Elise was a Norwegian noblewoman who turned to piracy during the 1400s. She had a normal Norwegian upbringing with her father, Eskild Ögesen, a Knight from Scania and her mother Elisabeth Jakobsdatter Hegle. Her precise date of birth is unknown, but she married in 1420. At the time, the average age of¬†marriage ranged from late teens to early 20s.

She married Olav Nilsson, a member of the noble Skanke family. Olav was a wealthy landowner in Norway and Denmark, and during the Dano-Hanseatic War served Christian I of Denmark as a privateer. However, problems began when the war ended: Olav continued to attack German merchant trips. With his work no longer sanctioned, he was committing piracy. In 1453 the King dismissed him, though worse was yet to come. Two years later he was assassinated along with his son Nils and his brother. Their deaths were a tragic blow for the family, with Elise losing her husband, son and brother-in-law at the same time.

After his death Elise and her remaining children turned to piracy themselves, particularly targeting the German merchant class from Bergen in revenge. Down this path lay more tragedy, for in 1465, her oldest son died in a shipwreck. Afterwards, Elise’s other son Axel continued the family tradition of attacking German merchant ships.

While their piracy was targeting the German merchant class, it threatened the peace established between Scandinavia (Christian of Denmark ruled over most of Scandinavia at the time) and Germany. Elise and her family, like much of Norway, were opposed to Danish rule of Norway. Finally tiring of Elise and realising he couldn’t trust her, Christian confiscated her fief in 1468, and she died around¬†1483.

-Danielle Triggs
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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