa and Eric spent their initial years at Kalmar Castle, Sweden, before mainly residing in Denmark.

As with many queens Philippa was an active religious patron, with a particular interest in the Bridgettine order. She was also involved heavily in state affairs, being appointed regent in 1420 in the case of Eric’s death, and to act as regent for his successor if a minor.

She was active as regent from 1423 to 1425 whilst Eric was on pilgrimage, acting as a diplomat and intercessor, negotiating with the Hanseatic League during a dispute. She held substantial dower lands across the three realms and undoubtedly her revenues played a role in her competency as an administrator and political power.

In late 1429 Philippa travelled to Vadstena Abbey, Sweden, and fell ill shortly after her arrival. She later bore a stillborn boy and deteriorated after the birth, dying on 5 January 1430. She was buried at Vadstena Abbey, a site which had benefited from her patronage during her reign.

Recommended Reading

L. Daae, “Erik af Pommerns, Danmarks, Sveriges og Norges Konges, giftermaal med Philippa, prindsesse af England,” Norskt Historiskt Tidsskrift 1880: 362-363.

Terje Bratberg, “Filippa av England,” 29 June 2022.

Vivian Etting, Queen Margrete I (1353-1412) and the Founding of the Nordic Union (Leiden: Brill, 2004).

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