15. Who Were the Jaets?
17. The Qi Dan People
Danish Connections with the AbodrittesMural showing Knud Lavard in Sct. Bendts Church in Ringsted.
The young man Godskalk addressed king Cnut the Great and asked for help, as the Saxons had killed his Wendish father knes (meaning Prince or king) Pribinev of Abodrits. He must have thought it was a completely natural place for a Wend to seek justice.
With Danish help, he returned and killed his enemy Ratibor, whom, we must believe, was supported by the Saxons. Godskalk married later a daughter of the danish king Svend Estridsen. He was killed in 1066 by knes Kruto of the Wagrians, another Wendic tribe, as a reaction against his attempt to Christianize the Wends.
Godskalk was followed as knes by his son, Henrik Godskalkson. When the latter died in 1127 the Abodrittes elected his cousin Knud Lavard as knes. He was knes for four years.
Map of Wendland showing different wendish tribes and peoples.
Following Saxo the Wendish piracy against the Danish coasts escalated during the reign of king Niels. In connection with the choice of Knud Lavard as the border Earl of Slesvig it is told that the Wends raveged the Danish coasts and in particular the area around the river Eider and Slesvig worser than before. Nobody dared to oppose the king of the Wends, Henrik Godskalkson. This was the reason why the position as border earl in Slesvig stood vacant.
Knud Lavard offered personally king Niels to take over this perilous task. He spoke to king Niels: "You know best, whether I have produced results as a warrior. Danes! Cultivate just your land completely out to the coast, if you will! Place your houses so close to the water, as you please! And stay away from the waves yourselves! - For I will protect you against the pirates."
However, Knud Lavard was killed in Haraldsted Forest some years later.
In cooperation with Henrik Loewe of Saxony, Valdemar the Great in 1160 launched an expedition against the Abodrittes, here knes Niklot was killed. His son Pribislav received his father's country as a fief of Denmark.
Chaos in DenmarkHelmold's Wend Chronicle says that the situation deteriorated further during the reign of Erik Lam: "For when Erik, called Erik Emune, was killed, there were three royal candidates left, namely Svend, son of the same Erik, and Valdemar Knudson and Svend Magnusson. But since they were still only children, it was on the assembly of Danes decided, that a certain Erik, called Erik Lam, should be their guardian. He was a peaceful man, and he would have ruled the country that was him trusted in calmness, if he had been able to resist the furious attacks of the Wends. The attacks by Wendish robber gangs were at that time more numerous than usual. But when Eric noticed that the day for his death approached, he called on the three royal youths, and he called together a council of nobles and appointed Sven as king, and said that Valdemar and Knud had to be satisfied with their heritage from their fathers. And when he had arranged this, he died."
The blood party in Roskilde - Svend invited his fellow kings Knud and Valdemar to a party in Roskilde. While they listened to a German singer, Svends men broke in and tried to kill his rivals. Knud was killed, but Valdemar escaped in the darkness and confusion.
During the period that followed seemed the raids of the Wends to become increasingly worser to reach a peak during the civil war between Svend, Knud and Valdemar. Saxo wrote: "At this time, Denmark was a country in disintegration; at home the civil war raged, and from outside the pirate scourge reached new heights." According to Saxo, the country was on the verge of collapse: "At that time the pirates had free rein, and the whole way from Vendsyssel to the Eider all villages in eastern Jutland were abandoned and all fields uncultivated. In East as well as South Sjaelland was a desolate, deserted landscape. The peasants were gone, and in their place the robbers had settled, as if they were at home. On Fyn the pirates had left nothing but a small flock of inhabitants."
Helmold's Wend Chronicle explains why: "The Danes are namely always plagued by domestic wars, and they have no power to lead wars abroad. For Svend, the king of the Danes, strengthened true enough his position in the kingdom by his lucky victories and by the emperor's authority, but he tormented his people cruelly, and therefore God avenged on him by giving his life an unhappy ending. For when Knud his rival, noticed how the people murmured against Svend, he called on Valdemar, who was Svend's cousin and assistant and connected with him by giving him his sister in marriage. And when he was certain that this man would help him, he renewed his vicious attacks on Svend."
