Builder of Stockholm
Birger Magnusson, jarl (earl) in Sweden, was a Swedish statesman and the founder of Stockholm. He was a member of the ancient noble family of the House of Bjälbo (Bjälboätten) and played a pivotal role in the consolidation of Sweden. The street Birger Jarlsgatan in central Stockholm is named after him.
Birger was born about 1200 (exact date uncertain), the son of Magnus Minnesköld, jarl in Sweden and Ingrid (Ylva), niece of Earl Birger Brosa. In 1240 Birger organised a military campaign against the Novgorod Republic, and was defeated by Alexander Nevsky during the Battle of the Neva (on 15 July 1240). Birger was elevated to the position of Jarl by King Erik X Knutsson in 1248, and had earlier married the king's sister Ingeborg Eriksdotter.
On Erik's death in 1250, Birger's son Valdemar was elected king while his father acted as regent. During the sixteen years of Birger's regency Sweden advanced greatly in fame and prosperity. In 1249 he led an expedition to Finland, subjugated the Tavastians and built the Häme castle in Tavastehus, laying the foundations of Sweden's overseas empire. He founded Stockholm about 1252, and he enriched it by making it the chief market for the trade with Lübeck, with which he concluded a commercial treaty. As a lawgiver Birger laboured strenuously in the interests of the people.
Ingeborg died in 1254, and in 1261 Birger married the widow of King Abel of Denmark, the queen dowager Mechtild of Holstein. Birger died on 21 October 1266, at Jälbolung in Westrogothia. His grave at the church of Varnhem was opened in May 2002.