43. The Kingless Period
45. Oluf 2.
|1. Introduction||2. Valdemar Atterdag|
|3. Spandau and Lübeck||4. Three years for Sjælland|
|5. Sjælland||6. Estonia|
|7. In the Holy Land||8. Lolland Falster|
|9. Northern Germany||10. First Jutland Uprising|
|11. The Black Death||12. King of Denmark|
|13. Second Jutland Uprising||14. Land Peace|
|15. The Scania Lands||16. Øland and Gotland|
|17. First Hanseatic War||18. The Interwar Period|
|19. Second Hanseatic War||20. Third Jutland Uprising|
|21. Southern Jutland||22. Valdemar's Family|
|23. Death and Burial||24. Literature|
Valdemar Atterdag is one of Denmark's great kings, if not the greatest. With restless energy - with militay power and with cunning - he purposefully rebuilt the kingdom from non-existent to an important European power.
Valdemar Atterdag on fresco in St. Peders Church in Næstved, which is painted shortly after his death, which makes portrait likeness likely. Foto Wikipedia.
There seems to have been a tendency that those of Denmark's kings, who have not been appointed to royal dignity from childhood, had been the best kings.
Perhaps it is the case that boys and young men, who are not predestined to become something big, are more likely to acknowledge the emotionally cold and pedantic reality than boys, who are selected for greatness from birth.
Harald Bluetooth only became king because his big brother Knud fell in Ireland. The same Harald for a long time opposed his son, Sweyn, with the later byname Forkbeard. Canute the Great only became king of Denmark because his big brother Harald died early - and he had to experience a humiliating defeat before he became king of England. As the younger son of the murdered and disgraced, Ulf Jarl, it was not written over Sweyn Estridsen's cradle that he was to become a famous king. Erik Ejegod was so far down in the rank of the brothers that at his birth it must have seemed unlikely that he would become king. King Valdemar - bynamed the Great - son of a murdered duke and fatherless from birth, did not grow up with the certainty of becoming king. He became king because of his own qualities and the development of events during the Civil War.
The young junker Valdemar grew up at the imperial court in Brandenburg as a poor prince living at the expense of his relatives, the son of a hated, expelled and basically failed king. He had two older brothers, both of whom were closer to the barely existing Danish throne than himself. During his upbringing, there was very little that indicated that he would ever become king of the dissolved kingdom, which was called Denmark.
Denmark's history divided into Royal Dynasties. However, all the kings - except Magnus the Good - descend from "Hardegon, son of a certain Sven", who conquered a large part of Jutland around the year 917 as narrated by Adam of Bremen in his section on Bishop Hoger. The line of kings and the periods of war and peace are the backbone of history - not that stories about culture and ordinary people's living conditions are not important - but without the line of kings, history can easily become a kind of unstructured fireplace passiar about aspects of Danish history that are not placed in memory in an easy pedagogical way. It promotes clarity to divide the royal line - and thus Danish history - into manageable sections.
The Knytlinge dynasty got its name from a Hardecnudth, who in all probability was the son of Sven. He is also called Knud 1. and was with considerable certainty 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 saint king Olav of Norway; 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 constitutes an interregnum to the time of the Valdemars.
Many historians, probably most, only attribute Valdemar the Great and his sons Canute the Sixth and Valdemar the Victorious to the Valdemars. But no one can have patent on such a definition, and it seems to the author pedagogically advantageous to also include their less successful descendants - who are Erik Plovpenning, Abel and Christoffer 1, Erik Klipping, Erik Menved and Christoffer 2. who was the last king before the kingless time.
Valdemar Atterdag was not king of the Kalmar Union, but his daughter Margrete 1. became queen of this Scandinavian Union. Valdemar Atterdag recreated Denmark and thus the possibility of the Kalmar Union with Norway and Sweden, one can say - with a little good will.
The first Oldenburg kings were also Union kings - but only for short periods.
The Civil War, the Count's Feud, in 1534-36 was a landmark turning point in Denmark's history. Made possible by the Lutheran Reformation, which took place at the same time, the kings could then confiscate 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, establish autocracy, which became one of the most important reasons for Denmark's continued historical decline. In 1848, a democratic constitution was introduced without civil war or other violent events.
The Oldenburg royal family died out in 1863 with the childless Frederik 7. After that, Christian 9. of Glücksborg was appointed king.
Valdemar ruled Denmark for 35 years. But not all of Denmark all the time. It was a long grueling battle to gain control of the country. He experienced many setbacks and entered into countless settlements and compromises, but never lost sight of his goal, which was the recovery of the whole of Denmark.
Both in Jutland and on Sjælland, Valdemar introduced extraordinary taxes to finance the redemption of the other parts of the country. On Sjælland, each church donated one of their sacred candelabra for the purpose. In Jutland, the farmers paid a tax called the silver bede. Opposition to the increased taxation was probably an important reason for the three uprisings in Jutland.
He began in 1340 with a modest kingdom in North Jutland. On Sjælland, he conquered castle after castle with military power for six years. Then came the islands of Lolland and Falster. He succeeded in exploiting internal Swedish strife to regain the Scanian lands. Occasionally he had to fight repeated Jutlandic uprisings coordinated with attacks from the Counts of Holsten. The united Hanseatic cities attacked Denmark several times, most recently in 1368 in a powerful coalition with all of Denmark's enemies, including the King of Sweden, the Duke of Southern Jutland, the Counts of Holsten, the Duke of Mecklenburg and the Jutland rebels.
It goes without saying that in such circumstances he could not be good friends with everyone. All Danish provinces that he recaptured were subject to extraordinary taxes to finance redemptions of other parts of the pledged kingdom, and this was not always popular.
Although Valdemar Atterdag was really the son of the last of the Valdemars, Christoffer 2. he still represents a new beginning, a new dynasty. He was the king, who returned. He gathered the sad remains of a Danish kingdom and rebuilt it. Many new things came into being during his reign. It was during his reign that we first hear that the people consist of different estates "Knights and armsmen, ladies and maidens, merchants, guests, peasants and workers" and in his reconstructed kingdom the difference between the kings kongelev and patrinomium disappeared, that is, the difference between the estates which belonged to the royal office, royal castles, and the estates which were the private property of the royal family.
Valdemar's grandson, Oluf 2. was also of Harald Hårfager's lineage and at the same time of the Swedish royal family. He had the potential to unite the three Nordic kingdoms, but unfortunately he died early.
At Valdemar's death in 1375, Oluf was elected King of Denmark with his parents, King Håkon of Norway and Margrete, Valdemar's youngest daughter as guardians. At King Håkon's death in 1380, Margrete also became guardian of Oluf in Norway and at the same time she was appointed "allmighty lady and leader and guardian of all of Denamrk". Shortly afterwards she received similar titles in Norway and in 1388 also in Sweden. We remember her as Margrete 1.
In 1396, she adopted her late sister's grandson, and made him king of the three Nordic countries under the name Erik of Pomerania with her as guardian, while he was a minor. To the detriment of the Nordic unity, first the Swedish Council of State and then the Danish one terminated their allegiance to him in 1439 and he withdrew to Gotland.
Then Christoffer 3. of Bavaria became union king in 1440. He was the son of Erik of Pomerania's sister, Catherine, and thus the great-grandson of Valdemar Atterdag. He was a skilled and flexible politician, who made the national councils of the three Nordic countries to cooperate, but unfortunately he died childless after only eight years.
It was during Valdemar Atterdag's reign that the plague hit Denmark and in all probability took the lives of every third Dane. The epidemic depopulated entire villages, nor did it spare Valdemar's family.
At his death in 1375, the reclaim of the southernmost parts of Southern Jutland between Danevirke and the river Ejder was still outstanding.
The sources do not tell us directly when Valdemar was born. But in order to obtain the help of his brother-in-law, Margrave Ludvig of Brandeburg, in the autumn of 1333, Junker Otto had to hand over control of Estonia to him, but the transfer had to be confirmed by his brother Valdemar, "when he came of age". At that time he was still a boy and must therefore have been born after 1315, if we believe the age of majority was 18 years - as both Erik Klipping and Erik Menved were declared of age when they turned 18 years old. Valdemar went to war for the Margrave in 1338, therefore we must believe that this year he has been at least 17-18 years old, which leads to him being born before 1320-21.
From the age of probably 6-7 years, Valdemar grew up at the Margrave of Brandenburg in Berlin, the emperor's son. Huitfeldt says that Christoffer 2. during his visit to the emperor succeeded "because of Margreff Loduig" to make Ludvig of Bayern to take junker Valdemar "into his court/ where he was educated in warfare/ and attained great skill/ which he later greatly benefited from".
For an intelligent and inquisitive boy, the imperial court must have been a very instructive place to grow up. Here, from the first floor, he witnessed how political intrigues, decisions and negotiations unfolded. He must have been familiar at an early stage with the latest developments in the art of war, which play such a large role in politics.
The intelligent young man made a great impression on Emperor Ludwig of Nürnberg, who wrote to his son, the Margrave of Brandenburg in Berlin, urging him to support "the excellent junker Valdemar of Denmark"
Valdemar Atterdag on detail of painting by Kornerup made after fresco in Sct. Peder's Church in Næstved. In connection with his overbite, he probably had a slightly receding chin, for which he compensated with various forms of full beard, as other kings have done as well. He had curly hair and beard like his father, Christoffer, on the grave monuments in Sorø. He was probably fair-haired, as we can not believe that a dark-haired man's beard had turned completely white already as 55-year-old. Photo Wikipedia.
Due to his childhood in Brandenburg, his preferred language has probably been Low German.
Valdemar was very much a tall and well-grown man who protruded a head above other men.
In a document in the National Museum's collections, written in connection with the drawing of Valdemar Atterdag's sarcophagus in 1756, it is said that Valdemar's grave was opened and the bones measured "The head was measured, and was from the teeth to the neck 7½ inches long, and the femur 20¼ Inches long."
The length of a person's femur is statistically 26.74% of the person's height, and the historical Danish-Norwegian inch is 2.62 cm. Which leads to Valdemar being 20.25*2.62/0.262 = 202.5 cm tall. Other sources, however, say 185 cm, but that still makes probable a very tall man for his time.
To the left Valdemar Atterdag on detail of his seal as drawn by Karl Georg Jensen in 1917 (Wikipedia). The seal is a contemporary image that must represent how Valdemar looked or would like to look. He has a combination of rather long hanging mustache and a rather pointed "goat's beard", reminiscent of that on the fresco. To the right a beard type from modetrends.dk which looks like but not quite.
Valdemar had been at war on horseback most of his adult life, and it had begun to mark him in 1375. Examinations of his skeleton reveal signs that he had had a hard life. Injuries to his back and ankles show that he had minor damages in these places. Besides he had a bit of osteoarthritis. Like so many others from the Middle Ages, he had good teeth - but as I said with a marked overbite.
Around the year 1600, Huitfeldt gave Valdemar the byname Ottherdage, which has become "Atterdag" (meaning again-day) "because he used the expression "to be day"- just as he would say that the daylight must well light up everything."
The historian Ellen Jørgensen believes that the word that has given Valdemar his byname is probably the Low German "ter taghe", which a German chronicler from the 1600's puts Valdemar in his mouth in the story of Erland Kalv. It can be translated to "what times" or "times are changing".
Plaster sculpture of Valdemar Atterdag at the National History Museum at Frederiksborg Castle made by Theodor Storm in 1882. Photo Staerbo Conservation
He could be quite impulsive. In 1347 he traveled with his lifelong friend, Erik of Sachen-Lauenburg, to Jerusalem without first obtaining the Pope's permission, as one should otherwise. He left it to Drost Claus Lembek to complete the conquest of the island of Lolland. Much indicates that he had taken some overly dramatic actions against the Hanseatic merchants - not mentioned in history - that he afterward deeply regretted.
Valdemar was not a man who bore grudges. His drost, Claus Lembek, participated in 1351 in the first Jutland uprising, but was forgiven in 1353 and returned to his position. Nevertheless, he again took part in the third Jutland uprising around 1358, but died before the conclusion of the peace. But by all accounts, Lembek's sons escaped with paying fines, which Valdemar generally preferred over revenge and dramatic punishments.
Valdemar had a distinct economic sense. He had tried to be a poor prince of a non-existent kingdom, and we must believe that he was firmly determined that it should not be repeated. Throughout his reign, he seized every opportunity to scrape for money, silver, ships, and provisions. At any negotiation - even those less favorable to him - he sought to obtain small or large payments or other benefits to the crown. He knew that a king without solid financial reserves would be a pure parade figure - as his father was.
He knew that success in political negotiations depends not only on rational and moral arguments, but in the end on what military means one could bring into the field if the negotiations did not succeed.
He incessantly collected money, benefits and rights. As Sjælland Chronicle writes for 1358: "soon the king went under sail into the Slien and forced the Angels to give him very large supplies, money and ships"
All the money was used in the fight to redeem new parts of the country, hire mercenaries, build fortresses and the like, all to rebuild Denmark. It was not so that he used his collected funds to finance an extravagant life for his relatives and himself.
The Swedes call him "Valdemar the Evil" because of his conquest of Gotland, which included the slaughter of a primitive peasant army in front of Visby's city wall and subsequent looting of the Hanseatic city of Visby and because of his conquest of the Scania Lands, which they had bought so expensively.
The battle at Visby's city wall in 1360, which gave Valdemar the byname "the Evil" among the Swedes. Photo Old lithograph by Rasmus Christiansen 1863-1940 The National Archives.
King Valdemar never found rest. He was constantly in the process of redeeming new parts of the country or building new castles, watermills and barns. He could have settled for a cozy little kingdom in North Jutland in 1340, but he did not consider this for a moment. He immediately embarked on the great challenge of recapturing Zealand with his modest means.
He did not spare himself, but certainly also not others. Sjælland Chronicle tells that at a meeting in Vrangstrup south of Ringsted in 1355 the king decided that "all tenant farmers, whoever they belonged to, should provide the king with 14 days of work in the winter and in the summer at his own expense but of the king's own tenants as well as the churches' and of the monks' was required work without limits, and the weary were hardly allowed to rest."
The chronicle says for 1357: "and then he went over to Jutland, where he stayed for a while and weighed large and small with various orders." And further for 1357: "Likewise, the king does not stop building mills and other buildings but thereby weighs monasteries, cities and the commoners too much in every way."
The chronicle reports for 1360: "King Valdemar, who did not want to sleep the time away to no avail, but rather liked to throw himself on innocent people, gathered a large fleet with crews and sought for Mr. King of Sweden's land.".
Valdemar Atterdag's so-called handbinding contract of 24 May 1360, which is in fact a social contract. The text states that the treaty was issued by the king in consultation with the Duke of Jylland, five bishops, the drost and the marsk as well as the other councilors and best men. Photo Flickr.
He was a good leader, who always implicated as many as possible in his decisions. He is said to have learned this from Margrave Ludvig. In 1354, for example, he had Bishop Peder of Ribe to present his eleven articles, and in "The Land Peace" in 1360 it is stated that the treaty is presented by the king, his son, the Dukes of Jutland, five bishops and named 65 of the kingdom's best men.
It was Valdemar who named the annual national meetings in Nyborg as Danehof, and it was he who first used Danebrog as the royal flag.
During a visit to Greifswald in June 1338, the young Valdemar negotiated with the city council and confirmed the privileges of this city in Denmark and on the Scania market. In the letter of privilege, he called himself "Junker and true heir to Denmark and duke of Estonia" . Among the attached seals is Bishop Sven of Aarhus, who must have joined him at this early time.
That same year, 1338, Valdemar participated in a war against Duke Barnim 3. of Stettin on the side of Margrave Ludvig, where he was so unfortunate as to be taken prisoner. However, he was quickly released, and in the letter regarding his release, Duke Barnim called him "The High-born Valdemar, King of Denmark". We must believe that at this time he promoted himself as King of Denmark - inspired and supported by Bishop Sven of Aarhus.
The Spring of the Fatherland by Agnes Slott-Møller 1913. Photo Pinterest.
The rumor of the ambitious young king's son spread quickly and motivated, among other things, King Magnus of Sweden to write his letter to the pope in 1338, in which he asked for confirmation of his possession of Scania and permission to conquer further parts of the dissolved kingdom. It appears from the letter that he expected a fight against Valdemar.
The rumor also reached the young Duke Valdemar of Jutland in the city of Slesvig.
When he became duke after his deceased father at the age of ten in 1325, Count Gerhard of Holsten-Rendsborg took over the guardianship for him and then did whatever he liked with the duchy. The count had gained so much power that he could put his will through even after Duke Valdemar had come of age. When the count had his younger brother appointed bishop of Slesvig and took over himself the management of the episcopal estate, which lay south of the city, it aroused a fervent resentment against this unsolicited continued guardianship in the young duke that the count soon noticed.
Count Gerhard was intelligent and far-sighted. He knew very well that the Hanseatic towns were very angry about the piracy peformed from the Danish coastal towns by his local German mortgage holders, and he feared that this would motivate the towns to ally with Duke Valdemar and possibly Junker Valdemar Christoffersen against himself. To counter this, he agreed with the towns in 1339 on a joint effort against piracy, as both the count and the towns were to put ships in the water to combat this criminality. But the initiative never became a success. Perhaps the cities thought that the pirates were the count's own men, whom he probably would not fight effectively.
