|The region of Livonia before it became a kingdom in 1570|
Parents: Christian III, king of Denmark, and Dorothea of Saxe-Lauenburg
Date of Birth: 14 August 1540
Reign: 1570 – 1578
Summary: Born to the Danish Oldenburg family in Copenhagen, Magnus was the second son of the reigning king of Denmark. He spent much of his early adult years in Germany, touring German courts. In 1559, the prince-bishop of Ösel-Wiek in Livonia sold his lands to Frederick II, the brother of Magnus and new king of Denmark. The king deeded these lands to Magnus but forced the prince in exchange to renounce his rights to the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein which were hereditary in the Oldenburg family. Magnus agreed and in 1560 arrived in Ösel-Wiek with a small army and was proclaimed bishop. The problem was that the Russians had already invaded parts of Livonia in 1558 and were pushing ever westward toward Magnus's holdings. Magnus responded by purchasing the nearby Bishopric of Courland without permission of his brother. He also began pushing into neighboring states which threatened Swedish security. A new war broke out known as the Nordic Seven Years' War which raged until 1570. Magnus's territories were in the midst of the fighting and he was relatively powerless to do anything. During this time, his allegiance to his brother began to waver. Ivan IV of Russia finally decided to act and annexed all of Livonia in exchange for promoting Magnus to king of the territory. Magnus arrived in Moscow on 10 June 1570 to accept the Livonian crown.
Magnus, thus, became a vassal of the Russian Empire but all of Livonia was not in Russian or Livonian hands. Magnus returned to his newly raised kingdom with an army of 20,000 Russian soldiers to attempt the conquest of the remainder of Livonia from the Swedes. Within a year, Magnus began to regret his move and gave up on his siege of the Swedes. The support from his brother was failing as Ivan increasingly looked to be the worst of his two foes. In 1577, Magnus attempted to go independent of both Denmark and Russia. Ivan responded by attacking the king and taking him prisoner. When Magnus was released the next year by the king of Poland, Stefan Batory, he was forced to renounce all his titles and give them to the Poles. Magnus spent the last years of his life in exile in Courland where he died a vassal of the Polish king. In 1662, his body was returned to Denmark and reburied at Roskilde Cathedral.
Date of Death: 18 March 1583
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