King of the Wends

King of the Wends

The title of King of the Wends denoted sovereignty or claims over once-Slavic lands of southern coasts of the Baltic Sea, those otherwise called Mecklenburg, Holstein and Pomerania, and was from 12th century to 1972 used by Kings of Denmark and from ca 1540 to 1973 by the Kings of Sweden.

The generally accepted interpretation is that the word refers to the Wends, a Slavic people that lived on the south shores of the Baltic Sea, although the situation is further complicated by the existence of the Vends, located between the Finns and the Wends and with somewhat unknown origin. The title's one poetic explanation also was kingship over the antique people of the Vandals ("vandalorum rex"), but that idea came only in 16th century. A recent interpretation, not much supported in academic research, has been made that the part "Vend" in the later established titles of the Kings of Sweden (three kingdoms: King of the Svear, Götar and Vends; Sveriges, Götes och Vendes Konung) means Finland, the form presumeably being akin to Vindland.Fact|date=March 2007 As such, the Österland—the medieval name for the Finnish part of the Swedish kingdom—was the third part of the realm. However, only forty years after the adoption of the title "king of the Wends" began the Swedish kings to style themselves as "Grand Prince of Finland" as well.

Kings of Denmark bore the title for eight centuries, after it was first adopted by King Canute VI (reigned 1182 to 1202), who conquered the lands of the Wends in Pomerania and Mecklenburg. In Germanic languages, the name was Wends, and in medieval documentation the Latin name was "sclavorum rex", "king of North Slavic people". In 16th century, Latin "sclavorum" was changed to "vandalorum" also by Danish kings, showing the new poetic idea. The Danish Kings continued to use the title over the next seven hundred years until 1972, when Queen Margrethe II succeeded. She abandoned the use of all the royal titles except for that of "Denmark's King", which is the royal style today.

When Sweden had made its final breakaway from the Kalmar union that united it with Norway and Denmark, tensions between the two rulers were bad, and it showed also in royal paraphernalia such as flags, coat-of-arms and titles. Gustav I of Sweden adopted c 1540 the third "kingdom" to his titles (which hitherto had only included Swedes and Goths): he took "Vandalorumque" rex, "Vendes" konung as the third name of the list of kingships. "Sveriges, Götes och Vendes konung" was used in official documentation up to the accession of Charles XVI Gustav of Sweden in 1973, who was the first proclaimed officially "Sveriges konung" ("King of Sweden") and nothing else.

ee also

*King of the Goths



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