Lübeck town's seal 1280 shown in Ernst Wallis "Illustrerad Verldshistoria", published in Stockholm 1882. Photo Wikimedia Commons.
In the pawn fief exchange meeting in Lübeck on Candlemas Day in February 1340 Count Gerhard of Holsten and Duke Valdemar of Jutland made an agreement on a change of pawn fiefs, so that the duke was to take over the count's pawn fiefs in North Jutland and in return put his own duchy in pledge and transfer this as a pawn fief to Count Gerhard. The duke did not immediately join the agreement, he demanded and was given time to consider "seeking advice". In addition, the duke had to promise not to marry off his sister to junker Valdemar Christoffersen. Which shows that Duke Valdemar already had contact with him.
But in Randers on 1. April 1340 Niels Ebbesen killed the Bald Count, Count Gerhard of Holsten-Rendsborg.
Gerhard's two sons, Counts Henrik and Claus, quickly realized that under such rebellious and lawless circumstances, they would never get their money. There had to be a king in Denmark, who could represent the country and ensure law and order. The Hanseatic towns also longed for orderly conditions in Denmark. As the Lübeck Chronicle says: "One would have liked to see a king in Denmark for the sake of peace, who was neither exists on land nor at sea."
But the brothers Henrik and Claus believed that such a king existed, and they were determined to gain control of him from the beginning by insisting that he should marry their own sister, Elisabeth, instead of Duke Valdemar's sister, Helvig, whom he might have a tendency for. They hurried to Spandau near Berlin, where they sought out the young Valdemar Christoffersen, who was staying there.
The meeting in Spandau on 22 April 1340 was also attended by Bishop Sven of Aarhus, Duke Albrecht of Sachen, Count Johan of Holsten-Plön, Count Johan of Hoya and "Margrave Ludvig's Counselors" . A large number of cases were agreed upon:
1. Junker Otto must be released and handed over to Margrave Ludvig or someone else according to Valdemar's will and consent for Valdemar to become King of God's Grace.
2. Valdemar must marry Count Henrik's sister and in dowry have 24,000 mark worth of silver, which must go as an installment on the 100,000 mark that Fyn and Jutland are pledged for.
3. Four weeks after this agreement is concluded, Aalborg with Vendsyssel, Himmer Syssel, Thy Syssel and Hanherred must be transferred with full royal rights to Junker Valdemar.
4. The rest of Jutland will be pledged for 35,000 valuable mark and Fyn for 41,000 mark worth of silver.
5. All the silver tax (silver bede) that Count Henrik collects in Jutland must be used to repay the mortgage amount for Jutland with the exception of the amount that Bishop Sven of Aarhus, Margrave Ludvig of Brandenburg, Duke Albrecht of Sachen and Count Johan of Holsten sets for Valdemar's living.
6. When the quarter of the mortgage amount for Jutland has been paid, the quarter of the country with the castles in it must be handed over to junker Valdemar. First, Kalø is redeemed with a quarter of the country. So Horsens with another quarter. Then Kolding with the third quarter. Finally Ribe with the last quarter.
7. The parties promise each other a mutual aid of 400 men with helmets or if desired with all their power.
8. Count Henrik's sister will have Ribe with the adjoining four shirs and half of Varde Syssel as a morning gift.
9. Peace or settlement with the Duke of Slesvig may only be concluded by both parties jointly.
10. Count Henrik may not persecute Bishop Sven of Aarhus on his life, estate or diocese, nor his relatives.
11. Junker Valdemar must not protect those who have murdered Count Gerhard, but must be their enemy.
12. Junker Valdemar must not prevent Count Henrik and his brother from holding Ærø.
The original mortgage amount for Jutland and Fyn was 100,000 mark of silver, which had to be paid on the same day, which was practically impossible. Now it was reduced to 76,000, which could be paid in four installments, which was a great relief. In addition, Fyn's position was changed from an inheritance fief, which in principle lasts forever, to a pawn fief, which could be redeemed.
The county of Holsten, which was divided into Holsten-Rendsborg and Holsten-Kiel also called Holsten-Plön. Count Gerhard and his two sons Henrik and Claus lived in Holsten-Rendsborg, while Count Johan the Mild lived in Holsten Plön also called Holsten-Kiel. Photo Deutschland - Schleswig-Holsten.
But junker Valdemar had been taken by surprise. After further reflection, he realized that the Spandau agreement had some very major disadvantages for himself. He would appear to the Danish people as the son-in-law of the Bald Count, a friend of the Holstenians, which would make his project impossible. He feared that he would thereby suffer the same fate as his father and brother.
It seems that he has discussed the matter with Duke Valdemar of Jutland, and they had agreed on a different arrangement. Namely that junker Valdemar should marry Duke Valdemar's sister, Helvig, instead of the Holstenian Elisabeth. The counts were to be motivated to accept this arrangement by the duke finally agreeing to change his own duchy with North Jutland, as it was previously outlined in Lübeck on Candlemas day in February 1340.
The pawn fief exchange agreement meant that the duke was to take over the counts' pledge in North Jutland and in return put his own duchy in pledge and transfer this pledge to Count Gerhard's sons. Junker Valdemar's installments on the mortgage were then to be paid to Duke Valdemar, who wanted to use the money to redeem his own duchy.
It was really possible to come to agreement on this revision of the Spandau agreement. At a meeting in Lübeck in May 1340, a month after the meeting in Spandau, it was agreed that Duke Valdemar of Jutland should take over the counts' pledge in North Jutland and instead put his own South Jutland in pledge and transfer this pledge to the Counts - like it had been previously agreed but not finally decided. Junker Valdemar was to marry the South Jutland Helvig instead of the Holstenian Elisabeth.
The Duchy of Southern Jutland in 1300-1400. Drawing: Jørgen Andersen, Museum Sønderjylland - Archeology Haderslev. The vertically striped areas to the west are Frisian areas, which belonged to the Danish king. Als, Ærø, Fehmern and Langeland belonged to the duchy for shorter periods. The horizontally striped area to the south came very early under the influence of the Holstenian as King Abel's widow mortgaged it to the Holstenian counts and it may never have been redeemed. The yellow areas are the royal enclaves.
Valdemar the Victorious gave the area as a duchy to his second eldest son, Abel, and its original official name for several hundred years was "the Duchy of Jutland", which refers to it being the original homeland of the Jutes and the royal linage. The area north of the stream Kongeåen was originally called North-Jutland, which name spread to the southern area, which then necessarily had to be South-Jutland. The name Duchy of Slesvig first appears in Øm Monastery Chronicle for 1261 and became increasingly popular over the next few hundred years, especially in German. Photo Den Sønderjyske Historiekanon.
In addition, the paragraph that Junker Valdemar should be enemy of Count Gerhard's killers was deleted. The rest of the revised agreement remained as agreed in Spandau.
With this agreement the counts Henrik and Claus probably thought that there was hope that they would get their money or that some of the Greater Holsten, which their father had undoubtedly dreamed of, had come within reach.
But for Duke Valdemar, the agreement represented a very big sacrifice. He had put his inheritance, which his ancestors - since King Abel - had fought and struggled for, at stake. It was doubtful if he would ever be able to redeem it in full.
Lübeck Chronicle writes: "It seemed to many a great folly that the duke would adventure so much for the king's sake." It can be said that he thereby remedied the Abel family's many obstructions and direct betrayals against the Danish kings.
At the same meeting in Lübeck in May 1340, Junker Valdemar confirmed Count Johan of Plön's possession of Fehmern as heritance fief. He promised that when he became king he would approve Count Johan's sale of the mortgage in Scania to Magnus Smek of Sweden. He handed over the island of Tåsinge to Duke Albrecht of Sachen-Lauenburg, and thus fulfilled his father's promise to him.
Jutland was on fire. After the assassination of Count Gerhard and the disintergrating of his army, thousands of Jutlanders marched against the local Holstenian and German pawn fief holders. Under the leadership of Niels Ebbesen, they stormed a newly built Holstenian castle at the stream Skern Å on 2. May 1340 and demolished it to the ground.
After many years abroad, Junker Valdemar returned to Denmark with Duke Valdemar. They rode to the island of Als, which was kept out of the pawn fief exchange because it belonged to Duchess Ricardis. At the castle in Sønderborg at Pentecost 1340, they celebrated junker Valdemar's wedding to Helvig.
Midsummer day 1340, Valdemar was elected king at the Jutland ting in Viborg. There was no hand-binding contract.
Draft of "Niels Ebbesen and the poor women" by Lorenz Frohlich in 1852. The armed resistance against the Holsten counts was extremely popular in North Jutland in 1340, and therefore Valdemar preferred to start with Sjælland as he had made co-operation agreements with the Holsten counts. The folk song reads::
"Then he visited a women,
she had only two breads;
the one she gave to Niels Ebbesen,
because he killed the bald count".
Some might have expected a Danish king to have spearheaded the revolt against the foreigners, but it was a political impossibility. The pledge for Northern Jutland was now handed over to Duke Valdemar of Jutland, Junker Valdemar's brother-in-law, and a revolt in Northern Jutland was also a revolt against him. If Junker Valdemar had led such a revolt, it would have been a clear breach of the agreements in Spandau and Lübeck, everything would have fallen to the ground, and he would probably have shared the fate of his father and brother.
King Valdemar therefore decided to stay on Sjælland.
But the Jutlanders relentlessly continued the struggle against the foreign pawn fief holders. Jutland Chronicle reports: "But the same year when the same Niels Ebbesen besieged the castle Skanderborg, he was attacked by a large German army, which came over him All Souls' Day (2. November). He gave them a hard fight, but he himself succumbed there and also other Danish armsmen."
By taking up residence on Sjælland in 1341, Valdemar sent a clear signal of what his intentions were. He was not satisfied with a small Jutlandic kingdom. He wanted to reestablish all of Denmark.
Valdemar Atterdag's seal, which shows him with a lily stick and orb. Drawn by Karl Georg Jensen - Wikipedia.
King Valdemar's first three years on Sjælland were filled with unsuccessful attempts to make progress by winning castles and lands. He fought and negotiated, but usually without much success. With great energy he tried again and again. If an attack on a castle or town failed, he tried tirelessly elsewhere.
By his arrival to Sjælland he challenged Count Johan of Holsten-Plön, also called Johan the Mild, who together with the Margrave of Brandenburg had strongly spoken his case in Spandau and Lübeck. Count Johan had Lolland and most of Sjælland as a mortgage pawn, but had divided it as a sub-pawns for German knights.
In a similar way, Duchess Ingeborg's possessions in North Zealand were distributed to German knights. Her son, King Magnus of Sweden, followed suspiciously Valdemar's movements.
First and foremost, he had to acquire a base on Sjælland, a bridgehead, a place to live. In January 1341, Bishop Johan of Roskilde came to his aid by giving him the city of Copenhagen, including the castle for two years.
In the same January 1341, King Magnus invited Valdemar to a meeting in Helsingborg, where the Holstenian counts were also present. Valdemar was moved to confirm the treaty of November 1332 concerning King Magnus' purchase of the mortgage in the Scanian lands from Count Johan. However, so that Valdemar would have 8.000 mark to give up his right to Southern-Halland and Bjerge and North Asbo shires.
A graphic reconstruction of Copenhagen Castle at Valdemar Attedag's time. Unfortunately unknown artist. Photo Roskilde Historie.
At the same meeting, the Holsten counts used the opportunity to have confirmed their possession of Fyn.
At the election as a king in Viborg, a hand-binding contract was out of the question. Nor in Sjælland did anyone talk about hand-binding contract. But in Roskilde January 1341, King Valdemar issued on his own initiative an insurance letter, in which he promises forgiveness and forgeting of everything that had happened to his father and brother, and promises that all well-acquired rights will be protected.
The Sjælland people made great sacrifices. They agreed to pay a special tax for the redemption of the land, which corresponded to the silver bede that the Jutlanders paid. Each church donated one of the sacred chalices, and Bishop Johan of Roskilde handed over the proceeds of Møn and Rügen to the king. But it was not enough, the king had to pledge what he had just received, namely Copenhagen city and castle, to the Holstenian Markvard Stove..
He used the money that he received to hire warriors in Bavaria and Brandenburg and to redeem Vordingborg Castle. Count Johan acted as a mediator, as the castle's captain was his sub-pawn fied holder. Valdemar paid the first installment but could not pay the second installment and thereby he lost what he had already paid and did not get the castle.
Model of Kalundborg Castle at Valdemar Atterdag's time. Photo Kalundborg Lokalarkiv. Arkiv.dk.
In agreement with the Hanseatic cities, he instead led his troops towards Kalundborg, which belonged to Duchess Ingeborg, but which was probably pledged to a Holstenian knight. This entailed a danger of a breakup with her son, King Magnus, but Valdemar could object that the city was a pirate-nest and moreover not covered by the Helsingborg Agreement January 1341.
Valdemar initiated a siege of the city and was supported by the Hanseatic towns from the sea side. In addition, he once again received assistance from the church as Archbishop Peder of Lund sent two ships to help.
But Kalundborg was not taken. The crew defended well. Without denouncing the peace, Count Henrik appeared in front of the town with a superior fleet, attacked the Danes and the Lübeckers' ships, captured the crews and had them mistreated thereby earning his nickname Iron-Henrik.
The spinning Eve with the two children, Cain and Abel, on a fresco from the middle of the 1300's in Kirkerup Church southeast of Slagelse. Foto kalkmalerier.dk
In September 1341 the king had to conclude a truce without having achieved anything. On one side stood Duchess Ingeborg and the counts Henrik and Claus and on the other side King Valdemar, Duke Valdemar, the Hanseatic cities and - remarkably - Count Johan of Holsten Plön.
The historian Peter Lundbye quotes an edition of Jutland Chronicle, which says that "the same year before Shrove Tuesday, Duke Valdemar of Slesvig was captured during a hunt on Ærø and taken to Fyn to Nyborg, where the Holstenians kept him in prison for about two years, until he was redeemed with great ransom." And this is why history does not hear much to the Duke in these years.
The armistice expired at Pentecost 1342 without conciliation. The king's marsk, Frederik von Lochen, was on his way home from Germany with 200 "helmets", when he was informed that the Holstenians had attacked Lübeck. Together with the inhabitants of Lübeck and Hamburg, he drove them back and made several expeditions into Holsten, which he burned, ravaged and plundered.
In 1342 it came to open breach between King Magnus and Lübeck, and the Swedish king had the town's merchants imprisoned everywhere. Valdemar invited them to bring their goods to Copenhagen instead. In June 1342 there was a big battle in Copenhagen, where Valdemar's troops eagerly assisted by the merchants attacked the Holstenian Markvard Strove's stone tower and conquered it. The tower came into Valdemar's possession, but in his constant need for money he immediately mortgaged it to some other Germans.
After the battle of Copenhagen, Valdemar led his entire army towards Kalundborg, which for the second time, still in 1342, was besieged. But also this time without success.
Mysterious creature on fresco in Vigerslev Church between Odense and Bogense.. Photo Hideko Bondensen Wikipedia.
The Lübeck Chronicle tells that both the counts, Henrik and Claus, as well as the town Lübeck had hired soldiers in Germany against each other, but that these troops added more damage to their own countries than the enemy. Therefore, the parties agreed to a ceasefire as proposed by Count Henrik. On one side stood the Hanseatic towns and King Valdemar and on the other side the Holsten counts Johan, Henrik and Claus. The dispute was to be settled by arbitration of the Counsel of the Margrave and the Emperor before Holy-Three-Kings' day 1343. The ceasefire was later extended to midsummer 1344.
The counts kept quiet, but the local Holstenian mortgage holders in the Danish cities and castles were quite indifferent to the ceasefire. They continued to rob and plunder as before. Throughout the year 1343 the fighting raged on Sjælland. They robbed cattle and maimed the peasants. Many villages were ravaged and the town of Køge was burned. There was a battle at Fladså Mill near Næstved, where the Holstenians won.
In Varberg June 1343 peace was concluded between King Magnus and the Hanseatic towns and the German merchants obtained the same rights in the important Skanør herring market as they had had before. The parties agreed to equip six ships each, which were to fight the piracy.
In December 1343 Valdemar managed to gather an army of Danish peasants, which he led towards Taarnborg near Korsør, but the army turned around due to a "false rumor", and when it returned to Ringsted, he had it dissolved.
King Magnus sought to gain a foothold in Sjælland by buying the mortgage in Copenhagen Castle, which Valdemar had sold in 1341. But the Swedish king had difficulty raising money to continue the intervention.
Crucifix carved in wood found quite close to the inland ice in the Western Settlement in Greenland. The Western Settlement was where now Godthåb, also called Nuuk, is. The Western Settlement was suddenly depopulated around 1350 - in Valdemar Atterdag's time. Some believe that the Norsemen went back to Scandinavia and took over some of the many farms that were vacant after the plague. Photo Paul Walker.
In Helsingborg in August 1343, a settlement was concluded between the kings, Magnus and Valdemar, with the following conditions:
1.Each king must choose 12 men to meet in Varberg in October 1343 and decide all matters on which there is disagreement. If they cannot agree, Archbishop Peder must step in and decide.
2. Archbishop Peder will occupy Copenhagen Castle and city as well as the Stone Tower and Amager, until the 24 decide which of the kings it belongs to.
3. The 24 will decide when and how King Magnus will pay the 4000 mark of silver that are outstanding for Southern -Halland and Bjerge and North Asbo shires in Scania.
