John III of Sweden

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John III (Swedish: Johan III, Finnish: Juhana III) (20 December 1537 – 17 November 1592) was King of Sweden from 1568 until his death. He was the son of King Gustav I of Sweden and his second wife Margaret Leijonhufvud. He was also quite autonomously the ruler of Finland, as Duke John from 1556 to 1563. In 1581 he assumed also the title Grand Prince of Finland.



He was the second son of Gustav Vasa (1523–1560). His mother was Margareta Leijonhufvud (1514–1551), a Swedish noblewoman. As a Duke of Finland he opposed his half-brother Eric XIV of Sweden (1560–1568) and was imprisoned in 1563. After his release from prison, probably because of his brother's insanity, John again joined the opposition, deposed Eric and made himself the king. His important ally was his maternal uncle Sten Leijonhufvud, who at deathbed was made Count of Raseborg. Shortly after this John executed his brother's most trusted counsellor, Jöran Persson, whom he held largely responsible for his harsh treatment while in prison.

John finished the Scandinavian Seven Years' War in 1570 without many Swedish concessions and during the following years he successfully fought Russia in the Livonian War, concluded by the Treaty of Plussa in 1583, a war that meant a Swedish reconquest of Narva. As a whole his foreign policy was affected by his connection to Poland of which country his son Sigismund III Vasa was made king in 1587.

In domestic politics John showed clear Catholic sympathies, inspired by his Polish queen, a fact that created frictions to the Swedish clergy and nobility. He launched the "Red Book" which reintroduced several Catholic customs. In 1575, he gave his permission for the remaining Catholic convents in Sweden to start receiving novices again. From time to time he was also at odds with his younger brother Duke Charles of Sudermannia (afterwards Charles IX of Sweden). John III was an eager patron of art and architecture.

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