Svantevit were one of the Wend's important gods. - Absalon destroys Svantevit after the conquest of Arkona - painting by Lauritz Tuxen.
Helmond also remarked: "Erik reigned in Denmark and begat a son named Svend with a mistress, Thunna. But Knud had also a son, the noble-borne Valdemar. And Magnus had his son Knud. These shoots of the royal lineage lived then among the Danish people and fought one another, lest they would one day should get out of habit and become arrogant. They are only worth something in their internal wars."
"But events unfolded so that Valdemar became the one king of Denmark. He overcame the Wends on Rugen and later anywhere in Wendland in cooperation with Duke Henrik Loewe of Saxony. His son Knud 6. continued the raids against the land of the Wends. There after the Wends everywhere converted to Christianity, and their raids against the Danish coasts ceased.
The Wends make HavocIt can not be explained away that the Wends committed widespread piracy on the Danish coasts. Saxo tells it in abundance, but also they admit it themselves.
Radegast was another of the important Gods of the Wends - however this one is a fake, but perhaps he never the less gives an ide about the god Radegast - Regionalmuseum Neubrandenburg zeigt spektakulaere Falschungen aus dem 18 Jahrhundert.
In Knes Pribislaw's speach to a Saxon bishop in 1157 he places the responsibilty for the piracy on the invading Saxons, who have forced the Wendish people to "turn their backs to the dry land, go to the sea and dwell and build on the waves. Is it our fault, that when we have been driven out from our native land, we are compelled to disturb the peace on sea and take our travel food from the Danes or the merchants who are sailing on the ocean? "(Helmold).
Pastor Helmold also wrote in the same chronicle around 1170: "Denmark consists in general of scattered islands surrounded by sea. They are difficult to protect against pirate attacks, because there are many peninsulas, which are well suited as hiding places for the Wends."
Saxo is not blind to the fact that they probably had learned the piracy profession from the Vikings, he tells about the time of Harald Bluetooth and Sven Forkbeard "On that time was widespread piracy in this country, while it was rare among the Wends. But it began to spread to them also, because the pirates in Julin cultivated the activity of their homeland on the homeland itself and harassed very most the Danes with the means, which they themselves had taught them."
Reconstruction of Wendish ship.
Most likely some will argue that all that with the havoc done by the Wends only is political propaganda from Saxo supporting Valdemar the Great and Absalon to justify their imperialistic policy. But the pirates' lootings may also be supported by other arguments.
On Falster unusually many burried treasures have been found from this particular period. The owners had burried them in times of troubles, but have not been able to pick up their treasures after the unrest. Lymoseskatten contained silver and 393 coins from Germany and England. The silver treasure from Vaalse contained 6.5 kilogram of silver, such as coins, jewelry and broken silver. The treasure from Gundslevmagle contained among other things, a unique Byzantine silver cross.
Oem Monestary Chronicle notes that the bishop of Aarhus, Svend, gave large stretches of land in Jutland to the monastery, but that it was worthless because it was too close to the sea and was exposed to the heathen pirates' assault. The English bishop Thomas of Beckett's saint vita tells that Wends had intercepted a gift for Valdemar from his father in law.
The island of Lyoe has quite excellent farmland and had been populaed since the stoneage, But Valdemar could hold his tragic hunting here, because the island was still uninhabited.
The Wends in DenmarkWends have lived in Denmark, at least on the islands of Lolland, Falster and Moen, and most likely their descendants still live here. Even in modern times we have personal names of Wendic origin, for example Tove and Preben, Tove was the name of Svend Forkbeard's Wendish queen, and Preben comes from the Wendish Pritbior.
A rune stone in the cemetery of Tillitse Church - originally built into the church wall. It says: "Eskil Sulkeson let this stone erect after him self. Always it will stand, while the stone lives, this inscription which Eskil did. Christus and St. Mikkel help his soul." Moreover: "Toke made these runes after his stepmother Thora, a noble woman." On the stone is also a cross.
