Sunday, 8 December 2013

The Royal mistress blamed for a King's deposition

Cecilia was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Philippa - born the daughter of Henry IV of England and married King Eric (1381-1459) of Denmark, Sweden and Norway - and became the mistress to King Eric, and later his second wife.

King Eric
King Eric had been described by Pope Pius II as having;

 "a beautiful body, reddish yellow hair, a ruddy face and a long narrow neck ... alone, without assistance and without touching the stirrups, he jumped upon a horse, and all women were drawn to him, especially the Empress, in a feeling of longing for love"

Cecilia became King Eric's mistress after the death of his wife Queen Philippa in 1430 and they were married morganatically some time after this. The relationship was unfavourable to the nobility and royal court and was seen as a great scandal; the royal council made official complaints about the relationship to the king and wanted the lady to be removed. Queen Philippa had been greatly popular and she had been a capable and beloved queen, often acting as the regent for the kingdom even when her husband was present, therefore it is possible that much of this dislike stemmed from the nobles having adored the queen and finding the king's behaviour since her death as dishonouring her.
Queen Philippa
In 1436 an event occurred which demonstrates the lengths that the nobility of King Eric's kingdom went to to display their dislike of Cecilia.
At this time King Eric fled his royal court and went to the island of Gothland where they would remain for about ten years, with Cecilia and the crown jewels and any valuables they could carry. One of these valuables was the golden goose weather-cock that sat upon the Goose Tower of Vordingborg Castle; a castle that was owned by a powerful nobleman; Sir Oluf Axelsen Thott. 
One day Sir Oluf was riding with his squires in the area of Vordingborg when they came upon a lady riding in a queen's coach. The squires recognised who she was and got off their horses to bow to her, they explained to Sir Oluf who she was, which he responded to by ordering his men to pull the lady out of the carriage and bring her to him. Sir Oluf grabbed Cecilia and bent her over his knees and smacked her on her bottom three times, possibly with his sword, like a naughty child. Sir Oluf then told her;

"Take that to your lord, and tell him by your bad influence you will some day cause his separation from Denmark." 

A letter was written to the Pope to inform of this event taking place, and his simple response was; 

"Valde amarum est" (It is very bitter)

The words of Sir Oluf became a reality when King Eric was deposed from the kingdoms of Sweden and Denmark in 1439 as well as Norway in 1440. He and Cecilia went to live in Pomerania where they made a living by piracy against the merchant trade in the Baltic, after 1439 there are no further written records of Cecilia.

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