Short summary - Eric XIV of Sweden - August Strindberg

Scandinavian literature summaries - 2023

Short summary - Eric XIV of Sweden
August Strindberg

King Eric is a strange and eccentric figure, he is extremely suspicious and prone to unexpected decisions. Revolting the court, he settled in his Stockholm palace a mistress - a soldier's daughter Karin, whom he sincerely loves and from whom he already has two children. But at the same time, as befits a monarch, he is making plans for a dynastic marriage with Elizabeth of England and is waiting in the palace park for the arrival of his envoy from England. Below, on the lawn under the windows of the pavilion, Karin sits, embroidering, and next to her ensign Max, her former boyfriend, to whom she preferred the king - but not out of vanity or self-interest: Karin pities Eric, without her, as it seems to her, he will be lost. The king notices a soldier from above and, in order to scare him away, pours nails down from the balcony. Max leaves, but another man takes his place - Göran Persson, a former adviser to the king, now in disgrace. Having overheard Karin's conversation with the ensign and convinced of her loyalty to Eric, he offers her friendship. In addition, he brought good news to Karin - Eric's wedding embassy failed. The king, seeing Persson from above, continues his strange trick and throws down after the nails a hammer, a flower pot, pillows, a chair ... Göran Persson runs. The king laughs and calls him back, but he does not return.

At that moment, Nils Sture, who had returned from England, appeared on the lawn. He came to the king's reception with relatives - Svante and Eric Sture, which causes the king's displeasure. Who did this crowd appear as witnesses? Elizabeth refuses him? Where is the letter? The queen ordered to answer him in words - and so rude that the tongue does not turn ...

The king is angry. He drives those who have come out, throwing objects dropped earlier from the balcony after them. Marshal Yullenshern appears near the king. He wants to sweeten the bitter pill: Elizabeth refused because she had a lover - the Earl of Leicester. Then you have to kill Lester! The king decides without hesitation. And kill Lester Yullenstiern! But he refuses this honor, Yullensherna is a nobleman, not a murderer. The king also sends Yullensherna away.

Göran Persson returns. Calmed down, Eric tells him: he just refused Elizabeth - after all, she got a lover. Although the malicious Sture, of course, will spread rumors that it was she who rejected Eric. Göran Persson calls on the king to be calm: let Erik not judge others too harshly and repeat the word “I love” more often, then they will love him too. Good is rewarded. He himself, for example, sheltered an abandoned woman with a three-year-old child. And what? His house was filled with joy.

So who will Göran Persson advise him to marry? Catherine of Poland. But the king had just given permission to marry her to his half-brother Duke Johan! He has already sailed on the ship. So you have to catch up with him and judge! Yullenstierna has just reported: Duke Johan is already secretly married to a Polish princess. In doing so, he violated the ban on intercourse with a foreign power without the permission of the king. Eric agrees. Why shouldn't Göran Persson be his advisor again? Yoran agrees. But only if he has real power in his hands. The post of secretary of state, who is responsible for everything, but does not even dare to utter a word in front of the king, he does not need. He will not resign his post as royal procurator. Eric accepts his terms.

Göran Persson's house. His mother asks if the king really brought him back to court? And of course, forgot to assign a salary? Yes, it was out of the question. But Göran Persson is ready to serve the king without a salary. He will not abandon the king. They were born under the same star. Apart from Yoran, Eric has only his Karin.

In Persson's house is Svante Sture, the Secretary of State. He insults Yoran and his family, calling Magda, who was warmed by him, a whore, and the owner himself - a priestly offspring. Göran is not afraid of a distinguished guest, for him he is a symbol of the hated nobles, predators that separate the king and the people, Persson reminds Sture that it is to him that he owes his title of the first count of Sweden. But let him know: now the second official in the country after the king is he, Goran, so let Svante beware! He leaves.

Max, summoned by Yoran, enters. He gets a warning: leave Karin alone! It can be transferred to another city. Or eliminate! Max is cheeky to Yorana and leaves the house. But almost immediately a king appears on his doorstep. Does Göran Persson know that the duke, having married Katharina, is now seated with the rebellious Finns in the castle of Abo? Then Duke Johan, according to Persson, should be captured and executed. But only by decision of the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament). Everything should be done, if possible, within the law. Does the king know that his worst enemy Svante Sture has just been here, insulting Göran and his family! Goran himself is to blame, the king believes, he has been offered any title to choose from more than once, but he refuses. Why? Because Yoran wants to be judged only by his deeds! Yes, Eric understands him, he himself feels like a stranger among the Swedish nobility. Maybe because his roots are in Germany?

