Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Hvide Family in Jutland

The island Hjelm, photo gb.
Marsk Stig Andersen Hvide.
* ca. 1230 + 1293 Hjelm

Danish magnate and marsk, died 1293, according to legend buried by his men in Stubberup Church near Eskebjerg(now Scheelenborg) at Funen.Stig Andersen was a rich man, he owned property in Jutland, at Funen and Zealand. He was one of the mightiest men in the country through many years and the government was often named 'Marsk Stig's Government.' He wasn't just anyone - his ancestors must have been in the top elite, consisting of names we know already.The family line I have suggested can only be a doubtful theory for professional historians, but it is a possibility. No proofs delivered , but this is one of the things, which is so fascinating when dealing with early medieval history - like 'The Regicide in Finderup Lade' - a crime story never to be solved. Discussions and guessing will go on and on - and here is one of my guessings about Stig Andersen Hvide, a great personality who had an immense influence on Danish politics and Denmark's future. He showed strong family traits with the mightiest men of the Hvide-family. He's a typical Hvide-guy.(Stig Andersens father is not known, but his first name must be Anders).

My notes : Stig Andersen's father was Anders Tokesen Hvide,who was a son of Toke Stigsen Hvide.
Toke Stigsen Hvide was a son of Stig Hvidelæder Tokesen and Margrethe of Denmark (daughter of Knud Lavard and Ingeborg Mstislavsdatter). Stig Hvidelæder Tokesen was a son of Toke Skjalmsen and Gyda of Denmark. Toke Skjalmsen was a son of Skjalm Hvide. NB:Stig Hvidelæder Tokesen is not known to have a son by the name Toke (he had two sons, Niels and Aage) but this might be wrong, since his father was 'a Toke' - and it was a common thing to let the name continue in the family. At a point the name Toke wasn't 'modern' anymore, and this might have been around Stig Andersen Hvide's time.
Stig Andersen Hvide married:
1) Ossa Nielsdatter, a daughter of Niels Alexandersen, who was a great-great-grandson of Skjalm Hvide.
2) Ingeborg Pallesdatter Litle, a daughter of Palle Litle, who was a great-great-grandson of Skjalm Hvide.
3) NN (Ingeborg?) Offesdatter Neb , a daughter of drost Offe/Uffe Nielsen Neb, whose father Niels Erlandsen was a great-great-grandson of Skjalm Hvide.
children: Anders Stigsen Hvide ( ~ Margrethe Nielsdatter Lændi), Niels Stigsen, 2 daughters

Møllerup today

Owner of Tygestrup, Eskebjerg, Bjørnholm(now Høgholm), Bjørnkjær and Møllerup (Mylnthorp) in Feldballe parish by Ebeltoft; marsk and army commander latest year 1275; denied together with other magnates to pay tribute to king Erik (5.) Klipping's son Erik as heir to the throne on Danehof in Nyborg 1276; prominent member and possibly the leader of the magnate opposition, which from the king demanded the holding of a Danehof each year, prohibition against imprisonment without preceding conviction on the Thing, without confession or without catching in the act, plus a guarantee against that the king moved a case from the peasants' Thing to the king's Thing, the king's commitment to these demands was confirmed on Danehof in Vordingborg March 1282 on the implementation of Denmark's first constitution, Erik 5.'s coronation charter, signed by the king at Nyborg Castle 29. July 1282.

Møllerup today

A member of the court of arbitration for the reading of the inheritance claims of the members of the royal family, the same year (1282) marsk and leading member of the magnate government, probably in September 1283 together with his father-in-law Uffe Nielsen Neb as drost, bishop Jacob of Schleswig as chancellor and Rane Jonsen of Gjorslev as kammermester (financial leader) ; took part in carrying out a row of statutory instruments in ab. 1284 , among others outlawry punishment for killing in the victim's home, in hostel or church and with reduction of taxes and services to the king, and with major privileges for magnates.

Nyborg castle
After the murder on the king in Finderup Lade 22 November 1286 he was dismissed as marsk together with the rest of the government by the new government under the leadership of drost Peder Nielsen Hoseøl; accused together with grev Jacob of Nørre Halland, the royal vassal Peder Jacobsen, one of hertug Valdemar's knights Niels Knudsen, Peder Porse and Niels Hallandsfar who were also knights, kammermester (the king's financial leader)Rane Jonsen of Gjorslev and the two væbners Aage Kokke and Arved Bendtsen for complicity in the regicide, and on the Danehof in Nyborg 26 May 1287 convicted to have removed peace and property; took flight with the rest of the convicted magnates to Norway and had asylum by the Norwegian king Erik Præstehader in Kongshelle by Gøtaelven; participated in Norway's war against Denmark in 1289 .


Built castle on the island Hjelm east of the Ebeltoft peninsula and fetched wife and children hereto in 1290; from Hjelm he lead expeditions against Samsø, Svendborg, Holbæk, Nykøbing Falster, Middelfart and several other places in Denmark; many magnates joined the outlaws, who had their lost property returned by the peace at Hindsgavl in 1295; Stig Andersen Hvide died before this on Hjelm 1293.Is not mentioned in the earliest and comparative folk songs, but in the following period's songs made the leader of the assassination on king Erik Klipping; in the disputed conviction at the Danehof only one of the accused, Arved Bentzen, was convicted for personally having raised his hand to the king; the regicide was probably exploited in order to bring down Stig Andersen and his government.

photo: grethe bachmann

Ingerd Jakobsdatter /Ingerd of Regenstein, * ab. 1200 + 1258

Replica of earliest Danish crucifix in Vor Frue Kirke crypt, Århus
The original crucifix at the National Museum.

A very masterful and generous Hvide-lady from the first half of the 1200s was Ingerd of Regenstein. She was born ab. 1200 as a daughter of 'The Rich Hr. Jakob of Møn', one of the Seven Sune sons, and she was one of Denmark's biggest landowners.Ingerd's first husband Skore was king Valdemar 2.'s marsk, and he was a wellknown man in Danish politics during 40 years. He was first mentioned about 1186, when king Knud and some of his officials gave gifts to Ringsted Kloster. He probably came from Himmersyssel, where he is entered in king Valdemar's Jordebog. Nothing is known of his ancestors, but being the king's marsk and married to a daughter of one of the mightiest men in Denmark indicated that he was a man of big importance.
In 1191, while Skore was a young man , Denmark recieved a papal letter calling for a new crusade, and the aging Esbern Snare held a flaming speech at Nyborg Castle for the young men, challenging them to go to the Holy City - and Skore went off to Jerusalem together with other youngsters , among those Absalon's nephew Alexander and Stig Hvide's son Aage. Their journey lasted a little too long. When they arrived to their destination, Jerusalem was already conquered by the Christians.These two informations shows that Skore was of the same age as his father-in-law, Jakob Sunesen and thus one generation older than his wife Ingerd.

Marsk Skore was in July 1224 part of a Danish delegation in North Germany together with Jakob Sunesen and other Danish top politicians. They were negotiating with the counts of Schwerin and fine-tuning the conditions for the release of king Valdemar from his captivity. Konrad II of Regenstein was sitting on the other side of the table. He had already taken part in the counts' negotiations with the German emperor, who had a certain interest in holding the Danish king captured. The Danish delegation had been negotiating from the summer 1223, until the release finally took place in the turning of the year 1225-26. It is not known if Ingerd was there together with her husband, but it seems very probable that she was presented to Konrad of Regenstein at that point.The last time marsk Skore is mentioned is in the battle by Bornhöved. He died possibly between 1230-35. Ingerd and Skore had no children, and according to the right of inheritance she had no claim on her husband's estate, which went back to his family. She got back the dowry she brought into the marriage and the similiar sum her husband had given her plus some of his personal property.Ingerd was very taken in by Frans of Assisi and his pious ideal of an apostolic life in poverty, and she was very generous in giving gifts to foundations of monasteries and convents. Her Franciscan monastery and convent in Roskilde were consecrated already five years after the first Franciscans arrived in Denmark. During the next two years three more of her foundations were consecrated. Her foundations stopped in 1239 - and this might be because she married Konrad of Regenstein and went with him to Germany.

