Statesman and Duke. He was the founder of the royal branch of the powerful Bielbo Dynasty (called the Folkung until recently) and supported King Eric the Lisper-and-Halter whose sister Princess Ingiburga he married. He helped the royal party triumph over the revolt by Prince Hollinger in 1247. For that, Birger was created Sweden's last Jarl the following year, an epithet that has become a part of his name and later developed in England as the (lower) title of Earl. He henceforth was the mightiest magnate in the land, and the very first Swedish duke, Duke of Sweden. He achieved the support of the Roman church by agreeing to reforms put through at a big religious meeting that same year. Through his crusade to Finland, these eastern areas of the realm were firmly secured and remained a part of Sweden for over 550 years. The childless king died in 1250 and the duke protected his interests, and stayed in power, by having his seven-year-old son Waldemar elected to the throne, smashing another revolt by competitors the next year. Early in the 1250's he had begun his activity as a major national legislator, enacting laws of inheritance for women and some personal freedom for both sexes. Sweden as a nation, along with royal power, was strengthened firmly under Birger's rule. He also conducted an active foreign policy, particularly aimed at cooperation between Sweden and Norway, and took steps to bolster international commerce. One measure was to build a new city of a continental type around the castle fortress that had been all there was to Stockholm until then. He also built castles in several other places. Duke Birger was a descendant of the Emperor Charlemagne through his father Magnus Minishield, and his mother Princess Ingrid Wolfa, descended from the Sweartgarian dynasty of Swedish kings. The Magnus name prevalent in this family comes from Carolus Magnus, Charlemagne's Latin name. As married to Princess Ingiburga, Birger was actually Sweden's first prince consort. They had his six children, two of them subsequent kings. After her death he married dowager Queen Matilda of Denmark, the widow of King Abel of that country. Birger died at Jälbolung, which probably is the village of Lagmanstorp in Long, near the town of Vara in West Gothland. Doubts raised before about the site of his grave were dispelled recently by meticulous examination of it at Varnhem. Monuments in honor of Duke Birger include his magnificent cenotaph and his fantasy statue, both in Stockholm.
Bio by: Count Demitz
Ingrid Wolfa of Sweden