4. The castles on Sjælland, which King Valdemar has not yet been able to redeem, King Magnus must be entitled to redeem if he can, and keep with his men, who, however, must be Danes by birth until Valdemar can redeem them back.
5. The 24 with the archbishop as supervisor must be able to interpret the previous letters and treaties, whereby Scania, Halland, Blekinge, Lister and Hven are ceded to King Magnus.
The possessions of Magnus' mother, Duchess Ingeborg, in North Sjælland were not mentioned.
On twelve choir chairs in Lund Cathedral from the end of the 1300's there is a picture calendar with twelve reliefs. July is the month of the grain harvest. Photo Historiska Museet, Lund.
Due to Valdemar's battles against the German mortgage holders on Sjælland, the 24 men's meeting in Varberg had to be postponed to November 1343.
The kings agreed to avoid war and bloodshed. In the event of future disagreements over land and other major matters, a tribunal consisting of three bishops and three knights from each kingdom should decide the case.
But Valdemar also had to issue, also in 1343, three letters confirming Magnus of his possession of the Scanian lands.
In the first letter, Valdemar declares that he has now sold the whole of Scania, Halland, Blekinge and Hven with castles, fortifications and all royal rights and power for himself and his descendants for a total of 49,000 marks of silver. From this are deducted the 34,000 marks that Magnus paid Count Johan and the 8,000 marks that Valdemar received for Sønder Halland. The last 7,000 are settled by Magnus leaving him Copenhagen Castle, which he has acquired for the same amount. King Valdemar frees the inhabitants of the mentioned lands from all dependence on the Danish king and crown and refers them to King Magnus, his successors and the Swedish crown.
På choir chairs in Lund Cathedral from the end of the 1300's, there is a picture calendar with twelve reliefs. In December, pigs are slaughtered. Photo Historiska Museet Lund.
In the second letter, Valdemar states that all the letters issued by King Magnus regarding his purchase of the mortgage in Scania from Count Johan for 34,000 marks of silver and that anyone who is entitled to it can redeem them for the same amount, are put out of power.
In the third letter, King Magnus receives deed to the Scanian lands, and King Valdemar undertakes to have this confirmed at the next Danehof.
In January 1344 happiness smiled to Valdemar. After three years of hardship on Sjælland, he finally got both Kalundborg and Søborg in his possession. Sjælland Chronicle is not quite clear in the speech about how it worked out, but Lübeck Chronicle tells: "At that time the king of Denmark got Kalundborg Castle, as one of the Holstenians betrayed the other defenders. Thus the king's power on Sjælland was growing bigger little by little."
Søborg is located about 4 km south of Gilleleje in North Sjælland. Before the lake was drained in 1872‑76, the castle was located on an island surrounded by the lake, connected only by land with a dam or bridge. It seems impregnable. The map was prepared by Christopher Johannes Schrøder, who was parish priest in Søborg and Gilleleje 1777‑93. Photo Antikvarisk-Topografisk Arkiv, Nationalmuseet.
In Næstved in 1344, peace was concluded between the king and Count Johan. For a sum of money, Johan waived any right to Kalundborg and Søborg, which had to accrue to him in accordance with an agreement with Christoffer 2. 1329.
In February 1344 Duke Valdemar had apparently been released from his prison in Nyborg, as in Sønderborg a peace was made between the counts, Henrik and Claus, and Duke Valdemar.
In the light of the peace that thus descended over the country, King Valdemar decided to make an expedition to the land of the Frisians on the west coast of Jutland, as the strand Frisians were under the king. Due to the turbulent conditions in Denmark, they had not paid tax to the king for 14 years, and the king wanted to collect this outstanding. In October 1344 he led an army into Friesland, where he beat the strand frisians in "Utland", by which one understands the actual marshland. They then promised him obedience and paid due taxes and fines.
In the king's absence from Sjælland, his men carried out an attack on a newly built Holstenian castle near Næstved. But the attack did not succeed and they withdrew again.
In the year 1345, the Holstenians still ravaged on Sjælland. The Sjælland Chronicle reports that they burned down several villages and they plundered the town of Ringsted.
But Valdemar had gotten a lucky hand in the warfare. He captured the newly built castle at Næstved. The king's marsk, Erik Nielsen, took the castle Gunderslevholm by Susåen by storm and chopped down the crew and the king took the castle Padeborg at Præstø.
In the year 1346 Valdemar did even better.
Tårnborg church og castle hill deep in Korsør Nor. Tårnborg was the original crossing point for Fyn. It was located deep into the fjord as protection against pirates. In the 1400's, the fear of pirates diminished and the crossing point was moved to Korsør. On the castle hill was a large square brick tower 8*8 m. surrounded by a ring wall. To the right of the church was a small town or marketplace. Photo Henning Nielsen Sorø Amts Museum.
Kongen drog i 1346 mod Tårnborg ved Korsør og opfordrede den Holstenske besætning til at overgive sig, hvilket de gjorde og derved fik Valdemar kontrol med dette vigtige overfartssted til Fyn.
Valdemar continued towards the capital of the Valdemars, Vordingborg, and also urged the crew there to surrender, which they initially refused. Count Johan quickly equipped rescue fleet. But before it came to a decisive battle, King Magnus acted as a mediator. A settlement was reached in August 1346 so that the castle's Holstenian pawn holder ceded the castle to the king for 8,000 worthy marks in addition to what the king had previously paid in 1341.
Valdemar Atterdag had to make many difficult decisions. One of them was to sell Estonia to the German Order.
After Valdemar Sejr's conquest in 1219, Estonia was ruled by the Danish crown. The kings had the title "Duke of Estonia".
In order to achieve a peaceful relationship with the German Order, Abel in 1251 had to give up the province of Jervien and the Danish claim of the island of Øsel.
The Danish King's Garden in Tallinn, which was created to honor the legend of Dannebrog. The sculpture, which stands on the way down the stairs, is called "Tuli lipp", which can be translated as "The flag fell". Every year on 15 June, Dannebrog is celebrated in the garden.
Photo Oplev Estland.dk.
In Erik Klipping's time, the country suffered so much from the Russians' looting that he had to send his drost, Mathias Florthorp, over there with an army. Suhm says: "The Royal Marsk Mathæus Florthorp had been sent with an army to Estonia, he now fought with them, but fell in battle. Further, our old chroniclers do not write." - "but Huitfeldt adds that it was against Novgorods, Muscovites, Semgalls, and Lithuanians that he fought and won."
The great men of Estonia were mostly of German origin, but they were more loyal to the Danish king than many Danish nobles.
When Erik Menved handed over Estonia as a county to his Brother, Christoffer, in 1303, the Estonian nobles declared that the king had no right to separate Estonia from the crown and prepared an armed uprising against Christoffer. The Estonian nobles found allies in the Livonian part of the German Order and on Øsel and they took possession of the royal castles. Erik Menved saw no other way out but to deprive Christoffer of the duchy again. Then the great men returned the royal castles, which they had only occupied "in honor of the King of Denmark".
Tallinn city's great coat of arms with the three lions. The three lions are one of the oldest Estonian symbols. It has been used since the 1200's and originates from the Danish king Valdemar the Victorious. Other traces of the Danes are only a few. The city's German name was Reval, but the Estonians call it Tanalin or Tallinn, which means the Danes' city. in that still can be found a Sct. Olavs Church. Until 1920, were a Sct. Olavs Guild and a Sct. Knuds guild. In the 1930's, the city's grand guild still hoisted Danebrog on festive occasions. Photo Wikipedia fra "Tallinna vapp Tallinna raekoja".
When Christoffer 2. returned to Denmark in 1329 after his exile, he solemnly promised the nobles of Estonia that they would never be separated from the Danish crown. Nevertheless, a few weeks after, he granted Knud Porse with Estonia as a hereditary county. But due to the opposition of the Estonian nobles, Knud Porse never came into possession of Estonia, nor did his sons.
During the kingless period in 1332 or 1333, the royal chieftain of Estonia, the Holstenian Markvard Breide, wanted to hand over the castles entrusted to him to the master of the order in Livonia. But by this intelligence, the Estonian nobles gathered around the Danish bishop Oluf, and Markvard Breide had to give up his plan.
But in 1334 Christoffer 2 'son, junker Otto, relinquished his right to Estonia to his brother-in-law Margrave Ludvig of Brandenburg to obtain his help to win the royal power in Denmark, but so that the relinquishment had to be approved by Valdemar "when he came of age".
As we remember, Christoffer 2. had been so honored that the emperor's son in 1324 wanted to marry his daughter that he promised to pay an astronomical dowry, which the country basically could not afford.
The Olafs Church in Tallinn, in Estonian Oleviste Church. The first known written records referring to the church date back to 1267. It was extensively rebuilt during the 1300's. Photo Wikimedia Commons.
In 1339, 15 years later, the promised dowry had not yet been paid. But in March 1339, Emperor Ludvig ordered the Grand Master of the German Order in Livonia to occupy Estonia and hand over the land to Margrave Ludvig of Brandenburg as a dowry for Christoffer's eldest daughter in her marriage to the same Ludvig. "If, after the conquest of Estonia, the order itself would retain the country in a decent way, the emperor would be helpful to them in doing so." But apparently the order did not obey the emperor's command right away.
However, on the night of April 22, a peasant uprising broke out in the province of Harrien, which quickly spread to most of Estonia. Nobles were beaten to the ground regardless of titel, gender or age. Castles and monasteries were stormed, plundered and burned.
The Estonian nobles were in a desperate situation. The royal castles were enclosed by rebels. Rescue from Denmark could not be expected. In desperation, they saw no other way out but to turn to the Order asking for help.
The Grand Master was immediately willing. Tallinn was besieged by rebels, who were only waiting for reinforcements from Swedish Finland and the pagan Russians to be ready for the final onslaught. But before the arrival of the Swedish navy, the rebels were completely defeated by the Knights of the Order on 14 May 1343. The rest of the rebels fled to the island of Øsel, where they fortified themselves. But the following winter, the Knights of the Order and the Estonian nobles went over the ice and destroyed them in a last battle.
Estonia's Coat of Arms with the three lions. Photo Riigikantselei Wikipedia.
When the uprising was put down, the Knights of the Order sat in all the Estonian castles including the capital and had no intentions of traveling home to Livonia.
King Valdemar therefore in 1344 from Aalborg sent a letter to the Order of Livonia, in which he thanked them for having taken Estonia under their protection and asked them to keep their promise to his Estonian subjects and surrender those of the crown's castles, which they held, to Mr. Stig Andersen of Bjørnsholm, whom he had appointed to take over the country's government.
We must believe that the order was not inclined to hand over the castles until they had had their expenses for the war reimbursed. In addition, they had the emperor's order and his promise that they themselves could possibly take over the country - most likely for an appropriate payment.
On Stig Andersen's departure for Estonia, Valdemar equipped him with the royal seal and power of attorney to send out letters and act in the king's name. He was instructed not to disclose that the king was considering selling the land and as long as possible pretend that this solution was distant from the king's thoughts.
In the time between his arrival in January 1345 and May 1346, Mr. Stig Andersen generously distributed privileges to cities, bishops, churches and monasteries, and there was nothing in his conduct that indicated that the king wanted to sell Estonia. The Grand Master of the German Order in Marienburg must have been pleasantly surprised when Valdemar nevertheless offered negotiations on the transfer of the land.
In August 1346 agreement was reached. King Valdemar handed over Estonia with all the rights of the Danish crown to the German Order, which in turn had to pay the king 19,000 marks of silver. In addition, the Grand Master paid 6,000 marks of silver to Margrave Ludvig of Brandenburg in exchange for the Margrave renouncing his right to the land. Furthermore, in 1349 Valdemar sold to Grand Master Christoffer's letter, in which he handed over Estonia to Knud Porse and his descendants for 1,000 marks of silver.
Castle of the German Order from 1274 in Marienburg, which is the present Malbork in Poland south of Gdansk. Photo Tsca at the Danish language Wikipedia.
Valdemar finally got the dowry for his big sister out of the world, as the grand master actually paid for this with the 6,000 marks of silver. In addition, he solved the problem with his older brother, Otto, who on that occasion entered the order.
The only two alternatives to a sale were that he either paid the order for its expenses to quell the revolt, or he acquired the land by military means, and both of these solutions were probably beyond his means in 1346. One can say that he got the optimal out of a necessary decision.
The Estonian nobles were very dissatisfied with the sale of the land to the German Order. They got King Magnus of Sweden to witness Christoffer 2's promise that Estonia would remain under the Danish crown forever. But everything was in vain.
In January 1347 King Valdemar traveled over to Jutland and on to Lübeck, where he met Duke Erik the Younger of Sachen-Lauenburg. Together they rode to the German Order's headquarters in Marienburg south of present-day Gdansk in Poland, where on 13 February Valdemar presented the Grand Master with a receipt for the fifth installment of the payment for Estonia. After a short stay, they continued towards the Holy Land.
At Christ's Tomb, Duke Erik knighted King Valdemar and he then knighted several of the accompanying nobles.
Danebrog in Valdemar Atterdag's coat of arms. The oldest depicting of Dannebrog is found as part of Valdemar Atterdag's royal coat of arms. The three lions were already introduced by Canute the Sixth. Photo Om Dannebrog
Vort gamle flag og dets historie.
It is known that he was back in Denmark no later than June 24, signing a letter to the Pope on this date, informing him of the sale of Estonia.
The journey via Marienburg to Jerusalem and back again thus took King Valdemar and Duke Erik less than half a year, which was unusually fast. We must believe that they were young men in good physical shape who were able to ride many kilometers every day.
In 1800's Denmark, post riders could cover a mile in one hour in the winter, and since a Danish mile is 7.5 km. This means that a rider could cover 7.5 km per hour without destroying the horse.
The skipper on a Dutch reconstruction of a cog says: "We can sail about seven knots for the wind, and we use the sail all we can."
Therefore, it could probably be done - just barely - for young well-trained men to travel from Denmark to Jerusalem via Marienburg and directly back in less than half a year.
However, Valdemar had made his pilgrimage without first obtaining the Pope's permission, which could be punished with excommunication. Which, incidentally, indicates that he started quite impulsively on the journey.
But immediately after his return he wrote a letter to the pope asking for forgiveness for himself and his retinue, as he "had made the journey solely out of piety and not out of contempt for the sacred keys." In September 1347 the pope announced that he was forgiven.
Already in January 1347 - while the king himself went to the Holy Land - the king's drost, Claus Lembek, went over to Lolland with part of the army and thereby Valdemar broke the peace with Count Johan, who got help from the counts Henrik and Claus, who came to the island with great strength.
Dresses from the 1300's excavated in Greenland. Archaeologist Poul Nørlund's excavations in 1921 at Herjolfsnæs Cemetery in Greenland produced unique material to illuminate the costume in the latter half of the 1300's. The cloth is woven in Greenland from sheep wool, but the fashion in Europe has certainly decided the design. These are dresses that had to be pulled over the head and were quick to slip into. Foto Lennart Larsen.
Valdemar led the war into the enemy's camp, concluding secret alliances with some rebellious Holstenian nobles. The revolt in Holsten broke out while the king was traveling to the Holy Land, but failed. But in connection with a settlement, Valdemar reportedly had his mortgage debt for Fyn written down by 5,000 mark.
The Sjælland Chronicle for the year 1348 tells: "When King Valdemar had returned to Denmark, he got the last castles on Sjælland and some in Jutland and half of Fyn, Nykøbing on Falster and Stege on Møn." Since Lolland is not mentioned, one must believe that he had already got this island in his power. The chronicle also does not mention whether these islands were taken by military means or by the redemption of their mortgage debt.
While the king was fighting on Zealand, the redemption of Jutland had gone according to plan, as had been agreed at the meeting in Lübeck in 1340. It seems that Kalø Castle, Horsens and perhaps also Kolding with the associated quarters of the country had eventually been redeemed.
It is said that the first cannon in history was fired in the Battle of Crecy in 1346 between Philip 6. of France and Edward 3. of England. An artist imagines that the cannon looked like this. Photo Wired.
The king's growing power and their own weakness motivated the Holstenian counts, Henrik and Claus, to seek peace. At Nebbegaard at Vejle Fjord in July 1348 it was agreed to make peace on the condition that the counts handed over Nyborg Castle and half of Fyn against payment of 10,000 marks. The last half of Fyn thus amounted to 21,000 in mortgage and in addition the counts granted the king the right to pay this mortgage in smaller installments.
In January 1349, King Valdemar convened a national meeting in Ringsted, where he explained to the great men what their taxes had been used for. Sjælland and the nearby islands, half of Fyn and three quarters of North Jutland were now liberated from the yoke of foreigners.
In the summer of 1349, King Valdemar landed in northern Germany with a Danish army, and thus taking an active part in German politics, he apparently followed in Erik Menved's and Christoffer 2's unfortunate footsteps.
In 1319, Margrave Valdemar of Brandenburg died, and his family line, Askani, became extinct. Emperor Ludvig of Bavaria instead gave Mark Brandenburg to his own son, who was also named Ludvig. This Ludvig married as 8-year-old King Christoffer 2's daughter Margrete, and it was at his court that the young Valdemar grew up as a poor and fatherless prince.
In 1340, Ludvig interfered in Danish affairs, when he together with Count Johan the Mild helped the young Valdemar to achieve the Danish throne.
Brandenburg and the surrounding principalities around 1350. Photo Valdemar Atterdag och Europa av Sven Tägil.