Regenstein castle ruins

When she came to Regenstein castle it must have been a schock for her. It was not a comfortable home. The castle was built upon a bare inaccessible massif, and most of the huge fortificated building was cut out from the cliff itself. Her husband was obviously an agreeable man, for some of the first things the couple did was to rent a cosy house in the middle of the neighbouring bishop's town Halberstadt. Ingerd possibly spent most of her time here.Ingerd could achieve inspiration to her Franciscan ideal in her new home, for in the neighbouring Wartburg the counts of Thüringen held court - and here was a lot of talk about count Ludwig's young wife Elisabeth, who after her husband's death left castle and family in order to join a Franciscan convent in the nearest bishop's town, where she lived in poverty and humility, nursing the sick on the hospital. Elisabeth had died in 1231, but was canonized in 1235, two years before Ingerd arrived in Germany, and Ingerd undoubtedly admired Elisabeth.It was probably also after Ingerd's marriage to Konrad that she came into the contact of Agnes of Bohemia, who had founded the first Franciscan convent north of the Alps in 1232 and had joined it herself. Maybe they did not meet each other, for Agnes' convent was situated in Prague, which was just as far from Regenstein as Denmark, but the two ladies have possibly exchanged letters about spiritual matters - like when Agnes of Bohemia exchanged letters with the later canonized Clara, who in 1212 had founded the first convent bearing the ideas of Frans of Assisi.
When Konrad died ab. 1247 Ingerd lived for a period in Halberstadt before returning to Denmark, where she settled in one of her big estates south of Køge (Tryggevældegården) by Hårlev, which gave her yet another name' Ingerd of Hårlev'. The whole part of Hårlev and several surrounding cities were owned by Ingerd, inherited from her father. Hårlev church was built ab. 1200 and was probably built by Jakob Sunesen.Ingerd's family had a strong church tradition. One of her uncles Anders Sunesen had been archbishop and another uncle, Peder Sunesen, was bishop in Roskilde and was replaced by Ingerd's brother Peder Jakobsen. Her grandfather Sune Ebbesen had given great gifts to the church and especially to the family monastery in Sorø, which her great-grandfather Ebbe Skjalmsen had founded together with his brothers.

Sortebrødrekloster, Ribe (Dominican)

She was from a family in which it was a natural thing to be interested in spiritual matters. Furthermore there was strong tradition for supporting their ideals with big economic means. This was a part of her upbringing - but she first started giving gifts herself to the church after her first husband Skore's death, and later after her second husband Konrad's death when she returned to Denmark.She was a great donor for both the Franciscans, the Dominicans and the Clarissans. She not just gave them the estate for their buildings, but also willed her silver chest, a silver relic box, her biggest psalterium and her devotional book to them . At that time books were handwritten and very precious.When Ingerd was a widow after her second husband Konrad of Regenstein she began in 1256 to start a foundation of St. Clara Kloster in Roskilde. Her first gift was a big estate of 80-85 farms between Bjæverskov and Stevns and a smaller estate between Ringsted and Ramsø. She must have been aware that this big gift might awake aversion in the family, so in the following period she made some guaranties for her foundations from both the archbishop and the pope. She also gave the Franciscans estates for their buildings in København, Kalundborg and Næstved.
Ingerd was childless, one of her brothers who had been bishop in Roskilde had died already in 1225, another brother had also died childless, but her third brother Jens (Johannes) had two heirs, and they now protested against her generousity to the church.According to the law she could only give away her half 'hovedlod' (main part), in this case half of her estate, and her nephew Jens and niece Cecilie wanted to check up on if their dear auntie had kept the law. She hadn't kept the law in this case, but there was a provision in Sjællandske law saying that if she was in good health, then she could join a convent with her whole main part - and Ingerd wanted to join her newly founded convent. (This didn't happen; she died in 1258, before the convent was consecrated.) She showed some consideration for the claims from her nephew and niece however, she compromised in an agreement in Købanhavn, where the king, the queen, hertug Valdemar, the archbishop and several bishops were present. She had to change her will. This was in July 1257. After her death her relatives in the Hvide-family demanded to have some of her estate returned from the church, and they succeeded partly in their claims through trials.

Ingerd died in the beginning of 1258 and was buried in Gråbrødre Kloster/the Franciscan convent in Roskilde. As a countess she had in her seal a castle with towers, ringwalls and moat.

photo + sketch: grethe bachmann

Margrethe Sunesdatter, + 25 October 1176 Margrethe af Højelse

One marriage in the Hvide-family wasn't very lucky . On 25. October 1176, shortly before Absalon became archbishop, Margrethe Sunesdatter was murdered by her husband Herlog (Herluf). Herlog's family is unknown in sources, but it is certain that a daughter of the migthy Sune Ebbesen did not marry a common farmer. Herlog probably had useful connections and was well-off. He lived on Gammelkjøgegårds properties in Ølsemagle/Ølsie = Højelse. Maybe the ruins found under Højelse vicarage are rests of his farm.In order to conceal his crime Herlog hung Margrethe up in the barn, making it look as if she had committed suicide. Therefore she had no Christian burial, but was buried in a meadow by Højelse near Køge Bugt. Miracles happened by her grave, lights were shining above the earth, and a blind man could see after having bathed his eyes in the meadow's water. This was just one of many divine proofs that Margrethe had suffered the death of an innocent.There were several odd incidents, and the rumors reached the bishop's house in Roskilde.

Absalon sent some of his men to Højelse to examine what was going on. They also witnessed this strange light above Margrethe's grave and came home with stories about miracles. Absalon sent for the widower and cross-questioned him. No one knows how strict this questioning was, but at last Herlog made a full confession.Absalon abandoned the old custom of vendetta and had the case solved by penance, and thus he wisely avoided a family feud, which might have lasted for years. Absalon's modern European education probably influenced him to follow a new concept of justice instead of the old customs of revenge inherited from his ancestors.Margrethe's body was tranlocated to Roskilde Vor Frue Kirke (Our Lady's church), attended by bishop Absalon and his priests, and people crowded and followed the procession. This is said to have happened on the 19th or 20th July 1177, since the last date is St. Margrethe's day, named after Margrethe of Antioch, who was an ancient saint.A kloster in Roskilde was named after Margrethe, and people went on pilgrimage to her grave in Roskilde. The church had considerable income from the visitors' gifts through the Middle Ages. Absalon ordered the Cistercienser-sisters by the church to give one third of the Margrethe-money to Sorø Kloster.

