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40. Erik Klipping

42. Christoffer 2.

Denmark's History

41. Erik Menved

1. Introduction 2. Erik Menved
3. Queen Agnes 4. Norway
5. Jens Grand 6. Sweden
7. Northern Germany 8. Rebellion in Jutland
9. Family 10. King of Denmark
11. Burial 12. Literature

1. Introduction

When his father, Erik Klipping, was killed in Finderup Barn, Erik was only 12 years old and therefore his mother, widow Queen Agnes, became his guardian for the first six years of his reign.

Erik Menved ruled Denmark for 33 years. He became king in the year his father's death in 1286 and died himself in 1319.

The most important event during the guardianship of Queen Agnes was the showdown on Erik Klipping's murderers. Count Jakob of Halland, Marsk Stig Andersen and seven others were sentenced outlaws for the murder of the king, and they therefore immediately fled to Norway, where King Erik Priesthater took over their case. Throughout the Queen's guardianship and the first years of Erik's reign, there were battles against the outlaws and the Norwegians, who burned and ravaged Danish islands and coastal towns.

Erik Menved on a section of his grave plaque in Ringsted Church

Portrait of Erik Menved on a section of his tombstone in Sct. Bendts Church in Ringsted. There must certainly be portrait likeness. It shows a man with a beautiful and regular face looking directly at the viewer. He has a strong chin, which since the Germanic Iron Age has been a symbol of character strength. He carries the sword of power and the lily rod as a symbol of the Trinity and the true Catholic faith. At the time of his death, he was 45 years old. Photo Nationalmuseet Wikimedia.commons.

Sweden was ravaged by civil war-like conditions in the dispute between King Birger Magnusson and his brothers, and Erik ultimately allied with his brother-in-law, the king, which resulted in costly military interventions, which ultimately proved futile because King Birger still pulled the shortest straw.

Throughout large parts of Denmark's medieval history, rebellious and power-hungry archbishops have played a major role - to the country's misfortune. They were in all probability elected and supported by widespread oppositional and we-know-better attitudes among the country's learned priests and monks, closely linked to the nature of the Catholic Church and their perception of themselves as an intellectual elite - much like the modern university environment.

In 1134, Archbishop Asser used the archbishop seat's fortune to hire a German cavalry army that crushed the king's leding army at Fodevig and thus restarted a languishing civil war, which came to last decades. Valdemar the Great said of Archbishop Eskil: "that Eskil had had the custom of drinking the blood of the former kings, and that he now also thirsted for his." But the archbishop lost the power struggle and chose to resign from his office in 1177. During Christoffer 1's reign, Archbishop Jacob Erlandsen and his followers led a veritable revolt against the king, attacking royal castles, refusing to perform coronation ceremonies, refusing to help defending the kingdom, and finally accusing the king of heresy. Erik Menved had to fight against Archbishop Jens Grand, who worked uncompromisingly for the church to be a power that was superior to the kings.

Royal families through the history of Denmark

Denmark's history divided into Royal Dynasties. However, all the kings - except Magnus the Good - are descended from "Hardegon, son of a certain Sven" , who conquered a large part of Jutland around 917 as narrated by Adam of Bremen in his section on Bishop Hoger . The line of kings and stories about war and peace are the backbone of history - not that stories about culture and ordinary people's living conditions are not important and interesting - but without the list of kings, history can easily become a kind of relatively unstructured conversation about aspects of Danish history that pedagogically are not easely fixed time. It gives a good overview to divide the royal line - and thus Danish history - into manageable sections.
The Knytlinge lineage got its name from a Hardecnudth, probably the son of Sven. He is also called Knud I, and was most certainly the father of Gorm the Old, as narrated by Adam of Bremen under Bishop Unni.
Magnus the Good, who became king in 1047, was the son of the Norwegian saint king Olav; his reign constitutes a transitional period to the time of Sweyn Estridsson and his sons and grandsons.
The rival kings, Svend, Knud and Valdemar, from 1146 to 1157, all descended from Sweyn Estridsson; their time forms an interregnum to the time of the Valdemars.
Many historians, probably most, include only Valdemar the Great and his sons Canute the Sixth and Valdemar the Victorious to the Valdemars. But one can not have a patent on such a definition, and it seems appropriate for the author to include their less successful descendants - including Erik Ploughpenning, Abel and Christoffer 1. - until Christoffer 2. who was the last king before Denmark's kingless time from 1340.
Valdemar Atterdag was not king of the Kalmar Union, but his grandson, Olaf, was, and his daughter Margrete 1. became queen of the Scandinavian Union. One can say - with a little good will - that Valdemar Atterdag recreated Denmark and thus the possibility of the Kalmar Union with Norway and Sweden.
The Civil War, The Count's Feud, 1534-36 was a decisive turning point in Denmark's history. As a consequence of the Lutheran Reformation, which took place at the same time, the kings confiscated the third part of Denmark's agricultural land that belonged to the church. This fabulous wealth made it possible for them to subdue Denmark's old nobility and after some time to establish the autocracy, which became one of the most important reasons for Denmark's historic deroute. In 1848, a democratic constitution was introduced without civil war or other violent events.
The Oldenburg royal line died out in 1863 with the childless Frederik 7. The throne was then given to Christian 9. of Glücksborg.

King Erik aspired to re-establish Valdemar the Victorious' Baltic Empire with a Danish kingdom, which also included the German principalities and cities north of the Elbe along the Baltic Sea. He experienced a short-term success, but thereby pressed Denmark's financial resources too hard, which led to riots on Sjælland and in Jutland.

At his death in 1319 he left a kingdom in a sad economic constitution, as very large parts of the kingdom were mortgaged to foreign and domestic creditors and there was great chaos.

The Valdemars

The Valdemarers. It is common simply to attribute Valdemar the Great, Canute the Sixth and Valdemar the Victorious to the Valdemars. But thereby their less successful descendants become pedagogically homeless, even though they are direct descendants after the first and more famous Valdemars, and they are not separated from these by any natural period of transformation. Therefore, I would suggest that the whole group until the kingless time to be called the Valdemars.
Erik Ploughpenning, Abel and Christoffer were sons of Valdemar the Victorious and they succeeded each other as kings. Abel had his brother, Erik, killed and his body immersed in the fjord Slien. However, 24 knights swore he was innocent and therefore he could still be elected king. However, only a short time later, he was killed in battle during a campaign against Friesland, and then his younger brother, Christoffer, was chosen as his successor as king, and the deceased Abel's eldest son was thereby bypassed. In the following decades, this led to a long-standing rivalry between the descendants of Abel and Christoffer, respectively, and contributed to the historical division of the original Denmark into the kingdom and the duchies.
Only 11 years old, Christoffer's son, Erik, who was later bynamed Klipping, became king with his dynamic mother, Margrete Sambiria, as guardian. The great men limited his power with a handbinding contract at Nyborg Castle, which among other things decided that the meeting of king and great men, which was later called the Danehof, should be the country's highest court. Furthermore, it was ruled that the Danehof could only deal with cases that had previously been presented to another court and that it could only impose standard fines. Erik Klipping was killed in Finderup Barn near Viborg with 56 stab wounds - this murder is still one of the great mysteries in Danish history. His son Erik Menved tried to create goodwill and increased influence in northern Germany by holding some magnificent - but certainly expensive - knight tournaments. He was succeeded by his brother, Christoffer 2. who had to take over his brother's large debts, while at the same time the possibilities of increasing the royal revenue by increased taxes were blocked by a hand-binding contract. When he died in 1332, no new Danish king was elected, and for a period the country was without a king.

2. Erik Menved

The king's byname, "Menved" probably refers to that time Danish phrase "så mænd ved" meaning "so men know", which must have been his favorite expression. It still exists in the Danish language shortened to "såmænd" meaning "so men" with several different meanings.

Erik Menved på udsnit af hans segl

Erik Menved on a section of his seal. It is contemporary and in all probability it has portrait likeness. He looks like a self-confident young man, even with a little smile on his face. He carries the lily staff in his right hand, which represents the Trinity and the true Catholic faith, and the globus imperialis, in his left hand, which represents the earthly power. He is clean shaven, we must believe that it has been fashion in his time. Foto: Drawing by Karl Georg Jensen (1851-1933) in Anders Thiset (1850-1917): "Danske kongelige Sigiller". Wikipedia.

According to "The Danish Dictionary", the main meaning of "såmænd" is to "express a mild admission or acceptance of a certain relationship, often with the meaning that in the speaker's opinion there is no reason to make the relationship in question the subject for greater attention" - Like Jutland people, who are said seldom to sound alarming, but want rather to understate.

One might think that such a favorite expression shows that he perceived himself as a man who always kept a cool head and never panicked. Which, of course, also indicates a most likely mild tendency to stage himself. He probably thought it was funny.

He found Valdemar the Victorious' old letter from Emperor Frederik 2. from the archives and made it the goal of his kingship. Although Valdemar the Victorious himself after the hunt on the island of Lyø no longer emphasized it. Which must show that Erik was a very serious and ambitious person - in a marvelous way completely different from his father, Erik Klipping, who let others be "masters of all the kingdom's income and revenue" and "only reserved the royal name for himself".

It is as if Margrete Samberia's energetic and determined personality skipped a generation and appeared in Erik Menved.

He must have had a very big "drive", as it is said nowadays - always moving towards new idealistic goals. Was he a little manic?

As we know, in any case he lost the economic overview and laid the foundation for Denmark's economic deroute, which led to the kingless era. At Erik's death, almost half of Denmark was mortgaged to various foreign and domestic creditors, and it was difficult to see any way to reverse the development.

3. Denmark under Queen Agnes

The young King Erik - who was to be bynamed Menved - was crowned in Sct. Bendts Church in Ringsted Christmas Day 1287.

King's coronation in the Middle Ages

King's coronation in the Middle Ages shown in the Brabant Chronicle from around 1300. Photo BibliOdysseye.

After the murder of Erik Klipping in November 1286, it must be believed that the king's previous drost, Uffe Nielsen Neb, who was Marsk Stig's father-in-law, very quickly lost power and influence due to the suspicion that we can assume quickly fell on Marsk Stig. But otherwise nothing happened to Uffe Nielsen, and he was not charged.

Immediately after Erik Klipping's death, Queen Agnes must have attached Peder Nielsen Hoseøl to her. On all three documents that the queen signed in March-May 1287, Peder Nielsen testified as drost or the king's advisor.

Peder Nielsen Hoseøl was one of the most influential Danish chieftains of the time of Erik Klipping and Erik Menved. He is said to have been a steely and tough man who steadfastly supported the king and Denmark. He had been Erik Klipping's drost from 1278 until the political turnaround in 1282 in connection with Denmark's entry into the Land Peace League, where he was replaced by Uffe Nielsen. It is straightforward to assume that Peder Nielsen could not accept the capitulation to the king's relatives' demands for heritance fiefs and all the other demands against Denmark.

A page of Modi significandi by Martinus de Dacia

A page of Modi significandi by Martinus de Dacia with the Danish name Morten Mogensen. "De modis significandi" is about the language of scholastic logic, which is the opposite of "modi intelligendi".
Morten Mogensen was a Danish theologian, philosopher and royal chancellor who had received his education while studying at the University of Paris. Master Martin's System, Systema Martinianum, became known and studied throughout Europe.
When the dispute between Jens Grand and Erik Menved broke out, Morten Mogensen stood on the king's side, and in 1296 King Erik gave him and the priest Guido authority to lead the case in Rome against Jens Grand on the king's behalf. Foto Bodleian Library Oxford.

