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The Riksklämman

942640.

SWEDEN. Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson. Viceroy, 1435–1436. Medallic AR Seal (31mm, 15.22 g, 12h). Commemorating the New National Seal Designed in 1436. Struck 1914. Sanctus ericus tuevorum gothorum rex Sigillum regni Svecie (the Swedish seal of Saint Eric, king of the Suebi and Gothi), the Riksklämman: Sankt Erik standing right, holding lance and coat-of-arms of Sweden; polylobe around / + Engelbertus populi vindex +/Libertas res optima (Engelbertus, the people’s choice; liberty above all), coat-of-arms of Engelbrektsson. EF, darkly toned.

The Great Seal of Sweden

The Riksklämman, or great national seal, was introduced in 1436 following the rebellion of Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson, which saw the deposition of Erik of Pomerania two years prior. Engelbrektsson was appointed to a military office as a Rikshövitsman in 1435, though his efforts to advance the cause of the working poor were exploited by the Swedish nobility, and his position within the Estates of Sweden was diminished in favor of Karl Knutsson Bonde in 1436. Assassinated later that year, he became a martyr and national hero, and decades later was viewed as a civil protector against the nobility, as indicated by the reverse of the medal above.

The obverse of this medal, as well as the central element in the Riksklämman itself, is the depiction of Erik IX den helige, the pseudo-legendary ruler of Sweden during the mid 12th century, whose ordinal number is a modern convention when Swedish royal history was anachronistically reckoned in the late 16th century. As no written records survived pertaining to his rule, information known about him was based upon subsequent legends aimed at establishing his sainthood. According to some of these tales, he did a great deal to consolidate and spread Christianity throughout the realm, as well as codify the laws of the kingdom. Other miraculous legends surround his death, which has been portrayed through art as having occurred during Mass with Bishop Henry of Uppsala, such as the appearance of a fountain springing forth from his head after its decapitation.