On the meadow where Margrethe had been buried was built a chapel, and many pilgrims frequented it . In 1257 the pope confirmed that 1/3 of the pilgrims' gifts had to be allotted to Vor Frue Kirke in Roskilde, where the nuns watched over Margrethe's saintly sarcophagus. The case about Margrethe of Højelse is mentioned in some year books and in a French collection of devotional stories from 1180. Her legend is written down in Clairvaux, where bishop Eskil had taken up residence in his old days.Still in the 1500s were traces of Margrethe's chapel near Højelse. It might have been situated at what is now known as Kapelbakke (Chapel Hill) or Kapels-Agre (Chapel's Fields) northwest of Ølsemagle = Jersie Mose (moor). On Kapelvej near Højelse and Køge Bugt are found ruins of medieval buildings.In Lund Cathedral is an alba (mass shirt) on exhibition. It is said to originate from Margrethe.
It is not known why Herlog murdered Margrethe - or if she was a pious lady and fed the poor. An attempt was made to canonize her, but this was in a period where Denmark was in the beginning of its first church fight, and the pope was not very forthcoming, so Margrethe was never officially canonized.Her birth name was Margrethe Sunesdatter, but she is also called Margrethe of Højelse. In a newly published German biography about saints she is called Margrethe of Roskilde and mentioned on her day of death 25. October; the book does not consider it important that she was never appointed by the pope.

Margrethe and Herlog's children:
1) Cecilie Herlogsdatter * 1162 in Knardrup, one of Cecilie's sons was archbishop Jacob Erlandsen.
2)Peder Herlogsen, was kammermester and was buried in his grandfather Sune Ebbesen's grave.Peder had a son Niels Pedersen, he is by turns called staller or kammermester in his widow's letters from the 1260s.Drost Peder Nielsen Hoseøl is by 'adelsgenealogerne' ( nobility genealogists) referred to the family Skovgård, and he was a great-grandson of Sune Ebbesen's daughter Margrethe of Højelse.
3)Jens (Johannes) Herlogsen

photo: grethe bachmann

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

Sune Ebbesen, * bef. 1125, + 1186

Bjernede church

Sune Ebbesen built a stone church in Bjernede where his parents Ebbe Skjalmsen and Ragnhild had built a wooden church. He let the bottom part of the church build in granite ashlars, but before it is finished the new material the baked bricks have turned up as building material in Denmark and the church is finished in bricks. Bjernede in Alsted district at Sjælland is the only round church left in Sjælland, and it's a sort of mystery, since from the room on the first floor it was impossible to witness the mass downstairs, unless there was a hole in the floor and people were on their stomach looking down. Possibly this was a private chapel, where the closest relatives could gather for mass.
Sune Ebbesen was a son of Ebbe Skjalmsen and Ragnhild. He was born before 1125 and died in 1186. He was married to Cecilie of Denmark. Her ancestors are unknown. Sune Ebbesen was during Knud's and Svend's united kingdom first a supporter for Svend (Grathe), but left Svend in 1153 or 1154 and joined Knud and Valdemar. Svend had asked his men for an oath of allegiance, and Sune simply walked out. Sune Ebbesen was not anybody, he was probably the mightiest magnate and owner of land in the country at that time.
Saxo describes it like this: ' When he (Sune) was asked to turn around, he complained that his father's estate had been taken from him. The king promised that he would have it returned, but Sune replied that this justice came late and that he not now when the king had bad luck would accept what the king had deprived him of, when he had success.' The young members of the Hvide-family were after this on the side of the allied. The only with a connection to the Hvide-family who stayed by Svend, was Peder Torstensen, who was married to Cæcilie Skjalmsdatter - in spite of that Valdemar had made him fosterfather of his illegitimate son Kristoffer. When the young Valdemar became an important part of Denmark's history Sune was like Esbern and Absalon one of the three men closest to the king. A full Hvide-team. Valdemar listened to his advice and Sune was with Valdemar at a meeting in Dole by the German emperor, where he in 1162 gave fief's oath. Sune and Valdemar were about the same age, Valdemar grew up at Asser Rig's, and most probably he knew Absalon and Esbern's cousins.Sune Ebbesen was like many of his relatives installed in Skåne as feudal overlord after Absalon became archbishop in Lund. After Valdemar's death he was also one of the men around the young Knud 6. and he participated in advising Knud to refuse giving oath to the German emperor like his father had done 20 years earlier. Sune was also on several expeditions to the Wends together with the other wellknown members of the war tours.
Saxo had admiration for Sune as a statesman and warrior, and one of the period's great literary personalities, abbot Vilhelm of Æbelholt describes him in the words: ' a cool-headed man' ....mighty in work and speech '.Sune Ebbesen was rich. Shortly before his death in 1186 he gave Sorø Kloster a gift, the same amount as a daughter had to inherit - this corresponded to an amount of 35 mark gold, and this part had to be multiplied with 17 from the number of his children. His property was 1000-1500 farms, he owned 1/10 of Sjælland - however there was room enough for the other members of the Hvide-clan to be almost equal as rich as Sune. The family was tremendously rich during the 1100s-1200s.The family in all gave away much property to the church, especially to Sorø Kloster. Sune, Absalon and Esbern Snare once promised a big part of their property to Sorø Kloster, and the monks valued this promise so much that they in 1182 got a confirmation from the pope on these promises, although the three generous donors still lived in the best of health. The monks' knowledge about Sune Ebbesen's, Absalon's and Esbern Snare's financial circumstances made them send express message to the pope, and this gives a proof of an almost incredible riches of estate.
Sune built the church in Bjernede in stone, where his parents Ebbe and Ragnhild had built a church in wood. He started with granite, but changed in the middle of the building to the new material: bricks. Sune Ebbesen was buried in Sorø 1186 beside his wife. His grandson Peder Kammermester was later buried in the same grave, and this might be the double grave, which was examined in 1970. From the grave catalogue the excavator was convinced that this was the grave of Esbern Snare, but unfortunately antropological examinations showed that the skeletons origined from two middle aged men, no one knew who they were, but their characteristic domed back of the head were typical for the Hvide-family. The skull which first supposedly was Esbern Snare might be Sune Ebbesen . The skeleton corresponds completely to Saxos stories about Esbern Snare: both arms, legs and ribs had been broken and the hip had been dislocated . The bones are from a person not over 60 years and Esbern was about 80 years at his death. The skeleton is undoubtedly a Hvide, and it gives witness at any rate what the rich magnates in the country exposed themselves to.

Sune and Cecilie had seven sons and one daughter:
Ebbe Sunesen * ab. 1158, + 1208
Peder Sunesen * ab. 1161, + 1214
Jens (Johannes) Sunesen, + 1201
Lars (Laurens) Sunesen, + 1208
Anders Sunesen* ab. 1164-65, + 1228
Torben Sunesen , + 1198
Jacob Sunesen, the youngest son, * ab. 1167-1170, + 1246
Margrethe Sunesdatter (Margrethe af Højelse) * ab. 1155 + 1177

Sune Ebbesen sent two of his sons, Peder and Anders on long and expensive studies in France, and they both had excellent careers in the Danish church. Peder Sunesen became bishop in Roskilde after Absalon, and Anders (Andreas) Sunesen became archbishop in Lund, also as a successor of their father's cousin Absalon. (see next section)

photo: grethe bachmann
From Dansk biografisk Lexicon,
Carl Frederik Bricka,
Project Runeberg

Ebbesen, Sune,
- 1186. His father Ebbe, a son of Skjalm Hvide, had in the disputes about the throne after Erik Lam's death taken side for Svend Grathe and was until his death (ab. 1150) one of his most trusted men. He himself joined likewise Svend from the first beginning, but later he detached from him. When Svend in 1154 gathered his men at Odense and questioned them if they would be true to him in the fight to come with his rivals Knud and Valdemar and demanded an oath of allegiance, Sune would not in any way fulfil this demand, but left Svend. As a reason he stated a wrong, which Svend once before had inflicted on him, but his behaviour on this occasion gives the impression that this was not the only reason. Without doubt it was just as much his friendship to Valdemar which decided his move. After Svend's fall (1157) a new and brighter period started with king Valdemar and Absalon, where Sune was needed in many ways. He was used as an advisor - it is definitely said that he and his two cousins Absalon and Esbern were the men, whose advice Valdemar used to listen to and mainly followed - but Sune was also needed as a warrior. In every expedition to the Wends - which was done year after year during Valdemars ruling period and sometimes twice a year - Sune is always mentioned as a participant.