Morten Mogensen - also called Martinus de Dacia - appears in his capacity as chancellor at widow queen Agnes in 1288 as an eyewitness to a permit for the Franciscans to build a monastery in Kolding. It is reasonable to believe that he was attached to Queen Agnes' government as early as 1286-87 in connection with a change of government immediately after the assassination of the king.

Another and very experienced man, who was early attached to the new government, was Prince Wizlav of Rügen. Some historians wonder what this German prince - who signed so many documents - did in Denmark?

But Rügen was part of the Danish kingdom - and had been at least since the time of Valdemar the Great. However, the princes of the Rügen - like the Dukes of Southern Jutland - had acted quite independently in recent years, but that did not change the fact that the Danish king was Prince Witzlav's lawful sovereign, and he seemed to have acknowledged this.

A prince swears allegiance to his king

A prince swears allegiance to his king. Shown in Brabant Chronicle from around 1300. Photo BibliOdysseye.

The prince was at this time an experienced 47-year-old man with 25 years of eventful political life behind him. We must note that Prince Wizlav was not among Duke Valdemar's guarantors at his release from prison in 1286 - despite being the Duke's maternal uncle. Perhaps he knew him too well that he would venture his good reputation with such a guarantee.

As is evident from the events, Duke Valdemar was also at this early stage attached to this group around the Queen.

It must have been these men who prepared and summoned to the national meeting in Skælskør in April 1287 and the later Danehof at Pentecost the same year, where the perpetrators of the murder of King Erik Klipping were appointed and convicted.

At the national meeting in Skælskør in April 1287 fighting arose between the duke's and the queen's men.

One might think that the duke sought to create a new "Lohede" by capturing both the queen and the young king, but when the king escaped, he abandoned his plan. Huitfelt writes: "The king came in the tumult hastily out of the city into his safety."

Jutland Chronicle writes for the year 1287: "Therefore, the said duke met in company with the kingdom's mighty men with the queen in Skælskør, allegedly to negotiate with her for the kingdom's best. But a dispute arose between the queen's and the duke's people, and the duke took the queen prisoner, but she escaped due to her cleverness after a few days the duke of hand" (Troels Brandt).

Illustration for the French medieval poem Ogier le Danois

Illustration for the French medieval poem Ogier le Danois from around 1220. Foto Egypt Search.

Huitfelt believed that the episode in Skælskør was caused by Erik Klipping's murderers, who sought to strike first and thereby avoid being convicted. He believed that the duke thought it was an ambush against him and his people, and therefore his men captured the queen and led her to him. But "there truth came to light, the duke apologized for him and his servants, and she was immediately released."

But despite the tensions between these, Denmark's most powerful men, they must have come together in a plan for how the cake should be cut at the soon-to-be Danehof.

The Ribe yearbook for 1287 writes: "At a national meeting, Duke Valdemar got everything his father had had before him". It is not clear whether the meeting was in Skælskør or later in Nyborg. Despite the fact that at his release in 1286 he had solemnly sworn to give up all demands, Valdemar was promised at the meeting support to get his demands through at the Danehof assembly on condition that he supported the widow queen and her men's policy regarding accusation and conviction of Erik Klipping's murderers.

Danehof festival in Nyborg

Danehof festival in Nyborg 2018. Photo nembillet.dk

In Erik Menved's later indictment from 1314 against Niels Brok, Jens Pape and others, he explains why the duke got all this: "then we appointed him later for greater fidelity to be a national judge and we gave him a third of Jutland as a fief - we forgave him all these shortcomings so that in the future we might find greater fidelity."

There was a large attendance in Nyborg at Pentecost in 1287 and the meeting started festively. Otto of Brandenburg knighted the young king Erik, and Erik in turn gave Duke Valdemar the knighthood.

Duke Valdemar of Jutland was appointed to be the guardian of the young King Erik together with the widowed queen Agnes.

But the most important item on the agenda was the assassination of Erik Klipping. The end of the discussion was that the young King Erik himself - of course led by his advisers - appointed the accused and furthermore a board of 36 members to judge them.

In Arild Huitfelt's Chronicle it says: "year 1287 to Nyborrig about Pentecost is holden an ordinary Dannehof; there came the young king, Queen Agnes, Duke Woldemar, the head of the kingdom, and the bishops and the common nobility of the kingdom. They did for a long time not agree between themselves, because the killers were of great nobility, family and friends. Eventually Margrave Ottho, the Queen's brother, Duke Witzlaf, the Counts of Holstein, were appointed as our judges, and 27 good men of nobility to search and swear about who his father's manslaughters and killers were. Then testimony was interrogated, and reflection and teaching were read out, whom for the aforesaid murder were to be committed, and Jacob, Marsk Stig" - "was sentenced to be the killers and, for that matter, outlawed to be and their estate to be lost" - "And some time later the previous conviction of the outlaws was affirmed by Keyser Rodolpho Habsburgense. Immediately after this had happened, the man-killers set out this to King Erich of Norway." (Troels Brandt)

The young Erik Menved's fight against the outlaws and Norway

The young Erik Menved's fight against the outlaws and Norway. Erik Menved and his mother, widow Queen Agnes, greet the army. Erik's little brother, the later King Christoffer 2, clings to his mother's skirts. Photo Lorenz Frølich, 1853. Statens Museum for Kunst.

The nine accused were Count Jakob of Halland, Marsk Stig Andersen, Niels Hallandsfar, Peder Porse, Peder Jacobsen, Rane Jonsen, Niels Knudsen, Åge Kakke and Arvid Bentsen.

Only Arvid Bentsen was accused of "on his own" having carried out the actual murder. The rest were accused of "counsel, command and action to kill him." They were all found guilty and sentenced to death, however, so that according to old custom they were given a deadline to leave the country as outlaws. They almost all went to Norway, where the king, Erik Priesthater, welcomed them with open arms.

Prior to the Danehof in 1289, fights again occurred in Korsør. Perhaps because the queen's man, Niels Peder Hoseøl, tried to make a reverse "Lohede" on Duke Valdemar, that is, to take him prisoner and then set political conditions for his freedom. However, the action did not succeed.

Lübeck Chronicle writes: "Queen Agnes of the Danes came to Skælskør on Sjælland with a large number of people together with Duke Valdemar of Jutland to hold a meeting. And when the great men ther cme together it came to fighting between the queen's men and the duke's men and first the duke and his men were defeated and fled, but then they took courage and chased the queen and her people on the run, killed others and captured the drost, Peder, led him to Als and put him in the tower at Nordborg." (Troels Brandt)

Fresco of Agnes of Brandenburg

Contemporary fresco of Agnes of Brandenburg in Sct. Bendts Church in Ringsted in connection with the paintings, which describe Abel's murder of Erik Ploughvpenning. This shows that Agnes worked loyally to have Erik Ploughpenning - who had been married to her mother - canonized, thereby condemning the Abel lineage and thus regaining Southern Jutland as a natural part of the Danish kingdom. It is also known that she sent many letters to the pope regarding the case of Erik Ploughpenning's possible canonization. Photo Enstropia Wikipedia.

Detmar's Chronicle is more biased: "In that year, Duke Valdemar met in Skælskør on Sjælland with the Queen and the kingdom's advisers. The Danes wanted to kill the duke despite promise of safe-conduct. The duke and his people were warned, they defended themselves and won. The king's drost was captured along with other Danes and led by the duke to Nordborg Tower on Als." (Troels Brandt)

Peder Nielsen Hoseøl, however, regained his freedom fairly quickly, but was apparently compromised and had to resign as drost.

After this episode, Duke Valdemar completely changed party. He forgot all about his responsibilities in connection with being the guardian of the young King Erik and openly joined the king's enemies. He lent Jacob of Halland money for his purchase of weapons and he became the ally of the Norwegian king. It is said that there was a battle in Grønsund between the duke's and the king's forces where the duke suffered defeat.

In 1288, prior Henrik of the Johanitter Order's Antvorskov Monastery and the Sjælland nobleman Jon Litle were also attached to the government.

The ruins of Antvorskov Monastery

The ruins of Antvorskov Monastery nær Slagelse. near Slagelse. Since the Johanniter brothers were not monks but crusaders, their residence in those days was not called a monastery, but "farm" or "castle". Photo BilletExpressen.

Queen Agnes' government sought to secure assistance from the German principalities and cities in the fight against the outlaws and Norway, or at least to prevent them from supporting them. Already in 1288 the widow queen and the young king thus expressed their thanks to the Lübeck merchants, because they closed their harbor to all who had to do with the outlaws, by exempting their ships from the king's right to coastal wrecks in Denmark.

In 1290 the Queen's government paid the Mecklenburg Princes, Henry of Werle and Nicholas of Rostock, a considerable sum of money in return for promising that for two years they would not support the Norwegian King or allow him to pass through their country, and that they would ban their subjects to serve him. But the Norwegians gave them fight to the finish line by giving the merchants from the German cities even greater privileges in Norway.

But all this - or at least most of it - was the German cities and princes already obliged to according to the Land Peace League agreement - which Denmark under Erik Klipping had acceded to with significant political costs, and therefore it should not have been necessary to reward the German principalities and cities to do so. But it just shows that the Land Peace League was an idealistic project that was already crumbling, and Denmark's membership had not been worth the political costs.

Medieval executions

Medieval executions shown in the Brabant Chronicle from around 1300. Photo BibliOdysseye.

After Peder Nielsen Hoseøl's fall in 1289, he was replaced by three drosts in quick succession.

David Torstenssen Hak signed a letter as the holder of this office in December 1289, and in the spring 1290 he ordered the pirate, Alf Erlingsson, to have broken his limbs in Helsingborg. His successor, Skjalm Stigsen, was reportedly killed in his bed in Nyborg in 1292 in the king's presence by Duke Valdemar's brother, Erik "Longleg" of Langeland, probably in connection with his claim to further possessions on Langeland. He was succeeded by Åge Jonsen, who is said to have been a great opponent of the kingdom's internal enemies.

4. Norway and Denmark

In Erik Klipping's time, the widowed Norwegian queen Ingeborg's faithful man, Earl Alf Erlingsson, had ravaged the Danish waters, where he captured all the ships he met - whether Danish, German or Dutch - and plundered many Danish islands and also the towns of Horsens and Kalundborg.

The Norwegian King Erik Priesthater

The Norwegian king, Erik Priesthater, in Stavanger Cathedral. He was the son of Magnus Lagabøte and Erik Ploughpenning's daughter Ingeborg. In his youth, he suffered a brain injury due to a fall from a horse, which made him very dependent on counselors. Photo Arne Kvitrud Wikipedia.

But after the death of widow queen Ingeborg at Easter 1287, Alf Erlingsson lost his support, and was attacked by Duke Håkon - the king's brother - which led to unrest in connection with which part of Oslo was burned to the ground.

Alf Erlingsson captured the commander of Oslo Castle and later killed him in the Isegran fort near the modern Fredriksstad. He and a few of his closest supporters were declared outlaws in Norway and fled to Sweden. His household troops were hanged and hundreds of his "sveitunger" warriors were killed.

