Jelling kirke, Gorms grav

Jelling kirke, Gorms grav
Jelling kirke, Gorms grav

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Seven Sune Sons and one Sune Daughter




Frue Kirke, Århus

At British Museum is seen the so called ' Sunesønnernes Psalter', some sort of hymn book with a small calendarium, a calendar with death dates of saints and others. The named persons in this calendar are partly of Sune Ebbesens family, partly of the Swedish king-family related to the Sune Sons.

Ebbe Sunesen, * ab. 1158, + 1208 in the battle by Lena. He was probably the oldest Sune Son, also named Ebbe of Knardrup. Ebbe Sunesen was a highly esteemed magnate from Sjælland. He was married to Cecilie of Sweden. He had four sons and three daughters, one of his daughters, Benedicte became queen of Sweden by marriage to Sverker the Young, who was her quart cousin. Before she died at a young age, she gave birth to a daughter. This daughter married a duke from Mecklenburg, which meant that Albrekt of Mecklenburg later claimed the Swedish throne.Even though Benedicte had died so soon, the bond between Sverker and his father-in-law Ebbe was still strong. Sverker needed support in the chaotic disputes about the Swedish throne, and he had all the support he could possibly wish from the Sune brothers. 
The whole story began with Stig Tokesen Hvidelæder's and Margrethe Knudsdatter's daughter Kristine marrying the Swedish king Karl Sverkersen in 1163. He was killed by a pretender to the Swedish throne in 1167, and his son, Sverker was brought up in Denmark. He became Swedish king in 1196, butwas driven away from Sweden in 1205 and sought refuge in Denmark. The mighty Sune Sons decided to intervene and in 1207 they had finally gathered an army in order to come to his assistance. It was said that 'They advanced in Västergötland and by Lena it came to a hard struggle (31 January 12908) where it ended with a defeat for Sverker and among those killed in the battle were Ebbe Sunesen and his brother Laurens (Lars) '. Sverker had to flee once more , and 1210 he was defeated again and killed. The Swedish throne went finally to the Erik-line and Valdemar 2. Sejr foresaw probably this development, when he in 1210 aranged his sister Richiza's wedding with Erik 10. Knudsen. 
Lars Sunesen was like his brothers an important magnate and followed his brother Ebbe to Sweden and Lena in 1208, where he was killed. 
Torben Sunesen was killed in a battle against the Wend in 1198. 
Jens (Johannes) Sunesen was marsk in the last part of the 1100s. He is mostly known for his pilgrimage to Jerusalem where he died in 1201. After his death were reports about miracles by his grave, but he was never canonized, and the monks in Sorø appearantly did not do anything about this case either. They only showed the letter from Jerusalem to prove that they had inherited his estate in Alsted, which he pawned to them before his departure.


Selsø Church

Peder Sunesen, born 1161, died 1214, became bishop in Roskilde in 1191 after Absalon, and in 1201, when his brother Anders became archbishop after Absalon, he took over his job as chancellor. Peder studied in Paris, and from some letters it was obvious that Absalon took care of him and his difficulties in Paris. Peder Sunesen was said to be a delicate person, and when he got sick in Paris - maybe because of a strict monastic life - Absalon tried to intervene and help him. When Sune Ebbesen died, Absalon probably took over the responsibility for Sune's two studying sons, Peder and Anders. Peder came home safe and sound from Paris, and Absalon saw to that he became bishop in Roskilde after himself.
In 1198, when Absalon and Esbern Snare were about 70 years, some of the Sune Sons went on an expedition to the Wends, where they had a rare defeat in a battle against markgraf Otto von Brandenburg. Torben Sunesen was killed, and Peder was kept strictly imprisoned , tells Arnold of Lübeck, but ' the wise and shrude bishop' exaggerated the effects of his wounds, and the markgraf easened his prison terms in fear of being responsible for such an important man's death. He gave him a certain new gaoler, and Peder at once bribed him and got out of the prison. Peder participated in Valdemar 2. Sejr's war in 1203 against the German Lauenburg, where he contributed strongly in conquering the castle.Peder Sunesen was said to have been together with his brothers in the battle by Lena in 1208 and saw them get killed.


