Researchers puzzled as grave did not hold remains of medieval Swedish king


Earlier this year, researchers in Sweden excavated what they believe was the tomb of King Magnus Ladulås (1240-1290) at Riddarholmen Church in Stockholm, hoping to learn more about the medieval Swedish ruler and his family. But DNA tests have revealed that the bodies of nine people buried in the tomb actually died sometime between 1430 and 1520.

Records show that the King Magnus wished to have his remains buried in the church, and in 1573 the Swedish King, Johan III erected a sarcophagus with an effigy on top of what he believed was the location of the tomb.

The researchers said on their blog: “It is a fantastic story that is rolled up in front of our eyes. Johan II had the impressive tomb put up above the wrong grave and this historical hoax has been unchallenged for 400 years! On good grounds we believe instead that Magnus Ladulås was placed in the southern tomb in front of the choir, i.e. the tomb in which King Karl Knutsson placed himself in the 15th century. With the knowledge we have today it is obvious that we have only done half the job. In order to make further progress in this project we need to open also the southern part of the choir-tombs (the tomb of Karl Knutsson) and investigate all individuals there.”

Project-leader Maria Vretmark told reporters that the discovery ”shows the need for to question sources, but also how the men of power in the 1400 and 1500s used history to further their political gain.”

The researchers have now applied for permission to open the neighbouring sarcophagus, which has hitherto been presumed to contain the bones of a later king, Karl Knuttson Bonde.

King Magnus Ladulås was king of Sweden 1275-1290. The name ‘Ladulås’ is thought to come from his decree of 1279 prohibiting travelling nobles or bishops to demand from the peasant to provide them with food and beds. The word Ladulås is therefore believed to be the name he got after this decree.

Ladulås means “the lock of the barn”, i.e. the right of the peasants in Sweden to say no to travelling nobles of enterring their house. Another theory of the name ‘Ladulås’ is that it refers to his Slavic heritage and would in that case be ‘Ladislaus’.

Sources: The Local, Stockholm News, European Histories