Sunday, October 19, 2008

Alexander, Absalon's favorite Nphew

The Crypt, Frue Kirke, Århus

Ingefred Assersdatter and Peder Pedersen of Borup had two sons, Asser and Alexander, who was Absalon's favorite nephew. When Alexander was baptized Absalon might have had something to do with the choice of name. This name was not known in Denmark before that time, but it might have influenced the church-minded Absalon that his favorite choice for pope, Alexander, became new pope instead of Octavian in the second half of the 1160s.

Peder Pedersen of Borup was a son of Peder Bodilsen of Eggeslev, owner of Little Næstved and Ladby. Peder Bodilsen's mother Bodil was an illegitimate daughter of Erik 1. Ejegod.

Alexander was on an expedition to the Wends in 1185, and in 1191 after Esbern Snare held a flaming speech to all the young lazy folks who no more had the guts to go on a crusade , Alexander went together with some other young guys , among those marsk Skore and Stig Hvide, on a crusade to the Holy Land. They took so long time travelling through Europe that they first arrived in Jerusalem after it was conquered by the Christians, but they meant well. Alexander was also with his uncle on some of Absalon's late expeditions to the Wends.

In 1201 Alexander was secretary for his dying uncle and was made the executor for his will. After this task nothing more is heard of Alexander, he died ab. 1205-10. He was married to Margrethe of Denmark (an illegitimate daughter of a Danish king?) they had a daughter Gunhild, married to Tyge Pust and three sons, Absalon Rød, NN and Niels * ab 1200 + after 1268, who was the only son with descendants. Niels' daughters brought the family-line further. Elisabeth Nielsdatter, * ab. 1224, was married to Hans Ranesen, their son was Rane Jonsen (Jens, Johannes, Hans and Jon is the same name). Another daughter was married to marsk Stig Andersen, a son Anders Nielsen Due was married to Cecilie Tokesdatter Saltensee of Tystofte * ab. 1230.

Absalon was a solicitous family-man, he took care of all his nephews and grandnephews , but Alexander was closest to him, and Absalon trusted him completely. Alexander seems to have had Absalon's military talent and was early an army commander - and he inherited Absalons' coats of mail. He was in his uncle's last years signatory to his documents, and as mentioned before he was trusted to be the executor of Absalons' will. He was not a priest, and there is nothing about his going to Paris to study, he had a career as a military man, he was married and had children, but all his life he obviously spent much time together with his uncle Absalon, who probably was able to give him an excellent education and learn him to write the classical Latin.
Certain things indicates that Alexander must have been a bright and intelligent personality, maybe Absalon saw something of himself in his nephew.
What could be a short form for the name Alexander? He wouldn't be called Alex - not at that time, maybe Sander - I would guess maybe Sasse or Saxe - this might have been a little boy's own first pronunciation of a difficult name! What about this theory? `:)

Saxo was often mentioned as a possible member of the Hvide-family, he was known to be a tall man like Absalon, and he told that his ancestors had been fighting for king Valdemar. But why all the secrecy? Alexander was probably with Absalon , when he decided to write his Gesta Danorum. Saxo was born ab. 1150 and died ab. 1208, according to some sources, appr. the same period as Alexander. When Saxo is described in articles, where they talk about his classical Latin and his education in Paris, then it sounds as if they are talking about Absalon himself - or about someone educated by him. Although Absalon died in 1201, he might have prepared the last part of Gesta Danorum for someone else to finish.

photo: grethe bachmann ©copyright

Shakespeare based his Hamlet on Saxo's story about the Danish prince Amled.

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