For a time he was one of the king's vasals in Skaane and administered the business from there. These vasals were, because of their hardness and because they were from Sjælland, so unpopular that the Skaanings at last rebelled in 1180 in order to get rid of them. The rebellion, which in 1181 called upon the king and his army to come to Skaane, did not lead to the intended purpose. King Valdemar died in 1182 and his experienced advisors became his son Knud's advisors. Sune did not survive Valdemar for long; he participated in the negotiations with the German emperor's delegate, Graf Sigfred, and was in 1184 on an expedition to Pommeranian, but in 1186 he died after having given half his Boslod to Sorø Kloster, where he was buried.

He must have been an important man; wise and cool-headed, Abbed Vilhelm called him "stor i Gjerning og Tale" (a great mand both in word and deed). Sune left a daughter Margrethe, who might be the Margrethe who ab. 1177 was killed by her husband Herluf and for centuries was celebrated as a saint; and he left 7 sons; among whom Peder, who became bishop in Roskilde, and Anders, Absalons successor as Archbishop. (see his other children above)

Translated from C. Weeke's Danish text: grethe bachmann

Alexander, Absalon's favorite Nphew

The Crypt, Frue Kirke, Århus

Ingefred Assersdatter and Peder Pedersen of Borup had two sons, Asser and Alexander, who was Absalon's favorite nephew. When Alexander was baptized Absalon might have had something to do with the choice of name. This name was not known in Denmark before that time, but it might have influenced the church-minded Absalon that his favorite choice for pope, Alexander, became new pope instead of Octavian in the second half of the 1160s.

Peder Pedersen of Borup was a son of Peder Bodilsen of Eggeslev, owner of Little Næstved and Ladby. Peder Bodilsen's mother Bodil was an illegitimate daughter of Erik 1. Ejegod.

Alexander was on an expedition to the Wends in 1185, and in 1191 after Esbern Snare held a flaming speech to all the young lazy folks who no more had the guts to go on a crusade , Alexander went together with some other young guys , among those marsk Skore and Stig Hvide, on a crusade to the Holy Land. They took so long time travelling through Europe that they first arrived in Jerusalem after it was conquered by the Christians, but they meant well. Alexander was also with his uncle on some of Absalon's late expeditions to the Wends.

In 1201 Alexander was secretary for his dying uncle and was made the executor for his will. After this task nothing more is heard of Alexander, he died ab. 1205-10. He was married to Margrethe of Denmark (an illegitimate daughter of a Danish king?) they had a daughter Gunhild, married to Tyge Pust and three sons, Absalon Rød, NN and Niels * ab 1200 + after 1268, who was the only son with descendants. Niels' daughters brought the family-line further. Elisabeth Nielsdatter, * ab. 1224, was married to Hans Ranesen, their son was Rane Jonsen (Jens, Johannes, Hans and Jon is the same name). Another daughter was married to marsk Stig Andersen, a son Anders Nielsen Due was married to Cecilie Tokesdatter Saltensee of Tystofte * ab. 1230.

Absalon was a solicitous family-man, he took care of all his nephews and grandnephews , but Alexander was closest to him, and Absalon trusted him completely. Alexander seems to have had Absalon's military talent and was early an army commander - and he inherited Absalons' coats of mail. He was in his uncle's last years signatory to his documents, and as mentioned before he was trusted to be the executor of Absalons' will. He was not a priest, and there is nothing about his going to Paris to study, he had a career as a military man, he was married and had children, but all his life he obviously spent much time together with his uncle Absalon, who probably was able to give him an excellent education and learn him to write the classical Latin.
Certain things indicates that Alexander must have been a bright and intelligent personality, maybe Absalon saw something of himself in his nephew.
What could be a short form for the name Alexander? He wouldn't be called Alex - not at that time, maybe Sander - I would guess maybe Sasse or Saxe - this might have been a little boy's own first pronunciation of a difficult name! What about this theory? `:)

Saxo was often mentioned as a possible member of the Hvide-family, he was known to be a tall man like Absalon, and he told that his ancestors had been fighting for king Valdemar. But why all the secrecy? Alexander was probably with Absalon , when he decided to write his Gesta Danorum. Saxo was born ab. 1150 and died ab. 1208, according to some sources, appr. the same period as Alexander. When Saxo is described in articles, where they talk about his classical Latin and his education in Paris, then it sounds as if they are talking about Absalon himself - or about someone educated by him. Although Absalon died in 1201, he might have prepared the last part of Gesta Danorum for someone else to finish.

photo: grethe bachmann ©copyright

Shakespeare based his Hamlet on Saxo's story about the Danish prince Amled.

Ingeborg Esbernsdatter , 1203-1267, ~ Peder Strangesen, 1170-1241

Kalundborg Cathedral

Ingeborg was a daughter of Esbern Snare and his third wife Helene. She was married to the respected drost and magnate Peder Strangesen. He was probably a son of Knud Valdemarsen's staller, Strange, and is already noticed in 1193 as being one of the king's noblest men. He seems to have learned courtly manners by the counts of Orlamünde and Gleichen. He had a sister Gro Strangesdatter, who was married to Knud. Their son Anders Grosen was married to Cæcilie Esbernsdatter.

During Valdemar 2. Sejr's ruling period his power grew even more, and next to Jacob Sunesen he was the most respected nobleman in Denmark. His marriage to a daughter of Esbern Snare contributed to this, as much as he inherited Esbern Snare's famous estate, Kalundborg, which Esbern had fortificated for Valdemar ab. 1170.

He was the 'Peder of Kalundborg' whom Valdemar 2. gave property on Femern, named Pedersdorf after him. Together with other magnates he worked in 1225 in order to have king Valdemar released from prison, and he guaranteed the agreement. Likewise he guaranteed the final agreement in 1230, where the young Valdemar-sons were released.

At Sorø Kloster

Peder Strangesen had a long dispute with Sorø Kloster. Esbern Snare's son Johannes, who was Valdemar II's Marsk, had on his deathbed in 1231 given Sorø the village Stenløsemagle with additions, but his brother Absalon Bælg kept the estate until shortly before his death in 1232. Peder Strangesen and his nephew Anders Grosen, who was married to another daughter of Esbern Snare, Cæcilia of Tersløse, would not acknowledge Sorø Kloster's right and appropriated the disputed estate in 1231. Although the church's judgment was against them they kept the property for life.

Nevertheless Peder Strangesen seemed to be of a religious disposition, at least in his final years.When Valdemar died in 1241, Peder went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but just when he started his journey, he died in Ribe in 1241, ab. 71 years of age.

In his coat of arms were an eagle and a wolf, the same coat of arms later used by the Ulfeldt-family.