Immediately after the purge, Duke Håkon reconciled with the Lübeckers. He sent a letter to them in which he explained that the deeper cause of the bad relationship between Norway and Lübeck had now been completely eliminated: "some people who fear neither God nor men, now at the ground are cut away."

The Norwegian Duke and later King, Håkon Magnusson

Contemporary bust of Erik Priesthater's little brother, Duke Håkon Magnusson, in the Archaeological Museum in Stavanger. Unlike royal brothers in the other Scandinavian countries, he respected his brother, the king. He did not rebel and did not try to take advantage of his mental disability. He succeeded his brother as king in 1299. Photo Alexander Bugge (1870–1929) Alexander (1916) Wikipedia.

Som nævnt ovenfor begav de fredløse sig straks efter dommen i pinsen 1287 til Norge. Den Norske konge tog imod dem med åbne arme.

Both the Royal Brothers had already signed a letter of protection on June 25, in which they undertook the case of the outlaws: "We hereby make it public that, bearing in mind the sacrificial services offered by the ancestors of the holders of this letter, Stig Andresson, Nikolas Knutsson, Nikolas Hallandsfar, Peter Jakobsson, Peter Pors and Stig Nikolasson, Knights, Åge Kake and Rane Jonsson, armsmen, faithfully given to our ancestors, the famous Kings of Denmark, have pleased to adopt the above-mentioned knights and armsmen as our men, and take them under our peace and protection for special defense, promising them that we would keep them in love and honor, and faithfully stand by them with good advice and deeds, in pursuing their cases as well as defending themselves against wrongdoing, just as we would not without them or their heirs enter into any agreement with the King of Denmark or other of their enemies." We note that the brothers refer to "the famous Kings of Denmark" as "our ancestors".

At the same time, the royal brothers maintained their claim of their now deceased mother's inheritance after her father, Erik Ploughpenning. In a declaration of war from King Erik Priesthater to the young King Erik in Denmark, he wrote that they still claimed the mother's paternal inheritance, and that "had happened his cousin, Count Jakob, as well as the other outlaws great wrong, because there had been sworn to a case without being given the opportunity to defend themselves with the "gender oath".

Battle of Worringen

The Battle of Worringen 1288 in the Brabant Chronicle from around 1300. Photo literatuurgeschiedenis.org Wikipedia.

Obviously, they would use the case of the outlaws as leverage to achieve this, which should prove to be a good strategy.

Based on some remarks in the Jens Grand case, some believe that the Norwegian king's war goal in the long run was - as Erik Ploughpenning's grandson - to become king of Denmark in connection with a general rejection of the Christoffer lineage.

The outlaws were handed over the Norwegian fortress Ragnhildholmen at Kongshelle quite close to the border with Halland.

The royal brothers made a great effort to respect the arbitration of the Swedish king Magnus Ladelås from 1285 in the dispute between Lübeck and Norway and paid their compensation punctually. But the merchants of Lübeck did not allow themselves to be lured and did not allow any ships connected with the outlaws to call at the town. They knew that Denmark was a very large market from which they would not be cut off.

David delivers supplies. Scene in the Morgan Bible

David delivers supplies. Scene in the Morgan Bible reportedly from around 1250. Photo Anonymous Wikipedia.

King Erik Priesthater of Norway ordered leding against Denmark throughout the country and in July 1289 - almost at the same time as the election of Jens Grand as archbishop - the war began as the leding fleet sailed down through the Sound.

One of the ships collided with another ship and sank, causing 160 men to drown. Their corpses, which drifted ashore on the Scania coast, were beheaded, which showed how bitter the coastal population must have been on the Norwegians.

The rest of the force went ashore in Helsingør on 13. July and burned the city down. The fleet then sailed towards Copenhagen, where it anchored in Refshaledybet and from there besieged the city. But the Copenhageners resisted the attack, and the Norwegians had to content themselves with burning Amager and Hven. Ryd Monastery Chronicle reports for 1289 : "King Erik of Norway besieged Copenhagen with ships, and many were killed by the Norwegians, but in the end he left without victory."

Then the fleet attacked Skanør a month before the market opened. The invaders did not succeed in destroying the city, and the Norwegian chieftain Thord Krytter fell along with 70 of his men.

The remains of the city ramparts of Stege

The remnants of Stege's medieval urban rampart, which the Norwegians stormed in vain in one day and one night. Photo Danske Fortidsminder.

Led by Marsk Stig, another part of the Norwegian fleet went down through the Kattegat and Great Belt, where they attacked and destroyed the castle Brattingsborg on Samsø, burned down Skelskør and Tårnborg at Korsør. According to the Esrom Annals, Middelfart and Hindsholm were also burned down - probably also in 1289.

Marsk Stig then joined the Norwegian main force while it was at Amager. The entire fleet then went south of Møn to Grønsund, where they attacked the Christoffer lineage's hereditary land, the islands Lolland and Falster.

A force under Audun Hugleiksson carried out an unfortunate attack on Lolland, in which many Norwegians were killed by the inhabitants. They ravaged Falster, conquered Nykøbing, burned down Stubbekøbing and stormed Stegeborg in vain for a whole day and one night - with great losses of both fallen and wounded. This last attack was probably due to a mistake, as Møn had already at this time been pawned to Prince Vitzlav of Rügen.

Marsk Stigs Hjelm and Count Jacobs Hunehals

Marsh Stig's fortress on the island of Hjelm and Count Jacob's castle on the peninsula Hunehals.

Then the fleet sailed to Samsø and dropped anchor there, while the fleet's leaders discussed what should happen next. But the problem solved itself when a large part of the leding army lifted anchor and sailed home to Norway without leave.

The Norwegians' attacks were met almost everywhere with bitter resistance which inflicted great losses on the attackers, but there was never any question of the Danes retaliating by attacking Norway. Probably Queen Agnes and the Danish government did not dare turn their backs on Duke Valdemar and Archbishop Jens Grand and their many followers.

The following year 1290, the Norwegian royal brothers together with the outlaws were again on attack in Danish waters with a large fleet. It is said that the Norwegians sailed into the Limfjord and lay out off Aalborg for 15 days in the expectation that the inhabitants would join them, but when they instead gathered to resist, the fleet withdrew again.

Thereafter, the fleet ravaged part of Langeland. Then it reduced Svendborg to ashes, although the town belonged to Duke Valdemar. On the way back, the Norwegians must have called Aggersø and Omø at Korsør, and burned Holbæk and Nykøbing in Odsherred.

A coin made on Hjelm by Marsk Stig and his men

Front and back of a coin made on Hjelm by Marsk Stig and his men. Marsk Stig had captured a royal coin master and forced him to undertake an extensive production of counterfeit coins. Also at Hunehals, Count Jacob had a large production of counterfeit coins. Photo Odense Bys Museums møntsamling.

But the most important thing that happened in 1290 was that Marsk Stig settled on the small island, Hjelm, off the coast of Djursland, where he built a castle. In addition, Count Jakob and his men built a similar castle on the peninsula Hunehals in Northern-Halland between Gothenburg and Varberg opposite Læsø. Both areas were declared to be the territory of the King of Norway. It is said that the outlaws should also have been on Sprogø.

This year, the "mighty pirate" - but now outlaw - Alf Erlingsson appeared again in Danish waters. No one knew how he had acquired ships and crew, and no one knew of his purpose with the expedition, whether it was to perform feats that could help him have the sentence of outlaw-verdict of justice lifted or it was wants for adventure or simply desire for booty and wealth.

But his luck was exhausted. Disguised as a galley boy, he went ashore in Scania to scout, he was recognized, captured and led in chains to Helsingborg, where Queen Agnes just stayed. Here he had, on the orders of the drost David Torstenssen, his bones broken and his mutiliated body parts exhibited.

Heddal Stave Church

Hedal Stave Church at Notodden in Telemark was probably built between 1200 and 1300. Photo VisitNorway.

There is no written evidence that the outlaws in this year or the following, 1291, made any attack on the Danish coasts - at least none that have been found worth writing down. Presumably, they had not yet finished building their castles.

But in 1292 the Norwegians reappeared in Danish waters accompanied by the outlaws and did great damage, it is said. But the Norwegian king did not even take part in the expeditions this year.

An internal Norwegian drama took place in the Norwegian city of Marstrand. Some "pirates" had gathered near the town to rob and plunder, but "Pentecost-evening", May 24, they were captured by a group of merchants from Stavanger and led before the governor, who sentenced them all to death.

Also in this year 1292 the young King Erik of Denmark came of age and took over the government.

The Norwegian historian, P. A. Munch, sees clear signs that in 1293 an actual coalition was established against the newly acceded King Erik of Denmark. The intention was to crush the inexperienced king with a single mighty blow.

The coalition was negotiated by Archbishop Jend Grand, and it included the Norwegian royal brothers, Duke Valdemar of Jutland, the outlaws, others dissatisfied throughout the kingdom as well as himself.

Duke Valdemar and his brother, Erik Longleg, raised the rebel flag by claiming a number of estates on Fyn and Langeland that had belonged to their uncle, Abel Abelsson. But the young king did not allow himself to be silenced so easily, he claimed Als, Ærø and Fehmarn back to the kingdom. It was presumably in connection with this case that Erik Langben killed the drost, Skjalm Stigsson, in August at night in his bed in Nyborg - while the king and the court stayed in this city.


Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim seen from the West. It was completed in 1300. Photo DXR Wikipedia.

In this year, 1293, King Erik and Duke Håkon of Norway led a expedition to Denmark. However, they do not seem to have accomplished much other than seize and plunder ships.

However, Duke Håkon was present in Vejle on 24. August, where he issued a letter of protection for the priests in Viborg on this day. Apparently, the Norwegians have been able to go ashore freely without encountering resistance.

It was also this year that Marsk Stig died, which must have hampered the warfare of the outlaws.

The newly acceded King Erik Menved of Denmark was very active with measures for the defense of the fatherland and he was the first to attack the enemy in their own country. Early in the year 1294 he ordered a expedition from Scania against Halland and southern Norway, led by Prince Witzlav of Rügen.

Prince Witzlav's troops ravaged northern Halland and besieged Hunehals, which was not captured. The leader of the expedition explained that it was because the royal army was not strong enough to storm or simply enclose the castle so that the crew could make frequent outings and thereby obtain so much provisions that it became impossible to starve them out. However, the failed siege of Hunehals did not prevent Prince Witzlav from advancing further towards Norway, where he ravaged and burned half of the island of Hisingen north of Gothenburg.

The island of Hjelm seen from Syddjurs

The island of Hjelm seen from Syddjurs. Marsk Stig was a pirate, counterfeiter, traitor and probably a royal assassin. He burned down and plundered several cities and islands. Yet he and his men are sung in many folk songs as heroes who liberated Denmark from an evil king. Foto Google Maps.

The Danehof was convened as early as March 28 1294, probably to make decisions regarding an increased war effort, but Archbishop Jens Grand created such chaos in the assembly with his bans and excommunications that the entire Danehof separated without taking any decisions.

Erik Menved got enough April 5. 1294, where his brother, Christoffer, arrested Archbishop Jens Grand - the coalition's supposed leader and coordinator - in a dramatic and humiliating way and threw him in a dirty dungeon in Søborg Castle.