But in 1348 the so-called fake Valdemar arrived in Brandenburg. He claimed that he was in fact Margrave Valdemar of Brandenburg, who was otherwise thought to be dead. He said that the funeral 29 years earlier had been fake and that he had been a pilgrim in the Holy Land all these years. He quickly became hugely popular, and in 1349 36 Brandenburger towns paid homage to the fake Valdemar at the Citadel in Spandau.
Emperor Karl 4. in Prague responded by depriving Ludvig of the duchy of Brandenburg and giving it "back" to the false Valdemar "with the same rights as when he left it".
Denmark had real interests in northern Germany, although King Valdemar's expedition to northern Germany could probably not avoid creating memories of Erik Menved's and Christoffer's magnificent international projects.
The false Valdemar's seal. Photo Hermann Bier: Märkische Siegel Berlin 1933 Wikipedia.
Rügen had been a county of the Danish king since Valdemar the Great, perhaps even since the Viking Age. But Emperor Karl 4. had openly demonstrated that he did not recognize the Danish claim to sovereignty by confirming on June 12, 1348, the Pomeranian dukes' right of succession over this island.
At the end of June 1349 King Valdemar went ashore - probably in Stralsund - with a large army in support of Louis of Brandenburg, who had not given up the fight for his county. Sjælland Chronicle writes: "Leding went to Germany".
The Danish army marched plundering through Mecklenburg and into Brandenburg, where it captured a town called Strassbourg. But here the army was enclosed by Duke Albrecht of Mecklenburg.
However, the Margrave's younger brother, Ludvig der Römer, and the Dukes of Stettin set their armies in motion to come to Valdemar's rescue. Upon these intelligences, Duke Albrecht interrupted the siege and went to meet the Brandenburgers. The battle took place at Oderberg at the river Oder between Berlin and Stettin, where the Brandenburgers suffered a major defeat.
Together with other armies, Valdemar's army now marched against Berlin, which was ruled by the false Valdemar and his followers. The king pitched his tents outside the city walls and gave knighthood to many, very similar to Erik Menved outside Rostock.
Statue of Emperor Karl 4. on the Karlsbridge in Prague. Photo Nico at the Danish language Wikipedia.
However, a ceasefire was concluded. Pfalzgrev Ruprecht was appointed arbitrator. Valdemar, Ludvig der Römer and Duke Rudolf of Sachen paid a visit to Emperor Karl. Boldly, King Valdemar criticized the emperor for his support of the false Valdemar, who was proven to be a deceiver since several men, who were still alive had witnessed his death and burial in 1319.
Pfalzgrev Ruprecht handed down the arbitration verdict February 14 1350: The false Valdemar was a deceiver, Margrave Ludvig was to pay tribute to Emperor Karl and take his county, Brandenburg, as a fief from him.
The now reconciled princes - including King Valdemar - accompanied the emperor to Prague. The emperor donated 10,000 marks to Valdemar, with a mortgage on the tax that Lübeck had previously paid to Margrave Ludvig. Maybe to put lice in the fur of the relationship between Ludvig and Valdemar. Sjælland Chronicle writes: "War ekspedition to Mark, there the king helped his brother-in-law, destroyed several cities and eventually met with the emperor".
Seen from Jutland, Valdemar's German campaign must have been suspiciously reminiscent of Erik Menved's and Christoffer 2's North German adventures.
Sjælland Chronicle tells that at the end of the year 1350 the king led his army over to Fyn and Jutland without giving further details. But when the Chronicle during the following year tells that the Holsten counts declared the king as their enemy, one must believe that the expedition was directed against them.
There are no further details about the expedition, but in April 1351 peace was concluded in Nyborg between the king and the counts Henrik, Claus, Johan and his son, Adolf.
Niels Bugges Seal. Photo: Danmarks Riges Historie 1896-1907.
But later in the year 1351 a storm arose against King Valdemar. The fighting against the counts flared up again. The king's brother-in-law, Duke Valdemar of Southern Jutland, joined the counts along with many Jutlandic nobles, including the king's former drost, Claus Lembek, Niels Bugge of Hald, Erland Kalv, Ejler Splid, Iver Lykke, bishop Peder Thuressøn of Ribe and the former marsk, Erik Nielsen Gyldenstjerne.
As the king redeemed North Jutland, Duke Valdemar had only been able to regain some smaller pieces of his own duchy. Eventually he lost patience, and when Valdemar sent him an army to help, he rejected it and joined the counts instead.
Claus Lembek was a Holsten nobleman, who had received Kalø Castle as a mortgage fief from Count Gerhard. After the count's death, he went into Valdemar's service and made himself famous during the battles on Sjælland. He probably conquered Lolland, while King Valdemar was on an excursion to the Holy Land.
Erik Gyldenstjernes coat of arms. Photo: Geni.
Niels Bugge and Erik Gyldenstjerne were the leaders of the Jutland rebels.
There are no handed down accounts on how the battles in Jutland in 1351 took place, only Sjælland Chonicle tells about castles that were fortified and royal barns that were built.
In 1352 Valdemar gathered an army at Slagelse, but had to wait a long time to get the army over the belt due to a storm. Duke Albrecht acted as mediator between the parties. In a village near Odense, the king met with the counts, Henrik and Claus, and they agreed that the dispute should be settled by arbitration by Count Johan, who ruled that Valdemar should abide the settlement at Nebbegaard from July 1348.
Also in 1352 , Valdemar led a leding army to Germany in support of his ally, Duke Albrecht of Mecklenburg, against the Dukes of Stettin. Arriving, however, he made peace between Duke Albrecht and these dukes.
At the beginning of the year 1353, Queen Helvig gave birth to a daughter, who was named Margrete.
It has now been established with certainty that Niels Bugge's legendary castle, Hald, was located on the peninsula in Hald Lake south of Viborg, where you can also find the ruins of the bishop's Hald. Photo: AP Møller Fonden "De Fem Hald'er".
In July 1353 at Vindinge Stream near Nyborg, a comprehensive settlement was concluded between on the one hand King Valdemar and his aides including Duke Erik the Younger of Sachen-Lauenburg and on the other hand all the Holsten counts and their allies, including Duke Valdemar, Claus Lembek and the Jutland rebels.
Count Henrik was to make sure that the Holstenian mortgage holder of Kolding Castle handed over the castle to the king. The king accepted that the annual write-down of the mortgage debt ceased. The Jutland rebels were to have their properties back, as were the exiled Holstenians, who had supported the king. The counts were to keep their pawn castles on Fyn, while Count Johan the Mild was to give up all his mothers' estates in Denmark, but was to keep Fehmern as his fief. Duke Valdemar lost the last piece of North Jutland, which had not yet been redeemed. The rebellious nobles were forgiven, and Claus Lembek returned to the king's service.
The disease started in the Hubei province of China in 1331. In the beginning, it was transmitted by fleas, which lived on especially the black rat. Over the course of 20 years, it spread to the rest of China, causing 20 million deaths. In 1346, the Mongol army, which besieged the Genoese trading post Kaffa (now Feodosiya) in Crimea, was attacked by plague and had to interrupt the siege. But the infection had also spread in the city of Kaffa, and when a ship with survivors from the siege arrived at Messina in Sicily in 1347, they brought the infection to western Europe.
The dance of death on fresco from 1480 in Nørre Alslev Church on Falster. Among
the dancers are seen a king, a bishop in full regalia and a peasant. Photo kalkmalerier.dk.
According to a legend, the disease came to Denmark with a Norwegian ship that came from England and by itself as drifted ashore in northern Jutland, because the entire crew was dead. In Denmark, the plague ravaged especially in 1348 - 1350, but it came again several times, however with lower mortality than at the first outbreak.
Sjælland Chronicle writes for the year 1348: "The plague ravages the whole country". And for the year 1349: "Mortality was high in Denmark".
The Black Death triggered a prolonged decline in Europe's population. It is not possible to say exactly how great the mortality rate was in Denmark, but sources from the end of the 1300's and the beginning of the 1400's century mention many so-called desolate farms, that is uninhabited farms, whose lands were either cultivated by the neighbours or were not cultivated at all.
An abscess on the inner thigh of a person infected with bubonic plague. After an incubation period of 2-6 days, symptoms of plague occur, which are severe malaise, headache, trembling chills, fever, pain and swelling in the affected lymph nodes, also known as abscesses. Photo Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Image Library Wikipedia.
When Valdemar Atterdag built a castle in Randers in 1357, it was made of recycled stones from closed churches in eleven depopulated parishes.
The three years after the great settlement in July 1353 at Vindinge Stream near Nyborg were the most peaceful during King Valdemar's reign and gave him the opportunity to implement absolutely necessary reforms in Danish society.
Vindinge Å south of Vindinge a few kilometers east of Nyborg. Photo Kåre Thor Olsen Wikipedia.
The Danish kings of the Middle Ages got a large part of their income from the crown estate, which was scattered across the country as royal estates and the like.
But over the course of hundreds of years, royal revenue had steadily declined. The kings had donated estates and villages to churches and monasteries for the salvation of their souls and also given parts of the land as the inheritance to sons who were not expected to become kings. The monarchy became increasingly weaker compared to the church and the fief princes, and society thus became more politically unstable, as it became more difficult for the king to crush insurgents with overwhelming power.
One can propose the theory that Valdemar the Victorious's three sons did not inherit in equal parts, but Erik Ploughpenning got the most, because he was supposed to be king, and the youngest, Christoffer, got the least. The legacy of Erik Plovpenning's daughters haunted Denmark for generations - because it was so large. And the eternal problems of the Christoffer family-line came because they were so poor - as kings considered - and could not defeat rebels with overwhelming force.
A loving couple on fresco in Kirkerup Church from around 1350. Photo kalkmalerier.dk.
The Danish kings of the Middle Ages had two kinds of possessions, namely kongelev, which were the estates that belonged to the royal office, and the royal family's inheritance land, patrimonium.
Especially after 1354, Valdemar worked tirelessly to secure the royal power by increasing the royal estates in various ways, but he did not seem to distinguish between kongelev and patrimonium, or perhaps it was all kongelev.
During the kingdom's dissolution period, much crown property had come into the hands of the nobility as collateral for loans, and reportedly some nobles had appropriated even more in the confusion.
In Valdemar's first year, only 15 transfers of estades to the crown were registered, but in the years 1354 to 1356, on the other hand, 65 transfers were registered. It is not always clear whether these are regular purchases or transfers as a result of decisions made at various courts. The total number of estate transfers in this period is 158 according to historian Peter Lundbye.
For example, "Mrs. Christine of Løve, Mr. Niels Axelsen's heiress, hands over to King Valdemar and the kingdom for crimes and cases that her parents have performed against the king and the crown, all her estate in Jutland, Sjælland, Scania, Fyn, Falster, Lolland, Møn and other places except her estate in Halland".
In another example, a judgment at the ting in Aarhus in May 1355 ruled that "knight Stig Andersen, Johan Ever and Sven Bonde have wrongly seized the following estate" - here follows a long list. The case was raised by the king. The judges were Bishop Paul of Aarhus, Drost Claus Lembek, Marsk Palle Jensen, knight Niels Bugge and armsman Niels Jensen. Stig Andersen and Johan Ever defended their case, but the judges sentenced "Our Lord, King Valdemar to eternal ownership" the said estates.
Genesis: "Let's build a city with a tower that reaches up to heaven". Crusader Bible allegedly around 1300. Photo Maciejowski Bible - Morgan Library & Museum Wikipedia.
The king also addressed another problem, namely that more and more free peasants surrendered to the great men, voluntarily or out of necessity. Thus, they obtained freedom from tax to the crown and freedom from forced labor at the king's fortifications and the like.
At the king's court in Aarhus in May 1355, the former marsk Erik Nielsen thus had to hand over to the king "all the goods for which I have given full payment and which I by purchase, by transfer, by pledge, by sharing, by exchange in writing or in any other way acquired from the peasants." (in Han Herred) - "But the rest of the peasant estates, which I have at the same time received from the peasants, for which I did not pay", he undertook to transfer back to the peasants.
Sjælland Chronicle tells for 1355 "The king stayed a long time in Jutland and held ting, punished many people's greed and made sure that the inheritance of minors, which had been robbed by use of power in unrightful ways and handed over to powerful men, were returned to the rightful owners."
Valdemar had watermills built along the streams. The chronicle tells that at a meeting in Kiel(?) In 1356 he instructed bishops and noblemen that "the mills he had recently built, and their course and flow, he did not want the streams to run into the beach without first having made benefit for the land and therefore he made the water rise by dams in several places and had expensive dams made, and wanted to prevent the enclosures from being destroyed by storms and the onset of winter-water and the graves and dikes, which in Danish are called dams, to be spoiled."
At the Danehof in Nyborg in 1354, Bishop Peder of Ribe presented eleven articles on behalf of King Valdemar, which had been prepared "with advice and consent" by the country's bishops, drost and marsk. The 11 articles are very similar to previous handbinding contracts. They states, among other things:
3. "Due to the great loss of men and other hardship and danger that compels the country, we graciously forgive all hitherto practiced misdeeds that result in the death penalty or mutilation, provided, however, that the perpetrator satisfies the victim according to the law of the land." This article was undoubtedly motivated by the high mortality rate during the plague epidemic.
The medieval Nyborg Castle. Photo Htawmonzel Wikimedia Commons.
6. "Should anyone accuse another of having robbed his estate or land, he must let the case be tried and decided in the proper order, namely, at the ting in the shire, in the syssel, in the country, for our drost or for ourselves."
9. "Our ting is called Danehof and must be held once a year namely Midsommer day in Nyborg according to old custom in the Kingdom of Denmark."
We must note that these eleven articles were not enforced by the nobles as a condition for Valdemar to be king. They were unsolicitedly presented by the king's representative. Probably because he believed that a well-functioning kingdom should have such a treaty-based foundation.
On the whole, one should probably question the myth that the tyrannical and power-hungry kings were reined in by prudent nobles with hand-binding contracts. It was only Christoffer 2. who was presented with a hand-binding contract as a condition for becoming king. Erik Klipping and Valdemar Atterdag themselves made such statements in the middle of their reign, so to speak, for the sake of good cooperation.
From Nyborg the king went to Vordingborg, where he forgave Henneke Breide and Johan Ellemose and their children for what they had done to his father on the condition that they would solemnly let him be remembered in Sorø for as long as they lived. Henneke Breide and Johan Ellemose were the two nobles, who tried to burn Christoffer 2. when he lived in an ordinary house in Sakskøbing during his last year of life.
At the beginning of 1357, Valdemar feared a revolt in Jutland. Sjælland Chronicle writes: "and it was said that the Jutlanders gathered and growled against the king". He increased the castles' crews and supplied them with food from his barns.
Carved figure on choir chair in Lund Cathedral from 1370. Photo Väsk 2004-12-09 Wikimedia Commons.
A big number of dissatisfied Jutlanders showed up in Odense, but the king only invited the great men to talks in Nyborg. The parties did not come to an understanding. He then summoned to a Danehof in Kalundborg during Lent Sunday in March.
At the Danehof in Kalundborg, long and difficult negotiations took place between the Jutlanders and the king. Only on March 25 did a meeting attended by the bishops Niels of Odense, Henrik of Roskilde, Peder of Ribe, Peder of Viborg, Paul of Aarhus and Mogens of Børlum succeed in reaching a result, which, in its simplicity, was based on that the articles from the Danehof in Nyborg 1354 had to be observed more closely in the future. Sjælland Chronicle writes viciously: "but if they had only been badly observed before, then they since did not care about them at all".
Some time later the king went to Jutland "where he stayed for a while and weighed large and small with various orders" as Sjælland Chronicle expresses.
After he had traveled back to Sjælland, the storm broke out. The Holstenian counts, the Duke of Jutland and the disgruntled Jutlandic nobles attacked the king in unison.
They began by besieging and taking the castle in Tønder, which had especially aroused their displeasure. They also captured the newly built castle in Randers - built of stone from 11 disused churches - and the commander, Peder Lauridssen, had to flee to Sjælland and seek refuge with the king, who, however, immediately put him in cains with some others, whom he also did not trust.
The rebels' next target was Fyn. They expelled the king's men from Odense and collected taxes from the city. Finally, they began with great force the siege of the castle Brobjerg, whose location on Fyn is not known with certainty.
East Fyn Museums in search of the missing Brobjerg on the fields around Urup Dam a few kilometers north of Langeskov. The location of Valdemar Atterdag's castle, Brobjerg, on Fyn has been a mystery in Danish History. But in an article in Skalk 1984, Erland Porsmose argued quite convincingly that the remains of the castle should be found near Urup Dam.
In Detmar's Chronicle, the castle is called "Braberch" , perhaps Brabjerg, which is found quite near Urup Dam. Photo Fyens.
On St. Martin's Day 1357, Valdemar transferred an army to Fyn to rescue the besieged Brobjerg.
When he came near Brobjerg, he appointed some of his men to knights in the presence of the enemy. Then he threw himself at the enemy with both cavalry and infantry, splitting their entire army, both rebels and Holstenians. Their defeat was complete. Many fell or were taken prisoner. Count Claus of Holsten lost one eye the battle.
But January 10, 1358, King Erik of Sweden - King Magnus' son - and Duke Albrecht of Meclenburg sought to exploit Valdemar's critical situation by sending him a declaration of war.
