Stig Andersen (in Danish tradition always known as Marsk Stig) was an outstanding Danish magnate, who in spite of the alleged surname does not seem to have been a member of the Hvide family but having been married into it. Of his personal life not much is known but from 1270s he seems to have been Denmark’s marsk (leading general and ”minister of war”). During the next years he was apparently a leading man of the opposition against the growing power of King Eric V and probably one of the group supporting the introduction of the haandfæstning of 1282 after which he continued in office.
At the regicide November 1286 Marsk Stig was forced to leave office and next year he and many other outstanding magnates and vassals were in spite of their protests outlawed as the men behind the king’s death. Stig Andersen then settled at the island of Hjelm in Kattegat which he made a pirate’s nest and from which he, in alliance with the king of Norway, ravaged the Danish coasts. New archaeological findings on Hjelm also show that he had a regular coiner workshop. He died on his island without having obtained rehabilitation from the Danish government. In return his grandson benefited from a general amnesty as late as 1320.
To posterity Stig Andersen assumed still mightier dimensions. He was often regarded the man behind the regicide and already in his own time ballads and sages were flourishing, a tradition continued by romantic poets and writers. According to a very popular version he became a regicide in order to revenge his dishonour because the king had seduced his wife some years before. Later liberal historians in general have regarded him as innocent and as the victim of a political miscarriage of justice. Some of them look upon him as a kind of a political idealist perhaps even trying to create “parliamentarian” conditions in Denmark – a theory just as impossible to prove.
The two most famous Danish fictive treatments of the marsk based upon the traditional version are the poet B. S. Ingemann’s novel Erik Menveds Barndom (i.e. The Childhood of Erik VI Menved) from 1828 and Peter Heise’s opera Drot og Marsk (Eng. King and Marshall) 1878.