Jelling kirke, Gorms grav

Jelling kirke, Gorms grav
Jelling kirke, Gorms grav

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ingerd Jakobsdatter /Ingerd of Regenstein, * ab. 1200 + 1258




Replica of earliest Danish crucifix in Vor Frue Kirke crypt, Århus
The original crucifix at the National Museum.

A very masterful and generous Hvide-lady from the first half of the 1200s was Ingerd of Regenstein. She was born ab. 1200 as a daughter of 'The Rich Hr. Jakob of Møn', one of the Seven Sune sons, and she was one of Denmark's biggest landowners.Ingerd's first husband Skore was king Valdemar 2.'s marsk, and he was a wellknown man in Danish politics during 40 years. He was first mentioned about 1186, when king Knud and some of his officials gave gifts to Ringsted Kloster. He probably came from Himmersyssel, where he is entered in king Valdemar's Jordebog. Nothing is known of his ancestors, but being the king's marsk and married to a daughter of one of the mightiest men in Denmark indicated that he was a man of big importance.
In 1191, while Skore was a young man , Denmark recieved a papal letter calling for a new crusade, and the aging Esbern Snare held a flaming speech at Nyborg Castle for the young men, challenging them to go to the Holy City - and Skore went off to Jerusalem together with other youngsters , among those Absalon's nephew Alexander and Stig Hvide's son Aage. Their journey lasted a little too long. When they arrived to their destination, Jerusalem was already conquered by the Christians.These two informations shows that Skore was of the same age as his father-in-law, Jakob Sunesen and thus one generation older than his wife Ingerd.



Marsk Skore was in July 1224 part of a Danish delegation in North Germany together with Jakob Sunesen and other Danish top politicians. They were negotiating with the counts of Schwerin and fine-tuning the conditions for the release of king Valdemar from his captivity. Konrad II of Regenstein was sitting on the other side of the table. He had already taken part in the counts' negotiations with the German emperor, who had a certain interest in holding the Danish king captured. The Danish delegation had been negotiating from the summer 1223, until the release finally took place in the turning of the year 1225-26. It is not known if Ingerd was there together with her husband, but it seems very probable that she was presented to Konrad of Regenstein at that point.The last time marsk Skore is mentioned is in the battle by Bornhöved. He died possibly between 1230-35. Ingerd and Skore had no children, and according to the right of inheritance she had no claim on her husband's estate, which went back to his family. She got back the dowry she brought into the marriage and the similiar sum her husband had given her plus some of his personal property.Ingerd was very taken in by Frans of Assisi and his pious ideal of an apostolic life in poverty, and she was very generous in giving gifts to foundations of monasteries and convents. Her Franciscan monastery and convent in Roskilde were consecrated already five years after the first Franciscans arrived in Denmark. During the next two years three more of her foundations were consecrated. Her foundations stopped in 1239 - and this might be because she married Konrad of Regenstein and went with him to Germany.



Regenstein castle ruins

When she came to Regenstein castle it must have been a schock for her. It was not a comfortable home. The castle was built upon a bare inaccessible massif, and most of the huge fortificated building was cut out from the cliff itself. Her husband was obviously an agreeable man, for some of the first things the couple did was to rent a cosy house in the middle of the neighbouring bishop's town Halberstadt. Ingerd possibly spent most of her time here.Ingerd could achieve inspiration to her Franciscan ideal in her new home, for in the neighbouring Wartburg the counts of Thüringen held court - and here was a lot of talk about count Ludwig's young wife Elisabeth, who after her husband's death left castle and family in order to join a Franciscan convent in the nearest bishop's town, where she lived in poverty and humility, nursing the sick on the hospital. Elisabeth had died in 1231, but was canonized in 1235, two years before Ingerd arrived in Germany, and Ingerd undoubtedly admired Elisabeth.It was probably also after Ingerd's marriage to Konrad that she came into the contact of Agnes of Bohemia, who had founded the first Franciscan convent north of the Alps in 1232 and had joined it herself. Maybe they did not meet each other, for Agnes' convent was situated in Prague, which was just as far from Regenstein as Denmark, but the two ladies have possibly exchanged letters about spiritual matters - like when Agnes of Bohemia exchanged letters with the later canonized Clara, who in 1212 had founded the first convent bearing the ideas of Frans of Assisi.
When Konrad died ab. 1247 Ingerd lived for a period in Halberstadt before returning to Denmark, where she settled in one of her big estates south of Køge (Tryggevældegården) by Hårlev, which gave her yet another name' Ingerd of Hårlev'. The whole part of Hårlev and several surrounding cities were owned by Ingerd, inherited from her father. Hårlev church was built ab. 1200 and was probably built by Jakob Sunesen.Ingerd's family had a strong church tradition. One of her uncles Anders Sunesen had been archbishop and another uncle, Peder Sunesen, was bishop in Roskilde and was replaced by Ingerd's brother Peder Jakobsen. Her grandfather Sune Ebbesen had given great gifts to the church and especially to the family monastery in Sorø, which her great-grandfather Ebbe Skjalmsen had founded together with his brothers.


Sortebrødrekloster, Ribe (Dominican)

She was from a family in which it was a natural thing to be interested in spiritual matters. Furthermore there was strong tradition for supporting their ideals with big economic means. This was a part of her upbringing - but she first started giving gifts herself to the church after her first husband Skore's death, and later after her second husband Konrad's death when she returned to Denmark.She was a great donor for both the Franciscans, the Dominicans and the Clarissans. She not just gave them the estate for their buildings, but also willed her silver chest, a silver relic box, her biggest psalterium and her devotional book to them . At that time books were handwritten and very precious.When Ingerd was a widow after her second husband Konrad of Regenstein she began in 1256 to start a foundation of St. Clara Kloster in Roskilde. Her first gift was a big estate of 80-85 farms between Bjæverskov and Stevns and a smaller estate between Ringsted and Ramsø. She must have been aware that this big gift might awake aversion in the family, so in the following period she made some guaranties for her foundations from both the archbishop and the pope. She also gave the Franciscans estates for their buildings in København, Kalundborg and Næstved.
Ingerd was childless, one of her brothers who had been bishop in Roskilde had died already in 1225, another brother had also died childless, but her third brother Jens (Johannes) had two heirs, and they now protested against her generousity to the church.According to the law she could only give away her half 'hovedlod' (main part), in this case half of her estate, and her nephew Jens and niece Cecilie wanted to check up on if their dear auntie had kept the law. She hadn't kept the law in this case, but there was a provision in Sjællandske law saying that if she was in good health, then she could join a convent with her whole main part - and Ingerd wanted to join her newly founded convent. (This didn't happen; she died in 1258, before the convent was consecrated.) She showed some consideration for the claims from her nephew and niece however, she compromised in an agreement in Købanhavn, where the king, the queen, hertug Valdemar, the archbishop and several bishops were present. She had to change her will. This was in July 1257. After her death her relatives in the Hvide-family demanded to have some of her estate returned from the church, and they succeeded partly in their claims through trials.

Ingerd died in the beginning of 1258 and was buried in Gråbrødre Kloster/the Franciscan convent in Roskilde. As a countess she had in her seal a castle with towers, ringwalls and moat.

photo + sketch: grethe bachmann

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