Faced with a possible two-front war, he announced that all his own people must meet in Roskilde on the Sunday before Pauli Day of Repentance, which is 25 January. All castles and ships were to be provided with provisions, moats deepened and fortifications reinforced. In addition, all noblemen, townspeople and peasants were to meet with weapons in Slagelse on Sunday after Easter - absence would result in loss of life and property.
Fresco in Hjørring Sct. Hans Church from about 1350, which represents Saint Christoffer, who carries the baby Jesus across the river. Photo Fyens.
The army's first target was Langeland. Valdemar surprisingly appeared at sea in front of Tranekær and took the castle after only two weeks of siege. The fleet then sailed towards Hindsgavl near Middelfart, but due to fog and the darkness of the night, the ships came apart and therefore had to return to Sjælland.
When the fleet was regrouped, he resupplied the ships and set course for the island of Als, still in 1358, where the army landed on Tuesday after the Feast of the Body of Christ which is 31 May. Part of the army besieged Nordborg, which surrendered after only three days. With the other part of the army he besieged Sønderborg. Duke Valdemar was not in the castle.
However, when the war machines and rams had been set up around Sønderborg, the gates of the castle were opened and Duchess Richardis and her maidens came out in a festive procession. They greeted the king reverently and asked for peace. However, he would only receive the Duchess' invitation to a banquet after forcing the island's people to pay taxes and deliver food.
Then the fleet went into Slien and forced the inhabitants there to supply very large supplies, money and ships. He then sailed against Fehmern, where the inhabitants made brave resistance on the shore and one sent a spear against the king, which nearly hit. Valdemar ordered him chopped down along with the others on the beach and it happened. The inhabitants surrendered and paid 4,000 Lübeck mark. The castle Glambeck also surrendered and got one of the king's men as commander.
Glambeck Castle on Fehmern. Like so many other islands in the ocean, the island was originally under the Danish king. Valdemar the Victorious had Glambeck Castle built in 1210. Christoffer 1. and Margrete Samberia celebrated their wedding at the castle in 1248. Also under Erik Klipping and Erik Menved, Fehmern belonged to Denmark, until the latter gave it as a pawn fief to the Holsten counts. Christoffer 2. issued in 1320 "Fehmern Land Law". His bailiff, Reventlow, resided at Glambeck Castle. In 1326 Count Johan 3. got the island as the pawn fief and in 1340 it became hereditary fief. However, in 1358 Valdemar Atterdag expelled the Holstenian counts from the island, but as early as 1359 the counts and the Duke of Mecklenburg took back the island. However, in 1364 the counts again got the island as a fief of the Danish king. In 1420, Erik of Pomerania arrived with great force and took back the island. But in connection with the fall of the same King Erik, Count Adolf of Holsten conquered the island again - it is said. From 1474, the Danish-Norwegian kings became dukes of Holsten and thus also of Fehmern, which all ceased in 1864.
Then Valdemar's fleet sailed into Flensborg Fjord. Sjælland Chronicle tells that everywhere he collected "supplies, money, ships and other things that his eye desired, for fear and trembling and paralysis fell upon all to whom he came, for he chastised all terribly with fire and sword, with imprisonment and death, until they obeyed his commandments."
But intelligence from Sweden caused the king to interrupt the campaign in the west and sail back to Sjælland 1358 on the day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is 15 August.
Duke Albrecht of Mecklenburg had assembled a large army in Scania and had planned to invade Sjælland. But because of Valdemar's early return, he abandoned the plan and sent Duke Barnim of Stettin instead, asking for a ceasefire. Later, peace was made between King Valdemar and Duke Albrecht in Stralsund. On this occasion it was also decided that peace should be negotiated between the Jutlanders and the king in Nyborg.
The peace between the king and the Holsten counts was concluded in Stralsund on 30 October 1358. It was agreed that all prisoners should be released, the conquered castles returned and the state before the war restored. Presumably King Valdemar wanted his back free so that he could confront Sweden and the rebellious Jutlanders.
Buggesgade in Middelfart. The North Jutland nobles Niels Bugge, Ove Stigsen and Peder Andersen were murdered in some houses in Middelfart around New Year 1359. The blame was thrown on the fishermen, who, however, escaped surprisingly cheaply. Three houses in the town's Vestergade were forever fined an annual fine, the so-called Bugge Money, which the town paid until 1874, when the parliament abolished it. The location in the photograph is chosen at random - apart from the fact that the road is called Bugges Street. The author does not know the exact location of the three houses. Photo Boliga.
The king himself did not want to negotiate with the Jutlanders. He sent his son Christoffer and some of his men to Nyborg. However, the king had to finally approve the outcome of the negotiations. Granted safe conduct, some of the Jutlanders then traveled to Slagelse to wait there for the king, who first came on Christmas Eve. The king then imposed on them some additional conditions which aroused their resentment. During their journey home from Slagelse, however, Niels Bugge, Ove Stigsen and Peder Andersen were killed in Middelfart. The chronicle writes: "Those who at that time would speak ill threw the blame for their death on the king"
Sjælland Chronicle further states that "the king solemnly cleansed himself along with his son and several knights" of any responsibility for the killings in Middelfart.
The apostles Philip and Peter at fresco from around 1330 in Nørre Alslev church on Falster.
Niels Bugge's son, Knud, accepted the king's innocence, but "Stig Andersen terminated his allegiance to the king in pain over his son's Mr. Ove's death" - "and the king confiscated all his property on Sjælland and left to Peder Nielssøn to take the Jutland estates. " Which must have happened in 1359.
"The Duke of Mecklenburg and the Holstenian counts then again assembled a large fleet and attacked the king's ships, took Fehmern and captured those who were to guard the castles" says Sjælland Chronicle for 1359.
The chronicle says that "the feud between Mr. King and the North Jutlanders had not yet died" - "when the Jutlanders saw that the king ruled like a tyrant over the Sjælland people" - "because the hard work had led to the greatest poverty, yes almost doom , then they said, "We will not take these burdens upon ourselves, but it is better to die with honor than to live with dishonor while we see the bad destiny of our people."
"St. Martin's Day the king sailed over to Jutland with many ships, full of supplies. Now he destroys Katholm and another castle, namely Estrup," the chronicle continues. "The king remained on the fleet for a while, but a storm broke out and several ships sank. Here the king's cog with knights, nobles, precious furniture and the king's coffin with the royal seal sank." Stig Andersen's men from Bjørnsholm eagerly scouted for prey from the stranded ships, the few survivors were immediately captured.
Pentecost 1360, "on the very feast of the Pentecostal spirit"at Danehof in Kalundborg, King Valdemar presented a document which he himself called a hand-binding contract, but which was in fact a social contract, which not only gave rules and restrictions for the king's office, but also gave instructions as to what were the duties of the people "that our kingdom, Denmark, may have strength and better conditions with the help of the Holy Spirit." The contract has been named "The Land Peace".
To support her mother-in-law and herself, Ruth goes into the field to gather ears. The field belongs to Boaz. Book of Ruth Chapter 2 verse 8. Morgan Bible, which is said to be from around 1300. Photo Wikimedia.
The people were "Knights and armsmen, ladies and maidens, merchants, guests, peasants and workers" and elsewhere "We dukes, bishops, armsmen and all the common people of Denmark".
The contract guarantees that provinces in Denmark "shall freely enjoy their laws and rights, as they are contained in proper old law books as they most freely and best enjoyed them since the time of King Valdemar and the time of our other ancestors. God have mercy on their souls."
He guaranteed Duke Valdemar and his son's rights - probably as part of the Kingdom of Denmark: "The Dukes of Jutland, Mr Valdemar and his son, Mr Henrik, shall enjoy all their rights freely and unrestrictedly."
The aging prophet, Samuel, is approached by four representatives of Israel, who ask him to anoint a king so that Israel can become as powerful as other nations. Samuel warns them of the danger that a king will pose to the freedoms of the people of Israel. Samuel 8: 4-22 The Morgan Bible, which is said to be from about 1300. Photo Wikimedia.
The contract said that if anyone would "go against these provisions and hand-bindings" - "we should all strongly help them" that they are "properly punished under national law.".
And "he who is caught red-handed or is legally convicted of robbery, arsoning or making people prisoners and with advice and deed bringing in foreign lords and men, who may in any way be to the detriment or corruption of the Kingdom of Denmark, shall lose his peace, his estades, and his life." Our thoughts inevitably go to the Jutland rebels, who never failed to activate the Holstenian counts.
"The national meeting, which is called Danehof, is to be held every year in Kalundborg at midsummerday for the next three years, but after that the national meeting will be held in Nyborg every year at midsummer day as custom is from ancient times. If anyone wants to come to the national meeting, he must enjoy complete, full and good peace 14 days before and 14 days after the said midsummer day." Which last sentence was a new provision.
In the summer of 1360, Valdemar still had to bring the Scanian lands, the southern part of Fyn and the whole of Southern Jutland back to the kingdom. He may have thought that Nyborg was too close to the count's possessions to be a safe place. But he had plans for the next 3 years!
It is further stated: "No one, of whatever position or rank he may be, shall press or force any inferior or less powerful, so that he dares not pursue his right on tings or at the court."
In 1360, Fyn was divided into a royal and a countial part.
Og: "If any man suffer unjust of our lord the king, his bailiffs, or his officers, what God forbid, and he rightly complain, and pursues his case, he shall not suffer any hurt from our lord the king and his men."
Those present, the signatories - on behalf of all men in the kingdom - promised to support the king and his son: "We, as mentioned below, promise each of us for himself and all men in the Kingdom of Denmark on our good faith as before that our lord the king, his son Christoffer and the Crown of Denmark must fully and completely enjoy all rights, and to that we must all as one help and faithfully contribute of all power and ability, as the law of the land requires."
In return, the king and his son promised that they would carefully keep the promises they made above: "And We, the aforesaid King Valdemar and our son Christoffer promise all our men as written below, and each one of them, and others who live in our kingdom that we will and must interpret to them these provisions and hand-binding and everything else in the best sense."
In May 1350 in Lübeck, King Valdemar made an alliance with his former enemy in the German War, Duke Albrecht of Mecklenburg. Valdemar promised to give his daughter - who was then 5 years old - to the duke's eldest son, Henrik, with a dowry of 6,000 marks. Duke Albrecht was also to have the city of Rostock as a fief of the Danish king and supply him military aid. Margrave Louis of Brandenburg at the same time waived the duties of the Dukes of Mecklenburg.
Duke Albreckt of Mecklenburg's Seal. "Albrecht by the Grace of God Duke of Mecklenburg and Stargard and Lord of Rostock". Photo Peter Lundbye.
That this agreement is directed against Sweden and Scania is clear from a letter issued by the king november 1350, in which he undertakes to pay the duke 10,000 marks of silver, as soon as Helsingborg Castle with his help comes into the king's power. The king's thoughts have probably revolved around the fact that he has given King Magnus so many solemn guarantees for his possession of the Scanian lands that he could hardly himself attack him directly. But if Duke Albrecht did so and afterwards gave the conquered territories to him, it would be a different matter.
But Duke Albreckt was a treacherous ally. In 1354 he concluded a treaty in Bohus with King Magnus, which said that this king should pay the duke 200 marks of silver every year on Saint Martins day and "the duke should loyally serve the king and with fraternal sincerity and exquisite fidelity diligently seek his and the kingdom's adventage, honour and benefit".
Sjælland Chronicle informs for 1354 that King Valdemar sent "a considerable delegation - men and women - to Germany with the task of bringing the daughter home from Wismar with honour".
However, precisely in these years events took place in Sweden that shook King Magnus' position of power and brought the Scania Lands within Valdemar's reach.
Fresco in Skibby Church south of Fredrikssund from around 1350, which shows Jesus with the bleeding wounds from the nails and two swords. Luke chapter 22, verse 38: Then they said, "Lord, behold, here are two swords." He replied, "That is enough." or Matthew chapter 10, verse 34: "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but sword." The trumpet sounds and he will judge the living and the dead. Photo Wikimedia.
Queen Blanche had two sons, Erik and Håkon.
Already around 1352, King Magnus had appointed his favorite, Benedikt Algotsson, Duke of Finland and Halland, thereby arousing the anger and jealousy of his eldest son, Junker Erik.
At the urgent request of the Norwegian Council of State, King Magnus appointed the youngest, Junker Håkon, King of Norway. In the same year, the Swedish Council of State undertook to elect the eldest, Junker Erik, as King Magnus' successor as King of Sweden when that time came.
Head in Trondheim Cathedral, which Professor Jan Svanberg thinks presumably represents King Magnus of Sweden. Photo Furstebilder från folkungatid by J. Svanberg Wikipedia.
King Magnus was to be guardian of Håkon until he came of age and could take over the government himself. In Sweden, on the other hand, Magnus was to retain royal power for life, as is usual for kings, and only at his death Erik should ascend the throne. By this arrangement the youngest son became king before the eldest, and the latter thereby felt further unfairly treated.
In August 1355 junker Håkon took over the government of Norway. Junker Erik visited King Valdemar in September 1356 to ask for Danish support for a revolt against his father. He got a good reception but did not obtain the desired help. Instead, he was supported by Duke Adolf of Holsten and Duke Albrecht of Mecklenburg, who thus changed sides once again.
On 17 October 1356, Junker Erik raised the rebel flag in Sweden, and already on 14 January 1357 Magnus had to enter into a truce. It was decided that the case should be decided by arbitration of Duke Adolf of Holsten and Duke Albrecht of Mecklenburg. The arbitration verdict was handed down in Jønkøbing on April 28 with very humiliating conditions for King Magnus: He was to sever any connection with his favorite, Benedikt Algotsson. In addition, he "after mature deliberation and with the consent of the council" was to give his son, Erik, the landscapes of Scania with the islands of Hven, Blekinge, Lister, South Halland, Eastern Gøtaland, Småland and Finland. Additionally, King Magnus was to pay the arbitrators for their good work. Duke Albreckt received a letter of indebtedness of 12,000 marks with security in the copper mountain in Dalarna.
Albrecht 3. of Mecklenburg's Seal. Photo Nordisk familjebok (1917) Wikipedia.
In the midst of Valdemar's problems during the second uprising in Jutland in January 1358, the newly appointed King Erik and Duke Albrecht of Mecklenburg sent him a declaration of war - as told above.
But, even though King Erik had intentions of waging war against Denmark, it did not materialize. Presumably he did not have the money to raise an army. He stayed most of 1358 far up in Sweden. Only Albrecht took the war seriously and assembled a large army in Scania. Probably with the intention of taking it over to Sjælland, while Valdemar was busy with fighting in Jutland.
But, however, Valdemar unexpectedly concluded a settlement with the Counts of Holsten and could then in a short time defeat the Northern Jutland rebels, and Duke Albrecht therefore wisely decided to make peace in Stralsund in the autumn 1358.
However, King Magnus was in Scania, and in violation of the agreement in Jønkøbing with Erik, he still held Helsingborg Castle.
King Magnus saw no other way to preserve his kingdom than to seek alliance with Valdemar. He and Queen Blance together with their son Håkon, now King of Norway, went to Copenhagen, "and here Håkon solemnly betrothed himself to Valdemar's youngest daughter, Margrete, who was then in her seventh year, as it should be with toasts and costly gift."
King Håkon Magnussen's betrothal to Valdemar Atterdag's daughter Margrete in Copenhagen in 1359. Margrete was then 6-7 years old and Håkon was 19 years old. King Magnus and Queen Blanche and King Valdemar were present. Drawing Lorenz Frolich.
Sjælland Chronicle for 1359 tells "And since Magnus had made his son Erik king of Sweden and lord of Scania, knights and armsmen no longer showed any honor to Magnus, but eagerly followed his son, who was now Magnus mighty and all thought an easy going gentleman. When Magnus therefore saw that he was despised and mocked by his son, he sought help from King Valdemar and promised that he would give him Helsingborg."
The chronicle further clearly states: "Valdemar then went with a large army over to Scania and Lister. He won Sølvitsborg (in Blekinge) and several other castles and drove the commanders out and put others in their place and laid a large part of the country under King Magnus."
But Valdemar must have suspected that he would not receive the promised reward in the form of Helsingborg: "However, they began to lack the necessary food and the king therefore thought of returning home. But not to return home with empty hands he lets Peder Daa and another, although they were in King Magnus' service, take as prisoners to Sjælland and carefully guard."
Fresco in Kippinge Church showing St. Michael killing the dragon. Photo kalkmalerier.dk.
"When Erik now heard that Valdemar had returned and had left Scania, he gathered a large crowd of great men and many of the peasants and moved in - the Knubbe army it was called then - and what the Danes had left behind of food they devoured totally miles around."
But Erik became ill and died as well as his wife and child. On his deathbed, he reconciled with his father. The chronicle writes: "Erik made peace with his father and made all of Valdemar's work into nothing. He was arrogant and stood up against the Lord and his church." - "But the Lord did not let his crime go unpunished, for not long afterward he himself, his wife and child died a sudden and pitiful death by the just judgment of God." As three close relatives died almost simultaneously, it was undoubtedly an infectious disease, probably plague.
In connection with Erik's rebellion against his father, King Magnus' favorite, Benedikt Algotsson, was driven in exile in Denmark. But at the news of reconciliation between father and son, he chose to return to Scania and Sweden. Here he was killed, possibly by the brother of his displaced wife.