Roskilde by the cathedral

Anders (Andreas) Sunesen, * ab. 1164-65, + 1228. Anders was probably some years younger than Peder, and like his brother he had also his clerical education in Paris, studying philosophy and theology for some years. He continued his studies in Bologna and Oxford, where he studied jurisprudence.In the beginning of the 1190s he came back to Denmark, almost at the same time as his brother Peder Sunesen became bishop in Roskilde. It is possible that Absalon already then had decided that Anders once should be his successor as archbishop of Lund. Anders Sunesen got the job as dean in Roskilde and was simultaneously appointed the king's chancellor. He was later praised for lifting the chancellor office higher than it had ever been before.
In 1194 he was the Danish king's envoy in the tragic case about king Knud's sister Ingeborg. She was repudiated by king Philip of France right after their marriage. He got cramps during the wedding ceremony and wouldn't have anything to do with his bride after their wedding night! Ingeborg had to live for many years under prison-like conditions. Knud set the pope on Philip and sent his international experts down to the papal court in order to handle the case: Abbot Vilhelm of Æbelholt and his chancellor Anders Sunesen. After several years of seclusion Ingeborg was in 1213 finally free from her prison life and given back her rights - but not living by Philip's side - and there was never a real close political relation between Denmark and France.When Saxo had finished his Gesta Danorum, Absalon had died, and Saxo dedicated his big work to the new archbishop, Anders Sunesen, Absalon's successor. Almost at the same time as Absalon died, his old friend abbot Vilhelm of Æbelholt passed away. After Vilhelm's death a tooth he had once got pulled out began to work miracles. (I wonder why he kept that old tooth). Many people were cured by the water in which the tooth had been dipped, and Anders Sunesen asked the pope to canonize Vilhelm, which happened in 1224. This was considered rather hasty in clerical circles.Anders was undoubtedly the most learned among the Hvide-family's bishops. His knowledge of law was also an important part of his organisation of the royal chancellery and the reform of Skånske Lov , which he carried through in the first two decades of the 1200s. One of his Latin works was a big didactic poem Hexaëmeron, about the Story of Creation.He had a close relationship with pope Honorius 3., who was possibly a fellow student from Paris, and he had a lively correspondence with him. The pope appointed him papal legate in 1204, and this gave him the supervision of the crusade politics in the Baltics.
In 1219 he was on an expedition against Estland with Valdemar 2. Sejr. Anders was probably not a military strategist like his uncle , but it was on this occasion - at the battle of Lyndanisse on June 15th 1219 - that he however had a big impact on the result of the battle. It was told that when the archbishop raised his arms in prayers, the Danes did well, and when he lowered his arms in exhaustion , the Danes did not so well! Two clerics had to support his arms, and hereafter the battle went well - and according to tradition the red and white Dannebrog fell down from the sky. June 15th is a flag day in Denmark and is named Valdemar's Day as a memory of the battle of Lyndanisse in 1219.Valdemar returned to Denmark, but Anders Sunesen stayed in Estland in order to organize the young Christian church and mission. There were many problems to be solved, and in 1221 he came back to Denmark , a sick and broken down man. The next year he was allowed by the pope to withdraw from his archbishopric. He lived his last years at Ivöhus, where he died in 1228. He was buried in Lund's Cathedral, where his skeleton in later examinations showed to be seriously deformed by gouts.


Stege Church, beneath the late Gothic shell, which is from 1450-1525, is the original brick building from the first half of the 1200s. The first church probably built by Jakob Sunesen.

