Jelling kirke, Gorms grav

Jelling kirke, Gorms grav
Jelling kirke, Gorms grav

Monday, April 27, 2009


The Thrugot-family/Thrugot-Slægten

Bodil Thrugotsdatter, born ab. 1065, was a daughter of Jarl Thrugot Ulvsen Fagerskind and Thorgunna Vagnsdatter. According to Saxo she was already married to Erik Ejegod in the beginning of Oluf Hunger's rule,(1086-95) when she followed him in exile to Sweden, so she might have been about 20-21 years in the first year of her marriage. Erik was born in 1056 , and he became king in 1095 after Oluf Hunger's death. It was said that he was the son among Svend Estridsen's many sons whom people loved the most. He was tall and strong. Saxo praised Bodil's beauty as well as her character, especially her tolerance towards her husband and his mistresses. It was usual for a king in those days to have many mistresses and illegitimate children. Erik had four known children with various mistresses (friller). Bodil and Erik's only child was Knud Lavard, who was born in 1096.

The church began to strengthen the marriage which must be the frame of the family, but it took some years ...many years. There was no clear-cut boundary line between children born in or out of wedlock. The last, the so-called slegfredbørn (illegitimate) were hardly in worse positions than the legitimate children - if only their father acknowledged them. Fx Svend Estridsen had 20 children out of wedlock with 20 different women , and five of the sons became kings. Most important was the blood- or family bands with a certain priority for the male line. But the church had the last word. Those loose sexual relations were condemned, the church achieved authority in matrimonial cases, and it forbid divorce between husband and wife.

In 1095 the Pope Urban 2. organized the first crusade to the holy land and a year later the crusaders gathered at Konstantinopel. From Denmark came Svend Estridsen's son Sven and a couple of bishops, but already on their way to the crusaders' army they were killed by Turks. In 1103 Erik Ejegod and Bodil went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but they did not survive either. They followed the old route of the Vikings along the Russian rivers with a large entourage. Bishop Asser, queen Bodil's nephew was together with Harald Kesja, Eriks half brother, installed as temporary regents in Denmark. King Erik died at Cypres, ab. 47 years of age, and queen Bodil died in Jersusalem, ab. 38 years of age. She died at Oliebjerget and was buried in Josafat's Dal. This happened in 1103 shortly before Asser Svendsen, her nephew and a member of the Thrugot-family became the first archbishop in Lund. And the orphan boy Knud was only seven years old.

Bodil's father Thrugot Ulfsen/Ulvsen Fagerskind was obviously a good-looking guy; Harald Hardrade gave him the by-name Fagerskind (pretty skin), a name that followed him forever. His father was the famous Jarl Galicie-Ulf/Ulv (Ulf the Galiciefarer) who was wellknown for his sea-expeditions. Galicia in the northwestern part of Spain was one of the first kingdoms in Europe, and during the 9th and 10th centuries Normans and Vikings occassionally raided the coasts. The Towers of Catoria were built as a system of fortifications to stop the Viking raids on Santiago de Compostela. Ulv was a høvding (chief) in Jutland and a Jarl in Denmark, so it's easy to imagine that he was one of the Viking-chiefs on the Galicia-raids. And when he returned home with rich booty from Spain he quickly achieved the Galicia-name. His son Thrugot had the Galicia-name too, but if he inherited it after his father or because he followed in his father's footsteps to Galicia is not sure. Ulv's wife and Thrugots mother was Bodil Haakonsdatter, a daughter of Haakon Ladejarl Eriksson and Gunhild Burislawsdatter of Venden, and she was a granddaughter of the Norwegian king Haakon Sigurdsson Jarl or Hákon jarl hinn ríki (Hakon Jarl the rich) who reigned Norway from ab. 970 until 995, where he after a peasant-rebellion was killed by his good friend and trall Tormod Kark.

Bodils father Thrugot died ab. 1070 when she was a little girl. She was born ab. 1065 and was obviously named after her paternal grandmother Bodil Haakonsdatter. She was probably brought up in Jutland on the family estate. Her mother Thorgunn/Thorgunna Vagnsdatter, born ab. 1030,who became the ancestral mother of the famous Jutland Thrugot-family, was a daughter of Vagn Aagesen/Åkesson of a family from Bornholm. It is a probability that Thorgunn lived long after Thrugot's death, maybe she is the "Thrugund, Langliva Mother dicta», whose day of death is written in the Lund-Dødebog on 8. February. A runestone in Asmild kirke at Viborg was found in the tower foundation in 1950. It is disputed if Thorgund who raised the stone after her husband Bose, belonged to the influential Thrugot-family, and it is uncertain what it means that Bose was en "tidernes mand" (man of times). The inscription is:
"Thorgund, Thorgot Thjodulfssøns datter, satte denne sten efter sin mand Bose, tidenders mand.....datter" ("Thorgund, Thorgot Thjodulfssøns datter, raised this stone after her husband Bose, a man of times.....daughter.")