After Erik's death, Magnus no longer needed Valdemar. On the contrary, he allied himself with Duke Albrecht of Mecklenburg against Valdemar, as if the betrothal between his son Håkon and Princess Margrete had not taken place.
King Valdemar had not forgotten that Magnus had broken his promise to give him Helsingborg after he had conquered most of Scania for his cause - to no avail.
Fresco in Benestad Church north of Ystad from around 1350, which shows Eva ashamed of her nudity. Photo Danske Kalkmalerier.
Sjælland Chronicle writes that in June 1360 Valdemar conquered the Scanian lands: "At the same time King Valdemar gathered a large army and took his son, Duke Christoffer, with him and went with war to Scania, where he pushed hard with the siege of Helsingborg. Finally, King Magnus of Sweden came, and when he saw that he could not resist, he surrendered the above-mentioned castle by himself on many conditions, and when Valdemar had got Helsingborg, he forcibly took the castles of the nobility in the same country. The great men begged the king for mercy and became his men of good will. The Lindholm Castle he acquired and won almost without delay, partly by threats and partly by large sums of money in the year 1361."
A Scanian yearbook tells laconic: "King Valdemar of Denmark gained Scania by force of arms and Helsingborg Castle by the surrender of King Magnus of Sweden."
Lund Archbishop's Chronicle says: "Likewise, it was in this archbishop's time that the aforementioned Valdemar IV came to Scania with a crowd of people and began the siege of Helsingborg Castle the day before King Canutes's day, and the whole of Scania, Halland and Blekinge he got and drove King Magnus out of that country. And at the same time there was a high mortality rate in Denmark."
The war against Magnus of Sweden did not end with the conquest of Scania. Valdemar had to push on and fight on until Magnus was ready to acknowledge the new state of affairs.
Instead of penetrating into Sweden through the desolate and rugged landscapes of the Götalands, as Svend Grathe, Erik Klipping and Erik Menved had done with little success, he chose to turn to Øland and Gotland, which were far more accessible.
Valdemar Atterdag's army fought three battles on Gotland. The army went ashore around Fröjel 34 kilometers south of Visby, and we can guess that here was the first battle. The second battle was at the bridge Ejmundsbro near Mästerby. The third battle was at Visby's city wall near Solberga's nunnery. Foto Wikipedia.
The Lübeck Krønike writes: "In the year 1360, King Valdemar of Denmark gathered a large army and said that he would bring the warriors to where there was plenty of gold and silver, where the pigs ate of silver troughs, and he led them to Gotland and appointed many to knights there, as the peasants were unarmed and unaccustomed to battle."
Sjælland Chronicle narrates: "King Valdemar, who did not want to sleep the time away to no avail, but rather liked to throw himself on innocent people, gathered a large fleet with crews and sought for Mr. King of Sweden's land.".
The king first went ashore on Øland. Sjælland Chronicle says: "He attacked Øland and laid siege to Borgholm on the island, captured the castle and put his own commanders there, fortified the castle and subdued the whole island."
On July 22. 1361 Valdemar's army landed on the west coast of Gotland at Fröjel 34 kilometers south of Visby. The army consisted of 2,500 men, including 200 riders and many crossbow shooters, all of whom were experienced and well-trained after 20 years of fighting on Fyn, in Jutland, in northern Germany and in Scania.
A crossbow shooter spans his weapon. There were several different spanning methods. This shooter goes down on his knees and attaches the string to a hook in his belt. Then he straightens up and then the bow is spanned. Crossbow shooters were very effective, but it was thought that it was an unfair and unknightly fighting method, which however did not bother Valdemar.
The church believed that the crossbow was the invention of the devil. The Council of Rome in 1139 decreed that crossbows should not be used against Christians, but only against heretics and heathens, however, the prohibition was very poorly observed. Photo BenjaminRose.com.
A large part of the army was most likely professional soldiers, many were probably Germans. But we can believe that a large part of the crossbow shooters were Danish, as Sjælland Chronicle for 1355 writes: "Furthermore he announces that the bailiffs, each and every one, must send him a shooter to Kolding at Candlemas." Elsewhere the chronicle speaks of "peasants with the crossbows of the churches"
Both "Sjælland Chronicle" and the Swedish "Libellus de Magno Erici Rege" say that Valdemar's army and the local leding army fought three battles. But they do not tell where. Sjælland Chronicle says: "Finally he goes from there straight to Gotland, where he and his men in three battles win the victory and win the whole of Gotland almost without losses, while infinitely many of the island's men have to die."
Maybe the first battle has been fought at the landing itself, but that's just a qualified guess.
The Stone Cross at Mästerby marks the second battle between Valdemar and the Goths. Photo Michael Meichsner.
To get from Fröjel to Visby, Valdemar's army had to cross the wide Suterting Å over the only bridge. Ejmundsbro, which was located at Mästerby, and which was also called "Gotland's key" because on both sides of it were impassable marsh areas. Near the old bridge is a stone cross with an almost unreadable inscription: "AD MCCCLXI Jacobi" that is "Anno Domini 1361 Sct. Jacobsdag", which is July 24, which fits well with Valdemar's conquest.
Archaeological excavations around the cross and the bridge have resulted in numerous finds of crossbow bolts, lance points and remnants of swords and chain mail. Which all indicates that here was the second battle between the Goths and Valdemar's army.
Parish priest Hans Nielsen ön Strelow wrote in 1633 that Valdemar met resistance from the peasants at Mästerby for two days. Valdemar raised a cross in honor of the brave peasants. Then he continued towards Visby.
Five days after the landing, July 27 1361, an unusually hot summer day, Valdemar's army appeared at Visby's massive city wall.
Skull of one of the fallen Goths at Visby. He has been hit by no less than three crossbow bolts, and in addition, he has had his skull crushed on his left side. Photo Military Wiki.
The Lübeck Chronicle reports that a hastily gathered leding army had taken up position outside the walls between Visby's city wall at Söderport and the nearby Solberga's Nunnery. They were dressed in old worn armor and armed with whatever was at hand when they were called to arms.
The Gothic peasants were in all probability massacred by Valdemar's experienced and well-equipped soldiers. The pastor, Strelow, says that 1,800 Gothic peasants fell. The Sjælland Chronicle says that "infinitely many of the island's men had to die," The Lübs Chronicle says that Valdemar killed exceedingly many people.
Modern excavations have so far produced about 1,185 skeletons in three out of five mass graves. The fallen were still wearing their chain mail, helmets and armor when, apparently, they were buried helter-skelter in all haste due to the hot summer weather.
After the battle outside Visby's city wall, a cross was placed over the graves, which is called the Valdemar Cross. It bears the inscription: "In the year of the Lord 1361, the third day after St. Jacob, the Goths fell at the hands of the Danes outside the gates of Visby. Here they are buried. Pray for them." Photo Gotlandupporchner.
It has been found that at least a third of the Gotland army at Visby consisted of minors, elderly and crippled. Every fifth man was barely turned twenty, some were pure children, and one in seven was over 55 years old. At least four were humpbacked and several were stiff-legged, lame or otherwise disabled. Their heads were pierced by up to several crossbow bolts per skull and crushed by battle clubs. There were up to seven lesions per skull. Their legs were chopped over by axes and swords. It seems to have been a common fighting technique to go after the legs and when the victim fell, crush his skull.
Perhaps many adult Gothic men had already fallen at Mästerby.
The skeletal findings show that Valdemar's crossbow shooter has been a decisive factor in the battle. Probably they overpowered the Goths with a barrage of bolts before they could even lift a sword.
One wonders that the Gothic army took up position in front of the city wall, and did not enter the city and fortified themselves behind the solid walls.
Visby's city wall, from which the Hanseatic merchants witnessed the massacre of the Gothic leding army. Originally, the town's inhabitants were undoubtedly Gotlanders, but in Valdemar's time, Visby was dominated by German merchants. The town was a Hanseatic city, which in wealth and size was surpassed only by Lübeck. Photo Stern Wikipedia.
Sjælland Chronicle continues: "Then he moves towards Visby, which by itself opens up to him. He drives gold and silver, furs of various kinds and immeasurably many other treasures of the city and then came with his people happily and well home to his own country."
Lübeck Chronicle tells that after the defeat of the peasants the citizens of the city surrendered without a fight and handed over their valuables: "He went before the town of Visby, but they met him outside the town and surrendered to the king's mercy, as they well saw that resistance was impossible. Thus he got the island in his power and took a heavy tax in gold and silver from the citizens of the city and sailed then from there."
The Swedish nobles were bitter by Valdemar's conquest of Scania, which they had bought so expensively, and they blamed King Magnus, even though they had not even moved a finger to help him prevent this from happening. They forced the king to break the engagement between his son, Håkon, and Valdemar's daughter, Margrete.
In June 1361, a delegation of Swedish nobles concluded an agreement with Count Henrik of Holsten-Rendsborg that Håkon should instead marry Count Henrik's sister, Elisabeth, the same one who in 1340 was intended for Valdemar.
Valdemar Atterdag plunders Visby on Gotland. Painting by Carl Gustaf Hellquist from 1882, which hangs at the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm. In Swedish history writing, he is called "Valdemar the Evil" because of his looting of Visby. He is seen in the painting in the upper right quarter as a sinister prince of evil who monitors the ruthless looting. Photo Carl Gustaf Hellquist Wikipedia.
In the middle of a meeting in Greifswald in August 1361 between the Slaw and Prussian cities, the news of King Valdemar's conquest and plunder of Visby arrived. The assembly became filled with dismay and resentment against the King of Denmark. The assembly immediately decided that all trade with Denmark should be banned. Preparations were immediately started to gather all the Hanseatic cities for war against that kingdom.
It was the first time that the otherwise peace-loving towns resorted to military means, and it was the first time they acted in agreement, and it came as a surprise to Valdemar. Incidentally, only Denmark and Norway were affected. They neither before nor since attacked other principalities or kingdoms in unison.
The Kieler Hansa cog is a reconstruction of the Bremen Hansa cog from around 1400. Here you can see the Kieler cog on Roskilde Fjord. Photo Christer Westerdahl.
The delegation of Swedish nobles traveled directly from Holsten to Greifswald, where they met representatives of a number of Hanseatic cities and the German Order and agreed on the details of the cooperation between the kings, Magnus and Håkon, and the cities. The kings were to be ready to begin the campaign next St. Martin's Day, which was 11. November 1361.
The Swedish nobles acted completely on their own on behalf of the kings, and King Magnus did not know what they had promised in his name, and were not even told on their return as they refused to show him the signed letters.
But the Swedish chaos was the reason why the campaign was postponed several times and only in June 1362 could a fleet sail up through the Sound under the leadership of Lübeck's mayor, Johan Wittenborg. It consisted of 27 cogs and 25 smaller ships with 2,730 armed men on board in addition to sailors and workers.
The original plan was to attack Copenhagen, but at the request of the Swedish kings, the fleet continued to Helsingborg. The idea was that the Swedes should attack the castle from land at the same time as the Hansa fleet attacked from the sea.
The Hanseatic fleet laid out for Helsingborg as agreed, but the Swedish army did not come. The Swedish nobles, who had been so eager to bring about the coalition, proved to be very lukewarm when it came to their own physical war efforts.
Helsingborg Castle and Kärnan around 1580. The castle was high in the terrain and was difficult to attack. Photo: From printed, older book Wikipedia.
After some time Johan Wittenborg got tired of waiting and sent his soldiers and war machines ashore and began the siege himself.
However, Helsingborg Castle was a very strong fortress and although the war machines incessantly shelled the castle's walls week after week, there were no signs of surrender.
But shortly after Sct. Kilian's day 1362, which is July 8. King Valdemar appeared at sea off Helsingborg with a strong fleet - probably an early morning. He went straight on the sparsely manned Hanseatic ships, which were completely taken by surprise. Johan Wittenborg and his men could only look on helplessly while the king took all their ships and all their supplies and war materials.
When Valdemar then went ashore with his army, Johan Wittenborg realized that without supplies and without contact with the homeland, his army would be destroyed and therefore he asked for a truce, which he was granted.
The Hanseatic cities themselves calculated that it would cost them the outrageous sum of 202,000 marks of silver to redeem all the prisoners of war that Valdemar had taken. The unfortunate campaign became fateful for Johan Wittenborg. Sjælland Chronicle writes: "But their leader, Johan Wittenborg, mayor of Lübeck was publicly beheaded on the square in Lübeck in front of the town hall as he had neither been able to destroy Helsingborg nor put Denmark under the towns."
When the kings, Magnus and Håkon, finally moved into Southern Halland with an army later in the year 1362, they found that a ceasefire had been concluded. The cities blamed the Swedish kings for the defeat because they had not come as agreed. As compensation, they were handed over Øland with the castle Borgholm, which in the meantime had liberated itself from the Danes.
Våbenstilstanden blev forlænget i Rostock november 1362, men selve freden lod vente på sig.
Tyskebryggen in Bergen. Tegning R. Christiansen.
Magnus and Håkon, the kings of Sweden and Norway, had become tired of their nobles treating them as mere formalities. Sweden's mighty men were secretly their enemies. They defied their authority, imposed on them obligations which they themselves did not do the least to help them comply, entangled them in wars which they did not help them to wage, and when things went badly they blamed the kings.
Therefore, the kings decided that it would be more advantageous for them to be on good terms with Valdemar than to be his enemy.
In Norway, moreover, the Hansa merchants were very unpopular because they ignored the laws of the country, the rules and orders of the authorities, and traded in small lots, even though they were not allowed to.
There is also something to suggest that they felt elevated above the ordinary crowd. In 1367, the Hanse meeting in Lübeck sent a letter to their office in Bergen: "We earnestly ask you to keep peace and agreement with the Norwegians and not consider them to be too simple and pathetic. As we also know that among you there are several frivolous and too talktive people, we ask and command you to keep such people in check so that they do not utter defamatory or indecent words against princes, gentlemen or other good men, from which mischief may arise. If anybody dare to do this and someebody complain to us, we will punish him so exemplary that others must be careful"
Damaged head from Trondheim Cathedral, which according to Professor Jan Svanberg probably depicts Queen Blanche of Sweden. Photo: Furstebilder från folkungatid af J. Svanberg Wikipedia.
In December 1362, Countess Elisabeth of Holsten - the same Elisabeth who was destined for Valdemar in 1340 - was on a journey from her homeland to Sweden to meet her coming husband, who was King Håkon of Norway. But a storm forced the ship to seek refuge in a port on the coast of Scania. Archbishop Niels of Lund had her detained.
Valdemar did not hesitate to seek contact with the kings Magnus and Håkon. They came to an understanding, and the wedding between King Håkon of Norway and Princess Margrete of Denmark took place in Copenhagen 1363 Sunday after Easter, which was April 9, in the presence of King Magnus and Queen Blanche of Sweden.
Immediately after the wedding, Queen Blanche became ill and died a few days later.
Valdemar's only son, Christoffer, twenty years old, also became ill and died. Sjælland Chronicle writes: "At the same time, Valdemar Daneking's son, Christoffer, Duke of Lolland and Halland - also died - he was ill for a few weeks, and the disease did not leave him - and with solemn commemoration he was put to rest in Roskilde Cathedral."
Margrete was at this time 11 years old and was therefore left to the Holy Birgitta's daughter, Merete, who raised her with her own daughter and often let the girls punish.
Towards the summer, Elisabeth was sent back to Holsten. She took the humiliation very serious and soon after she entered a nonnery.
An actual peace agreement was long overdue. At a large conciliation meeting in Nykøbing Falster in May 1363, the towns rejected King Valdemar's peace proposal. When Erik of Sachen Lauenburg again presented the king's proposal in Lübeck in June, it was again rejected.
In October 1363, Valdemar gave the Council of State the power to lead the government and make all decisions regarding the government of the country and set out on a long journey down into Europe.
Valdemar Atterdag'sjourney abroad in 1363-1364. Photo Sven Tägil "Valdemar Atterdag och Europa".
With quite a considerable retinue, he first sailed to Wolgast and from there he went to Krakow, where he stayed for two months and attended the wedding of Emperor Charles 4. to Elisabeth, daughter of Duke Bogislav of Wolgast. He then accompanied duke Ludvig of Brandenburg and the newlyweds to Prague, where he arrived on January 2, 1364. He left the imperial city around 2. February and traveled across Strasbourg to the Pope in Avignon, where he was received in the Lent, which is 3. March.
After a three-month stay in the Curia, Valdemar and his entourage left Avignon around 6. June and headed north to Flanders. Here it was his intention to cross the Channel and mediate in the Hundred Years' War between Edward 3. of England and Johan the Good of France, the latter sitting as a prisoner in London after losing the Battle of Poitiers. However, King Johan died, and therefore the mediation was abandoned.
Then the king traveled to Cologne, where he visited the Tomb of the Holy Three Kings and gave them three gold crowns and the poor and the churches 1.000 mark. From there he went back to Denmark. It is unknown when he returned to the country, but the first reliable testimony is November 4, 1364, which suggests that his entire trip abroad lasted around a year.
In June 1364, while he was away, the Council of State concluded another truce with the towns by Duke Barnim of Stettin's intervention.
In September 1364 Henrik is mentioned as Duke of Jutland, and it must be concluded that the king's friend, Duke Valdemar, must be dead. Duke Henrik Valdemarsen should show to be more hostile to Denmark than his father had been.
