The Lady of Häme Castle

In 1504-1507, Häme Castle was administered by a woman. Ingeborg Aakentytär Tott who was of noble birth received the castle upon the death of her husband Sten Sture, the regent of Sweden. Most of the castles in Finland had been under the personal supervision of Sten Sture, and after his death, all the other castles and counties were returned to the Swedish crown and the members of privy council. However, Häme Castle and the county of the Kokemäki manor were decreed to be given to Ingeborg Aakentytär as a widow's pension.

After the death of her husband, Ingeborg Aakentytär arrived in Häme Castle at the end of the year 1504. The memory of the Russian attack into the area less than ten years ago had not yet faded from the minds of the people of Häme. Ingeborg was well familiar with the scheming, wars and power games that were characteristic of the time. In 1505, the former castellan Folke Gregerinpoika tried to take the castle to himself with the support of the Swedish privy council. However, his troops had to withdraw, for  Ingeborg had the support of the people of the castle as well as some significant members of the nobility. Ingeborg Aakentytär was the only woman who in the Middle Ages held Häme Castle. Unfortunately, her reign remained short for she died in 1507 in Häme Castle.

In the sources that recount the story of Ingeborg no reference whatsoever can be found to the fact that the efforts to overthrow her rule might have been due to her being a woman or that her abilities to run the castle in crisis situations might have been doubted. On the contrary, some comments on Ingeborg let us assume that she was considered even too competent - much to the annoyance of the scheming parties of her time. Several other strong women lived in the same period of time, and they, at least for their part, show that the idea we have of the inferior status of women in the society in the Middle Ages might not be entirely true. Women and their abilities were trusted and their opinions were listened to.

Reference: Hockman: Ingeborg Aakentytär Tott, Hämeen linnan valtijatar. Linnassa ja sen liepeillä, Elämää Hämeen linnassa [Ingeborg Aakentytär Tott, Mistress of Häme Castle. Castle and its surroundings. Life in Häme Castle] Hämeenlinna 1990, pp. 27-48.