Kalundborg Castle ruins

His widow Ingeborg, named Fru Ingeborg of Kalundborg, was on Kalundborg castle for 20 years after his death as the mighty Frue (lady of the castle) and showed to be a benefactor of Sorø. With consent from her kinsmen, among those her half brother, duke Knud, she conveyed all her estate in Bringstrup and Ørslev in 1250 to Sorø. Likewise she gave gifts to Århus Cathedral in the honour of The Holy Niels.

In 1247 most of Sorø Kloster (the Kloster built by Absalon) burnt down, and about 10 years later fru Ingeborg gave a big gift to the Kloster, which made the monks able to have stone vaults built in the church and thereby prevent further fires. The first village church Esbern Snare let build was Ubby in 1170 and already shortly after 1200 it was rebuilt - maybe by his daughter, fru Ingeborg.

During the tension between the Danish crown and duke Erik Abelsen, Ingeborg's son Anders, who first was Abel's marsk, positioned himself on the duke's side. He was seen in the duke's entourage after his victory in Lohede in 1261. The Hvide-family had a strong connection to the Abel-line and a big part of the family gave its support, but the Abel- line lost the battle of the Danish crown to Kristoffer I. This must have been considered a treason against the crown,and Ingeborg was driven away from Kalundborg by Erik Glipping the next year (1262) and died in Hedeby, Schleswig in 1267.

Ingeborg's sister Cæcilie was mother-in- law to Lave Gudmundsen, who was convicted for the murder of Erik Plovpenning in 1252. After a period of 100 year's alliance between the Hvide-family and the royal power the whole thing had begun eroding.

The Baptismal Font in Kalundborg Cathedral created by the Hvide-Family's stone mason. The similar decorations are also found in stone work in Fjenneslev Church. The font was in the church from the beginning, and it's very likely that Ingeborg and Peder's children were baptized here.

Ingeborg and Peder's children:

1)Helena Pedersdatter,* ab. 1215 was previously married to Knut Långe, Swedish king, who was killed in 1234. Their children were: Holmber Knutsson, Earl in Sweden, killed in 1248. Filip Knutsson,killed near Herrevad's Bridge 1251 (FK uncertain).Helena's second marriage was to Earl Filip Larsson .

2) Elisabeth Pedersdatter, * ab. 1230, married to Niels Hvide Erlandsen * ab. 1220 + 1286 in Lund (slægten Galen) Niels' mother was Cecilie Herlufsdatter Galen. (see later in the Seven Sune Sons the story about Cecilie's mother Margrethe Sunesdatter, who was murdered by her husband Herlog (Herluf)

3) Marianne Pedersdatter Strangesen, * ab. 1235 in Kalundborg, + 1283 , buried in Viborg, married to Albrecht von Eberstein, + 1289 to Ørnehoved by Randers. (see Genealogy, Forfædrelinie V, 15.) Their children: a) Ludvig Eberstein , + 29 May 1328, buried in Viborg, married to Else Pedersdatter, b) Albert (Anders?) Eberstein, * ab. 1276 , + ab 1330, buried in Viborg, married to Marianne Ulfeldt (Strangesen) c) Henrik Eberstein married to Margrethe.

4) Johannes Pedersen
5) Anders Pedersen, king Abel's Marsk
6) Margrethe Pedersdatter
7) Ingeborg Pedersdatter

photo: grethe bachmann

source: Dansk/Norsk/Svensk Biografisk Lexicon; Danmarks Historie, Politiken 3-4; Vikingeskibsmuseet; Nationalmuseet; Skalk, arkæologisk magasin; Saxo Grammaticus; Emma emmorium; Sejer Olesen Leth og hans slægt af P. Filtenborg; Den Hvide Klan af Michael Kræmmer; Thi de var af stor slægt af Marianne Johannesen & Helle Halding.

From Dansk Biografisk Lexicon,
Carl Frederik Bricka,
Project Runeberg

Ingeborg, - 1267 , a daughter of Esbern Snare and his third wife, Helene; she was married to the respected Stormand (magnate) Peder Strangesen (d. 1241). While he had protested to Sorø Kloster about its ownership of the estate, which Ingeborg's brother Johannes Marsk had given to it, fru Ingeborg showed to be the benefactor of the kloster after her husband's death. With the consent of her family, among those her half brother hertug Knud (the son of Helene and king Valdemar II), she conveyed all her estate in Bringstrup and Ørslev to Sorø kloster. (1250). Likewise she was said to give gifts to Århus cathedral in the honour of Hellig Niels.

Ingeborg is mainly named after her father's borg, Kalundborg, fru Inge of Kalundborg, where she lived as the mighty lady. But during the tension between the Danish Crown and Hertug Erik Abelsen, Ingeborg's son Anders, who was once Abels Marsk, was on the side of hertug Abel, since he is seen in his entourage after his victory at Lohede (1261), and Ingeborg herself was friendly to Abel's family; anyhow she was expelled from Kalundborg the next year and died in Schleswig in 1267.

Peder Strangesen, ab. 1170-1241, Stormand (magnate, probably a son of Knud Valdemarsens Staller (King's official) Strange; he is seen already in 1193 as one of king Knud's (Knud VI) most distinguished men, and he seems during the next years to have learned courtly customs by the Grafs of Orlamünde and Gleichen. During Valdemar II (Sejr) his power increased even more, and next to Jacob Sunesen he was the most respected nobleman in Denmark. His marriage contributed to this, since he married Esbern Snare's daughter Ingeborg, and he inherited via his wife Esbern's famous estate, the strong Kalundborg. He must be the "Peder af Kalundborg", whom Valdemar II gave 12 Bol (farms/houses) or Hove at Femern, which were named Petersdorff after him. Together with other Danish magnates he worked in 1225 for king Valdmar to be released from confinement and fought for the agreement though not personally present; likewise he fought for the final agreement with the Schwerings (1230), where the young princes (Valdemar's sons) were released, and this time he co-sealed the agreement.

Peder Strangesen had a long feud with Sorø kloster. Esbern Snare's son, Johannes, Valdemar II's Marsk, had on his deathbed given Stenløsemagle with additions to the kloster (1213), but his brother Absalon Bælg kept the estate until shortly before his own death (1232). Peder Strangesen and Anders Grosen, who was married to another of Esbern Snare's daughters, Cæcilie of Tersløse, would not accept the rights of the kloster ad simply took the disputed estate (1234), and even though the judgment of the church was against them, they kept it for life. None the less Peder S. seems to have had an ecclesiastical disposition. When king Valdemar had died, Peder chose to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but just after he had started his journey, he died in Ribe (1241). Among his numerous children were Anders, who became Abel's Marsk, and Ingeborg, married to Graf Ernst of Gleichen. In his coat of arms Peder Strangesen had a mix of an eagle and a wolf, the same coat of arms which later was the Ulfeldts.

Translated from Hans Olrik's Danish text: grethe bachmann ©copyright
Dansk Biografisk Lexicon
Carl Fr. Bricka
Project Runeberg

Esbern Assersen Snare, 1127-1204, ~ 3) Helene Guttormsdatter, 1172-1211

Kalundborg cathedral

Esbern Snare, army commander, chief, magnate, was the eldest son of Asser Rig. He was born on 30. Octobre 1127. Like his brother Absalon he early joined their fosterbrother Valdemar (den Store) in the conflicts about the throne. It seems that he achieved his byname Snare (=resolute) because of his youthful audacity and resolution during the rows. After 'Blodgildet i Roskilde' (see the story about this in the section Asser Rig) in 1157, he lead Valdemar in safety to Jutland in a dramatic journey during a terrible storm, and in the following battle on Grathe Hede he distinguished himself and played a leading role in helping Valdemar to the absolute rule as king of Denmark.

