Monday, February 1, 2021

Tove of the Obrodrites, married to Harald 1. Bluetooth

Danish Queens for a Thousand Years

Tove of the Obodrites, also called Tova, Tofa or Thora, (ab. 970) was a Slavic princess.

Tove was married to Harald Bluetooth, (ab. 970). (see article Harald Gormsen/ Harald Bluetooth)

Tove, her name carved in runes as   ᛏᚢᚠᛅ,  was the daughter of Prince Mistivir/Mistivoj of the Obodrites/ Obotrites,(ab. 990), a region als known as Wendland. It is not known if she had any children or not. She is known from the runestone in Sønder Vissing kirke ( in Jutland), carved in memory of her mother.

Text: ”Tofa (Tove), Mistivojs datter, Harald den Godes, Gorms søns kone, lod gøre dette dødeminde efter sin moder."  

Mistive must be the Obodriter Prince Mistivoj whose most famous act was the plunder of the city Hamburg in 983. The Obodrites was a Slavic people living near the Danish border and it seems that Harald and Mistivoj had formed an alliance in order to avoid German protrusion north of the Elb. 

Sources: Danske dronninger i tusind år , Steffen Heiberg/ and wikipedia. 


Tove's father Mistivoj:

Battle at Stilo

(935? - 995) was an Obodrite prince (princeps Winulorum) from 965 or 967 until his death. He inherited his position along with his brother Mstidrag from their father Nako in an unknown year. Mstiwoj is an old Slavic name popular among west slavs and East slavs, cognate with the slavic word for vengeance . Thus the name has meaning "Avenger of warriors" or "Avenger warrior".  The Christian name of Mistivoj was Billung - baptised after his probable godfather Hermann Billung.

In 983, the brothers were leaders of the great Slavic revolt, which German historiography labels the Slawenaufstand, which followed news of the Emperor Otto II's defeat at the Battle of Stilo. He raided far to the west and even destroyed the relatively new city of Hamburg that year. There are two accounts of his life and his reasons for abandoning Christianity.

According to Adam of Bremen: A Slavic prince named Billung married the beautiful sister of Bishop Wago of Starigard and had with her a daughter Hodica and a son Mstislav, whom he, taking advantage of his jealousy of the Saxons, goaded into hatred of Christianity and his mother until, having so
offended his wife, he began to connive against Christianity and the bishops.

According to Helmold: Duke Herman Billung [actually Duke Bernard I) promised a niece of his to Mstivoj [or Mstivoj requested] if he accompanied him on campaign to Italy. That Mstivoj did and upon returning reminded him of the promise. Then Dietrich of Haldensleben proclaimed that "the high-born niece of a great prince may not be given to a dog," whereupon Mstivoj, recruiting the Liutizi to aid him, devastated Nordalbingia with fire and sword.

Helmold also justifies the Slavic rebellion repeatedly by citing the excessive greed of the Saxons.

Mstivoj's daughter Tove married Harald Bluetooth and raised the Sønder Vissing Runestone in memory of her mother. Another daughter, Hodica, was abbess of the monastery at the Mecklenburg. Mstivoj also had a son, Mstislaw, often being confused with his similarly named father.

Sources: Jacobsen, Lis. "Kong Haralds og Kong Gorms Jellingmonumenter." Scandia, IV. Lund, 1931. p. 264.


Obodrite territory
The Obodrites/Obotrites:

 The Obodrites or Obotrites, also spelled Abodrites were a confederation of medieval West Slavic tribes within the territory of modern Mecklenburg and Holstein in northern Germany . For decades, they were allies of Charlemagne in his wars against the Germanic Saxons and the Slavic Veleti. The Obotrites under Prince Thrasco defeated the Saxons in the Battle of Bornhöved (798). The still heathen Saxons were dispersed by the emperor, and the part of their former land in Holstein north of Elbe was awarded to the Obotrites in 804, as a reward for their victory. This however was soon reverted through an invasion of the Danes. The Obotrite regnal style was abolished in 1167, when Pribislav was restored to power by Duke Henry the Lion, as Prince of Mecklenburg, thereby founding the German House of Mecklenburg.

As allies of the Carolingian kings and the empire of their Ottonian successors, the Obotrites fought from 808 to 1200 against the kings of Denmark, who wished to rule the Baltic region independently of the empire. When opportunities arose, for instance upon the death of an emperor, they would seek to seize power; and in 983 Hamburg was destroyed by the Obotrites under their king, Mstivoj. At times they levied tribute from the Danes and Saxons. Under the leadership of Niklot, they resisted a Christian assault during the Wendish Crusade.

German missionaries such as Vicelinus converted the Obotrites to Christianity. In 1170 they acknowledged the suzerainty of the Holy Roman Empire, leading to Germanisation and assimilation over the following centuries. However, up to the late 15th century most villagers in the Obotritic area were still speaking Slavic dialects, although subsequently their language was displaced by German. The Polabian language survived until the beginning of the 19th century in Hanoverian Wendland, eastern Lower Saxony (bordering modern Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania). The ruling clan of the Obotrites kept its power throughout the Germanisation and ruled their country (except during a short interruption in Thirty Year's War) as House of Mecklenburg until the end of monarchies in Germany in November Revolution 1918. 

Jensen, Carsten Selch (2006)."Abodrites" (PDF). In Alan V. Murray (ed.). The Crusades: An Encyclopedia.