Above: A Hohlpfennig from Håkon VI Magnusson
VI Magnusson was a younger son of Magnus Eriksson
and Queen Blanca of Namur, Belgium. He succeeded as king in Norway when
he came of age in 1355. When his brother Erik died, Håkon was proclaimed
king in Sweden, but in 1364 the Swedish State Council decided to take Albrecht
of Mecklenburg as king instead. For the rest of his life, Håkon remained
set on reclaiming the throne in Sweden.
As might be expected from a son of Magnus, Håkon maintained a Nordic perspective in his politics and under his rule Nordic interests were in the ascendant. However, Håkon needed allies. In the winter of 1359 Magnus, Queen Blanca and Håkon travelled to Denmark where Håkon was betrothed to, and in 1363 eventually married to, King Valdemar's daughter Margrethe. This marriage represented Håkon's most important contribution to history by laying the ground for a continuation of a Nordic union.
In 1367 the Hanseatic League went to war against Valdemar and Håkon. They blocked the trade to Norway and Denmark using their large merchant fleet as battleships. Peace was made in 1376, but Håkon had to confirm his acceptance of the former privileges of the Hanseatic League.
In capitulating, Håkon also had to give his consent
for his son Olav to become king in Denmark after
the death of the Danish king, Valdemar Atterdag. The cost of Håkon's
attempts to reclaim the Swedish throne and the ransom he had to pay for
his father in Sweden, forced him into the loan market. Since Håkon
had borrowed money from the German tradesmen, the Hanseatic League had
a powerful hold over him, with significant military, economic and political
leverage. The Hanseatic League was able to strengthen its monopoly of the
purchase and export of dried fish in Bergen and managed to outdo many Norwegian
merchants in their trade with the farmers in southeastern Norway.