Tømmerby church , portrait of a building master

In the expeditions to the Wends Esbern Snare is often mentioned as a fearless and indefatigable warrior. He was also one of the king's most confidant friends and advisers, and although he was a daring person, his advice to the king were cautious and wise, like when he on a journey to Barbarossa's imperial court in 1162 advised Valdemar not to travel on without demanding safe passage, an advice even Absalon dared not bring out, and which the king repudiated in disdain.

About 1170 Esbern Snare fortificated Kalundborg with castle and towers for the protection of the city and the surrounding country, and he started the building - which his daughter Ingeborg finished - of the beautiful and still existing church with 5 towers as a parish church for the thriving market town. Esbern Snare is considered the founder of the city Kalundborg.

A burial mound, (Imagination of the Troll's hill)

When Esbern Snare was about building a church in Kalundborg he saw clearly that his means were not fully adequate to the task. But a Troll came to him and offered his service, and Esbern Snare made an agreement with him on these conditions that he should be able to tell the Troll's name when the church was finished or in case he could not, that he should give him his heart and his eyes. The work now went on rapidly and the Troll set the church on stone pillars, but when all was nearly done and there was only half a pillar wanting in the church, Esbern Snare began to get frightened, for the name of the Troll was yet unknown to him.
One day he was going about the fields alone and in great anxiety on account of the perilous state he was in, when tired and depressed, by reason of his exceeding grief and affliction, he laid him down on Ulshøj bank to rest himself a while. While he was lying there he heard a Troll-woman within the hill saying the words:

Lie still baby mine
To-morrow cometh Fin,
Father thine
And giveth thee Esbern Snare's eyes
and heart to play with.

When Esbern Snare heard this he recovered his spirits and went back to the church. The Troll was just then coming with the half-pillar that was wanting for the church, but when Esbern saw him he hailed him by his name, and called him Fin. The Troll was so enraged at this that he went off with the half-pillar through the air, and this is the reason that the church has but three pillars and a half.

Kalundborg cathedral

He stood by Absalon's side not only in the expeditions against the Wends, but he was also faithful to his brilliant brother in other relations of life. He was among the magnates, who took care of the defense of the archbishop's properties in Skåne. Both Absalon and Esbern showed great care for Sorø Kloster, and Esbern Snare gave big gifts for the peace of the soul to Sorø after the death of his wives, and he willed as much to Sorø Kloster as it was allowed to give after one's death. He was also praised for not raising any objection to his brother who gave almost all his property to churches and monasteries. Absalon left Esbern some loving memorial gifts, among other things their father's favorite drinking cup in silver.

Another evidence of his both ecclesiastical and chivalrous disposition is kept in the address at 'Danehoffet in Odense' Christmas 1187, where there were calls for crusades in order to regain Jerusalem from the Turks. He talked about the Nordic forefathers' exploits and urged the young people to prove themselves worthy of their ancestors by taking the cross. Esbern wasn't on the crusade , he was now 60 years and had served his battles, but he must have been rather disappointed when he heard that the crusade wasn't very successful.

Esbern Snare was married three times.
1) Holmfred, buried at Sorø
2) Ingeborg , * ab. 1130, buried at Sorø
3 ) Helene Guttormsdatter, 1172-1211 (see text about Helene) buried Vreta Kloster

Esbern Snare had 3 sons and 2 daughters:
1) Johannes (Jens) Esbernsen, who was Valdemar II Sejr's Marsk, died in 1213 in Lübeck, buried at Sorø. He married Edle, who is buried at Sorø, they had no heirs. Johannes had on his deathbed given Sorø Kloster Stenløsemagle with additions in 1213 , but his brother Absalon Bælg kept back the property until shortly before his own death in 1232. Ingeborg's husband PederStrangesen and Cæcilia's husband Anders Grosen woudn't acknowledge the right of Sorø Kloster and they appropriated the disputed estate1234, and although the judgment of the church was against them, they kept it for life.
2) Absalon Esbernsen Bælg,(meaning Fat) , known 1199, died ab. 1232, no heirs.
3) Niels EsbernsenMule, Staller (Master of the Horse), married Margrethe, he was buried at Sorø.
4) Cecilie Esbernsdatter Hvide, * ab. 1195, married to Anders Knudsen Grosen (Ulfeldt) of Tersløse (1190-1259), his mother was Gro Strangesdatter, married to Knud? (he had an eagle in his coat of arms)
5) Ingeborg Esbernsdatter Hvide , * 1203 in Kalundborg (her mother was Helena), known as Fru Ingeborg of Kalundborg. She was married in 1225 to Peder Strangesen ( + 1241) , she died 1267 in Hedeby. Peder and Ingeborg had many children, amongst those Anders Pedersen and Ingeborg, who was married to grev Ernst of Gleichen
Sæby church, Sjælland. East of the church is Sæbygård situated; it is also known from Ingemann's novel: 'Valdemar Sejr'.

Esbern died in 1204 at Sæbygård (Sjælland) which was probably built by him. It was told that he had a violent and sudden death by falling down an external staircase in the yard. He broke his neck on a millstone below.That wasn't unlikely, he was 76-77 years old and might have stumbled. He was buried in Sorø like Absalon.

There is more than one legend about Esbern Snare. After his death was said that an evil spirit came and took him away from Sæbygård. Maybe it was the devil who came after his prey? said people, who probably thought on more than one occassion that Esbern had a deal with the devil. Another legend tells about the building of Sæbygård that when the manor was finished, a coachman was ordered to drive Esbern Snare a tour on a certain route. Another coachman was ordered to drive Esbern's wife Helene a tour in the other direction. He or she, who came back to the manor as the last one, should be given to the Devil! If it was Helene's or the coachman's idea is not known, but Helene's coachman broke the shoes off the horse and put them back to front. When he drove out it looked like he was coming home. Instead of the ordered tour he just drove to a place in the garden and waited till Esbern Snare returned, and Esbern thought that his dear lady had come home first.

Helene Guttormsdatter, 1172-1211, the wife of Esbern Snare, was a daughter of the Swedish earl Guttorm, who once fetched king Carl Sverkersons bride in Denmark and on the same occasion was godfather to Valdemar I the Great's son Knud (1163). Helene was probably named after the Holy Helene of Skøfde, a celebrated saint , who was canonized in 1164 and wellknown in the folklore of northern Sjælland.
When Esbern Snare lost his second wife Ingeborg he - although not quite young anymore - married the young beautiful Helene. In this marriage was born the daughter Ingeborg af Kalundborg and maybe more children.

Soon after Esberns death in 1204 Helene became Valdemar II Sejr's frille (mistress) and had the son Knud. But in 1205 Valdemar married Dagmar of Bohemia , and his relationship to Helene supposedly stopped - it seems that Helene left Denmark. She died in Roskilde ab. 1211, but she was not buried in Sorø like Esberns other wives , and from diplomas from the 14th century it appears that she established 'Vor Frue Kapel' by Linköbing Cathedral, where she probably chose her burial place. (NB: She died in 1211 39 years old, and was buried in Vreta Kloster). Her gift to the church was later increased by her son's son Svantopolk Knudsen and his family.

Valdemar II Sejr honoured his and Helene's son Knud by making him a hertug, (Knud of Blekinge) , and he gave him his own property in Sweden. Helene left him a considerable inheritage there too. Knud was married to Hedvig, a daughter of duke Svantepolk in Poland. They had the before mentioned son Svantopolk, who was married to Benedicta, a granddaughter of king Sverker 2. of Sweden and Ingegerd, and two daughters, Elisabeth, married to duke Erik of Halland, and Cæcilie, married to Philip (Folkunge).