It contains four Nordic personal names and a clear Christian symbol. It may be erected by those, who lived there, before the Wends came and gave the village their own Wendish name.
We love to imagine all sorts of harmonic and peaceful coexistence, but if there had been peaceful coexistence, then the newcomers would have respected the original Nordic name of the village.
On the island of Lolland many place have names of Wendic origin, Binnitse, Billitse, Krambes, Tillitse, Kuditse, Ulitse, Revitse, Vaagese, Glukse, Mullese, Kramnitse and Kobelitse.
On Falster only one settlement has a genuine Wendic name, namely Korselitse. The other place names of possible Wendic origin on this island are all names on mounds, springs and similar.
At the small Fribroedre River just south of the city of Stubbekoebing the remains of a small shipyard has been found that with great probability is Wendic. The Wendic ships were more flat-bottomed than the danish, the mast boar had a special design, they used moss for tightning between planks, and the sheerstrake planks were fastened with wooden nails. A dendrochronological tests of a ship's planks showed that the tree has been cut between 1050 and 1055. In field books from 1682 the place is called "Pri Broedres Agre". A known Wendic field name is "Prybrode", where "pry" stands for "at", and "brod" for "ford".
On the island of Moen exist the place names Toevelde, which in 1257 was called Tubald, Poelsegave, named Polzeghaart in 1370, Rejse named Regidse in 1550, and Golse, all of Wendic origin.
In the dialekts of the southern islands has been found one word only, that can be attributed to Wendic, namely to "kampe" which means to bathe, wash one self, registered at South Falster.
I think that such danish words as "gast" (sailor on a sailship) and "knaegt" (lad, boy, young man) may also be of Wendic origin.
A rune stone was found as recycled building block in the walls of the church in S�nder Kirkeby on Falster. It says, "-ser erected this stone after his brother As- and found death on Gotland. Thor bless these runes." It makes probable that the Danes came to Falster first and the Wends arrived later. The Wends may be accepted as Christians, it was probably the only thing that mattered in the Middle Age. The fact that they recycled a runestone in the building of the church wall shows, how little the newly converted Christians regarded the history and the ancestors.
Saxon Terror against the WendsIt must also be considered quite certain that the Wendic complains, that they were persecuted and terrorized by the Saxons, were justified.
Helmold's Wend Chronicle says: "But mostly the Wends raged because of the Saxon occupation. They broke their chains and ravaged at the border to Holstein, and the village Faldera was devastated because of the almost daily looting of people and cities."
Heinrich Loewe and his wife Mathilde from England.
And elsewhere in the Chronicle: "But Henrik, who was the Duke, was always moving quickly with weapons in hand, and secretly he collected a army of Holsteiner and Stormarner in the wintertime and invaded Wendland and attacked those, who came in his way, and who were a thorn in the eyes of the Saxons, and knocked them down with a heavy hand in all the countries around Ploen, Lutjenburg, Oldenburg and the whole area beginning at the river Saale, and ends at the Baltic Sea and the river Trave. They ravaged the whole country in one stretch, galloped along and took the loot and set on fire, except in the cities that were fortified with ramparts and moats, which required a major effort."
"But because the land was deserted, he (Duke Adolf) called out to all countries, to Flanders and Holland and Utrecht and Westphalia and Friesland, and invited anyone, who owned only a little land to come with their families and get the very best land, vast fields, rich in crops, with abundance of fish and meat and suitable for grazing. And he said to the Holsteiners and Stormarns: "Did you not subdue the land of the Wends, did you not buy it with the death of your brothers and fathers? Why do you then come as the last ones to take it in your possession? No, come as the first ones, and move over to live on this land, which anybody must wish for, and cultivate it and take part in its pleasures, for you deserve the very best of it, you, who have taken it out of enemy hands".
Wendland was not a virgin prairie, it was already populated, and if there was room for immigration, the Saxons must somehow have predisposed the people living there before.
The Sanctuary Fortresses Guldborg and Borrebjerg on LangelandThe sanctuary fortresses Guldborg and Borrebjerg on the island of Langeland.
