Eric XIV, Swedish: Erik XIV (13 December 1533 – 26 February 1577) was King of Sweden from 1560 until he was deposed in 1568. Eric XIV was the son of Gustav I (1496–1560) and Catherine of Saxe-Lauenburg (1513–1535). He was also ruler of Estonia, after its conquest by Sweden in 1561.
While he has been regarded as intelligent and artistically skilled, as well as politically ambitious, early in his reign he showed signs of mental instability, a condition which eventually led to insanity. Eric suffered from schizophrenia and some scientists claim that his illness burst out early during his reign time and others think that he became sick after the Sture murders. However the psychiatrists who diagnosed him as schizophrenic did not question what the sources said about the king. When Eric XIV was deposed it was important to make sure everybody understood that he was not fit to be king. Today historians have questioned the truth of the sources of the slander of Eric XIV.
Eric, being deposed and imprisoned, in all probability was murdered with arsenic. An examination of his remains in 1958 confirmed that it can safely be assumed he died of arsenic poisoning.
He had been crowned as Eric XIV, but it has been disputed and considered unlikely that he actually was the 14th king of Sweden named Eric. He and his brother Charles IX (1604–1611) adopted numerals according to a mythological History of Sweden. None of the Swedish kings named Eric before this one, of which there have been at least seven, are known to have used numerals. An unsubstantiated saga about the first known of the mythological Swea chieftains named Eric has been staged by some authors in the early 5th century A.D..
Eric XIV was born at Tre Kronor castle, at 9 o'clock in the morning on 13 December 1533. Before the age of two he had lost his mother and his father remarried Margaret Leijonhufvud (1516–1555), a Swedish noblewoman, in 1536.
Eric's first teacher was the learned German Georg Norman, whose services were shortly thereafter needed elsewhere within the Swedish state. He was replaced by French Calvinist Dionysius Beurreus (1500–1567). Dionysius taught both Eric and Johan and seems to have been appreciated by both. Eric was very successful in foreign language and mathematics. He was also an informed historian, good writer and familiar with astrology.
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