1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Birger
BIRGER (?-1266), Swedish statesman, nephew of Birger Brosa, and the most famous member of the ancient noble family of the Folkungeätten, which had so much to say for itself in early Swedish history, was created jarl of Bjälbo by King Erik Eriksson in 1248 and married the king’s sister. On Erik’s death (1250) Birger’s son Valdemar was elected king while his father acted as regent. During the sixteen years of his sway Sweden advanced greatly in fame and prosperity. In 1249 he led an expedition to Finland, built the fortress of Tavastehus, and thus laid the foundations of Sweden’s oversea empire. He also built Stockholm, and enriched it by making it the chief mart for the trade of Lübeck, with which city he concluded a commercial treaty. As a lawgiver also Birger laboured strenuously in the interests of civilization. In his old age he married the daughter of King Abel. There is a fine statue of the great jarl in the Riddarholm church at Stockholm, erected by Fogelberg at the expense of the Stockholm magistracy in 1884. He is also the central figure of Fr. Hedberg’s drama Bröllopet på Ulfåsa (1865).