Jelling kirke, Gorms grav

Jelling kirke, Gorms grav
Jelling kirke, Gorms grav

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Margrethe Sunesdatter, + 25 October 1176 Margrethe af Højelse



One marriage in the Hvide-family wasn't very lucky . On 25. October 1176, shortly before Absalon became archbishop, Margrethe Sunesdatter was murdered by her husband Herlog (Herluf). Herlog's family is unknown in sources, but it is certain that a daughter of the migthy Sune Ebbesen did not marry a common farmer. Herlog probably had useful connections and was well-off. He lived on Gammelkjøgegårds properties in Ølsemagle/Ølsie = Højelse. Maybe the ruins found under Højelse vicarage are rests of his farm.In order to conceal his crime Herlog hung Margrethe up in the barn, making it look as if she had committed suicide. Therefore she had no Christian burial, but was buried in a meadow by Højelse near Køge Bugt. Miracles happened by her grave, lights were shining above the earth, and a blind man could see after having bathed his eyes in the meadow's water. This was just one of many divine proofs that Margrethe had suffered the death of an innocent.There were several odd incidents, and the rumors reached the bishop's house in Roskilde.

Absalon sent some of his men to Højelse to examine what was going on. They also witnessed this strange light above Margrethe's grave and came home with stories about miracles. Absalon sent for the widower and cross-questioned him. No one knows how strict this questioning was, but at last Herlog made a full confession.Absalon abandoned the old custom of vendetta and had the case solved by penance, and thus he wisely avoided a family feud, which might have lasted for years. Absalon's modern European education probably influenced him to follow a new concept of justice instead of the old customs of revenge inherited from his ancestors.Margrethe's body was tranlocated to Roskilde Vor Frue Kirke (Our Lady's church), attended by bishop Absalon and his priests, and people crowded and followed the procession. This is said to have happened on the 19th or 20th July 1177, since the last date is St. Margrethe's day, named after Margrethe of Antioch, who was an ancient saint.A kloster in Roskilde was named after Margrethe, and people went on pilgrimage to her grave in Roskilde. The church had considerable income from the visitors' gifts through the Middle Ages. Absalon ordered the Cistercienser-sisters by the church to give one third of the Margrethe-money to Sorø Kloster.



On the meadow where Margrethe had been buried was built a chapel, and many pilgrims frequented it . In 1257 the pope confirmed that 1/3 of the pilgrims' gifts had to be allotted to Vor Frue Kirke in Roskilde, where the nuns watched over Margrethe's saintly sarcophagus. The case about Margrethe of Højelse is mentioned in some year books and in a French collection of devotional stories from 1180. Her legend is written down in Clairvaux, where bishop Eskil had taken up residence in his old days.Still in the 1500s were traces of Margrethe's chapel near Højelse. It might have been situated at what is now known as Kapelbakke (Chapel Hill) or Kapels-Agre (Chapel's Fields) northwest of Ølsemagle = Jersie Mose (moor). On Kapelvej near Højelse and Køge Bugt are found ruins of medieval buildings.In Lund Cathedral is an alba (mass shirt) on exhibition. It is said to originate from Margrethe.
It is not known why Herlog murdered Margrethe - or if she was a pious lady and fed the poor. An attempt was made to canonize her, but this was in a period where Denmark was in the beginning of its first church fight, and the pope was not very forthcoming, so Margrethe was never officially canonized.Her birth name was Margrethe Sunesdatter, but she is also called Margrethe of Højelse. In a newly published German biography about saints she is called Margrethe of Roskilde and mentioned on her day of death 25. October; the book does not consider it important that she was never appointed by the pope.

Margrethe and Herlog's children:
1) Cecilie Herlogsdatter * 1162 in Knardrup, one of Cecilie's sons was archbishop Jacob Erlandsen.
2)Peder Herlogsen, was kammermester and was buried in his grandfather Sune Ebbesen's grave.Peder had a son Niels Pedersen, he is by turns called staller or kammermester in his widow's letters from the 1260s.Drost Peder Nielsen Hoseøl is by 'adelsgenealogerne' ( nobility genealogists) referred to the family Skovgård, and he was a great-grandson of Sune Ebbesen's daughter Margrethe of Højelse.
3)Jens (Johannes) Herlogsen

photo: grethe bachmann

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