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Kalmar Union Flag

Last modified: 2021-08-25 by christopher oehler
Keywords: denmark | kalmar union |
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The Kalmar Union

The Kalmar Union existed for 25 years (1397-1521), starting under Margareta Valdemarsdotters' leadership in 1397. At a conference held at Dalaborg Castle, in March 1388, the Swedes were compelled to accept all Margaret's conditions, elected her "Sovereign Lady and Ruler", and engaged to accept from her any king she chose to appoint. On February 24, 1389, Albert, who had returned from Mecklenburg with an army of mercenaries, was routed and taken prisoner at Aasle near Falköping, and Margaret was now the omnipotent mistress of three kingdoms. The monarchs of the Union were:

1375-1387 Oluf III
1387-1412 Margrethe
1396-1439 Erik of Pomerania
1440-1448 Christoffer of Bavaria

Hugh Watkins, 7 February 2004

History of the flag

Sources are scant about the Union of Kalmar flag. These are a couple of brief passages of text. There is no pictorial evidence attesting to the Union flag from the time of the Union of Kalmar (though some authors point to heraldic evidence for a red union cross) and definitely no surviving flag. A flag seen by Hugh Watkins in a museum showing a red Scandinavian cross on a yellow field is a recreation of what is thought to have been the union flag.
Jan Oskar Engene, 11 February 2004

On a web page, Alex Heick claims the flag is well documented in contemporary sources (
Hugh Watkins, 7 February 2004

Heick seems to presume, for instance, that all references to "banner of the realm" in sources refer to the Union of Kalmar banner, ignoring the discussion in serious historical scholarship which is careful to distinguish between passages referring to the "banner of the realm", singular and referring to the Dannebrog (or the flag of another realm) and "banner of the realms", plural and referring to the Union banner. Some of the sources he quotes are thus actually on the Dannebrog. Heick, and all vexillologists who can read Danish, would benefit from consulting serious scholarship, for instance Bartholdy (1996) and Bartholdy (1997).

What remains of evidence is two letters from 1430 in which King Erik orders the priests of Vadstena and Kalmar to wear the "banner of the realms" on their robes. The banner is described as "a red cross on top of a yellow field."
Jan Oskar Engene, 16 February 2004