Viborg Cathedral

Helene Guttormsdatter's ancestors:
1. Ingrid Guttormsdatter af Rein * ab.1160 ~ Guttorm Austmanson, * ab 1156
2. Guttorm Åsulvson, + after 1183 ~ Eldrid Jonsdatter of Blindheim
3. Åsulv Skuleson på Rein ~ Tora Skoftesdatter of Giske,
4. Skule Kongsfostre Tostigson, Earl of Rein, * ab. 1053 ~ Gudrun Nevsteinsdatter
5. Tostig Earl Godwineson, + 25 sept. 1066 ~ Judith of Flandern, * 1033 + 4 march 1094
6. Godwine Thegn Earl of Wessex * ab.992 + 15 april 1053 ~ Gytha Thorgilsdatter * ab.997
7. Wulfnoth Child Thegn of Sussex ab. 960-1015 ~ NN

Wulfnoth was the grandfather of king Harold II of England, Gytha Thorgilsdatter was a great granddaughter of Harald Bluetooth, Judith of Flandern descended from the dukes of Normandy and Rollo, and Skule's wife Gudrun Nevsteinsdatter descended from Harald Hårfager in Norway, so Helene's ancestors were a part of the big genealogical wickerwork with connections to the old Danish and Norwegian Royalty and to Anglo-Saxon England and the Normans in France.

photo: grethe bachmann

Dansk Biografisk Lexicon,
Carl Frederik Bricka, Project Runeberg

Esbern Snare, ab. 1127-1204, eldest son of Asser Rig, who was Skjalm Hvides son. Like his brother Absalon he early joined their fosterbrother king Valdemar, and in the disputes about the throne he seems to have achieved the honorable byname Snare (resolute) by his youthful audacity and quick-witted ways . After the assault in Roskilde (1157) he brought in a terrible weather Valdemar to Jutland and distinguished himself in the following fights, which gained Valdemar the absolute power as king of Denmark.From the Wendic expeditions Esbern Snare is mentioned as the fearless and untiring warrior, who now and again put his life on stake, even for lesser things, but always escaped from danger. Yet he belonged to the king's most trusted friends and advisors, and his advice could in this respect be just as cautious as he himself was daring; like when he on the travel to the imperial court (1162) advised the king against going without a safe passage-letter, an advice, which even Absalon dared not express, and which the king dismissed in disdain.

Among his exploits Saxo especially dwells on the expedition to Kurland (1170) on which he in order to safe prince Christoffer showed an admirable courage and an almost unbelievable toughness to wounds and bodily harm, and the often mentioned encounter with a Wendic fleet shortly after in Sejerøbugten. On a starry night Esbern tried to get past an enemy of 40 ships; but the rising moon revealed him and he was soon surrounded by the superior force. He wouldn't give in, and after a heroic defense one ship against many, the fight ended with that Esbern let a man go top-ship and set fire, which the Wends thought an arranged signal to a relief fleet, and then they withdrew and let him get past to Kalundborg. Here Esbern Snare had built a fortificated borg(castle) with stone towers as a protection of the city and its surroundings , like he built the beautiful, still preserved church with 5 towers as a parish church for tbe flowering market town. (Kalundborg)

Not just in the fights against the Wends, but also when it came to private relations Esbern stood loyal at his brilliant brother Absalon's side. He is mentioned among the magnates who took care of the defense of the Archbishop-estates in Skaane (Scania). As to the care for Sorø kloster the two brothers are mentioned at the same time; Gavebogen (Gift Book) named them its founders:
"the two powerful men, famous all over the kingdom and above all Denmark's families ". Esbern Snare gave great sjælegaver ( soul gifts) after the death of his wives and willed his half boslod (from his estate) , the largest gift anyone was allowed to give after his death. Likewise he was praised for that he without protest submitted to that his brother gave almost all his jordegods (estate) to churches and klosters. Another evidence of his both ecclesiastical and chivalrous disposition is kept in the speech he held on Danehoffet (court-meeting) in Odense at Christmas 1187, when there were calls for a crusade in order to regain Jerusalem from the Turks. In the speech he described exploits of the Nordic forefathers all over the known world and asked the youth to show that they had learnt from them, asking them to take the cross.

Esbern was married three times. 1) Holmfred; 2) Ingeborg; 3) Helene, who was a daughter of the Swedish hertug Gutorm. She survived him and later had a son with king Valdemar Sejr (Hertug Knud). Esbern left 3 sons and 2 daughters, of whom "fru Ingeborg of Kalundborg" is especially wellknown. Esbern Sanre survived his brother Absalon, who left him affectionate memorial gifts; he died i 1204 and is buried in Sorø. "Han haver boet paa Sæbygaard" says Huitfeldt. "og tales underlig snak om hannem, at den onde Aand skal have taget hannem bort; men han faldt ned ad en trappe paa Sæbygaard og paa en Møllesten, som laa der under trappen, slog sin hals sønder. " This is the story about Esbern's death, first that an evil spirit took him away, but the truth was that he fell down a stairway at Sæbygaard, where he broke his neck upon a mill stone at the end of the stairs.

Translated from A.D. Jørgensen's Danish text: grethe bachmann

Helene Guttormsdatter, - 1204 -
Esbern Snare's wife, was a daughter of the respected Swedish Jarl Guttorm, who had fetched king Carl Sverkersen's bride in Denmark and on the same occasion was the godfather of Valdemar I's son Knud (1163) . She was probably named after the hellige Helene af Skøfde ( Holy Helene of Skøfde), a celebrated female saint, who was canonized in 1164 and is wellknown in folk-legends from Nordsjælland. When Esbern snare had lost his second wife, he married -although getting on in years - the young Swedish Jarledatter. In this marriage was born Ingeborg "af Kalundborg" and maybe several other children.

Soon after Esbern Snare's death in 1204 Helene became Valdemar II's frille (mistress) and bore the son Knud. But when Valdemar married Dagmar of Bohemia in 1205 their relationship probably finished; it seems that she left Denmark. She was not like Esbern's first two wives buried in Sorø, and Diplomer from the 14th century show that she at Linkøbing cathedral estblished Vor Frue chapel with Præbende (income); she probably chose her burial place there. Her gifts were later increased by her son's son Svantopolk Knudsen and his family; Valdemar II honoured his and Helene's son Knud with the title of hertug and gave him his estate in Sweden, and Helene also left her son considerable estate there.

Suhm, Hist. af Danmark IX, 192 ff.
J. Steenstrup., vore Folkeviser i Middelald. S. 248 ff.
Translated from Hans Olrik's
Danish text: grethe bachmann 
Dansk Biografisk Lexicon
Carl Fr. Bricka
Project Runeberg

Absalon Assersen * 1128 + 21 March 1201

Roskilde Cathedral

Absalon Assersen was a son of Asser Rig and fru Inge, born in Fjenneslev 1128, died in Sorø 21. March 1201 and buried in Sorø Kloster. His brother was Esbern Snare, his fosterbrother Valdemar 1. the Great.

Immervad Bro, Hærvejen in Jutland, the road to the south

Absalon was not brought up just to be a quiet scholar. It was common practise that the sons of the house had to learn to use the sword. It was expected that Absalon when an adult was able to be in front of a battle and distinguish himself. His parents seemed to be far-seeing people though. Asser Rig and fru Inge wanted to give their sons each their career to secure the family a future position both by the king and the church. The two boys' abilities decided how, Esbern was the warrior type and Absalon had literary talents, and he was sent to Paris for an academic education, which was rather unusual at that time. He was about 16-17 years of age. This wasn't considered too young, according to Jydske Lov (Jute Law) a person was grown-up at fifteen and was held responsible for his deeds.

