Eric XIV,king of Sweden, the son and successor of Gustavus Vasa, born Dec. 13, 1533, died Feb. 26, 1577. In youth he was distinguished for his handsome person, his intelligence, and numerous accomplishments; but his passionate and suspicious disposition and immoderate indulgence in pleasure early awakened the apprehensions of his father. Toward his brothers, John, Magnus, and Charles, who had been created dukes of Finland, East Gothland, and Sodermanland, he was always jealous and hostile. He succeeded to the throne in 1560, inheriting the good will of his people, a full treasury, and a prosperous and happy kingdom, and inaugurated his reign by expending what seemed to the Swedes incredible sums on the festivals and pageants attending his coronation. Gustavus shortly before his death had made overtures of marriage to Elizabeth of England in behalf of his son, who, besides keeping alive these negotiations, opened similar ones with Mary queen of Scots, the princess Renee of Lorraine, and the princess of Hesse. But he married Katrina Mansdotter, the daughter of a corporal of his guards, whose beauty attracted his notice as she was selling fruits in the market place of Stockholm. Katrina seems to have been sincerely attached to Eric, and remained true to him amid all his misfortunes.

In the beginning of his reign he displayed considerable executive ability, and made several judicious reforms in the civil and ecclesiastical government of the kingdom. He was a patron of science and art, and was the first to introduce the titles of baron and count into Sweden. During nearly his whole reign he was engaged in wars with Denmark and Poland, in the course of which the Swedes acquired from the latter country the Baltic provinces of Livonia and Revel, although at great cost of men and money, whole provinces having been depopulated to supply the army. The animosity of the king toward his brothers increased with years, and finally led to violent measures. John, who had married Catharine, daughter of Sigismund I., king of Poland, without Eric's consent, was besieged in his castle at Abo, and condemned to an imprisonment of four years, and the others were in constant fear of their lives. Assassination became frequent, and under the influence of the royal favorite, Goran Pehrssen, some of the oldest nobility, including the Sture family, were put to death. In the midst of these excesses Eric was attacked by madness, the effect of remorse, and for several days wandered alone in the forest.

His brothers John and Charles at length rose in rebellion, and besieged Eric in Stockholm, who after some resistance capitulated, Sept. 30, 1568. He was deposed by the Swedish diet, and after languishing more than eight years in prison was poisoned by order of his brother John, who had succeeded to the throne.