Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Svend III Grathe, ab. 1125-1157, ~ Adelheid of Meissen

Dansk Biografisk Lexicon
Carl Fr. Bricka
Project Runeberg

Svend Grathe, o.1125-1157, king, was en illegitimate
son of Erik Emune . His father took him along, when
he sought shelter in Norway (1133), and dangerous
to himself he also took his boy along on his bold
flight from Norway to Denmark(1134). When Erik was
killed (1137) S. was too young to be king; Erik Lam,
who was crowned, sent him to Conrad III's court,
where he became friend with the king's brother's son,
the young Frederik of Schwaben (later emperor
Frederik I). German sources from this time call S.
by the name Peter; like others in the royal family
he had a double name. In the late part of Erik Lam's
rule he was back in Denmark, where he and his cousin
Valdemar in spite of archbishop Eskil's protest
shrined Knud Lavard's bones.(1146). The same year
Erik retired and died, and soon after S. grasped
for the Crown, he succeeded in winning support
from the people from Zealand and Skåne, but the
main part of the Jutlanders supported Knud
Magnussen, and a violent throne-fight began.
Eskil was close to supporting Knud, but S. won
over the archbishop and held him prisoner in his
own cathedral, but he soon goot scared by his own
daring and bought Eskil's forgiveness and support
by giving the archbishopric some estate in Skåne
and a big part of Bornholm. He defeated luckily
Knud at Slangerup and drove him back to Jutland.
Under influence of the large European crusade-
movement the kings then joined in a common
expedition to the Wends (1147), but did not
achieve much; the Jutlanders saw happily the
Wends slay down the Skånings and take S.'s royal
ship, and S. was too distrustful of Knud; he did
not want to sail home on his ship. The war of the
kings broke out again.Knud was again the attacker,
he took Roskilde by surprise, but lost the battle
at Tåstrup, where S. did not distinguish himself
personally (1148). S. had now the upper hand, he
conquered Funen, placed Valdemar as hertug in
Schleswig and attacked - supported by the Ditmarsker
Edeler - grev Adolf of Holstein, because he had
joined Knud, but he could not prevent the fall
of Edeler in an uneven fight with the Holsteiners.
Later S. was victorious at Viborg (1150) and
chased Knud out of the country, but when Knud
came back with some German auxiliaries, he
inflicted a new defeat on him at Gedbæk (1151).
The honour of these victories was mostly due
to Valdemar.  S. tried to secure his control
over Denmark by a humble approach to Conrad III,
whom Knud also,but in vain, asked for assistance.
Once again Knud fastened on Danish ground by
conquering the Frisians, but S. captured the
Frisian Castle (Friserborg).Knud went to the
German king,Frederik I, who summoned his friend
to the meeting in Merseburg (1152).The Crown
was judged to go to S.; but he became the vasal
of Frederik and had to promise to give Zealand
to Knud as a vasalry. When he however only gave
him spread vasalries, he offended Valdemar, who
had vouched for the agreement, and S. thereby
made the base of his own misfortune.

During his success he had in spite of bishop
Elias' advice spared his captured enemies, even
his father's murderer Plov. (Sorte Plov) But
this magnanimity was rather reckless, he was
blind for the reality and underestimated his
opponents. Furthermore there were deficiencies
in his ruling. During the throne- feuds the
Wends had grown more dangerous in the Danish
waters. S. let build some earth-banks as a
protection and inflicted some defeats on them,
but else he was content with just giving large
sums to the Sachserhertug Henrik Løve that he
should keep away the Wends, which Henrik did
not do, and S. did not use his power to build
a big national defence. An insult - towards
the jarl Carl by the Swedish king's son, Jon
Sverkerson, gave S. an excuse for an attack on
Sweden,but caused by the winter-cold he had to
go home without having achieved anything.(1153).
He was always in a feud with Eskil, and his
unreliability and exploitations woke aversion in
many people. He suppressed some rebellions in
Skåne with blood, and he often did wrong to his
friends. He admitted German gentlemen in his
entourage, and he submitted to their rude
behaviour towards his own people. And with
partiality for German law  (duels) and court
customs he caused enmity from everyone.German
musicians were his guests, but an Icelandic
Scald was not payed for his kongekvad.(a
song about the king).

In these circumstances Valdemar and Knud joined
more closely together. S. tried to kill Valdemar
or to neutralize him by luring him into German
captivity, but his plan failed. At Viborg Thing
Knud and Valdemar took name of king.(1154).
Eskil left S., even many of his earlier faithful
supporters left him, and followed by his warriors'
disdain he took flight to Germany. He drifted
around for almost three years without finding
any helpers for his fight. Giving golden promises
to Henrik Løve he finally got prepared for war
with his assistance. They bribed Danevirk'es
guard to let them slip through into Schleswig,
extorted contributions from the city and
plundered the trade-fleet in Slien, but went
back without waiting for the enemy to arrive.
Henrik Løve let however the Wends he ruled
ravage Funen and then lead S. to the plagued
island, where they paid tribute to him. The
other kings advanced against him, but some
negotiations began in Odense and a peace-
meeting was arranged at Lolland, where Valdemar
by a court order divided the kingdom and chose
Jutland for himself; S. had a right to choose
before Knud and took the Skåne-country in
order not to be pent-up between his rivals,
and Knud got Zealand. S.'s bad luck had for
long removed the good elements he originally
had owned and developed his worst qualities,
he now became a villain. At the "Blodgildet"
(Blood Feast) in Roskilde (9. August 1157) he
let Knud cut down and almost killed Valdemar
too, but Valdemar escaped and S. followed him
to Jutland.At the crucial meeting Valdemar
was the victor; S. took flight, his horse got
stuck in a moor, and S. was run down by
exhaustion, he was discovered by some robbing
peasants, who killed him (23. Okt. 1157). This
happened at Grathe Hede, and he later got a
by-name from this place. Some peasants buried
the body, soon a chapel was built, and at its
northern side was S.'s stone coffin seen not
so long ago.

His queen Adelheid went to Germany and married
again; a son of S. died a baby; their daughter
Luccardis was later married to grev Berthold II
of Andechs, Markgreve of Istrien, but divorced
from him because of infedelity.(died 1188).

Saxo, ed. Müller.
Helmold, Chron. Slavorum.
H. Olrik, Konge- og Præstestand II.
Steenstrup, Vore Folkeviser S. 215 ff.
Hist. Tidsskr. 6. R. III, 108 ff. 226 ff.;
7. R. III, 369 ff.
Aarh. f. nord. Oldkynd. 1887, S. 78 ff.

Hans Olrik.

Adelheid (or Adele)(of Meissen) --1152--queen,
was the next-youngest daughter of Conrad of
Wettin, Markgreve of Meissen and Lausitz, and
his wife Luccardis. Adelheid was in 1152
married to king Svend (Grathe), with whom she
had a son, who died a child, and a daughter,
Luccardis. She was accused for inducing her
husband to introduce foreign customs in
Denmark, but Saxo said this was unjust.After
Svend's death she married grev Albert of
Aschersleben or Ballenstedt, with whom she
had a daughter Gertrudis, who later was
married to Walther af Arnstein.

Suhm, Hist. af Danmark VI.

J. Kinch.

Dansk Biografisk Lexicon
Carl Fr. Bricka
Project Runeberg
translation grethe bachmann  ©copyright 

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