The kingdom of Sweden is another European kingdom who’s origins are shrouded in mystery. Many historians believe there has been kingdoms within Sweden since prehistoric times. However, the order of succession to the Swedish crown is also shrouded in mystery and legend.
It is not known when and how the kingdom of Sweden came into existence and although it is believed that there were kings stretching far into antiquity, the majority of historians believe that the kingdom begins with the merging of two separate kingdoms, Svealand (Sweden) and Götaland (Gothia). Both the nation of Sweden and Gothia were two separate nations long before their unification. It is not known how long they existed as separate entities. The epic poem Beowulf describes semi-legendary Swedish-Geatish wars that occurred in the 6th century.
Götaland mainly included the provinces of Östergötland (East Gothia) and Västergötland (West Gothia). The island of Gotland was disputed by other than Swedes. There were times when Danish, Hanseatic, and Gotland-domestic were warring factions amongst one another. Småland was at that time of little interest to any party due to the deep pine forests, and only the city of Kalmar was of importance due to its strategically placed castles.
We also must remember during these ancient times that a king was not the strong rukler of a nation state that they were later to become. At this juncture of history a Swedish king had combined powers limited to that of a war chief, a judge and a priest at the Temple at Uppsala. There were two notable Swedish dynasties The Ynglings and the Skioldungs. The Ynglings were the oldest known Scandinavian dynasty and were from the clans of the Scylfings (Old Norse Skilfingar). Ynglings also refers to the Fairhair dynasty, who were descended from the kings of Oppland, Norway. According to surviving early sources, such as the Ynglingatal and Íslendingabók, the Fairhair kings were descended from the Swedish Scylfings of Uppland, Sweden.
The earliest kings of this dynasty that historians generally agree are historical are Erik the Victorious and Olof Skötkonung. Eric the Victorious (945?-c. 995) was the first Swedish king (reign c. 970-995) about whom anything definite is known. Now whether he actually qualifies as the first King of Sweden has been debated by historians for it was his son, Olof Skötkonung was the first ruler documented to have been king over a unified Sweden.
The numbering of Eric the Victorious creates some problems. As my old post on numbering Swedish kings suggests, many of the ordinal numbers for Swedish kings were the invention of a dreamy eyed chronicler. https://europeanroyalhistory.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/97/
Sometimes, Eric the Victorious is referred to as either King Eric V or VI, and this is a modern inventions based on counting backwards from Eric XIV (1560–68). King Eric XIV adopted his numeral according to a fictitious history of Sweden. Whether or not there were any Swedish monarchs named Eric before Eric the Victorious is disputed, with some historians claiming that there were several earlier Erics.
That concludes this series!! It is interesting to see that the First king of many nations is lost to history and those kings we can point to with some certainty may not have been the first king after all.