Jelling kirke, Gorms grav

Jelling kirke, Gorms grav
Jelling kirke, Gorms grav

Friday, August 27, 2010

Harald Kesja, --1135--, ~ Ragnhild, a daughter of Magnus Barfod

Harald Kesja, --1135--, prince, was a nonmarital son
of Erik Ejegod and born long before his father became
king. When Erik was about to begin his pilgrimage, he
appointed H. as regent (1102).H. was a strong warrior,
who used his «Kesje» with great skill, the heavy
broad-blade spear; thus he must have got his byname
like other warriors, who were named after their kesje,
spear or sword. But he showed himself at the same time
as a not noble person, who misused the power for
robbery and violence. Asser who had just become an
archbishop, had to be his co-regent, but he had no
influence on H.

H. was hated by people, and when the message came
that Erik Ejegod had died (1104),no one wanted him to
be king; his paternal uncle Niels was elected. H.'s
descent gave him however a prominent place among the
Danish magnates, and he married Ragnhild, a daughter
of the late Norwegian king Magnus Barfod and a
stepdaughter of the Danish queen Margrethe Fredkulla.
Like his younger brother Knud (Lavard) he took part
in Niels' unlucky expedition to the Wendic chief
Henrik; upon a shield he was carried badly wounded
out from the fight at Ljutka. What else is heard
about him during king Niels' weak rule is not very

He boldly continued his robberies. From the castle
Roskilde Havn (harbour), where he probably was the
king's chief, he plundered far and wide. He was
especially brutal towards the citizens of Roskilde,
until they in their indignation went against H. and
forced him to take flight. He was also ruthless and
arrogant to his own brother Erik (Emune). Under the
pretext that Erik was born in adultery, he denied
him any part of the ancestral estate; Erik then
harrassed his farms and brought the property to
Arnakke, probably close to the present town Nyborg,
but he soon had to flee from H.; H. feared however
a new attack from Erik and put parts of his property
which he couldn't bring with him, on fire. Their
brother Knud Lavard, who was Denmarks hertug (duke)
and most outstanding man, summoned both and judged
that Erik had the right to inherit his father.

H. was also know for his immorality; his wife had
to put up with his many mistresses and nonmarital
sons, who were considered a rising gang of robbers.
After Knud Lavard's murder (7. Jan. 1131) H.
actually went on the Thing as an accuser of Niels
and Magnus, but he did not use much power in order
to revenge his murdered brother. Erik on the other
hand became at once a leader of the revengers. He
denied the Danish crown for H.'s sake; but before
the year had gone, he let himself be paid tribute,
and H. was in rage when seeing himself neglected by
his younger brother.But he followed however,
together with his sons Bjørn Jernside(Ironside) and
Erik Diakon,in 1132 Erik on the expedition to Jutland
and took part in the lucky fight at Sejrø; but after
Erik's defeat at Onsild and his flight from Jutland
he joined Niels, although his two sons still were
among Erik's trusted men.In order to fight his
brother H. fortificated his castle at Roskilde; but
German workers from Roskilde made catapults for Erik,
and the stones crushed H.'s strong defence tower; H.
escaped with difficulty to Jutland, and the castle was
destroyed. At the castle site were later found a hidden
silver- and gold-treasure and a number of coins from
that period.

When king Niels after the battle at Værebro drove
Erik out of Danmark (1133), H. took a brutal revenge
towards the Germans in Roskilde; but the rumor about
their mutilation enraged the German emperor Lothar,
so Magnus Nielsen had to prevent the trouble by a
humiliating submission. H. took part in the last
battle of the civil war at Fodevig in Skåne. Here
Erik Emune killed Magnus og gave Niels a terrible
defeat (4. Juni 1134). H. lost his son Magnus in the
battle, but escaped with great riscs together with
king Niels. They went hastily west through the country.
On the way Niels appointed H. co-king, but his luck
was short. H. was wise enough not to follow the old
king to Schleswig, and after his kill he was paid
tribute by the Jutlanders and took up residence in
the area near the old royal castle in Jelling.
Unexpectedly Erik went in the beginning of 1135, in
spite of ice and frost, against him, surprised him in
Skiping (Skibet) at Vejle Å (river) and let his own
brother be decapitated. The year before he had
ignominiusly let H.'s oldest sons, Bjørn Jernside and
Erik Diakon drown in Slien, although they had not
joined H., but only advised their father to leave
Denmark. At Skibet Erik took H.'s other sons prisoner;
only Oluf got away and later returned as a throne
pretender, causing a new civil war.Erik now carried
through the extermination of H.s descenders.He brought
H.'s 8 sons east and sailed them to an island where
they were murdered and thrown into a hollow. Their
names were Sivard,Erik, Svend, Niels, Harald, Benedict,
Mistivint and Knud. Besides 12 sons H. had 3 others.
According to the legends Magnus, Oluf, Harald and Knud
were born in wedlock.

H. Olrik, Knud Lavard. (translated from Hans Olriks Danish
text: grethe bachmann) 

Hans Olrik.

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

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