King Johan III

King Johan III

Johan became Duke of Finland in 1556. From this position he pursued independent politics, angering his brother Erik XIV. Johan's politics came into conflict with Erik's plans on several occasions. As a result, he was sentenced to death for high treason and was imprisoned.

After his release, Duke Johan and his brother Duke Karl (IX) launched a coup against Erik XIV, and in 1568 Johan III was named Sweden's new king.

In 1562, Johan married Princess Katarina Jagellonica of Poland. The couple had three children: Isabella, Sigismund and Anna. In 1585, he married Gunilla Bielke, with whom he had a son, Johan Duke of Östergötland.

King Johan portrayed in 1582 by the Dutch artist Johan Baptista van Uther (died 1597). The painting hangs in the Audience Chamber at Gripsholm Castle, and is part of the Swedish State Portrait Collection. Photo: Nationalmuseum

Johan III

Born 20 December 1537, died 17 November 1592
Reign 1569–1592

Royal Motto

God our defender


1569 Uppsala Cathedral


1594 Uppsala Cathedral


Erik XIV




Katarina Jagellonica
Gunilla Bielke


Elisabet (Isabella) (1564–1566)
Sigismund (1566–1632), King of Sweden1592–1599
Anna (1568–1625)
Johan (1589–1618)

The Vasa dynasty