In 1294, the outlaw Rane Jonsen no longer felt safe staying in the castle on the island of Hjelm - perhaps due to Marsk Stig's death. He fled to Roskilde, where he hid in a monastery for some time. But he was discovered, executed and his bodyparts exhibited.

But Duke Valdemar had not given up, on the contrary, he was preparing for the war against Denmark, which he expected would come in 1295. He had Gottorp Castle fortified with ramparts and moats, and took many knights and armsmen from Holsten, Saxony and Westphalia in his service. Ryd Monastery Chronicle for 1295 says: "In addition, Duke Valdemar rebuilt Gottorp" .

By the beginning of July 1295 all the pieces were lined up for a decisive battle. King Erik Menved was at Ribe with a considerable army. The royal Norwegian brothers arrived in the Limfjord with a large fleet and made a landing near Aalborg, while their main force sailed further down the east coast of Jutland. Duke Valdemar had moved up through Southern Jutland with his recruited mercenaries.

Two armies line up for battle

Amalek and his army threaten the Israelites with war. Moses commands Joshua, the son of Nun, to assemble an army. The opponents face each other across a field at Rephidim. Exodus 17:8-13. From the Morgan Bible from around 1250 it is said. Foto Warfare.

The king's and the duke's armies faced each other on Sommersted Hede northwest of Haderslev, ready for battle. Ryd Monastery Chronicle for 1296 (probably 1295) says: "Furthermore, the king and the duke met with their respective armies at the place called Sommersted." Then, on Norwegian initiative there was re-opened for negotiations.

Detmar's Chronicle explicitly states that it was a common legend that Duke Valdemar, if he had fought against the king at Sommersted Hede, would have won the crown of Denmark. Which shows that it must have been his intention, if he got victory, to assume the name of a king. Which the Norwegian king has probably not been completely satisfied with, as it was probably also his war goal - as a grandson of Erik Ploughpenning - to become King of Denmark.

But, however, it did not immediately come to battle. An armistice was adopted which gave the Norwegian king's men safe-conduct to travel back and forth through Jutland, so that it became possible for him and the duke to negotiate with each other. It was agreed to hold a meeting of conciliation meeting in Svenborg.

Some of the outlaws mistakenly believed that the safe-conduct also applied to them, but were sadly disappointed, as they were all apprehended and some executed. This caused the planned conciliation meeting in Svenborg to go into the sink.

A new meeting was agreed at the castle of Hindsgaul near Middelfart on 8. September 1295. Here a ceasefire was adopted for all sides for three years. The Danish king made extensive concessions. Erik Priesthater was granted his right of inheritance to Danish estates after his mother Ingeborg, Erik Ploughpenning's daughter, and he kept the castles on Hjelm and Hunehals. Erik Menved was to respect the royal relatives' princely fiefs in Southern Jutland and Halland. The outlaws were to have the right to return home and re-gain their rights to their property - King Erik, however, set the conditions that the production of counterfeit coins on Hjelm and Hunehals should cease and the convicts should not appear before his eyes. The ceasefire was extended in 1298 by two years and in 1300 by another three years.

Marsk Stig looks out towards Hjelm

Marsk Stig looks out towards Hjelm. Pen drawing by Constantin Hansen as an illustration for Svend Grundtvig's publication of "Marsk Stig, Danish folk song from the 13th century" in 1861. Photo Statens Museum for Kunst.

But when a Danish Army in 1304 moved up in Northern Halland, Count Jakob chose to cede his county to the Norwegian King Håkon, who in 1299 had succeeded his brother, Erik Priesthater.

King Håkon gave the county of Northern Halland to his future son-in-law, the Swedish duke, Erik Magnusson. This was acknowledged by Erik Menved. In addition, he agreed to reopen the case against the outlaws.

A new tribunal then convicted the same nine men once more, and the Norwegian King was thus released from his promise to protect the outlaws, only a few of whom were still alive. The Norwegian king had originally promised the outlaws support to have their case resumed, which was fulfilled.

In 1306 King Erik went with a great force over to the island of Hjelm, and leveled the castle with the ground. The Norwegian King regarded Hjelm as Norwegian territory and the destruction of the castle as a breach of the armistice, which, however, had already expired. He therefore made a looting expedition to Denmark where he attacked Nyborg and Taarnborg, but was repulsed with heavy losses. It was not until 1308 that a final peace was reached between Denmark and Norway.

5. The showdown with Jens Grand

In the eventful year 1289, when the Norwegians and the outlaws sailed down the Danish straits and plundered and burned cities and islands, the seemingly more peaceful event happened that the old archbishop, Jens Dros, died and to his successor, the cathedral chapter elected the 35-year-old provost in Roskilde, Jens Grand.

Jens Grand's seal

Jens Grand's seal. Drawing by E. Rondahl from: "Vort folks historie" by Johan Ottesen 1901. Uploader was Nico at da.wikipedia.

The new archbishop was of the Hvide family, as he was the grandson of Jacob Erlandsen's brother, and Bishop Peder Skjalmsen Bang was his uncle. As a child, he must have experienced Jacob Erlandsen's struggle against the kings.

He was an intelligent and well-educated young man who had studied abroad and was extremely well versed in theology and canon law.

Already as a provost, Jens Grand had shown his willingness to challenge those in power. He had argued to Erik Klipping that "neither the king nor any other layman should have the right to receive any share of the revenue of the church, or to interfere in appointments to ecclesiastical offices." Later he should on a public ting on Sjælland have stated that "no one could wonder that this king had found an equally violent final as his closest predecessors on the throne".

On the whole, he was very challenging and open-mouthed. According to the historian Palle Lauring, he should also have said that "it was sad that Christoffer did not get poison in his time so early that he did not manage to put successors into the world".

It was very likely such cheeky announcements that made the priests in Lund Cathedral to choose him as their archbishop.

Copenhagen's oldest seal 1296

Copenhagen's oldest seal from 1296. From "Copenhagen" by Carl Bruun 1846-99. The city of Copenhagen belonged to Roskilde bishopric. Photo Eremit.dk

In the eyes of the royal-minded, Jens Grand was considered a accomplice in the assassination of the king. Therefore, already in 1288 - the year before he was appointed archbishop - he feared that his property could be taken from him. For this reason, he donated all his estate to Roskilde Cathedral, in exchange for receiving the same estate by the church for lifetime, "as an appropriate reward".

Widow Queen Agnes opposed the choice as archbishop, "because he was of their kindred, who slew the king" , but she was unable to prevent it and had to content herself with forcing him to make the most binding oaths, not only about allegiance to the king, but also that he would resist the outlaws in every way.

With the Lund church's appointment letter and the king's recommendation in his luggage, the newly elected Jens Grand now traveled to the Pope in Rome to pick up his pallium. In Rome he relinquished his new archbishopric dignity and received a new appointment directly from the pope. By doing so, he meant that he had become a whole new archbishop, cleansed and freed from all previously made vows and oaths.

Pope John Paul 2 with Pallium

Pope John Paul II wears his pallium around his neck during a visit to Brazil. This garment symbolizes the pope's right to judge. Archbishops are also allowed to wear it. Newly appointed archbishops were to fetch their pallium and thus their right to judge from the pope. Pallium is a narrow band "three fingers wide", woven from white lambswool and with an opening in the middle so that it can rest on the shoulders. From it hang two equally wide bands down the front and back. Photo Jose Cruz/Abr - Agencia Brasil Wikipedia

Queen Agnes and the government gave the newly elected archbishop a chance by giving him the task of going to Halland - perhaps in 1290 - to mediate peace with the outlaws and the Norwegians. Perhaps it was thought that by virtue of his kinship with many of the outlaws and his holy office he was the right one to create trust, contact and perhaps peace.

But the government must have had its informants in Halland, because one of Erik Menved's complaints about Jens Grand in the case against him at the papal court was that he did not seek to create peace at all, but asked the Norwegians to continue the war until the outlaws were allowed to turn home.

Another of the government's complaints was that he, as archbishop, closed his eyes to Count Jacob building the castle Hunehals on a piece of land in Halland, which belonged to the archbishopric of Lund. It is stated "that he allowed Count Jakob to build and fortify a castle on the Archbishop's own lands".

In 1293 the government demanded the archbishop to renew a ban issued by his predecessor, Jens Dros, against the outlaws. Which Jens Grand categorically refused.

Also in the year 1293 Erik Menved came of age and took over the government and this year Denmark was preparing for a major war effort against the Norwegians and the outlaws. But in Scania, the archbishop sabotaged all preparations by threatening his nobles with exclusion from the church if they followed the king's orders.

In Scania, there were macabre rumors that the archbishop even had the bodies of deceased men, loyal to the king, dug up and thrown into the sea.

Civil unrest in the Middle Ages

Civil unrest in the Middle Ages. Photo Docplayer.

At Scania County Ting, there were regular battles when some royal men during a court hearing were attacked by the archbishop's people, who came running with the cathedral banner in the lead. It is stated: "When the royal commander in Scania gathered with other of the king's faithful men at Liborii Hill outside Lund to counsel, they were attacked and divided by the Archbishop's people and servants, who appeared coming in large numbers with Lund Church flag and with sounding music, so that on a dangling hair had come to great bloodshed."

Nevertheless, the king urged the Archbishop to show up for military service with his vassals as it was his duty, but he ignored this commandment. Yes, he even forbade his peasants to obey the royal order and thus fulfill their leding duty.

As mentioned above, in 1284 the Danehof was convened as early as March 28, probably to make decisions regarding an increased war effort. But not much came of it. At the court itself, Jens Grand banned the functioning drost, Åge Johnsen. Presumably because he urged the people to support the king in his war preparations, and this, the king's own men explicitly said, "created such confusion" that the whole assembly parted without making any important decisions.

Cover of B.S. Ingemann's historical novel King Erik and the Outlaws

Illustration in B.S. Ingemann's historical novel "King Erik and the Outlaws" from 1833. Photo DBA.

When the King nevertheless persuaded the people to accept an extraordinary war tax, the archbishop strictly forbade his own men and the people of Lund Church to pay, and when the king personally came over to Scania to inspect the condition of the fortifications and make preparations for their defense, the archbishop forbade his subjects under threat of excommunication to sell him and his men the necessary foodstuffs.

Archbishop Grand thought he was invulnerable, that the king had learned from all the problems with the pope that Erik Klipping got out of arresting Jacob Erlandsen. He took no measures at all to protect his person.

But the young Erik Menved had had enough and he was just about to arrest the archbishop.

The whole story of Archbishop Jens Grand's captivity is told with many details in the "Prison Chronicle", which is written by an unknown contemporary provost probably from Lund or Roskilde. It is handed down to us by Arild Huitfelt in its entirety.

Thus begins the "Prison Chronicle": "The year 1294, the Friday before Palm Sunday, in the morning, when it was between five and six o'clock, and when the bishop himself had held mass, King Erik, who was then in Lund, sent his brother, Duke Christoffer, to the bishop to spy on him." King Erik must have been 19-20 years old and his brother Christoffer maybe 18 years old. Christoffer was the leader of the action.

