Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Dude Looks Like a Lady: Photo of the Day #10

Today Ira and I returned to Stockholm's Stadshuset, the City Hall, where we were married, for a tour of the building. The yellow lady adorning the flag flying outside the Stadshuset (see photo) is no lady. It's Erik Jedvardsson, King Erik IX, who was elected King in 1150 and who has been the patron saint of Sweden and Stockholm's protector since the end of the twelth century. According to the City of Stockholm website, Erik legends depitc Erik as a "great leader, fair legislator and commited Christian." Our tour guide joked about the gender confusion regarding the figure on the flag which raises a question about this iconographic representation: why is the king is portrayed in such an epicene fashion?

My building manager in Chicago, who immigrated to the States from Poland, might have an explanation. Recalling that he and his family had considered moving to Sweden but decided upon the USA, he suggested - in a conspiratorial tone of voice - that Swedish men had been emasculated by their women. I supsect that the fact that at present women hold a majority of seats in Stockholm's City Council, including the mayorship, would, in his view, confirm his cultural hypothesis. It turns out, I later learned at an arms museusm, that Erik died at a young age. How young, nobody appears to know. He was only king for eight or ten years. By contemporary standards, Erik was probably still a boy.

And how did Erik die? He was beheaded by the Danes in Uppsala in 1158 or 1160 following an Ascension Day Mass.

Jävla Danskar! (Bloody Danes!)

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