Ingeborg Åkesdotter (Tott) was the wife of Sten Sture the elder. She held an influential albeit unofficial position of power in late-medieval Sweden.
Ingeborg Åkesdotter (Tott) was the daughter of the Danish knight and privy councillor Åke Axelsson (Tott). She was probably born during the 1440s into the so-called “Axelssönerna” (the Axelssons) family, at the time one of the most politically influential and economically powerful families in Denmark and Sweden. Her father was also the feudal overlord at Varberg castle. Her mother was a member of an economically significant family from southern Västergötland.
As usual for women of her social standing, one of Ingeborg Åkesdotter Tott’s roles was to establish and cement political alliances. Ingeborg Åkesdotter (Tott) therefore became engaged to a Norwegian aristocrat, Hans Sigurdsson of the younger Sudreimätten. However, he passed away before the marriage could be consecrated. Instead, Ingeborg Åkesdotter (Tott) married Sten Gustavsson Sture, a knight who is usually known as Sten Sture the elder. She brought important material benefits to the union and their marriage resulted in Sten Sture gaining powerful allies in her relatives. Sten Sture had initially been engaged to Ingeborg Åkesdotter Tott’s cousin, Agneta Ivarsdotter Tott, but she had died before the wedding could take place. Given the close familial relationship between these two women, Sten Sture and Ingeborg Åkesdotter (Tott) were required to obtain papal dispensation in order to become legally married. Sten Sture and Ingeborg Åkesdotter (Tott) married in 1466. Their union did not produce any progeny.
Sten Sture was a leading figure within the spheres of Swedish and Nordic politics and all its conflicts and disputes in the Late Middle Ages. He served as Swedish regent in the years 1471-1497, and 1501-1503. Ingeborg Åkesdotter Tott’s life was significantly influenced by her husband’s position, as were the activities she engaged in. She held an unofficial position of power in which she displayed her loyalty to her husband, often running castles and counties in his absence. She provided him with supportive advice in political and other matters. At one point in 1483 she was even subjected to serious disrespect and attack in Stockholm while performing a task on behalf of her husband.
In a letter dated 1503 from Sten Sture to Ingeborg Åkesdotter Tott, written during the final year of his life, he not only mentions practical, official and private matters, but he also refers to her as “kära hjärtans stallbroder” (my dearly beloved companion). After Sten Sture’s death Ingeborg Åkesdotter (Tott) was able to hold a more independent position of power as a widow. She was a resident at Tavastehus castle, which she also governed, and ruled over Tavastehus county and Satakunda. Until 1504 she also ruled over Korsholm county and Vadsbo district.
By donating Gripsholm Castle she facilitated the establishment of the Pax Mariæ Carthusian abbey in Mariefred in 1493. A printing press was established there and Ingeborg Åkersdotter (Tott) financed the 1498 printing of Alanus de Rupe’s text on the Virgin Mary psalm De dignitate et utilitate beate Marie virginis. Ingeborg Åkesdotter (Tott) also supported the Brigittine abbey at Nådendal near Åbo.
No portrait survives of Ingeborg Åkesdotter (Tott). It is, however, possible that the princess who appears in Bernt Notke’s sculptural assembly Sankt Göran och draken in St. Nicholas church (now known as Storkyrkan) in Stockholm bears a resemblance to her. Ingeborg Åkesdotter (Tott) contributed to the raising of this sculpture, in commemoration of her husband’s victory at Brunkeberg in 1471. She also contributed, with papal permission, to establishing a special chapel in connection with the monument.
Ingeborg Åkesdotter (Tott) died in 1507.