He lured Jens Grand out of his residence under the pretext that he wanted to reconcile him with King Erik. But when they came down to the yard there was no Erik. The chronicle tells that the bishop then said to Christoffer: "Where is my Lord the King?" He replied: "Surrender, you are trapped!" The bishop replied, "Who caught me?" Christoffer said, "My brother King Erik, and I on his behalf."

Christoffer put some men to guard the bishop, while he himself went into the church and arrested the provost Jacob, who was just holding mass in front of the altar.

Jens Grand is taken to Søborg on a old shabby horse dressed in rags

Jens Grand is taken to Søborg on a old shabby horse dressed in rags. Cover image of Ingemann's historical novel "Erik Menved's childhood" 1828. Photo DBA.

Next, the prisoners were dressed in some ragged clothes and put on some miserable old shabby horses with their feet tied very tightly under the belly of the horses, and then it went over stick and stone. Christoffer "led him and the others bareheaded in snow and rain as far in half a day as one used to travel a day and a half with ease. They galloped more on the road than they trotted, to get ahead quickly."

The chronicle further tells: "When they came to Helsingborg, they threw them in the bottom of the ferry, behind the horses that were standing and mowing on them - As soon as they came to Helsingør, they tied them on their horses again and led them on to Søborg Castle the same evening. There they threw the archbishop as a prisoner into the deepest basement of the tower and put heavy bolts and iron on him."

For 36 weeks the prisoner lay in the old rags in which he had arrived - in his own urine and dirt: "Countless flies and mosquitoes followed in his food and drink, and he could not see to remove them. He also had innumerable fleas, because he never got any linen or woolen clothes other than what he wore when he came down into the tower cellar. He did not get any change from the Palm Sunday he arrived, and to the second day after Lucie Day the following year, when he escaped from the tower again," - "Food and beer were often spilled on him when it was to be hoisted down to him, but everything wet that came upon him had to dry by itself on his body, for he never got fire or heat with him as long as he was a prisoner. What he himself gave, both his own water and other things for the sake of nature, it remained under him, for he could not turn or stand up for the heavy irons in which he lay chained."

John the Baptist in prison

John the Baptist is thrown into prison and sits depressed behind bars, from Alsace, last part of the 12th century. London, British Library.

After the bishop had stayed in the dungeon for a long time, King Erik thought he had become tender and offered him a settlement. Which the prisoner scornfully rejected: "The archbishop replied that before he would consent to any of the articles mentioned, he would much rather see the king cut off all the limbs of his body."

But Provost Jacob managed to escape from his prison in Kalundborg: "When Provost Jacob had been sitting in Kalundborg Tower for twenty-seven weeks, he escaped one night, with God's special help, and then came secretly to Ribe. There he remained for some time, for he would go to Rome when he had improved his health. When the king found out, he immediately sent messengers there and would have seized him again, but he came out of the kingdom and found the Pope in France."

Pope Bonifacius sent his representatives to Denmark with orders to the king to release the archbishop and send him to him, along with the king's own envoys who could accuse him at the pope's court.

But while the representatives were on their way to Denmark, Jens Grand "with God's special permission" managed to escape from his prison.

"There was a chef at Søborg,"the Prison Chronicle tells, "he asked the lord of the castle for his freedom, because he had served him for a long time, and got a little thing for his service. When he asked for leave, the tower keeper asked him to stay a day or two until he was asked about another service."

While the prison guards were drunk or out on natural errands, the chef offered the miserable prisoner to bring message to his man in Copenhagen.

Historical files

A selection of historical files. Files were absolutely essential for locksmiths, and it was actually in the 1200-1300's that they managed to make files from a necessary hard material. Files must be harder than the material they process. The author of the Prison Chronicle has really followed the technical development as he knew that these files were noisy. It has probably not been a cheap tool that Jens Grand used so diligently at night. Foto wonkee donkee tools.

The prisoner managed to get hold of a file - probably also through the chef - which he diligently used on his chains at night: "It was a great miracle that no one heard it, it was heard otherwise enough when the blacksmith filed outside the castle."

Moreover, by a complete coincidence - but with God's help - from the day he got hold of the file, the guards became sloppy checking and inspecting his chains: "Jesper Mogensson, the king's master of the castle, himself, used to inspect the bolt he was lying in, or his subordinate did, and the guards as well. But since he started filing on it, God helped him so that no one looked after."

And not only that. The ship from Hammershus was already off the coast and the crew pretended to be fishing, which they had been doing for several days and people in the area had already started talking about it. "But God stopped that talk so that no one spoke or thought about it anymore," and furthermore King Erik decided to bring most of the castle's crew on a hunt in Tikøb: "and then put the king into his heart that he should ride from the castle with his people. Therefore he rode away to Tikøb on a hunt, and took with him all his people. Then he left his two nephews in the castle with a few men. They drank bravely and rejoiced after the king was ridden away. He also asked those who had previously taken care of the bishop to come along, except for one who was the real tower guard. Then he let his two nephews stay at the castle with a few men. They drank bravely and rejoiced after the King had ridden away. The chef also drank skillfully with the tower guard and made him drunk so he went away to sleep."

With a rope ladder, the chef helped the weak bishop down the tower and later down the fortress wall and over the frozen moat. The chef even managed to steal a couple of horses without anyone hearing it, and one of them was a small easygoing horse, suitable for a weak and exhausted bishop: "and he took a small horse who stood there, and another horse to himself, as the Bishop asked him to do, and neither the dogs nor those who lay in the stables heard it".

Reconstruction of medieval cog

Reconstruction of medieval cog in Skagen harbor. Photo Skagensiden

They rode out to the shore and the bishop came aboard the waiting ship, which brought him safely to the fortress Hammershus on the island of Bornholm.

The Danish Biographical Lexicon believes that the archbishop escaped from prison on 13. December 1295, and quite shortly after "The following Shrove Tuesday" - that is, in February 1296 - "came the Pope's representative to the king, and brought with him the bishop of Ribe and the bishop of Aars. He imidiately announced, in the pressence of the bishops standing there, the will of the pope, and gave him his letter that said that he must send messengers to Rome with the archbishop, that they might appear before the court there concerning the matters, which were between them."

It was really quite fortunate for Erik Menved that the bishop had escaped from prison before the pope's envoy arrived. It would not have looked good if he had found the archbishop lying powerless in dirt, shit and urine. Moreover, since the bishop himself had escaped and had not been released, the king had not given any concessions.

After spending a few months regaining his health, Jens Grand began his journey to Rome. He made the way around Brügge, and it became known throughout Europe that he there stated that "it did not matter to him who ruled in Denmark, whether it was Duke Valdemar or a Jew, a Saracen or a heathen, even if it was the devil himself, as long as it was not King Erik or his brother."

Pope Bonifatius 8.

Pope Bonifatius 8. 1294–1303. Photo Wikiwand.

The case at the papal court in Rome started in 1296. Erik Menved sent his learned chancellor Morten Mogensen.

On the day before the day of Christmas Eve 1297 Pope Boniface 8. decided that Jens Grand should be reinstated and awarded a large compensation. The king was to be banned and the country declared in an interdict until a settlement had been reached between Jens Grand and the king and the fine had been paid.

The king was not personally present at the following conciliation negotiations in the summer of 1299 in Copenhagen with the papal envoy, Isarnus, as the final judge of arbitration.

The archbishop's demands were hair-raising. He demanded the entire archdiocese - that is, Scania, Halland, Blekinge and Bornholm excepted from all royal authority, including the duty of leding and tax to the king. All nobles in the diocese were to obey the archbishop and not the king. Everywhere was to be judged according to canon law and not according to any Danish law, and the archbishop himself was to be the supreme judge.

In addition, he made demands regarding the government of the rest of Denmark: The king was not allowed to demand anything from the church tithe, the king was not allowed to visit monasteries against their will - which in practice would mean never - the clergy of the churches should be free from customs and other market taxes that ordinary merchants had to pay. It should no longer be possible to fine murder with money, but they should be punished with corporal punishment - that is, hanging and the like. The church should be allowed to buy up the estades it could afford, and what it bought should then automatically be exempted from taxes to the crown.

Market trading in the Middle Ages

Market trading in the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages, ordinary merchants had to pay various forms of duties and taxes to the king and the town bailiff. It was forbidden to trade outside the authorized markets and market days. Photo University of Victoria Library.

The king's representatives presented various conciliation options, all of which were scornfully rejected.

Isarnus handed down a judgment - still in 1299 - as it was his duty, but insisted on keeping it secret for the sake of his personal safety. Only when he was far at sea on a ship on the way to Holland, his verdict was announced: the king was banned and the verdict awarded the archbishop all the estate that the Crown owned in Lund Diocese with the exception of Halland.

As the archbishop himself was on the same ship as Isarnus on his way to Holland, not much came of the implementation of this judgment. Instead, the king's drost showed up in Scania to confiscate the archbishop's estate instead.

Then the case dragged on for another two years. Jens Grand left the papal court again and in the following time he stayed mostly out of Erik's reach in Lübeck and at his fortress, Hammershus, on the island of Bornholm.

Pope Boniface 8. was in a protracted dispute with Philip 4. of France, who allowed himself to collect taxes from churches and monasteries for his impending war against England. In December 1301, the Pope sent the bull: "Ausculta Fili" (meaning "Listen my son") to Philip 4. about the he should humbly listen to Christ's vicar on Earth, who is the spiritual king over all earthly kings. The pope protested against the trials against clergy in the royal courts of Philip, announcing that he would summon the bishops and abbots of France to take measures "for the preservation of the liberties of the church.".

The pope's bull received a very poor reception in France. It was officially burned near Paris in the presence of a roaring crowd.

The Knights Templar of France are burned at the stake

The Knights Templar of France are burned at the stake. It was Philip 4. of France who in 1307 accused the Knights Templar of France of heresy and let them die on the fire in 1310. Foto Wikiwand.

The very negative reception of his bull in France may well have left Bonifacius in contemplation as to whether he had amassed too many enemies. And precisely this year he received the famous letter of submission from Erik Menved, in which he asks for the pope's mercy and ends with the request that Skt. Peter's sword must be placed in the sheath and that Christ's vicar will heal his servant's ear so that he can again receive the sacraments of the church and hear the words of God, "what more can I say? Speak, Lord, and let your servant hear".

This ingenious letter was undoubtedly the reason why in the spring of 1302 a new verdict came from the pope in the dispute between Erik Menved and Jens Grand. The value of the church's lost property to be replaced was reduced to 10,000 marks of silver, which was a completely insignificant amount compared to the original. In addition, the pope decided that Jens Grand should be transferred to Riga and instead appointed Isarnus archbishop of Lund.

Jens Grand never came to Denmark again. He rejected his new office in Riga and traveled first to Norway and then to Paris. In 1310, Pope Clement 5. appointed him Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen.

Jagt med falke

Hunting with falcons in illustration in Queen Mary's Psalter from around 1320. Photo Wikimedia.

He began his office in the best way. With support in the city of Bremen and the nobility in the vicinity he displaced two bailiffs who had put themselves in possession of the estate of the diocese.

The pope showed his confidence in him by appointing him arbitrator in a dispute between the Diocese of Riga and the German Knights Order.

But soon opposition to him arose from many quarters. People complained about his high taxes, his domination and interference in all cases. In 1316, the clergy of the Diocese of Bremen declared that "he was not mighty in his senses", and chose an aide to administer in his place.