During Valdemar's absence, great things had happened in Sweden. Not as soon as he had disembarked in Wolgast in 1363 and turned his gaze to the south, before a delegation of Swedish nobles approached Duke Albrecht of Mecklenburg and asked him to appoint one of his sons as King of Sweden, as these, after all, because of the mother were of Swedish royal blood. Albreckt's wife Eufemia was the daughter of the famous Duke Erik Magnusson of Södermanland and Ingeborg of Norway.
Albrecht 3. of Mecklenburg on detail of his contemporary tomb monument in Bad Doberan Abbey. Photo Jacob Truedson Demitz for Ristesson Wikipedia.
The Swedish king, Albrecht of Mecklenburg, was thus not a random German adventurer who had swung himself up to be king of Sweden. His grandfather was the son of Magnus Ladelås, his grandmother was the daughter of King Håkon of Norway and a descendant of Erik Ploughpenning.
Albrecht of Mecklenburg's chosen son, who was also named Albrecht, therefore went with the Swedes and an army to Sweden at the end of 1363, and at the beginning of 1364 they succeeded in getting him elected to Swedish king.
In the Battle of Enköping between Västerås and Stockholm in March 1365 he defeated Håkon and Magnus, the latter being put in captivity, which lasted until 1371, when he gave up his claims on Sweden.
However, Håkon managed to escape and then travel to Denmark to ask for help from his father-in-law, Valdemar.
But the king did not go to war in Sweden immediately, as he wanted to secure his back first.
In July 1365 in Kolding, peace was concluded between the king and the counts of Holsten, where it was decided that Ærø, Tåsinge and the southern part of Fyn, were now in the king's hand. How it had happened is not told.
In September 1365 there was peace between King Valdemar, the ruler of the Danes, Slaws and Goths, and the twelve towns, Lübeck, Rostock, Wismar, Stralsund, Bremen, Hamburg, Kiel, Greifswald, Anklam, Stettin, Stargard and Colberg, which contained detailed provisions for a number of taxes and rights relating to their trade in Danish market towns.
Aalholm Castle in the 1600's. Photo: Peder Hansen Resen Nordens Historie by Niels Bache Wikipedia.
It was not until May 1366 that a Danish army moved into Sweden under the command of Duke Erik of Sachen-Lauenburg at the same time as King Håkon attacked from the north with a Norwegian army. It is only known about this campaign that Duke Erik quickly took Vährend and Finnveden in the western Småland and also Varberg in Nørre Halland and Elfsborg at the mouth of the Gøtelv. Already in June - it is said - King Håkon reached the Baltic Sea and took Øland with Borgholm.
However, it was on this occasion that Duke Albrecht - that is, the father of the newly elected Swedish king - met with King Valdemar at Aalholm Castle on Lolland 28. July 1366 and agreed that:
(1) Valdemar was to have the area that Duke Erik had conquered, including Northern Halland, and in addition he was to keep Gotland with Visby.
(2) King Albrecht was to retain the rest of Sweden and Valdemar was to defend him in this possession also against King Håkon if he did not want to recognize this settlement.
(3) The national councils of the two countries were to meet at Kalmar for Candlemas and adopt the treaty.
(4) There was to be eternal peace between the kings Albrecht and Valdemar.
The Aalholm Treaty represents a regular betrayal of the allies Håkon and Magnus. One might think that it is fabrication and slander, but the treaty still existed in 1939, both in the Danish and the Mecklenburg National Archives.
Kalmar Castle. The square tower is from the Middle Ages. Photo: Pudelek Wikipedia.
But the historian Peter Lundbye points out that it would have been quite unthinkable for the Swedish state council to have recognized these conditions, as they were the very reasons for the uprising, the election of Albreckt as king and the war itself. In fact, the treaty represents an even greater betrayal committed by Duke Albrecht against his own son and the cause of Sweden.
Unlike King Albrecht, Valdemar and his Council of State did not appear in Kalmar at Candlemas in 1367, indicating that the treaty was an excessively cunning attempt on Valdemar's part to separate Duke Albrecht from his son and the Swedish Council of State. Furthermore, one can believe that it was on this occasion that Valdemar came into possession of Northern Halland.
The holy Birgitta of Vadstena compared King Valdemar to a wolf and Duke Albrecht to a fox. In light of the content of the treaty, it must be said that the wolf and the fox truly met at Aalholm and exchanged wolf and fox cakes.
In the Middle Ages, huge amounts of salt were used to preserve fish and meat. Most of the salt was extracted in Lüneburg's salt mines not far from Lübeck, and it has probably been the Lübeck Hanse merchants' first export item.
It is known that the Hanseatic merchants traded within a system of privileges, rights and connections that others could not easily break into. If a random merchant from a Danish market town could raise start-up capital, he could not just sail to Lübeck and buy some salt from the Lüneburg salt mines. They probably only sold to those whom they knew and had agreements.
They bought salted and dried fish in Scania and Norway and sold them throughout Northern Europe. They traded in wheat, rye, oats, malt, hops, dried peas, German beer, wool, Flemish and English cloth, Russian fur, Swedish iron and copper, Prussian timber, hemp, flax and tar and much more.
A Hanseatic merchant house around the year 1500. On the left the goods are weighed, on the right a business is agreed and entered into the ledger. Photo Store Nordiske Leksikon.
There is no doubt that Valdemar Atterdag had a rather negative attitude towards the Hanse merchants. He often made them wait, even though they were invited to negotiate, and it also happened that he made new and unexpected demands, just when they thought an agreement has been settled.
One might think that out of his chivalrous ideals he despised the shopkeepers. But one can also believe that he wanted that some of the wealth that accumulated in the Hanseatic towns should rightfully accumulate in the Danish market towns.
The Hanseatic merchants were very dissatisfied with the taxes and rules that restricted their trade in the Nordic countries, but their own behavior was not too good. A letter from King Magnus from 1353 states: "They often beat, wounded and killed people in the ports of his kingdoms, without justice. They demolished or burned the crowns houses, they introduced spoiled beer, rotten flour and counterfeit hops. They kept taverns for serving strong drinks, they sold clothes in small lots. They attacked with sharp weapons the Danish fishermen who wanted to participate in the herring catch without providing compensation for the act of violence. Their bailiffs made judgements against the law in cases of bruises and wounds. They expanded the boundaries of their alloted areas."
Graphic reconstruction of Hanseatic cog from the 1300's. Photo H.F. Helmolt, History of the World 1902. Wikimedia.
At the Hanseatic Meetings in Stralsund in June and July 1367, the delegates demanded that King Valdemar should give them compensation for losses they had suffered in Denmark. They refused to attend negotiations in Denmark for fear of their safety. The meeting adopted sanctions against Denmark and Norway in the form of a ban on selling these countries arms, brewing vessels, iron, steel and hops.
However, a delegation from the towns met with King Valdemar in Falsterbo on 22 August 1367. They complained about the wrongs they thought they had suffered since the conclusion of the peace in 1365. The king replied that Lübeck had not paid the city tax ordered by the emperor.
Following a proposal from the Prussian towns, a large Hanse meeting was convened in 1367 in Cologne on St. Martin's Day, which is 11 November.
All of Denmark's enemies breathed morning air. Count Henrik of Holsten-Rendsburg married Duke Albreckt's daughter and revived the traditional alliance against Valdemar consisting of the Duke of Mecklenburg, the Holsten counts, Duke Henrik of Jutland and a number of Jutland nobles.
The Swedish nobles harbored an irreconcilable hatred for King Magnus because he had curtailed their tax freedom, but in 1368 they exceptionally agreed to pay half of their income to King Albrecht, which sacrifice can only be explained by their fear of to come under the strict and ruthless King Valdemar.
According to Adam of Bremen, the herring on the coast of Scania swimmed so close that the fish could be scooped from the sea with bare hands. The Scanian herring was exported all over Europe in the Middle Ages as a very popular luxury food, especially during Lent, when no one was allowed to eat meat.
The Hanseatic cities were primarily interested in the area around the Sound for the sake of the annual herring fishery and herring market. They wanted full market access, privileges and low taxes. Photo Olaus Magnus: Sildefiskeri (1555) Wikipedia.
A total of 43 Hanseatic towns were represented at the large meeting in Cologne. They came from Livonia, Prussia, northern Germany and the Netherlands. The meeting resulted in that the otherwise peace-loving merchants on 17. November 1367 adopted a declaration of war against Denmark and Norway: "Given the manifold injustice and damage that the kings of Denmark and Norway had done to the merchants, they would be their enemies and help each other probably to equip ships and warriors." Then followed a list of how many ships and warriors the individual cities were to pay for.
At a meeting in Wismar on 25. January 1368 , the princes and the rebellious Jutland nobles agreed on how Denmark should be divided between them after the victory.
King Albrecht should have Scania, Halland, Blekinge and Gotland. Duke Albrecht was to have Sjælland, Møn, Falster and Lolland and the counts of Holsten were to have Jutland and Fyn. The rebelious Jutland nobles promised to stand by Duke Henrik of Jutland and not make peace with the king until they had provided him with Langeland.
At a subsequent meeting in Lübeck on 2. February, however, the towns were allowed - after the expected victory - to keep part of Scania until their costs were covered.
On February 5. 1368, Lübeck's city council sent 27 identical letters to the princes and bishops of Europe describing Valdemar's crimes in strong colours. "The Danish king had haunted all the Hanseatic merchants with arrests, restrictions and imprisonment, with extortion, bloodshed, manslaughter and seizure of goods and other property." On March 12, the council sent similar letters to the pope and the emperor.
The goose tower in Vordingborg, which was the capital of the Valdemars. Vordingborg Castle was founded by Valdemar the Great around 1160. Valdemar Atterdag expanded the castle to the largest castle in Denmark. The castle was given a 770 meter long and 8 meter high ring wall, which was provided with four corner towers, of which the Goose Tower is the only one preserved. The name The Goose Tower comes from a golden goose, which the king had placed at the top of the spire to mock the Hanseatic towns. According to legend, he received 77 declarations of war from as many Hanseatic towns in 1368, to which he commented "77 geese and 77 chickens mean nothing" In fact, he received only 43 declarations of war. Probably he just used the number 77 in the same way we can use 117 today to indicate a ridiculously random number, for example by saying: "there are 117 reasons not to do such and such". The present goose was first set up in 1871 along with the present copper spire. Photo: Peder Hansen Resen - Nordens Historie by Niels Bache Wikipedia.
The towns' declarations of war were deposited in Lübeck and the 43 letters were delivered simultaneously to King Valdemar. At about the same time he must have received declaration of war letters from the united princes, Duke Henrik of Jutland and the rebellious Jutlanders. A large part of the Danish army was already tied up in fighting against King Albrecht in Sweden.
The king appointed Henning Podebusk of Rügen as the Chieftain of the Kingdom of Denmark, who together with the king's and the kingdom's council was to govern the country in the best way, while he himself together with Erik of Sachen-Lauenborg in secret, 6. April 1368, sailed from Vordingborg against Germany with a considerable amount of money to find support in the fight against Denmark's enemies.
The condemned are led to the flames of Hell on Judgment Day. Fresco from around 1350 in Skibby Church south of Frederikssund. Photo kalkmalerier.dk.
In April 1368 the storm broke out.
The enemies followed the distribution schedule they had agreed upon in Wismar in January. The cities concentrated on the Sound area. King Albrecht moved into the Scanian lands and Duke Albrecht took care of the rest of Sjælland and the islands while the Holsten counts attacked Jutland and Fyn.
The Danes' strategy was distinctly defensive and did not require superior tactical leadership. There were no major decisive battles at sea or on land. They withdrew everywhere to many well-fortified and well-supplied castles and let the enemies consume their provisions, military supplies and not least money - for the pay of the expensive soldiers - in front of the castles. Just as the Swedish nobles had ruined Erik Menved in 1309.
Several historians have blamed Valdemar for escaping to northern Germany. But let us imagine that the king had instead fortified himself in one of the castles. Then, for precisely this reason, the coalition would have made every effort to conquer this very castle, and they would have won it, for no castle can withstand siege forever, just as even the strong castle Helsingborg fell in December 1369 after a long siege. Then the king would have come into the hands of the coalition, and they would have made a number of outrageous demands for his release, as the Count of Schwerin did with Valdemar Sejr and Count Gerhard did with Christoffer 2. But all this the Danes avoided by the king instead taking action Northern Germany and there worked to raise the princes against the rebellious merchants.
The towns immediately attacked Copenhagen, which surrendered on 2. May 1368 - other sources say, however, that the castle did not surrender until 16. June. The city was looted and then made a base for the Hanse fleet. Amager, Hven, Helsingør, Malmö, Skanør and Falsterbo were also conquered by the Hanseatic League.
At the same time, King Albrecht moved with a large army into Scania, where he took Lund and Ystad, but was repulsed in front of Helsingborg and Varberg.
Duke Albrecht attacked the southern islands and soon got Stegeborg, but had to give up taking Aalholm, Ravnborg and the castle in Nykøbing.
King Albrecht of Sweden on the left and his father Duke Albrecht of Mecklenburg on the right in the Mecklenburg Chronicle. Fra Mecklenburgs Krønike. Wikmedia Commons.
The Holstenian counts united with the Jutland rebels and took Riberhus, Skodborg and Koldinghus. In May they took Viborg. In September, Count Claus besieged Aalborghus, which eventually had to surrender. They took the castle in Randers. On the other hand, Fikke Moltke on Nebbegaard, Chresten Vendelbo on Skanderborg, Jens Andersen on Bygholm and Niels Muus on Kalø successfully resisted the Holstenian attacks.
The counts immediately promoted themselves as lords of the land. They called themselves "lords of Jutland", they issued letters in which they used the expression "our Kingdom". They confiscated crown estates and the estates of their opponents and gave it to their own followers.
The fleet of the Dutch Hanse towns arrived on the coast of Norway in April 1368 and wreaked havoc everywhere they came. They entered Agder east of Lindenæs and destroyed 15 parishes. They burned the towns of Marstrand, Kongshelle and Lödöse with everything in them including castles, churches and monasteries and also hundreds of surrounding farms.
Meanwhile, Valdemar worked in northern Germany, sometimes successfully, other times not. His plan was undoubtedly to attack the enemies in the back - or persuade others to do so - and thereby force them to withdraw their forces from Denmark.
Naval battle in illustration in medieval chronicle. Photo About History.
Casimir the Great of Poland promised in 1363 to help Valdemar against any enemy, as long as he was given 6 weeks notice, but no help came from Casimir.
But in a report to the towns by Duke Henrik of Mecklenburg - Duke Albrecht's eldest son - June 1368 he told that Valdemar had bought the fortress Boitzenburg in Uckermark near the border with the Mecklenburger Stargard, and he made extensive enlistments. Count Henrik further reported that Valdemar had obtained assistance from the Margrave of Brandenburg, Duke Barnim of Stettin and the Pomeranian nobleman Wedege von Bugenhagen.
The sources of the time agree that King Valdemar at this time had large financial resources at his disposal. At a meeting in Lübeck June 1368 it was informed to all the towns that a large sum of money was on its way from Denmark to King Valdemar, and those who could intercept the money could keep it.
At a Hanseatic meeting in Rostock in July 1368 it was decided to make the same amount, as was given to the Duke of Mecklenburg, available to Duke Bugislav of Pomerania-Wolgast if he wanted to attack the Danish king.
In Bremen, a well-preserved wreck of a cog was found in 1962, which dates to 1380. The find is today on display at the Deutsches Schiffahrts Museum in Bremerhaven. This is a reconstructed model of the Bremer cog. Photo Heinz-Josef Lücking wikimedia commons.
The Danish king's chances of launching a counterattack in northern Germany in the summer 1368 could be described as relatively good. Also in Denmark, the situation was far from hopeless, as a majority of the country's castles were still hold by royalist forces.
The Hanseatic cities followed Valdemar's movements in Germany very closely. On a Hanseatic day in Stralsund in October 1368, the members were advised to place a strong crew in castles near the king's residence.
In August 1368 Valdemar succeeded in making the young Duke Magnus of Braunschweig-Lüneburg interested in an effort for Denmark, as he was outraged that mean merchants attacked a prince. The king promised him 15,000 marks if he attacked the towns and their allies. This gave rise to reflection in Lübeck as the constellation Margrave Otto of Brandenburg, Duke Erik of Sachen Lauenburg and Duke Magnus of Braunschweig could become dangerous to the city as its connecting roads to the south passed through the lands of both of these last mentioned dukes.
Fresco of Olav the Holy in Skamstrup Church between Kalundborg og Holbæk from the last half of the 1300's. Photo Kirkernes billedbøger.
However, in November 1368, Valdemar's supporter, Duke Vartislaw of Pomerania, suffered a major defeat against the Mecklenburgers in a battle at Damgarten west of Stralsund. Then the feelings of the Pomeranian dukes for Valdemar cooled, as they thought he had given them no help in the war.
At the end of 1368, the king's friend and ally, Duke Erik of Sachen-Lauenborg, died at Kalundborg Castle. "He was an easy-going man" wrote Sjælland Chronicle. He was in Denmark, probably because the Council of State wanted him to mediate in the war. In Sachen Lauenburg he was succeeded by his 14-year-old son, who was also named Erik. Magnus of Braunschweig became his guardian.
The Danish National Council now transferred the role of mediator to the young Duke Erik, which means Duke Magnus. He got positive contact with the Lübeckers but did not have much success.
