Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Knud V, 1129 - 9. August 1157 ~ a daughter of king Sverker I of Sweden

Dansk Biografisk Lexicon
Carl Fr. Bricka
Project Runeberg

Knud V. Magnussen,1129 - 9 august 1157, King.
K., who was a son of Magnus Nielsen and Richiza,
let the Jutlanders pay tribute to him after Erik
Lam's resign (1146). The Jutlanders had also
supported his father and grandfather, and K. soon
started a fight against Svend (Eriksen),who had
the supremacy over Zealand and the provinces in
Skåne. After K. with great promises had won
archbishop Eskil, he went to Skåne, but dared not
land; he deserted Eskil and advanced instead at
Zealand; Svend persued him however, defeated him
at Slangerup and drove him back to Jutland.

In 1147 K. and Svend joined together in a crusade
against the Wends, but the expeditions only increased
the discord and hastened a new feud. K succeeded in
surprising Roskilde, but after the defeat at Tåstrup
he had to flee to Jutland the second time.(1148).
Svend now started an attack, he resided at Funen,
while his cousin Valdemar, whom he had made hertug,
won Sønderjylland, although K. had tried to secure
it in an alliance with grev Adolf II of Holstein.

Later Svend advanced in Jutland and was victorious
at Viborg (1150), and K. then took flight to his
stepfather, king Sverker I in Sweden. The ousted
king tried in vain to get assistance in his
mother's homeland Poland and by the hertug of
Sachsen, but he won archbishop Hartvig I of
Hamburg-Bremen by promising him suzerainty over
the Danish church and went with a German army
into Jutland, but suffered a defeat at Gjedbæk
south of Viborg (1151) and took flight to

In a last attempt to win the kingdom K. gathered
the Danish Frisians , but Svend became again
the victor, and K. went to the German king
Frederik I . At the meeting in Merseburg (1152)
Frederik acknowledged now Svend as sole king in
Denmark, but he let him promise to give K. Zealand
as a vasalry.Svend did not keep his promise, but
he gave spread vasalries to K. instead of collected

Valdemar, who had worked for the agreement in
Merseburg, was now closer to K., who promised
him his halfsister Sophie in marriage and a
third of his paternal estate as a dowry.They
then went together to Svend's enemy king Sverker,
and K. married his daughter. Now Svend wanted to
kill them , and they dared to be paid tribute as
kings at Viborg thing; Svend lost his followers
and had to flee the country (1154).

K. couldn't compare with his co-king Valdemar,
and in the dividing of the kingdom in three parts
in 1157 he was the last of three, the other kings
had chosen their parts, and K. got the islands.
He still mistrusted Svend and felt deceit during
the Feast in Roskilde, he therefore said goodbye
to Valdemar and left, but he was not enough
resolute to avoid a sudden attack; Ditlev cleaved
his head, and soon after his relative Constantin
was cut down. (9 August 1157).)

- K. was an easy-going, not especially eminent
personality, but well-spoken and because of his
amiable manners very liked by his crew, where no
one would let him down in spite of his bad luck.
He had a great weakness for women, and from his
casual relations were several children: Niels
who later was honoured as a saint, Valdemar,
the famous Schleswig-bishop, who became a traitor,
the daughters Jutta, who married the Sachsen-hertug
Bernhard, Hildegard, married to prince Jarimar
of Rygen, Ingerd, married to hertug Casimir II of
Pommern-Demmin, and a daughter, married to Bugislav
III of Schlawe. It is probably a misunderstanding
that K. had a son Magnus, who was killed in Roskilde
in 1157.There are no informations about Sverker's
daughter - who was K.'s queen for about one year.

Translated from Hans Olrik's Danish text:
grethe bachmann.

Ditlev (or actually Thetlev), --1157, son of
Edlar, was an influental German hirdmand
(housecarl) by Svend Grathe, and at Blodgildet
(the Blood Feast) in Roskilde (9. Aug. 1157)
he was the leader of the attack on the kings
Knud and Valdemar. After an arrangement with
Svend he broke into the hall with Svend's
armed men. Valdemar quickly turned off the
lights and attacked D. so they both fell to
the ground. While Valdemar - although badly
wounded - got away during the muddle, D.
jumped up and cleaved Knud's head - and
together with his men he cut down Knud's
relative Constantin. In the  battle at
Grathe hede (23 Oct. 1157) D. was captured
and in spite of his pitiful pleas he was
put on a rack and broked on the wheel.

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

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

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

Dansk Biografisk Lexicon
Carl Fr. Bricka
Project Runeberg

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

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

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

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

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

Hans Olrik.

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

Suhm, Hist. af Danmark VI.

J. Kinch.

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

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Valdemar I the Great, 1131-82, ~ Sophie of Russia, ab. 1140-98.

Dansk Biografisk Lexicon
Carl Fr. Bricka
Project Runeberg

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
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
Project Runeberg


translation grethe bachmann  ©copyright