He died in 1327 in Avignon in France.

6. Sweden and Denmark

In the early Middle Ages, Sweden - compared to Denmark - was a desolate and vast country, characterized by great distances through endless forests and over mountains and deserted wastelands. Which was decisive for the country in the older Middle Ages not becoming a stable state formation until the middle of the 1200's, although the landscapes Svealand around Mälarn and the Götalands around the great lakes were often united under the same king. The two royal families, the Eriks family and the Sverker family, fought for power and took turns delivering the royal candidates.

Simplified family tree for the Swedish kings after Birger Jarl

Simplified family tree for the Swedish kings after Birger Jarl. He ignored the two ancient Swedish royal families and put his own son Valdemar Birgersson on the throne. However, Valdemar was displaced by his two brothers, Erik Birgersson and Magnus Birgersson. Erik died fairly quickly and Magnus became king with the byname Ladelås.
He was succeeded by his eldest son Birger Magnusson as king. He was at odds with his two brothers, Duke Valdemar Magnusson and Duke Erik Magnusson. He lured his brothers to a banquet in Nyköbing, where he grabbed them and threw them into a dungeon, where they starved to death. It became too much for the Swedes, who attacked the castle in Nyköbing. They managed to grab King Birger's minor son, whom they beheaded. King Birger himself fled to Denmark, where he died a few years later. The Swedes then elected the late Duke Erik Magnusson's minor son, Magnus - who was to be bynamed Smek - as king, who later also became king of Norway after his mother, Ingeborg, as the Norwegian king Håkon died childless. In connection with Denmark's kingless time, he also became king of the Scania lands.

Norway was, if possible, an even more barren and desolate country than Sweden, filled with rugged mountains and deep fjords. But the western and northern parts of the country enjoy the benefit of excellent maritime communication from north to south along a long protected coastline, where the sea rarely freezes. Moreover, no part of the country along this coast was easier to defend than other parts, and therefore, once united, it would thus remain without the great effort.

Birger Jarl

Contemporary depiction of Earl Birger in Varnhem Monastery Church. A facial reconstruction in the 2010's after his skull shows that the depiction in Varnhem is very portrait-like. Photo Axel Forssen (1888-1961) - Nationalencyklopedin, credited to Riksantikvarieambetet. Wikipedia

However, in 1250 Sweden's most powerful man, Birger Jarl, created a new united Sweden by pushing aside the two traditional royal families and placing his own seven-year-old son, Valdemar Birgersson, on the throne.

However, at the Battle of Hova in 1275, King Valdemar's peasant army was defeated by his two brothers, Erik and Magnus, with the help of a Danish expeditionary force led by Marsk Stig and Count Jacob of Halland and then Magnus became King of Sweden with the byname Ladelås.

Erik Klipping betrothed his daughter, Margrete, to Magnus Ladelås' eldest son, Birger Magnusson, and his son Erik - who was later nicknamed Menved - with his daughter Ingeborg. With this double brotherhood, he ultimately linked Denmark to King Birger Magnusson, in his fight against his brothers Valdemar and Erik Magnusson - and it should prove to be a bad choice.

King Birger was only a child when his father died, and therefore the marsk, Torgils Knutsson, was his guardian. In 1298 he came of age and took over the government. However, his former guardian built a coalition of magnates with the aim of retaining real power. But the Swedes supported King Birger, who could have Torgils Knutsson arrested and executed in 1306.

Birger rightly feared his brothers. Duke Erik in particular was a dangerous man, intelligent and determined and with no difficulty by breaking his word, when he found it necessary. A Chronicle describes him as the ideal knight, handsome, brave and charming.

He had created a kingdom in the border area between Norway, Sweden and Denmark. It also included Bohuslen and Konghelle around the estuary of the Göta River, which he had received from the Norwegian king, and northern Halland, which he had received from the Danish king, Erik Menved.

Duke Erik had contributed to the fall of Torgils Knutsson. But immediately after his death he took the lead of his followers.

Attacking medieval army in the Morgan Bible

Attacking medieval army in the Morgan Bible reportedly from around 1250. Photo manuscriptminiatures.com

Shortly afterwards, perhaps also in 1306, Duke Erik and his brother Valdemar came to the farm Håtuna in Uppland, where King Birger was preparing a family party, they broke in and took the king, Queen Margrethe and their little sons captive. After this, they themselves led the government in Sweden.

However, after Danish pressure - and according to the historian Palle Lauring's military intervention - the brothers after some time were forced to set the royal family free and return to Birger some of the power they had deprived him of.

However, after a short time, King Birger was forced to call his brother-in-law, Erik Menved, for help again, and in the autumn of 1309 a mighty army moved up through Sweden. It numbered 2,500 heavy cavalry in addition to infantry and workers. It included Danish nobles and German knights. Henrik of Mecklenburg alone led 400 knights.

Nyköbing Castle

Nyköbing Castle where the disastrous Nyköbing Gästbud took place in 1317. Photo Tripadvisor.

The army rolled over all resistancein front of it. The dukes had to be confined to their castles, but this became a major problem for the invaders, because the knights had to have their pay in any case, whether there was fighting or not, and prolonged sieges became very expensive.

The army captured Jönköbing and camped in front of Nyköbing. But some of the army's Danish lords mutinied against King Erik, who had to seek protection among his German mercenaries. Among the mutineers were Niels Uffeson, Niels Brok and Timme Lauridson, who all left the army and returned home.

The army thus weakened had to retreat to Helsingborg without any decisive battle. In the ensuing negotiations, it was decided that the dukes should respect Birger Magnusson as king and that he still should share his power with them. In reality, Sweden was divided between the king and the dukes, in much the same way that Denmark was divided into the kingdom and the duchies.

In the following years, Duke Erik consolidated his position in the Danish-Norwegian-Swedish border area in Northern Halland and Bohuslen. He married Princess Ingeborg of Norway and had with her the son Magnus - who would later be bynamed Smek and in 1319 become king of both Norway and Sweden and from 1332 the Scania-lands during the kingless time in Denmark.

King Birger Magnusson of Sweden. Fresco from about 1320 in Ringsted Church

King Birger Magnusson of Sweden. Fresco from about 1320 in Ringsted Church. Photo Wikimedia.

In 1317 King Birger Magnusson invited his two brothers to a Christmas party at Nyköbing Castle. But he ruined the Christmas mood by grabbing his brothers out of their beds at night and throwing them into the castle tower, where he - it should turn out - let them starve to death. But King Birger did not have the Swedes with him. A furious army gathered in front of Nyköbing Castle, who demanded that the dukes be released. They got what they wanted, but by then they were already dead. The episode is in Sweden called the "Nyköbing Gästbud". The rebel army subsequently seized King Birger's teen-age son, who had already been crowned king, but whom they nevertheless beheaded.

A new Danish rescue force could do nothing but bring the remains of the royal family to Denmark, where they lived the rest of their days. And this was the end of Erik Klipping's project with the double brother-in-law relation with the Swedish royal family.

The Swedish nobles now made the recently deceased Duke Erik's three-year-old son, Magnus - who would later be bynamed Smek - King of Sweden. In the same year, Magnus was also crowned King of Norway.

7. Ekspansion in Northern Germany

In 1301 King Erik found his great-grandfather Valdemar Sejr's letter from the German-Roman emperor, in which he confirmed that all land in northern Germany north of the Elbe belonged to Denmark: Our dear Mr. Valdemar, the very Christian king of the Danes" - "attributed to him and his kingdom all the land beyond the Elde and Elbe, which belongs to the German Roman Empire, and which Canute 6. violated by the much injustice that had befallen him, together with his brother, the already mentioned Valdemar, acquired by force of arms and had in his possession. In addition, all that King Canute by his father and his own efforts has acquired and possessed in the land of the Slaws. We hereby confirm the above mentioned by this letter of privilege and it's attached princely seal." Erik made the reigning German king, Albrecht 1, to confirm the old letter.

Map of Northern Germany

Map of Northern Germany with landscapes and cities mentioned in this story.

Then he let action follow the thought, and still in 1301 - less than a month after the presentation of the letter - he was able to put the first piece of his North German empire in place by declaring himself lord of the small Principality of Rostock.

Rostock was ruled by Prince Nicolas, nicknamed "The Child", which signified his intellectual abilities. The prince had gotten into foreign policy difficulties, but by giving him some estates in Denmark, Erik could soon refer to the city as "Our city Rostock".

King Erik's plans to re-establish Valdemar the Victorious' empire in northern Germany were not entirely unrealistic. At that time, most of northern Germany was divided into lands and counties, which generation after generation had a tendency to become smaller and smaller, as all the princes' sons could claim an inheritance. Thereby, areas such as Holsten, Schwerin, Pomerania and Mecklenburg had been divided so that several of the "lands" did not include more than a few parishes, it is said.

The only principality that could measure up to Denmark in size and power was Brandenburg. All the small towns and principalities along the coast feared Brandenburg, and therefore it was relatively easy for Erik to form alliances with them.

In 1306 riots broke out around the trade route between Hamburg and Lübeck through southern Holsten. The Lübs merchants were not satisfied with the Holstein counts controlling their trade routes with their castles.

Knighting in the Middle Ages

A medieval illustration showing John II of France 1350-1364 giving the knighthood to three of his men. Photo Grandes chroniques de France, Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

At Travemünde at the entrance to Lübeck was also a Holstein fortress, which dominated the entrance to the harbor. The Lübeckers erected ramparts opposite the fortress and began making it into gravel with throwing machines. The conflict escalated and the Holstenians allied with Count Henrik of Mecklenburg. But Erik Menved presented the emperor's old letter and offered himself as a mediator, and in 1307 Lübeck submitted "under his protection". King Erik was to protect the city from its enemies and in return receive 750 Lübeck marks annually.

Subsequently, Erik was also hailed in Pomerania and Mecklenburg.

In the summer of 1311 King Erik hosted a grand gathering in "our city", Rostock. The guests included Wartislav of Rügen, Duke Otto of Lüneburg, Prince Heinrich of Mecklenburg, the Holstein counts and not least Margrave Valdemar of Brandenburg as well as a host of other princes and free knights.

The Lübeck Chronicle tells: "At midsummer time, the king of Denmark came with his best knights. They lay and waited outside the city of Rostock until his cousin Margrave Valdemar of Brandenburg came with exceedingly many people gathered from afar. Outside the city, too, so many other princes, counts, free knights, and good people gathered that one has never seen something similar there in the land. In the open field, two beautiful tents had been erected, completely covered with beautiful clothes, mostly red.

Knights in modern times

The knighting is also used in modern times. Principal Kenneth Gibson of Jarrow receives his knighthood from Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London. Foto Today.

The chronicle continues: "When everyone had heard mass in the morning, the king went forward with his people and after him in his entourage rode the generous and brave Duke Valdemar of Southern Jutland. He brought 300 men on large warhorses and he had with him 6 other gentlemen, which followed at the Duke's expense."

"However, the Margrave came with his people in large procession. The king knighted him together with 19 other princes and gentlemen and awarded the knighthood to 80 other men. To each of them he had sent the day before a scarlet robe, an overcoat and a fur-lined robe, as well as a beautiful horse. The gentlemen immediately knighted others, and all the other gentlemen made so many into knights that such a crowd of knights had never before been seen in a great kingdom. Then they went to the dinner table, at first they were served by noble princes and gentlemen, who were wearing suits sewn for the occasion, and sat on large cloth-clad horses."