Jakob Sunesen , * ab. 1167-70, + in May 1246. He outlived both his brethren and his own sons. Jakob was probably the youngest son of Sune Ebbesen. He was married to Estrid Pedersdatter ,who died the same year as her husband and who according to some historians belonged to the royal Danish family. A son Peder Jakobsen died in Flandern and upon his gravestone he is called 'the Danish king's kinsman'. There is no proof of that Estrid was of royal blood, she was a daughter of an important family from Skåne.When Jakob and Estrid died in 1246, three of their four children had died already.
Peder, the eldest son was named after his maternal grandfather, he was bishop after Peder Sunesen in Roskilde. He went on a pilgrimage and died in Flandern in 1225.
Anders, who was kammermester by Valdemar 2. Sejr died childless in 1223; The third son Jens(Johannes) died in 1240, he had two children, Jens and Cecilie, and Cecilie was the only one, who had descendants in more than one link, among others Jakob of Halland, who in 1286 was among the convicted in the murder of Erik Clipping.
Jakob and Estrid's daughter Ingerd outlived her parents with ten years, she was married twice, 1) marsk Skore 2) Konrad von Regenstein. (see section Ingerd Jakobsdatter/Ingerd of Regenstein)
Jakob Sunesen was an extraordinary influential man in Danish politics in the first half of the 1200s, but seemingly he had never an office himself. He participated with his brothers in the Swedish expedition in 1208, but his interests were more in Germany than in Sweden.
He was a key person in the negotiations after king Valdemar's capture in 1223. The capture was a surprise attack from the count of Schwerin, who quarrelled for years with Valdemar about his daughter's dowry. 'She had for some years been married to Valdemar's illegitimate son Niels. The count visited Valdemar during a hunt on the island Lyø and kidnapped him and his son Valdemar the Young the night between 6th and 7th May 1223. Both the pope and the German emperor intervened in the case . There were long and difficult negotiations ; on one side of the table were Jakob Sunesen and his son-in-law marsk Skore, and on the other side of the table were Jakob's future son-in-law, count Konrad von Regenstein. The release of Valdemar and his son took finally place in the new year 1225-26. 
The story behind Valdemar Sejr's capture:
Niels Valdemarsen, a son of Valdemar Sejr and a frille was in 1217 married to Oda, a daughter of count Gunzelin of Schwerin. She brought to Niels as a pawn for her dowry a halfpart of the county Schwerin. Niels and Oda died young, Niels in 1218 and his widow in 1220. Their son was Niels, count of Halland * 1218, + 1251.
When Niels' maternal grandfater Gunzelin died in 1220, while Gunzelin's brother count Henrik was on a crusade to the Holy Land, king Valdemar let, as a guardian for the underage grandson
, his sister's son, count Albert of Orlamünde take over the half of Schwerin, Oda's dowry. Count Albert committed himself to - by a decree - give it back to Niels when he became of age, 26 persons were guarantors for this.
When count Henrik of Schwering returned back home a year later, he was very upset over this incident, and as a revenge he captured Valdemar at Lyø 1223. After the king finally was released in the turn of the year 1225-26, one of the conditions were that he on Niels' behalf renounced any claim on Schwerin. As compensation for the estates in Schwerin Valdemar transferred in 1241 a halfpart of Halland, 4 herreder (districts) north of Ätran, obviously in full right of ownership to Niels.

Count Niels of Halland married Cecilie Jensdatter, a daughter of Jens (Johannes) Sunesen. They had the children Niels (+1271), Andreas, Atlet, Jacob (of Halland) and Cæcilie, who was married to Tyge Torstensen. Niels died in 1251; his widow married Anders Olufsen Mundskænk.
Cecilie Jensdatter and her brother Jens(Johannes) Jensen Litle got a part in the inheritage from their aunt Ingerd Jakobsdatter/Ingerd of Regenstein.Jakob Sunesen called himself 'Jakob of Møn', it was shown in his seal, and it is known that he owned land on Møn, but not how much, just that he was an immensely rich man. Posterity called him 'The Rich hr. Jakob'. He did not give many gifts to Sorø kloster like the other part of the Hvide-family, but shortly before his death he gave a big gift to Roskilde, and it is possible that he chose to be buried in Roskilde cathedral instead of Sorø, where his father and brothers were buried.When Jakob died in 1246, he had experienced the beginning break down of the co-operation between the church and the king. Jakob's year of death is mentioned in many year books, where else only kings' years of death are mentioned on the scanty space. 
Margrethe Sunesen also known as Margrethe of Højelse was born ab. 1155? and died in 1177, murdered by her husband Herlog. (See section: Margrethe Sunesdatter/Margrethe af Højelse)

photo: grethe bachmann

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