Langeland Museum has conducted excavations on the castle hill Guldborg and in the sanctuary fortress of Borrebjerg.
On Guldborg have been found evidence for a dramatic slaughter of at least 25 men, women and children.
A man about 25 years and a girl about 13 years were rapidly buried under a thin layer of soil, a horse's skin with skull and legbones had been hanging over the dead. The defence ramparts gate and parts of the wooden stockade bore traces of having been burnt down during the fight. There were many remnants of coffin hardware, amber and glass beads, others jewelry and some coins. It could be shown that those other killed had been left where they fell in a very long time, maybe more than a year. At a later clean-up their bones had unceremoniously been shoveled together.
Together with the remnants of the victims belongings and other rubbish the scattered bones have been used as fill up in a lightly submerged access road through the ruined port and at the burned down stockade.
The youngest coin was minted during the reign of Erik Emune. The massacre of Guldborg can therefore not have taken place before the late 1130's, but may indeed be set to about 1140 - 1150.
The findings are commonly interpreted as follows: The Christian Danish residents of Langeland had together sought refuge behind the ramparts on Guldborg, as they were attacked by a large crowd of Wendic pirates. The pirates slaughtered the defenders. They sacrificed two captured Danes to their pagan gods and then left the place in a great hurry without plundering the corpses. Since Langeland by this time was completely empty for inhabitans, the corpses were left on the ground for many months maybe a year, before some people arrived to on the place and used the scattered bones to fill up some holes together with other rubbish.
It is clearly a very unsatisfactory explanation. The medieval Danes were deeply Christian, and it was unthinkable that they would not bury their dead fellow christians in consecrated soil.
Horse skin with skull and footbones hanging on a pole.
We can provide another explanation, which fits better with the findings: After several years of pirate attacks Langeland is more or less uninhabited. Pressed by the Saxon terror some Wendic families settle for a new home on the almost uninhabited island. A group of Christian Danish men decide, that this is too much, first the Wends come as pirates and drive out the Christians Danish residents, and then come the pagan Wendish settlers and take the country in possession. They decide to make an endloesung and surround the Guldborg rampart system, where the Wendish settlers have sought refuge. In their life's distress the besieged sacrifice two from their own group and a horse to their pagan gods and bury them quickly. But it is of no use, the attackers break through and mercilessly slaugther the Wendic settlers. They do not bother about looting. The corpses are allowed to to lie, where they fell. For a long time the locals avoid to enter the fortress of fear of ghosts. After more than a year, the skeletons are shoveled together and used for fill up some holes together with the remains of their belongings and some other rubbish; they were only pagans.
The excavation of the sanctuary fortress Borrebjerg shows a similar scenario. Twice the castle's defenders have been overwhelmed and slaughtered. Their bodies were both times allowed to lie until most of the flesh had rotted away, and then the remains were shoveled together. Skeletal remains of the first defenders were used as filling in an improvement of the defence dike.
We remember Saxo's remark about Svend Grathe on the island of Fyn: "When king Svend Grathe cleared Fyn for Wends, he and his men fought for so long and so hard, that they toiled the skin of their palms and finally swung the swords with the bloody meat in their hands."
Place Names which Starts with Vind- or Vend-It has been suggested that such place names that contain Vind-, Vinde- or Vend- as first syllable, this meant Wend- so would Vinde-by mean Wend-by and Vinde-roed betyde Wend-roed. It is about such place names as Vindeby, Vindemark, Vindbyholt, Vindeballe, Vinde Helsinge, Vindelev, Vindeltorp, Vinderoed and of course the excavation site Vindeboder at Roskilde, not to mention Vendsyssel.
Font> Pottinger rotor vendere.
When you search in "Google Advanced - language: danish" after "Vendere" (meaning "Wends" in danish), you will get some ads for a type of agricultural machinery, which can "vende" ("turn" og "reverse" in danish) grass and hay and the like. I think that word describes the original meaning of the term "Wend" (Vender in Danish), so that the word denotes people, who are "turned" or should we say "reversed" in the sense that they do everything differently, have different customs, different language and may look different. Like for examplewise, we might think that Chinese are doing everything opposite.