The historian Palle Lauring says that on this occasion King Erik also knighted his brother, Duke Christoffer.

The Chronicle concludes the description of this unique event in the city of Rostock:: "What party was in the tents of the two princes, how many lances were broken in tournament in the two days, and what else strange happened, that had never been heard of before in the lands, and it aroused general enthusiasm."

The trobaudur Heinrich von Meissen

The troubadour Heinrich von Meissen also called Meister Frauenlob in Codex Manesse. Photo Master of the Codex Manesse Wikimedia.

Lauring recounts that the famous Minne-singer Heinrich von Meissen - also known as Fraunlob - was present, and Erik called him "the memorable whose words are a smiling flower-wreath, and whose praise hovers over the noble princes like an eagle".

It is also said that there were enough oats for everyone to freely pick up for their thousand of horses.

But not long after the guests had left and the tents had been taken down - still in 1311 - everyday life showed up. The city of Rostock made an energetic attempt to shake off the Danish guardianship and allied itself with Wismar, Stralsund and Greifswald. Lübeck, on the other hand, did not take part.

Faced with the revolt of the cities, the Princes showed astonishing solidarity. King Erik sent Henrik of Mecklenburg a fleet to help against Wismar, which belonged to Mecklenburg. Likewise, Henrik was given command of Erik's army, which besieged Rostock. Henrik blocked the entrance to the city by building a bridge over the entrance to Rostock at Warnemünde. But the townspeople made a desperate counter-attack and destroyed it.

In the spring of the following year 1312 , a fleet from Rostock made a landing in Skanør and plundered the town's castle.

But in the summer of this year, the princes did their best to conquer Rostock. At Warnemünde the citizens of the city had built a large stone tower, which fell after the attackers besieged it for eleven weeks. The princes expanded the fortress with three more towers and called it "The Dane Castle". The three warlords, Erik Menved, Henrik of Mecklenburg and Margrave Valdemar of Brandenburg, each occupied their own tower. In December 1312 Rostock capitulated.

Stegeborg's ruins are located under Netto's car park

When they dug out to Netto in Stege in 2000, they came across a wall of 3-4 meter long solid oak planks. It turned out to be a sheet pile wall, which was to prevent the moat in Erik Menved's fortress, Stegeborg, from collapsing.
Left: Netto's car park, under which formerly Stegeborg is located.
Right: The massive 700-year-old sheet pile wall, which still exists under the parking lot except for a few planks, which were taken out for dendrochronological testing and exhibition. The test showed that the oak trees were felled in Denmark in the winter of 1313-1314, which indicates that the fortress was completely renovated in Erik Menved's time.
Stegeborg was mentioned in 1247, when Erik Ploughpenning kept his half-brother, Duke Knud of Blekinge, a prisoner here, from which the Lübecks freed him the same or the following year. One of the complaints about Jacob Erlandsen in 1261 was that "When he was summoned to Stegeborg to defend the kingdom, he did not meet." In 1288 the Norwegians and the outlaws in vain stormed the castle "one day and one night". Photo Museum Sydøstdanmark.

In 1315 Erik Menved was informed that his brother, Duke Christoffer, had plans to depose him to become king himself, and Christoffer therefore had to flee the country. He allied himself with other outlaws and the Swedish dukes.

Lithography of Stegeborg from 1710

Lithography of Stegeborg from 1710. Photo Museum Sydøstdanmark.

Late in the year of 1316 the duke invaded Fyn, looted Svendborg and fought against the prefect of Fyn, Jakob Flep. At the same time, his own man in Halland, the nobleman Eskil Krage, fell into Scania and burned down the castle örkelljunga.

However, Valdemar of Brandenburg changed horses, perhaps in 1316 and turned against Count Henrik of Mecklenburg, who was Erik Menved's extended arm in northern Germany. Both parties claimed that the hostilities were initiated by the other and the initial hostilities are poorly known. But a point of contention was the town of Stralsund, which the Margrave wanted to subjugate, perhaps to gain access to the Baltic Sea.

King Erik remained hesitant in the war, except that in the summer of 1316 he sent a fleet of 42 cogs to Stralsund to besiege the town from the sea in support of Henry of Mecklenburg's operations ashore. Yonger Sjælland Chronicle tells somewhat enigmatic: "But due to the infidelity of many of them, they did nothing memorable there."

David conquers Rabbah

David conquers Rabbah. Scene from the Morgan Bible which is said to be from around 1250. Photo Autor du Mont-Sainte-Odile.

The same chronicle tells that the Danes expelled the Brandenburgs and the citizens of Stralsund from the castles which they had conquered from the Rügen people and from those which they themselves had built against the Rü people, to hand over all to the prince of the Rügen "on behalf of the King of Denmark".

For the many independent small towns and principalities along the Baltic Sea, the much larger Brandenburg was feared and perhaps even hated as a threatening cloud on the horizon, and therefore Erik managed to find allies in the war with Brandenburg.

In 1317 a peace treaty was concluded between King Erik and the Margrave of Brandenburg in Vordingborg, apparently based on a strong Danish military position. Amnesty was granted to Duke Christoffer and the other Danish refugees who, together with the duke, had fought against Denmark.

8. Rebellion in Jutland

In 1311 a peasant uprising broke out on Sjælland. It was quickly quelled and many peasants were hanged. But it was only a prelude to the uprising that broke out in Jutland the following year, 1312. New big taxes had brought the mood to the boiling point all over the country and some noblemen convened the peasants for protest meetings. The messengers went from village to village and called for a gathering at Viborg.

Fortresses in Denmark built by Erik Menved

Fortresses in Denmark, which Erik Menved has had built or improved to keep peasants and nobles at bay. After the uprising, he had four "forced castles" built, which are mentioned in contemporary chronicles, namely Kalø near Aarhus, Bygholm near Horsens, Borgholm near Nørresø near Viborg and probably Voldstrup near Struer - in the chronicles called Ulstrup. Kolding Castle, on the other hand, was built by Erik Klipping. Photo Fredrikssunds Historiske Forening.

A royal army under the drost, Niels Olufsen Bildt, attacked the rebels at Kolding but suffered a contemptible defeat, and the drost itself had to flee.

Only when Erik Menved himself led his German mercenaries in the field near Horsens, did he succeed in quelling the rebels. The Ribe Yearbook for the year 1313 writes: "Against the peasants of North Jutland, King Erik Menved led a force to Horsens; he built a castle and subdued them so that they gave him the tithe of the churches, 3 marks of each plow and 1 horse of each parish and to that they must always give a bushel of rye of each field gold soil."

Other Yearbooks tell of terrible punishments. King Erik ordered that "the rebels should be compelled to admit that they had been deceived by evil men, who had led them to rebel against the king." They were all convicted of crime of majesty, and sentenced to lose life goods, but they begged for the king's mercy. Erik ordered them to point out their principals, all of whom were hanged. Several nobles were convicted to lose life and estate and beheaded. The defeated rebels he imposed a high tax in the form of money, grain and horses. Under threat of death penalty, it was forbidden to assemble the county council without the king's knowledge and will.

Kalø Castle ruin

Kalø Castle ruin north of Aarhus. Kalø Castle was one of the strongholds that Erik forced the Jutland peasants to build after their failed revolt. Photo Tripadvisor.

Sjælland Chronicle writes: "He built new castles and strengthened the old ones, and in this way he subdued the rigid minds of the Jutland peasants".

As a guarantee against future uprisings, the defeated peasants were sentenced to build at least four new "forced castles" in Jutland, which were solely intended to keep the peasants calm. Several medieval yearbooks talk about building castles at Horsens, on Kalø, near Viborg and Ulstrup. Which last place might mean the manor Voldstrup at Struer.

Dissatisfaction simmered everywhere, soon the king could quell one conspiracy after another. Some were executed, while others managed to flee abroad.

Ryd Monastery chronicle for 1314 writes: "And he expelled the family Abildgård, because they had committed to gather against the king."

Djursland's peasants drag stones to Kalø Castle

Djursland's peasants drag stones for the construction of King Erik Menved's forced castle, Kalø. Woodcut by H.P. Hansen made after ide of Lorenz Frølich to the historian Adam Fabricius’ "Kalø Ruiner" from 1855. Statens Museum for Kunst. Djurslands bønder slæber sten til opførelsen af kong Erik Menveds tvangsborg, Kalø. Træsnit af H.P. Hansen udført efter forlæg af Lorenz Frølich til historikeren Adam Fabricius’ Kalø Ruiner fra 1855. Statens Museum for Kunst.

A certain Niels Rani was revealed as a potential assassin. In 1315 the king's brother, Junker Christoffer, also had to flee the country. In 1318 Christoffer joined the displaced archbishop, Esger Juul, King Håkon of Norway, some surviving outlaws and the Margrave of Brandenburg in a conspiracy against King Erik. They unsuccessfully attempted an attack on Scania at the same time as the war between Denmark and Brandenburg raged in northern Germany.

Erik's marshal, Ludvig Albrechtsen, meanwhile conquered the archbishop's fortress, Hammershus.

9. Erik Menved's Family

Erik Menved was Erik Klipping's eldest son with Agnes of Brandenburg.

Family tree for the Valdemars from Valdemar the Victorious to Christoffer 2

Simplified family tree for the Valdemars from Valdemar the Victorious to Christoffer 2.
Erik Ploughpenning, Abel and Christoffer 1. were sons of Valdemar the Victorious and Berengaria and they all became kings, one after the other. Erik Klipping, who suffered death in Finderup Barn, was the son of Christoffer 1. and the famous Margrete Sambiria. His sons with Agnes of Brandenburg were Erik Menved and Christoffer 2. who both became kings. Of these seven kings, only three died a natural death.

Erik Menved married Ingeborg, daughter of Magnus Ladelås of Sweden, in 1296 in Helsingborg.

She was a few years younger than Erik. Contemporary historians describe her as adorable and kind. The Swedish Eriks Chronicle calls her "Danebod" and in Denmark her wedding was praised in a folk song, reminiscent of the Dagmar folk song.

Denmark and Sweden were linked together by a double brother-in-law relation as Erik Menved's sister, Margrete, was married to Magnus Ladelås' son and successor, Birger Magnusson. However, after King Birger had starved his brothers to death in the so-called "Nyköpings Gästabud", the Swedes rebelled against King Birger and instead chose his nephew, Magnus - who was to be bynamed Smek - and the political usefulness of the double brother-in-law relation became thus limited.

Bygholm castle hill

Bygholm castle hill at Horsens. Bygholm was one of the "forced strongholds" that Erik forced the Jutland peasants to build after their failed uprising.

Christoffer - who was to have the thankless job of becoming king after Erik Menved - was his little brother. There was another brother named Valdemar, who, however, died as early as 1304 in Rostock, but was taken to Sorø Monastery Church and buried there.

By all accounts, Erik and Ingeborg loved each other, they had at least 14 children together - some sources say 12 or 8. But their tragedy was that none of the children survived childhood. The eleven were either stillborn or aborted and the last three died in the very first years of childhood.