Suddenly, out of the blue, Mons, Karin's father, appears at the door. He is stunned to find the king in Yoran's house, but sets out his case rudely and boldly. He will not tolerate his daughter living in debauchery! There is a man who is ready to cover up her sin and marry her. And here, in family matters, let no one stand in the way of Mons! Even the king himself! Eric explodes, but curbs his anger: in front of him is the grandfather of his children. Göran Persson refuses to take the petition from Mons. Okay, then Mons will go to Secretary of State Svanta Sture!

After Mons leaves, Göran promises the king that he will settle the matter. And he settles it in his own way, calling his nephew - the one-eyed giant Peder Wellamson. He should take six hefty fellows to help, put the ensign in a bag and drown him. So that not a drop of blood is shed!

Duke Johan, who had angered Finland and Poland against Sweden, was taken prisoner. The Riksdag sentences him to death, but Eric grants him a pardon. The dowager queen (his stepmother) intriguing against the king prepares a triumphal meeting for the pardoned. However, Göran Persson sets a trap for the conspirators: at the time of the meeting and welcoming speeches, everyone is arrested. Now they must be judged by the Riksdag assembled in Uppsala. Before the accusatory speech, Eric, at the request of Karin, lets the children in: they want to see dad in a royal ermine mantle (in the height of summer!) And in a golden crown. Little Sigrid, unbeknownst to her father, wraps her doll in a scroll with a written speech. Of course, the king does not know how to speak without a piece of paper, and the Riksdag does not want to listen to witnesses from his side - they are of too low origin. The conspirators are acquitted. But this does not prevent Persson from judging them - now not according to the law, but, as he believes, according to justice. The talents of Peder Wellamson's one-eyed nephew are again used. He asks for a small compensation - a promotion to corporal. The conspirators are killed in the basement.

Neither Göran Persson nor King Erik know that by that time Karin had been taken away by the Queen Dowager along with her children. She came to Karin to ask for her relatives, but, having learned that Karin did not influence her husband’s decisions in any way and was generally the last woman at court, she pretended to feel sorry for her and frightened her, saying that the only person Karin could turn to for help, namely Ensign Max, did not disappear at all, but was killed on the vile order of Göran Persson. After that, the queen easily takes away Karin with the children.

Royal castle in Stockholm. Duke Johan (he is already at large) agrees to seize power with his brother Duke Charles. But you can't leave a madman on the throne. Although is conscience, repentance, repentance - madness? The king was simply looking for the children he had taken away in the forest, got lost, slept on the bare ground, in the rain. But it is absolutely crazy to go to the soldier Mons and ask him for the hand of the returned daughter Karin! Both dukes are invited to the wedding, but they will not go to it - they guess about the trap set by him.

The same festively cleaned castle. Eric admits that the enemy turned out to be more generous than he thought: they spared their children, and he took the lives of the nobles ... Yes, he, Eric, does not deserve his happy fate! Erica is also upset that he could not invite the faithful Göran Persson to the wedding, this was opposed by the nobility.

The Master of Ceremonies announces: Erika and the Queen want to see the people! Eric orders people to be let in. Among them is the father of Karin soldier Mons: he is, as always, rude and arrogant and almost takes the king out of patience. Eric would gladly kick this audience out. But who is it? Göran Persson? Yes, he had just come from Uppsala: he managed to persuade the Riksdag - Yoran achieved the condemnation of the executed nobles. But the king has already sent letters around the country with the news that the executed are innocent! Well, Yoran will no longer handle the affairs of the king! Eric destroys everything he builds. And now both dukes did not come to the wedding. Someone warned them. Most likely Karin. Yullensherna approaches the king: the nobles will not come to the festival - here is a pack of printed letters. Well, decides Eric, let the common people walk around the tables! The one-eyed companion of misfortune Wellamson enters the hall, he reports: the castle is surrounded, in the next room - the dukes Karl and Johan. Marshal Yullenstierna falls on his knees before Eric: Lord, save and have mercy on the good king, friend of the people, Eric the intercessor!

The common people in the hall are feasting, but people are uncomfortable: do they praise the weak-minded? Or maybe he's not so weak-minded after all, if they're sitting here at the tables! Eric is a good king, he married a simple girl.

Yllenstierna enters the hall. He announces: His Majesty King Johan III of Sweden! Duke Charles, walking next to Johan, moves away from him on the move and makes a sign to his close associates. Johan betrayed him: they agreed that they would share the throne. Yllenstierna exclaims: “It seems the world has gone mad! So did Eric!

A little girl at the table asks her mother: “Will this all be over soon?” Duke Karl turns to her with a smile: "No, dear child, the struggle is never over - never!"