Vagn Aagesen was a legendary Danish warrior in the end of the 900s who played an important role in Jomsvikingernes saga and is mentioned in other sagas. Vagn was a son of Åke Tokesson and Torgunn Vesetesdatter from Bornholm. According to Snorre Sturlasson Erik Jarl let Vagn Åkesson marry Ingeborg Torkelsdatter, a daughter of Erik ejegod who Vagn had killed, and Erik Jarl gave him good ship and crew. They parted as friends and the saga says that Vagn went home to Denmark; he became a great man and many great people descended from him . After this Vagn disappears from the sagas, but we know that his daughter Thorgunn Vagnsdatter married Thrugot Ulvsson Fagerskind, and Thorgunn and Thrugot's daughter Bodil became queen of Denmark via her marriage to Svend Estridsen's son Erik. If they were married before or in the beginning of Oluf Hunger's rule, then the marriage might have been in 1085, ten years before Erik in 1095 became king as Erik 1. , and he was later given the name Ejegod, probably because of his good personality.

Bodil had two brothers, Sven and Astra, who were named Thorgunnasen after their high-ranked mother and Thrugotsen after their father. Svend and Astra were according to Knytlingesaga Knud den Hellige's hirdmænd and best of friends. They accompanied him when the rebellion broke out in Jutland, and during the fight in Sankt Albani kirke they defended him bravely. Svend and Astra survived and after Knud's death they went to Flandern to work for that Knud's imprisoned brother Oluf was released; they went to prison instead of him, until a ransom could be paid to count Balduin. Oluf went home and became king in Denmark (in 1086), but he did not send any ransom. Count Balduin allowed the brothers to go home to get the ransom, but Oluf still wouldn't pay a dime. Not very sympathetic. The brothers then paid the ransom themselves, but count Balduin was generous and let them keep the money. What is told about Svend's life is marked with uncertainty, but he was the father of archbishop Asser, bishop Svend in Viborg, Eskil Svendsen and Christiern Svendsen, who became a powerful man in the Danish kingdom.

The Thrugot-family is also named the Trued-or the Trund-family. Sven Aggesen mentions in his writings about family connections to Ommersyssel in Jutland. In Kastbjerg parish in Ommersyssel (Nørrejylland) is an estate named Trudsholm. The present manor was built in the 1600s but about 2 km northeast of the manor Trudsholm is Gammel Trudsholm, a large and impressive castle bank; there are actually two sections of which the northern is the largest, both surrounded by moats. To the west and south the plan is encircled by a front work, expanding to the south in a considerable broadth. Brickwork have been found at the place. I don't know if this could be called a qualified guess, at least it is allowed to have a guess. The old castle bank is known back to the year 1368, but how far back there were fortificated buildings here is not known. Maybe Gammel Trudsholm was once a fortificated castle of the Thrugot-family. Remember it's only a guess!

When Erik Ejegod and Bodil went out on their pilgrimage, they left their son Knud in the care of Skjalm Hvide. Knud's fosterbrothers were the four Skjalm-sons, Asser, Ebbe, Toke and Sune. They probably had a happy childhood at Skjalm Hvide's estate in Fjenneslev. Knud was a prince and heir to the Danish throne; he was supposedly taken good care of. He lived in a safe family-group. The medieval name "familia" means the household, the big family itself and servants, free or not free. If a family member was attacked, the family-group gathered for revenge or receipt of compensation. Knud and his fosterbrothers' school-learning was probably put into their heads by a private teacher, possibly a priest. Clerical persons were almost the only ones who could read and write. Five lively boys, fairly of the same age harrassing one confused Latin teacher because they would rather go out playing crusaders. There were two Skjalm-daughters, Cæcilia and Margrethe, but they didn't count much!

But the childhood soon ended and Skjalm Hvide sent the young Danish prince down to the German Herzog (duke) Lothar of Saxony, who became German king in 1125. When he was 20 years old, Knud got married to Ingeborg of Russia in 1116; she was a daughter of Grossfürst Mstislav 1. of Kiev and Christina of Sweden, and almost at the same time, he became Jarl of the Danish border and Hertug of Schleswig. He was so successful that he was appointed patron protector by the merchants. His byname Lavard was a name of honour; the word originated from Old English hlaford = Lord. It meant Lord(Herre) in Saxon and other Germanic languages - the original meaning was bread giver. Later Knud became - with the assistance from king Lothar - knés over the Abodrits under Saxon superiority, and in this way he was both the Danish and German king's vassal.

Knud Lavard was, as a son of Erik Ejegod, an obvious candidate to the Danish throne, also because he had important and friendly contacts to king Lothar and the Wends, but others were more than interested in the royal power; among those his cousin Magnus, a son of king Niels - and another cousin, Henrik Skadelaar, a son of Svend, who like Niels and Erik Ejegod was a son of Svend Estridsen. Svend had been desperate for gaining the Danish crown, but he died in 1104 on his way to Viborg Thing. Henrik had inherited his father's dream; he conspired with Magnus against Knud Lavard for years. It all ended tragically with the murder of Knud in Haraldsted in January 1131. A descendant of the mighty Thrugots and the old Danish kings was eliminated, but he had left a son, who would once become one of the greatest Danish kings, the boy Valdemar who was brought up by Knuds' fosterbrother, Skjalm Hvide's son Asser Rig and fru Inge. His fosterbrothers were Esbern Snare and Absalon. (See my article about Knud Lavard in the Thyra-blog) .

More text later

Source: Danske slotte og Herregårde, bd. 1-24, 1966, Trap Danmark, Randers amt; Dansk Biografisk Lexicon; Dansk Adels Årbog; Politikens Danmarkshistorie bd.3 & 4; Norsk biografisk lexicon; Salmonsens Konversationslexicon etc.


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