Catherine of Ymseborg

Catherine Sunadotter

Tomb of Catherine
Queen consort of Sweden
Tenure 1244–1250
Born 1215
Died 1252
Gudhem Abbey
Burial Gudhem Abbey
Spouse Eric XI of Sweden
House House of Bjelbo
Father Sune Folkason
Mother Helena Sverkersdotter of Sweden

Catherine Sunadotter of Ymseborg (Swedish: Karin Sunadotter av Ymseborg or Katarina Sunesdotter), (c. 12151252), was a Swedish queen, wife of King Eric XI of Sweden and queen consort of Swedes and Goths from 1244 to 1250. In her later years she served as abbess of Gudhem Abbey.

Heir of the Sverker dynasty

Catherine was the eldest daughter of Helena Sverkersdotter and Sune Folkason. Catherine did not have any brothers, but a sister, Benedikte Sunesdotter of Bjelbo. Catherine's maternal grandparents were King Sverker II and Queen Benedicta. Descending from the families of Bjelbo and Sverker, she was a member of one of the Geatish clans. Catherine's father Sune Folkason was Lord of Ymseborg, lawspeaker of Västergötland, and in some literature he is referred to as Earl of the Swedish.

Queen of Sweden

Eric XI (1215–50) of the Eric dynasty became king in 1222 and was exiled by co-king Canute II of Sweden from 1229 to 1234. Eric returned to Sweden on Canute's death in 1234 and served as king until his own death in 1250. Young Eric was, according to semi-legendary material, physically lame and spoke with a stutter ("läspe och halte"), and he was reportedly of a kindly nature. Eric and Catherine were married in order to strengthen Eric's claim to the throne, as Catherine was of royal blood on her mother's side. The marriage took place in 1243 or 1244, at Fyrisängen near Uppsala. Catherine had received an immense dower upon the marriage: some legends speak romantically about "half the kingdom".

Since she immediately devoted herself to a sequestered religious life and not to family at Eric's death, the conclusion has tended to be that they did not have any surviving children. The underage Valdemar Birgersson, a nephew of king Eric, was chosen as the next King of Sweden.

Queen dowager and abbess

Upon the death of her husband, the now Queen Dowager retreated to Gudhem Abbey. Because Scandinavian customary law dictated that no clan property could be held by a member of a religious order, she transferred some lands, including her queenly dower, to certain relatives and gave others as donations to ecclesiastical institutions. For example, her sister Benedikta received as a gift from her the town of Söderköping, one of the Queen's dower possessions. The Queen Dowager soon became the Abbess of Gudhem Abbey, and served in that position until her death there in 1252.




Katarina Sunesdotter
Born: 1215 Died: 1252
Swedish royalty
Preceded by
Helena Pedersdotter
Queen consort of Sweden
Succeeded by
Sofia Eriksdotter
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