Many cities in Sweden turn 600 this year thanks to 'Erik'
Happy 600th birthday Landskrona and Hjo! These two cities have Erik av Pommern (Eric of Pomerania) to thank for their existence. Born in Darlowo in today’s Poland in 1381 or 1382, Erik was the first king of the Nordic Kalmar Union, succeeding his adoptive mother Margaret I of Denmark.

Erik was quite a city builder. “It was a way for the state to strengthen its power,” says Thomas Lindkvist, professor in history at Göteborg University, about the privileges Erik handed out. These privileges gave the state control over commerce and income, and in the end the king (Erik) got both money and power.


The Swedish cities at the time were for the most part located along the east coast and the shores of Lake Mälaren. Not so much on the west coast, but in 1413, that all changed. In Hjo (located inland in Västra Götaland), it was trade that triggered growth; in the village of Åtvidaberg, it was copper; and for the Danes having a harbor in Landskrona became a great source of income. It should be added that the word “city” didn’t mean what it means today. There were in those days “cities” with no more than 20 households, since in 1413 the population in all of Sweden totaled 350,000.