Source: Dansk Biografisk Lexicon Carl Fr. Bricka Project Runeberg (1887-1905) Valdemar I, 1131-82, Danish king,a son of Knud Lavard and Ingeborg, was born eight days after his father's murder 14. January 1131; he was named after his mother's paternal grandfather Grandprince Vladimir. V. was brought up by Asser Rig in Fjenneslevlille and was from his childhood united in a faithful friendship to Asser's sons, the older Absalon and his brother Esbern (Snare); devoutness and patriotism was the guiding principle in this home. It is characteristic of V.'s fiery temper that he and his cousin Svend Eriksen (Grathe), both still only boys, decided to move Knud Lavard's mortal remains from the grave into a reliquary, since the holyness of Knud often showed itself in miracles, and the boys carried out their purpose in spite of archbishop Eskil's protests. When the kingdom was divided between Svend and Knud, V. took service by Svend and was appointed Jarl in Schleswig; in the fights against Knud V. took part with great courage. But Svend's unreliability and no ability in ruling became gradually obvious to V. Knud's friends arranged a betrothal between V. and Knud's halfsister Sophie, and when Svend ambushed V.,he joined Knud completely and became his co-regent. After an agreement via V.'s mediation had been arranged about a tripartition of the kingdom, Svend attacked treasonably his co-kings during a gathering at Knud in Roskilde; Knud was killed , V. was wounded, but got away and escaped in the dark. (9. Aug. 1157). He kept hiding in the forests for some time, until he succeeded with Esbern's help to get to Jutland in a great storm. In the battle at Grathe Hede 23. Oct. 1157 Svend suffered a decisive defeat and was killed under his flight. V. showed a great mildness to his opponents, just two of Svend's men were executed because Knud's warriors demanded it. The first big task for V. was to free Denmark from the Wendic attacks and cleanse the Danish waters from these pirates. During the throne- feud and all the inner unrest in the previous generation the Wendic robbers had free rein, but many parts of the country were completely desolate, and all citizens were frightened and could not do their business. Absalon, who had been elected bishop in Roskilde in 1158, realized acutely the importance of the task,and also how to carry it through, and he was not only V.'s persevering helper, but a pioneer in this warfare. However, the task seemed so large that they thought it necessary to make an alliance with hertug Henrik Løve in the fight against the Wends, but the advantages in such an alliance were few, and soon V. and Absalon had frightened the Wends off from the Danish waters. The center of the Wendic heathendom and piracy was still Rygen/Rügen, and the goal was to conquer this island and destroy its famous shrine Arkona. Together with the Pommeranian V. made an expedition there and captured Arkona; St. Viti Day, 15 June 1169, he made his entry into the castle.Pope Alexander III placed the island under Roskilde Bishopric by a papal bull. In several later expeditions, especially to the countries at the mouth of Oder, V. succeeded in restraining both the Wends and the Pommeranians. By organizing the war system and by building fortifications he also took care of the defence of the country; he let build a very thick tile- wall in front of Danevirke, a half mile long (Danish mile = ab. 7,5 km)- and at the island of Sprogø he raised a strong tower, surrounded by a fortification wall. When V. ascended the throne, the conditions of the kingdom were outwards so insecure that the king thought it necessary - on emperor Frederik's request -to promise to pay tribute to him. When the emperor returned from Italy, he had summoned a Rigsdag and a church-meeting at Dole in France Comté.(1162).Here had to be a judgement in the large church-feud between the two popes Victor IV and Alexander III, who both claimed that they were rightfully elected and both had large parties in the various countries. The emperor asked V. to be present, and although Absalon and Esbern advised him firmly not to, he went down there. In a church- view the meeting was without importance, since Alexander's supporters were not present, but V. - who until now had supported pope Victor - although archbishop Eskil had taken Alexander's side, suddenly discovered the danger in such a support to the emperor. The tribute he had to pay emperor Frederik I, was of lesser importance, since it did not order him vasalry. Not long after his homecoming V. changed his church-view, and Eskil, who caused by his hot-tempered attitude to the king in the church-feud had to leave the country, could come back again. V. had shortly after his ascending the throne promised the Norwegian chief Erling Skakke his assistance, if his son Magnus, when he got the throne of Norway, gave Vigen to V. After Magnus was crowned king (1164), the promise was not fulfilled , and therefore made V. two expeditions to Norway(1165, 1168), but without any large profit. The unrest was however very awkward for the Norsemen, and Erling achieved in a visit by Valdemar in Randers in 1170 a peace, whereafter Vigen was given to Denmark, on the condition that Erling got it as a vasalry. V. had the same year