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Skram, Peder

SKRAM, PEDER (c. 1500-1581), Danish senator and naval hero, born between 1491 and 1503, at his father's estate at Urup near Horsens in Jutland. He first saw service in the Swedish war of Christian II. at the battle of Brannkyrka, 1518, and at the battle of Upsala two years later he saved the life of the Danish standard-bearer. For his services in this war he was rewarded with an estate in Norway, where he settled for a time with his young consort Elsebe Krabbe. During " Grevens Fejde," or " the Count's War," Skram, whose reputation as a sailor was already established, was sent by the Danish government to assist Gustavus Vasa, then in alliance with Christian III. against the partisans of Christian II., to organize the untried Swedish fleet; and Skram seems, for the point is still obscure, to have shared the chief command with the Swedish Admiral Mans Some. Skram greatly hampered the movements of the Hanseatic fleets who fought on the side of Christian II., captured a whole Liibeck squadron off Svendborg, and prevented the revictualling of Copenhagen by Liibeck. But the incurable suspicion of Gustavus I. minimized the successes of the allied fleets throughout 1535. Skram's services were richly rewarded by Christian III., who knighted him at his coronation, made him a senator and endowed him with ample estates. The broadshouldered, yellow-haired admiral was an out-and-out patriot and greatly contributed as a senator to the victory of the Danish party over the German in the councils of Christian III. In 1555, feeling too infirm to go to sea, he resigned his post of admiral; but when the Scandinavian Seven Years' War broke out seven years later, and the new king, Frederick II., offered Skram the chief command, the old hero did not hesitate a moment. With a large fleet he put to sea in August 1562 and compelled the Swedish admiral, after a successful engagement off the coast of Gotland, to take refuge behind the Skerries. This, however, was his sole achievement, and he was superseded at the end of the year by Herluf Trolle. Skram now retired from active service, but was twice (1565-1568) unsuccessfully besieged by the Swedes in his castle of Laholm, which he and his wife defended with great intrepidity. His estates in Halland were also repeatedly ravaged by the enemy. Skram died, at an advanced age, at Urup on the nth of July 1581.

Skram's audacity won for him the nickname of " Denmark's dare-devil," and he contributed perhaps more than any other Dane of his day to destroy the Hanseatic dominion of the Baltic. His humanity was equally remarkable; he often imperilled his life by preventing his crews from plundering.

See Axel Larsen, Dansk-Norske Heltehistorier (Copenhagen, 1893).

(R. N. B.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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