With this meaning of "Wends" (Vendere) the inhabitans of Vendsyssel avoid to descend from the Wends, only their ancestors have in some way been different. The same goes for all other Vinde-, place names, they tell only, that those who lived here were somewhat odd in one way or another.
The Wends had most likely called themselves something like "Sorbs" or "Serbs", like other slavonic peoples did.
Peaceful relations between Denmark and Slavic PeoplesThe havoc of the Wends lasted probably from the reign of king Niels until some years into Valdemar the Great's. This means from about 1100 to about 1170, we can believe. Of course, it can have begun before, but we have no information about it.
Runestone in Soender Vissing church - It says: "Tove, Mistivi's daugther, Harald the Good, Gorm's son's wife, let make runes after her mother."
Prior to the time of havoc of the Wends there was of course a period when Vikings made havoc in the the Baltic Sea, among other places in Wendland. For example, we remember that the Norwegian king Olav Tryggvason were killed in the battle of Svold about the year 1000 against Erik Jarl of Norway with help from Svend Forkbeard and Olof Skotkonung of Sweden. What business did Olav Tryggvason really have at the island Svold? Well, according to Heimskringla he was on his way home from a viking raid in Wendland; most likely to fetch a fresh supply of thralls.
During the Viking Age and the early Middle Ages the royal families were associated by kinship ties across the Baltic Sea.
On the rune stone in Soender Vissing church in Jutland we can read that Harald Bluetooth was married to Tove, daughter of the knes of the Abodrits, Mistivoi.
Svend Forkbeard, Harald's son, married a Polish princess. Knud Lavard and Erik Emune married the sisters Ingeborg and Malmfrid, daughters of the Grand Duke Mistislav of Novgorod. Valdemar the Great married Sophia of Russia.
Many Danish kings were named Valdemar. The name comes from the Russian Vladimir or Woldomir, meaning "Ruler of the World" or "World's Peace". Valdemar the Great was named after his great-grandfather on the mothers side, Grand Duke Woldomir of Kiev.
In 1184 Knud 6. Waldemar's son, won supremacy of Pomerania, henceforth he called himself king of the Wends. The title king of the Wends were included in the Danish royal title, until Queen Margrete abolished it in 1972.
Flemming Rickfors has in "Asernes Aet Verasir" digged completely thoroughly all issues related to Goths, Vandals and Burgunds, it seems that any document, image or map, which can be related to the subject, have been considered:
Reidgotaland - Gutisk-Andja Burgunder og Vandaler - Asernes Aet - Verasir (danish).
In Jorgen Marcussen's website on "Maritim Historisk information" is very accurate information about Goths, Vandals and Lombards: Goter, Vandaler og Langobarder - Maritim historisk information (danish)
Helmond af Bosau's Wend Cronicle is available in danish in beautiful set up: Crassus
See also: Vender Leksikon - Venner og fjender (danish)
And also: Vendere og Danmark - �bent Seminar - pdf (danish) From South Danish University. It is very useful and informative.
At Tidslinie - Dansk Militaer Historie (danish) can be found a complete list of the wars, in which Denmark had participated.
Hos Kong Gorms Saga - Middelalderstudier (danish) in a very comprehensive, unbiased and logical way Kristian Andersen Nyrup treats the early Danish history and the creation of Denmark.
At Historisk leksikon og kildesamling - Institut for Historie og Omraadestudier - Aarhus Universitet (danish) can be found more than 450 articles and 500 sources.
The line of Danish kings can be found at: Royal Lineage - The Royal House
Here are some films from BBC Learning, which deals with the mapping of the Y kromosomet, the Vikings and their raids and settlements in England, Scotland, Ireland, surrounding islands and Normandy:
Blood Of The Vikings - 1 - First Blood.
Blood Of The Vikings - 2 - Invasion.
Blood Of The Vikings - 3 - The Sea Road.
Blood Of The Vikings - 4 - Rulers.
Blood of The Vikings - 5 - Last Of The Vikings.
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