It is mentioned in several sources that in 1318 Queen Ingeborg travelled from Abrahamstrup - which is Jægerspris - to Holbæk with her youngest son in a carriage. When people crowded together to see the prince, she wanted to hold the child put in front of them, but lost it, so that it was thereby run over and killed. Other sources say that the carriage overturned.

Fresco of crowned female figure

Fresco of a crowned woman - a queen or a saint - In Undløse Church south of Holbæk from around 1325. Photo kalkmalerier.dk.

When King Erik had come of age in 1292, his mother, the widowed queen Agnes, remarried to Count Gerhard of Holsten and had with him his the son Johan the Mild, who was to play a major role in Denmark in the kingless time that was to follow. after the reign of Christoffer 2.

Throughout history, Holsten has often acted as the watchdog of the German principalities, which has intervened if Denmark became too powerful. But throughout Erik Menved's reign, Holsten remained completely passive - at least in relation to Denmark - in spite of all King Erik's campaigns and conquests. This passivity or tolerance has been credited to Queen Agnes' influence.

She married Gerhard of Holsten, even though she knew they were too closely related in the opinion of the Catholic Church. But it is easier to get forgiveness than permission, and so after a few years she wrote a polite letter to the pope and said sorry.

Pope Bonifacius replied in August 1295: "Although you knew you were too closely related, you have consummated the marriage and raised children together under the pretext of avoiding further conflicts between Holsten and Denmark. Now you feel your conscience burdened, but will not under any circumstances let you divorce! You ask me to approve the marriage - well yes, let me do it!"

10. King of Denmark

The Danish medieval kings - especially Erik Klipping but also Erik Menved - are often blamed for devaluing the coin. But a king could not introduce coins of higher value than the neighboring kings free of charge.

Farmers work in the field in the Middle Ages

Farmers work in the field in the Middle Ages shown in Queen Mary's Psalter from around 1320. Foto EuropeeNow.

In 1517 - however, a few hundred years later than Erik Menved - the later famous astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus, submitted a report on the kingdom's monetary system to King Sigismund of Poland. The conclusion was that in an economy in which several different kinds of coins circulated, the cheap coins would tend to replace the more expensive ones. All the good coins will be accumulated by the citizens as savings, melted down or exported, and the devalued coins only would remain in circulation, as these are the ones that the citizens would rather get rid of.

Therefore, medieval coinage was a race to the bottom. If a kingdom introduced coins with greater silver content than the neighboring kingdoms, these coins would quickly disappear from circulation and it would represent a drain on the kingdom's silver inventory.

The strategy in the minting had to be that the quality of the coins of the kingdom should be at least as poor as those of the neighboring kingdoms.

Mural of the soul migration protected by the Virgin Mary

Fresco of the soul migration protected by the Virgin Mary in Birkerød Church between Copenhagen and Hillerød from 1300-1325. Photo kalkmalerier.dk.

The Novgorod Chronicle for 1303 tells that they "sent the envoys across the sea to the land of the Danes and brought back a peace they had concluded."

Erik Menved granted market town privileges to Randers, Bogense, Æbeltoft and Køge.

A market town privilege included the right to conduct "peasant trade" within a particular area of land, which is called the market town's catchment area, so that other towns did not have the right to trade with peasants in that area. It was forbidden to trade outside the market town except for trade in grain, building timber and firewood. The market towns were usually allocated one or more weekly market days and one or more annual markets.

In 1304 King Erik organized a major revision of the laws of the kingdom. It is believed that the Danehof was convened to mainly deal with proposals for the revision of the centuries-old leding system.

The laws of leding and leding-duty divided the country into "skipæns", each of which had a duty to provide a ship, when the king ordered leding — fully manned with armed men carrying their own provisions.

Fresco with cog in Skamstrup Church

Mural of cog from the 1300's in Skamstrup Church. Photo "Sørøvere i det danske rige i middelalderen og renæssancen" Af Benjamin Asmussen, cand.mag.

It was a system that suited small ships, originally viking ships, which were very seaworthy, but which could not match a cog in battle because they were too low in the water and the enemy could overwhelm the crew with stones and weapons from above. In addition, the cargo capacity of the viking ships was too small to carry equipment for mediaval warfare, such as horses, armor and throwing machines.

Another problem was that the original leding system provided warriors with fairly light armament, which were iron-hats, shields, spears and axes - a kind of marine infantry - while medieval warfare placed great emphasis on heavy cavalry equipped with specially trained large horses, armor etc., which all were very expensive.

It is poorly known exactly how such proposals were received by the assembly in 1304, but there are indications that they sought to merge several "skipæns" so that they could put up with a larger ship, or replace ships with a number of riders.

Moreover, in 1304 the government wanted to abolish the many and extensive letters of privilege, which promised that this particular monastery or city was exempted from this and that specific tax. These were exceptions and concessions which the kings of the past had given them in order to obtain precisely their political support in their fight against rivals, but which together made the collection of taxes and duties very complicated and inefficient. Therefore, all these privileges were presented so that those "that were beneficial and useful to the crown of the kingdom and to society" could be affirmed. The privileges that were not beneficial were not mentioned, but the intention was, of course, that they should be abolished.

Reconstructed cog

Reconstructed cog. Photo "Sørøvere i det danske rige i middelalderen og renæssancen" af Benjamin Asmussen, cand.mag.

Archbishop Isarnus died in 1310 and Esger Juul was elected as his successor. He was one of Erik's most ardent supporters and supported him before against Jens Grand.

But after a few years he came to feel offended that King Erik reached out for the church property and in 1317 he declared King Erik in interdict. However, it was an even less success than Erlandsen's and Jens Grand's interdicts, not even Lund's own priests would follow him. He fled first to his own castle Hammershus and then to Germany, where he met with Junker Christoffer, the Margrave of Brandenburg, many outlaws and others of King Erik's enemies.

King Erik waged many and expensive wars in Sweden, Germany and even in Denmark. He liked to use well-equipped and experienced mercenaries, who were absolutely loyal - as long as they got their pay.

Mercenaries must have their pay in cash that they can take with them when they have completed their mission and want to travel home. The purchase of provisions, weapons, horses and other war equipment very often also requires payment in cash, that is gold, silver or money.

Denmark was also at that time a rich country with great values in farmland, fertile meadows and diligent inhabitants - but all such things are not cash, liquidity, and cannot be used for cash payments.

Therefore, Erik Menved introduced the pawn fiefs on a much larger scale than it had been used before.

Pawn fiefs means that a lender, who has cash, money, lends them to the king, who in turn gives him the right to collect the royal income - which is cash - in a given province until the loan is repaid.

The process was self-reinforcing because each pawn fief reduced the royal revenue with taxes and fees from the province that had been given to the creditor as security. As a result, the possibilities for redeeming the mortgages were correspondingly reduced, at the same time as the deteriorating royal income created a need for new loans and new pawn fiefs.

At the time of Erik Menved's death in 1319, Denmark was in a sad financial situation:

Estonia was given as a duchy to the king's brother, Christoffer, in 1303.

Northern Halland was effectively lost for the kingdom as King Erik in 1304 accepted that Jacob of Halland gave the area to the Norwegian king, who in turn gave it to his future son-in-law, the Swedish Duke Erik.

Samsø and Southern Halland was handed over to junker Christoffer in 1307.

Duke Valdemar of Southern Jutland died in 1312 and his son Erik got the duchy as a practically independent state.

Møn was in 1314 in the possession of Prince Witzlaw of Rügen as a pawn fief.

Ærø was pawned to the Margrave of Brandenburg in 1315.

Large estates scattered across Jutland, Lolland and Blekinge were pawned to Nicolaus of Werle or his widow in 1316.

Fyn was pawned to the Holsten counts in 1317 as a guarantee of payment for the hire of 200 horsemen for the war in Sweden. They were only a small part of the army, but the amount gives an idea of how much the whole army must have cost.

Lolland and Falster were given to the Queen in 1317 as pawn for a loan of 12,000 marks of silver.

Pawn fiefs and the like in 1319

Pawn fiefs and the like at Erik Menved's death in 1319 shown shaded. Rügen and Fehmarn belonged to Denmark.

Scania was given to the marsk, Ludvig Albrechtsen, 1318 as a pawn for 6,186 marks Scanian and 39 marks Lübeck coin.

Rostock was given in 1318 as inheritance fief to Henrik of Mecklenburg as compensation for what the attack on Stralsund cost him.

Warnemünde and "a couple of Danish castles" was pawned to Niels Olufson.

11. Death and Burial

King Erik Menved is buried in St. Bendt's Church in Ringsted, next to Queen Ingeborg. Over the tomb is a beautifully engraved brass plate, which shows Erik and the Queen. The faces are made of alabaster, which is a fine-grained mineral found in Italy. Above the two figures are angels, who lead their souls - in the shape of small children - up to heaven. The plate is very large, almost three meters in length.
King Erik is wearing a coronation dress with the Danish lions and hearts. He carries the sword of power and the lily rod as a symbol of the Trinity and the true Catholic faith. The Latin inscription reads: "I, Erik, former king of Denmark for 33 years, am a just judge of the poor and rich, where they were right, ask all those whom I against my will may have done something against, that they will willingly forgive me and pray for my soul.".
Queen Ingeborg holds a prayer book. On the Latin inscription, the Queen asks everyone she may have hurt against her will to forgive her and remember her soul.
Photo Nationalmuseet Wikimedia.commons

After Queen Ingeborg in 1318 had lost her youngest child in an accident with a carriage on the way from Jægerspris to Holbæk, she entered as a nun in Sct. Clara Monasery in Roskilde.

It is said that Bishop Oluf of Roskilde comforted her and encouraged her to return to her duties and her daily life. But she said no. She wanted to stay where she was, and by the way, she foresaw that both the king and herself would die this year.

Indeed, Queen Ingeborg died in August 1319, and King Erik died in Roskilde in November the same year at the age of 45.

12. Links and Literature

Jens Grand Dansk Biografisk Leksikon
Imperiebyggeren Lex-dk
Nordisk unionspolitik Lex.dk
Krigen med Norge og ærkebispevalget Lex.dk
De fredløses krig Wikipedia
Det norske Folks Historie/6/74 Wikikilden
De danske fyrstelen i middelalderen tidsskrift.dk
Bidrag til belysning af Valdemarssönnernes tidsalder Hans Olrik
Ryd Klosters Krønike Heimskringla
Kalkmalerier.dk Kalkmalerier.dk
Hertugdømmet - den rigtige historie Dengang
Mordet i Finderup Lade - Erik Klipping Gedevasen
Erik 5. Klipping Lexopen.dk
Erik Glipping og Marsk Stig i Middelalderens Annaler og Viser - Julius Martensen Historisk Tidsskrift.
Sørøvere i det danske rige i middelalderen og renæssancen Benjamin Asmussen, cand.mag
Fængselskrøniken Crassus.dk
Erik Magnusson af Södermanland Wikipedia
Striden med Jens Grand Lex.dk
Magnus Eriksson af Sverige Wikipedia
Danmarks Historie "Valdemars Sønner og Unionen" af Palle Lauring - Det Schønbergske Forlag 1967.
Danmarks Historie Bind 4 "Borgerkrig og Kalmarunion" af Erik Kjersgård Politikkens Forlag 1963.
"Kongemordet i Finderup Lade" af Troels Brandt - Gedevasens Forlag 2008.
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