obtained, what he had worked for for a long time at the Kurien in Rome, that he wanted his father Knud Lavard admitted among the saints. At a great party in Ringsted the papal bulle about this was announced the day after St. Hansdag 1170 (25 June), and Knud's bones were put into a magnificent reliquary. Just after this was V.'s 7 year old son Knud, who already had been paid tribute to as heir to the throne 5 years ago, annointed and crowned by archbishop Eskil. V. worked during all his rule in a close connection to the church.The feud he had with Eskil for a period, was now atoned for, and when Eskil resigned, he was allowed by the pope to elect his successor and chose Absalon. By many privileges and favours V. supported churches and klosters, he founded as thanks for his victory over Svend the richly equipped Vitskøl kloster. For the sick and worn-out warriors he established the first Danish Johanitterkloster in Antvorskov, and he gave great gifts to Ringsted church and to many other churches in the country. Kong V.s rule was only darkened by few shadows, but there were some. Like the unwise and unfortunate conspiracies, in which Buris Henriksen, Magnus, Erik Lam's son and Eskil's daughter's sons Carl and Knud were guilty; Carl was killed in the fight, the three others were put in prison for life at Søborg. V. almost showed forbearance in his treatment of these men. On the other hand V. could be blamed for being too hard and unforgiving during the rebellion, which the Skåne-people started in 1180-81, when they drove away the non- Skåne-officials and denied to pay bishop- taxes and other duties. Saxo does not approve V.'s tough treatment of the rebels, and Svend Aagesen/Aggesen, who was a friend of the Skåne-people and wrote reports just after the rebellion , seems to blame V. that he was more "cruel to his own" than was righteous. Svend eagerly praises the king as a magnificent warrior, very handsome, sharp-sighted and cleverly judging, very cultured and right-minded, and all contemporaries agreed in this opinion. His nature was happy, like his open kindness and complete lack of arrogance won many hearts; his braveness and his generosity towards his enemies was appreciated by everyone. But although he was tempered and resolute, when danger was there and the fight came close, he could in quiet conditions show a hesitation in his decisions, which was not good, a certain shyness in speaking out made him restrain bursts of anger, which would have been natural and might have hindered that a grudge kept staying in his mind, like it often happened. Much of, what V. had fought for, became his son's gain, and "came to him almost without efforts" says Saxo. And V., who always had fought against the narrow-mindedness of the Jutlanders, had to - on his deathbed in Vordingborg - see the fleet give up an expedition to the Wends caused by the sullenness of the Jutland crew. His fever got worse and he died 12. May 1182. The peasants came at once to bear this fine king on their shoulders to his last resting place; he had been the liberator and innovator of the homeland; and here in Ringsted church his fosterbrother Absalon read, deeply moved, the soul mass for the king. V. had with Sophie, whom he had married just before the battle at Grathe hede, 2 sons, Knud and Valdemar, and 6 daugthers, Sophie, who married Sigfried of Orlamünde, Richiza, the Swedish king Erik's wife, Ingeborg, married to Philip August of France, Helene, the wife of Vilhelm of Lüneburg and 2 daughters, who became nuns. - Before his marriage V. had a son Christoffer with his mistress Tove. Johannes C. H. R. Steenstrup. Sophie, o.1140-98, Queen, was a halfsister of king Knud (III), Magnus's son, since his mother Richiza had after the fall of Magnus married a Russian prince Volodar, whom she however had left to marry king Sverker of Sweden. After Valdmar, the son of Knud Lavard, had turned from the alliance with Svend and had reconciled with Knud, a marriage between Valdemar and sophie was arranged; she was only adolescent, but showed signs of becoming very beautiful, and since she had no estate in Denmark, Knud promised to give her 1/8 of his paternal inheritance as a dowry. S. was brought to a woman, Bodil, for upbringing, but after Knud's murder Valdemar married his bride in Viborg (1157), and after the victory at Grathe Hede were striken some brakteats coins)with his and Sophie's picture. S. bore the sons Knud and Valdemar and the daughters Sophie, Richiza, Ingeborg and Helene and two, who became nuns. Svend Aagesen/Aggesen talks with great admiration about S.'s beauty. She seems to have been a self-assured, ambitious personality. After Valdemar's death 12 May 1182 Landgraf Ludwig of Thüringen - who had repudiated his wife - proposed to the Danish queen; he was one of the mightiest princes of Germany, bluff and violent. King Knud lead his mother, accompanied by a large entourage to Eider, where Ludwig received her. But Ludwig quickly changed his mind and sent the mortified S. back to Denmark; he went on a crusade and died on his way home (1190). S. died 5.May 1198 and was buried in Ringsted church beside king Valdemar. Johannes C. H. R. Steenstrup.
Dansk Biografisk Lexicon
Carl Fr. Bricka
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