A travel abroad in the 1100s was difficult and often dangerous. Absalon was probably accompanied by some people from the household in Fjenneslev, and most possible they were on horseback. There was a vast network of roads down through Europe and lots of lodging houses and inns along the way. A traveller in a small company could reach 40 km a day, and with that pace a travel from the middle of Sjælland to Paris would last a little month.

Absalon studied theology and law in Paris for a little more than ten years, returning to Denmark in 1157. In Paris he had been influenced by the religious upturn, which Bernhard of Clairvaux was at the head of. He became a good friend of the abbot Vilhelm, whom he later in 1165 called to Denmark in order to restore the monastic discipline.

Landet church, the lion.

Absalon returned from Paris in the middle of the civil war and the struggle about the Danish throne and he was present at The Blood Feast in Roskilde (Blodgildet i Roskilde) . Saxo tells
in the story that: 'Sven's men assaulted Knud and Valdemar. Valdemar succeeded in warding off the attack with his cloak and got out, he was wounded in his thigh though. Knud could not defend himself and had his head cleaved by Ditlev. In the darkness Absalon believed that it was Valdemar who had been hit, and without paying attention to the danger he sat himself down with the dying man's head in his lap. When Absalon discovered that it was Knud he had before him, he took flight out of the house and escaped sharply pursuited out of town. He first went to Ramsø, then to his brother-in-law, Peder, in Borup and thereafter to his mother, where he stayed. Here Valdemar arrived later in the night. The following day Sven presented himself in front of Roskilde's citizens, showed them his riddled cape, which he had perforated himself - and claimed that he had been assaulted'.

As we know all the incidents and events ended with a new Danish king Valdemar 1. the Great in the year 1157. He was Absalon's fosterbrother , and all their lives there was a faithful friendship between those two men - their courses of life were so closely connected that every story about Absalon necessarily involves the story about Valdemar.
not finished.
Absalon founded Copenhagen when he built a castle by Havn in 1167. Rest of Absalon's castle , a ring wall is situated under the present Christiansborg.

Absalon's goldring with a saphire .
In 1158, the year after Valdemar became king, the bishopric in Sjælland was vacant. The church had to elect a new bishop. This was not the king's job, and although Valdemar wanted to give his friend Absalon the office even the king had to follow rules. Valdemar had to invent a manner not to be too obvious about his eventual influence upon the canons of Roskilde, who had to do the election. Roskilde and the canons said they had a choice as a successor after bishop Asser. Valdemar said that he would survey the election. The canons now said they had three candidates, and suggested Absalon too in order to please the king. Valdemar told them that he would not interfere, they just had to elect the new bishop themselves. Then he sat down leaning on his sword and keeping a strict eye on every canon, who passed him to write his choice in the book. They all wrote the name Absalon.
Absalon was now 30 years of age and bishop of Sjælland, he was one of the island's biggest landowners and one of the country's top army commanders. During his first years as bishop he participated in expeditions against the Wends, who for many years had caused havoc on the Danish south coast. He built many churches and fortifications, he founded and reformed monasteries. As one of the king's advisers he often followed him on travels and althogether stayed close to him. He was also busy taking care of his own estates and extending them.
The archbishop of Lund was an extraordinary migthy man.He was the top clerical authority in Denmark and primas = superior of the Swedish archbishop. The archbishop of Lund was together with the duke of Sønderjylland considered the mightiest man in the kingdom next to the king. The present archbishop Eskil of Lund withdrew in order to go to the monastery in Clairvaux, and he did not oppose to Absalon as his successor. Absalon did not want to leave his diocese in Sjælland, and there was some tug-of-war, until the pope ordered Absalon to accept the archbishopric in Lund - and at the same time he was allowed to stay in his office as bishop in Roskilde, a perfect solution, which gave him more power than any bishop had before or after.
People in Skåne were not satisfied with their new archbishop's strict rule and his many church buildings and complained over the feudal overlords from Sjælland he installed everywhere - they were considered foreigners by the Skånings. In 1180 they made open resistance and demanded Absalon to leave the diocese - and this continued into an real rebellion. King Valdemar the Great arrived and crushed the rebellion by Dysie å (Dösjebro, north west of Lund.) There are no informations that the 'foreigners' were removed from their posts, as the Skåne- rebels had demanded. The Hvide-guys had planted themselves solidly in Skåne, where many church buildings gave witness to continued Sjællandsk influence. It is also obvious later on that the Hvide-family owned estate in Skåne, besides the Skåne-estates belonging to the archbishopric and owned by the two archbishops Absalon and Anders Sunesen.

Fanejord by Grønsund where Valdemar and Absalon's fleet supposedly waited before their expeditions against the Wends.

Absalon was not just a pious priest, he was also a warrior. He had a special talent for fighting the Wends whose violent assaults had been increasing by the Danish coasts. They had a feeling when the Danish eastern coasts were an easy target under the civil wars - then they came and attacked in big or small pirate expeditions, plundering, taking slaves and hostages. During many years Absalon lead the annual expeditions to Rügen and Pommerania. One expedition went to Rügen's fortificated city Arkona, which was conquered and where the temple with the idols was demolished - among the idols was the god Svantevit, father of all gods. The inhabitants of Arkona had the choice between being baptized or executed.
After Valdemar's death in 1182 Absalon was faithfully by the side of the new king, Knud 6., who was his fosterson. He advised Knud to refuse the German emperors' demand to renew the oath his father had given before him. The German emperor wanted Denmark to be a fief under him, but Knud refused, and in 1184 Absalon conquered the duke Bogislaw of Pommerania in a naval battle by Rügen, and after this the Danish south border moved to the Elbe for a long period.
Absalon was the real regent in Denmark for Knud 6. the rest of his life - and during all Knud's ruling period Absalon, Esbern Snare and Sune Ebbesen were highly the power apparatus around the young king . Knud 6. died in 1201, outliving Absalon with only a year.

Absalon's burial place in Sorø Klosterkirke

Sorø Kloster was founded as a Benedictine monastery by Asser Rig and his brethren in 1151, but already in 1161 his son Absalon reformed it, so Cistercienser monks from Esrom north of Sorø came and built both new church and monastery. In the church several members of the Hvide- family have got their final resting place. Some Danish kings are buried here; Valdemar 3. Atterdag, Oluf and Kristian II. Margrethe 1. was buried in Sorø, but later brought to Roskilde cathedral.
Absalon had his parents and his grandfather Skjalm Hvide's and uncle Tokes' bones brought from Fjenneslev to be buried in Sorø. In a grave catalogue from ab. 1400 are mentioned about 40 Hvide-burials inside the church.
The childles Absalon had a big preference for his nephews and grand nephews. His sister's son Alexander was close to him and had his trust. Absalon was a part of bringing Sune Ebbesens' sons Anders and Peder to Paris for studying and followed them and took care for them during their studies.
Absalon died, 72 years of age in 1201, supposedly in Sorø monastery and was buried in Sorø Klosterkirke.
Absalon gave Saxo Grammaticus the commission to write down The Deeds of the Danes in ' Gesta Danorum'. Saxo's work is by its style and size a unique work from this period.

photo + sketch: grethe bachmann ©copyright