There were peace talks with Valdemar in the Pomeranian city of Demmin near the border with Mecklenburg in April 1369. But the Lübeckers and the Mecklenburgers mutually suspected each other of seeking seperate peace and no result emerged.
After more and extensive destructions along the coasts of Norway, King Håkon of Norway concluded seperate cease-fire with the towns in August 1369. The armistice was to be valid for two years.
Chess piece of Greenlandic walrus tooth from the 1300's found at Juelsberg north of Nyborg. It is probably an Icelandic work it is said. Foto Lennart Larsen Nationalmuseets Samlinger.
In May 1369, the cities made every effort to take the important Helsingborg Castle, which was besieged by forces from Lübeck, Rostock, Stralsund, Wismar, Greifsfelt, Stettin, Colberg and Riga. Even Mecklenburger forces participated in the siege. On September 8. 1369 the castle commanders Vicke Moltke and Hartvig Kale had to surrender.
The merchants' natural area of interest was the Sound area with its important annual herring market. The conquest of Helsingborg Castle was the turning point of the war, as the cities had thus achieved their war goals and therefore no longer had the same interest in continuing the war.
Cracks had already appeared in the grand coalition against Denmark.
Brandenburg, Sachen-Lauenburg and Braunschweig attacked Mecklenburg in August 1369. They themselves assured that their action had nothing to do with the Danish king, and therefore the towns were not obliged to come to Mecklenburg's aid. The towns accepted the explanation and provided no military assistance to Mecklenburg.
There were decisive peace negotiations in Stralsund on 30 November 1369, where a provisional peace was concluded between the towns and Denmark, which, however, should only have full validity when it was accepted by the other warring princes and towns at the latest 1370.
Lübeck town seal. Photo Wikiwand.
The 25-member Danish delegation was formally led by Henning Podebusk, Chieftain of the Kingdom of Denmark, formally on behalf of King Valdemar. A large part of the delegation members were captains of the many Danish castles that still resisted the coalition's attack, and thus the other party was reminded that Denmark was far from broken.
It was decided that for a period of 16 years, 2/3 of all incomes from Skanør, Falsterbo, Malmö and Helsingborg with associated shires should accrue to the towns as compensation for the losses they had suffered before the war. The last 1/3 was to go to the Danish king. To secure these revenues for the towns, the four Scanian castles had to be transferred to the towns. In addition, the king's commander at Varberg had to provide his castle as security that the Danish side would abide by the agreements entered into. However, the Scanian castles were to be administered by Henning Podebusk.
Moreover, if Valdemar wanted to remain king, he would have to approve this agreement with his great seal. If King Valdemar relinquished his kingdom in favor of another, then the royal council would not accept him until he was approved by the towns. If King Valdemar died, the Council of State would similarly have to obtain the towns' approval of a throne candidate.
Many historians believe that the demands of the Hanseatic towns were quite moderate. They had no intentions of territorial conquests. The demands of the cities in the summer 1369 did not in most respects go beyond what they previously thought was necessary to enter into an alliance with the kings, Magnus and Håkon, against King Valdemar. One might think that they wanted peace for the sake of their trade. Moreover, they could rightly fear a growing opposition from the German princes, several of whom - inspired by Valdemar - were outraged that common merchants were jointly attacking princes.
The Kirial treasure was buried around 1365 at Kirial a few kilometers west of Grenå in 1967. It is the largest treasure find made so far in Denmark, as it contains a total of 81,422 coins in two ore pots. The coins are all foreign, especially North German hole pennings. Photo Lennart Larsen, Nationalmuseet Wikipedia
One looks in vain in the settlement for something to the cities' coalition partners. It looks like a separate peace, which completely ignored the plans of the Holstenians, the Duke of Jutland, the rebellious Jutlanders and the Mecklenburgers with regard to a sharing of Denmark. The towns' reservations regarding their coalition partners' approval of the agreement expired at the same time as the coalition agreement in 1370.
During a visit to Prussia in February 1370, Valdemar agreed with the provisions of the Council of State. But much suggests that there were very bad relations between the king and the towns, and the latter did not want to negotiate directly with the king.
King Valdemar hesitated for a long time to return to his kingdom. In June 1370 he was in Kallisch in Poland to visit King Casimir. The following month he visited Emperor Karl 4. in Prague.
Also in May 1370, the towns complained that the Mecklenburgers carried out piracy from Stegeborg on the island of Møn. Increased lawlessness was, as always, a problem for the towns' trade, and this probably motivated them to seek understanding with King Valdemar, as in May 1371 he participated in a Hanseatic day in Stralsund together with a delegation from Denmark.
Fresco from around 1330 in Slesvig Cathedral, which shows a fantasy creature. Photo Kalkmalerier.dk.
Under pressure from all sides, Duke Albrecht decided to abandon his plans to take possession of the Danish islands and in August 1371 he also concluded a separate peace with Valdemar. The duke relinquished all his possessions in Denmark on the condition that his grandson, Albrecht, whose mother was Valdemar's eldest daughter Ingeborg, should inherit the throne in Denmark if Valdemar died without surviving sons - which was probable.
In November 1371 the king, together with the young Duke Erik of Sachen-Lauenborg, sought to reconcile Magnus of Braunschweig with his enemies. This mediation is the latest intelligence about Valdemar in Germany. In July 1372 he was at home in Denmark at Ravnsborg near Nakskov, where he paid Hartvig Zabel and Johan Hummersbüttel 800 mark lübsk.
After Denmark had made peace with the towns and Mecklenburg, Valdemar turned his attention to the rest of the coalition, namely the rebellious Jutlandic nobles, their Holsten allies and the Duke of Jutland. The Swedish king Albrecht seemed to have left Scania and remained apparently passive.
The rebellious Jutlandic nobles were - in addition to Duke Henrik of Jutland - Drost Claus Lembek and the knights Stig Andersen, Ivar Nielsen Rosenkranz, Niels Eriksen Gyldenstjerne, Benedikt Ahlefeldt, Anders Offesen, Jens Nielsen, Niels Egesen, Poul Jensen and the armsmen Paul Glob, Gotskalk Skarpenberg, Tage Offesen, Hartvig Pogwich and Niels Stob.
The ruins of the last Catholic bishop's castle on a peninsula in Hald Lake a few km south of Viborg. Under these ruins have been found the remains of another castle from the 14th century, which undoubtedly belonged to the Niels Bugge, who found his death in Middelfart. When Valdemar turned to Jutland after his return in 1372, the castle was in the hands of Niels Bugge's son-in-law, Gotskalk Skarpenberg, who also belonged to the circle of rebels in 1372-73. Photo Herregårdskortet.
During 1372, the counts were driven out of Northern Jutland. A Danish attack on Tørning was repulsed, but the neighboring castle in Gram fell into the king's possession. The king besieged the Hagenskov Castle on Fyn in vain.
In those years, a new war technology gained ground on the battlefields. A letter from Erland Kalv states that a man from Ribe had been sentenced to death by beheading for trying to smuggle gunpowder to the king's enemies into Gram Castle.
It is believed that in the wake of the third Jutland uprising, Valdemar took over the slain rebel, Niels Bugge's castle, Hald, near Viborg and several other rebels' castles in accordance with the Land Peace rule that the one who "brings in foreign lords and men, who may in any way be to the detriment or corruption of the Kingdom of Denmark, shall lose his peace, his estades, and his life."
Now the Holstenians and the rebellious Jutlanders had got enough. By the conciliation of Duke Albrecht of Mecklenburg, peace was concluded in Flensburg in January 1373 mainly on the following terms:
An early cannon from around 1330 has been found at Loshult in Scania. It is bronze cast, weighs 9 kilos and has a caliber of about 3 cm. Photo Statens Historica Museum Stockholm.
- The counts were to cede to the king everything they had taken during the war.
- They must waive any claim to the castles Aalholm and Ravnsborg..
- They must refer all Danish subjects who have paid tribute to them back to the king.
- The great men of North Jutland must give up everything they have acquired during the war.
Erland Kalv was the king's commander in Aalborghus and another castle. He had handed them over to the Holstenians and received Riberhus as a reward. Now he had to hand over all three castles to the king, who mockingly exclaimed: "What times! It's a good calf! With two houses it ran off, like a stud it comes back with three!"
Claus Lembek and Stig Andersen had died during the war, but the rest of the rebellious stprmen were hit hard, but mostly financially. When one considers that many of them for the third or fourth time had rebelled against King Valdemar, it must be said that they were got off the hook cheaply.
During the war, Knight Niels Eriksen had taken the king's castle, Aggersborg. He had to promise to return the castle with all the houses and fortifications intact and the barn, which had been burnt, rebuilt.
The world's first image of a cannon firing an arrow lying on wooden scaffolding. It is from 1326 in De Nobilitatibus Et Prudentiis Regum" af Walther de Milemete. Photo Christ Church College.
Mogens Maltessen was obliged to rebuild and return the farm ørum to the king before Pentecost with houses, graves, fences, planks and fortifications, livestock, tools, weapons and provisions as good as it had been before it was destroyed by him and his men.
Despite his long stay abroad, Valdemar was still well supplied with money, which he invested in various ways in increased crown goods. A total of 27 letters are about him buying or giving loans against mortgages on farms and villages during this period.
Under Valdemar's successor, Oluf 2. a Danehof decided in 1377 that "all deeds forced by chains or captivity shall not be valid" and if anyone claimed that he had been forced to deed his estates due of fear or threats and has not received half the price of these estates, then the matter should be dealt with by a special commission. This undeniably creates suspicion that Valdemar had used extremely tough methods to strengthen the monarchy. He faced the great men of Jutland, who for the third time had made a common cause with the enemies of the kingdom in rebellion against their king. He must have felt disappointed. As we remember, he hesitated for a long time to return to Denmark after the Second Hanseatic War and in the peace with Mecklenburg the possibility is mentioned that he would abdicate, it is said: "that if We resign or die".
At the pawn fief exchange meeting in Lübeck back in May 1340 between the counts of Holsten, Duke Valdemar of Jutland and the future king Valdemar, the latter became king, and the duke got Northern Jutland as a pawn fief and the counts got in return as a pawn fief his duchy, Southern Jutland. In the following years, king Valdemar's power increased. He expanded his rule to include the islands and Scania and he redeemed ever larger parts of North Jutland. The money which the duke thereby received, he used to redeem his own duchy in Southern Jutland. But somehow he failed to get the whole duchy redeemed. There came a time when the whole of North Jutland had passed from his hand over to King Valdemars, while the counts still had mortgages in the southernmost parts of Southern Jutland. In this condition one may perhaps find the reason why Duke Valdemar joined the counts and the Jutland rebels in enmity against the king in 1351.
But there were still friendly feelings between the widowed Duchess Ricardis and king Valdemar, and therefore in January 1373 she voluntarily appointed her "dear Lord Valdemar as guardian and guardian of all her estate", namely Als with Sønderborg Castle and five shires. "If the king gets any manor, parish, estate, fortress or farm in his power, which belonged to her, but which she now did not possess, she would let him keep it." In this way, Valdemar got more than seven of North Slesvigs's fifteen shires.
The language boundary between Danish and German in Southern Jutland in the Middle Ages. From Henning Unverhau: "Untersuchungen zur historischen Entwicklung des Landes zwischen Schlei und Eider im Mittelalter", Offa Band 69, Neumünster 1990 og
- Lars N. Henningsen: "Dansk i Sydslesvig", Flensborg 2009, side 13. Foto Malte89 Wikimedia Commons.
Later in January 1373 king Valdemar took the town of Flensburg by storm.
In 1373 he bought the pawn of Haderslev market town and castle with adjoining shires from Count Adolf of Holsten-Plön for 5000 mark of silver.
In February 1374 he attacked the Frisians in Ejdersted, who had not paid taxes for several years. He haunted them with fire and plunder, imposed on each house a charge of one pound English, and abolished their old liberties.
At the Danehof in Nyborg 1374, Duke Henrik of Jutland issued a letter, testifying that he handed over to the king his right to redeem Gottorp Castle with everything adjacent from the Holstenian counts and further confirmed the king's possession of Langeland. Valdemar now offered the counts the 12,000 marks of silver for which Gottorp was pledged, but they simply refused to receive the money.
In the summer of 1375, Duke Henrik died as the last of Abel's family-line. His widow, Kunigunde, immediately contacted Valdemar, who gave her a small loan.
The Holstenian counts had now been politically isolated. They could no longer count on the support of the towns and Mecklenburg, nor of their southern neighbours Erik of Sachen Lauenburg and Magnus of Lüneburg. It was only a matter of time before King Valdemar would cross the river Eider with an army. But unfortunately, Valdemar died in 1375 as told below and the southernmost part of Southern Jutland did not return to Denmark on this occasion.
Documents from Erik of Pomerania's time show that the king in 1375 was in possession of the castles åbenrå, Haderslev and Lille-Tønder. Flensburg is not mentioned, but it must be assumed that the king still had this town.
The counts of Holsten-Rendsborg still had the city of Slesvig with Gottorp Castle and also the part of Southern Jutland that lies between Slien-Danevirke and the river Ejder.
Valdemar was the youngest of Christoffer 2's and Queen Euphemias' three sons.
The tombstone of Junker Christoffer, son of Valdemar Atterdag and Helvig of Jylland, in alabaster in Roskilde Cathedral with shields with the coat of arms of Denmark, Halland and Lolland. Photo: Orf3us Wikipedia.
The eldest son, Erik, died of the wounds he received in battle against the Holstenians in the battle of Kropp Hede at Danevirke. The Lübeck Chronicle does not have much respect for him: "whose mind was fierce and his speech foolish".
The second eldest son, Otto, spent many years in Holstenian prison and was released on condition that he promised not to seek the Danish crown. When Valdemar sold Estonia to the German Order in 1346, Otto joined the order. His further fate is unknown, he may be dead shortly after.
Lübeck chronicle writes for the year 1341, when Otto was released from the Holstenian prison: "At that time, Count Henrik and Count Claus of Holsten released Junker Otto, King Valdemar of Denmark's brother, free from captivity. It was said that he had become lethargic in prison."
Valdemar married Helvig, who was the sister of Duke Valdemar of Jutland, who was the great-grandson of King Abel. Together they had six children:
Christoffer was the eldest, born 1341. There is no information that he was elected co-king of his father, as was otherwise the custom of the Valdemars, but he worked closely with his father and took part in virtually all acts of government.
Letters were issued to both the king and the king's son. He called himself "Duke of Lolland, true heir of Danes and Slavs", and on his seal is written: "Heir to the Kingdom of Denmark and Duke of Lolland". He followed his father in the campaign in Scania in 1359. In the summer of 1362 he took part in the battles against the towns off Helsingborg, where he was wounded. The Lübeck Chronicle believes that he then died of his wounds. But apparently he recovered, because later in the year he was in Halland and in Småland.
Sjælland Chronicle, on the other hand, says that he died of illness in 1363 shortly after the wedding between his sister Margrete and King Håkon of Norway: "At the same time, Valdemar Dankonge's son, Christoffer, Duke of Lolland and Halland - also died. some weeks, and the disease did not leave him." He became 20 years old.
Margrethe was born in 1345, but became only five years old.
Ingeborg, born in 1347, married Duke Henrik of Mecklenburg and had four children including the daughter Maria, who married Duke Vartislav of Pomerania and had a son named Bugislav. Queen Margrethe 1. had her sister's granddaughter, little Bugislav, brought to the Nordic countries and gave him the name Erik of Pomerania and had him crowned king of the three Nordic kingdoms.
Katrine was born 1349 and died in infancy.
Valdemar, was born 1350 and died young.
Margrete , born in 1353, married King Håkon of Norway and had a son Oluf, who became king of Norway and Denmark, initially with his mother as guardian. Later, Margrete became effective ruler of all three Nordic kingdoms. Today we call her Margrete 1.
King Valdemar Atterdag and Queen Helvig in prayer on fresco in Sankt Peders Church in Næstved. The king had bequeathed to the monastery 50 mark of silver for the daily Mass of the Soul for the royal family and a memorial meal for the brothers on St. Søren's Day. Foto Livinghistory Næstved.
Helvig, King Valdemar's queen, was the sister of the Duke Valdemar of Jutland, who by putting his entire duchy at stake made it possible for Valdemar to become king in general and also gain a foothold in North Jutland. Her age is not known, but perhaps she was a little younger than her brother, who was born in 1315, which means that she must have been well over 20 years old when she celebrated her wedding to about the same-age junker Valdemar in 1340 at Sønderborg Castle.
It was largely a political marriage, but we can believe that there has been a good relationship between wife and husband in the first part of the marriage. They had at least six children together. Helvig and Valdemar appear together on several documents concerning royal gifts to churches and monasteries.
In 1347, Queen "Helvig by the grace of God Queen of Danes and Slaws" for an amount of 500 mark of silver, which had been paid by King Magnus of Sweden.
The Esrum Monastery of the Cistercians west of Elsinore. Photo gaths-rejseside.dk.
Still in 1355, the relationship between them seems to be good, at least formally, as Valdemar then applied for and received papal permission for himself and for "Helvig, Denmark's famous queen" to travel on visits to nunneries and to choose a confessor, who could forgive them their sins when death came near.
Several historians say that Helvig this year, 1355, was admitted to Esrum Kloster in Grib Skov in North Sjælland not far from Gurre Castle. After this, there is no information about her until she - probably in February 1374 - passed away. A source from 1440 mentions that her grave at that time existed in the monastery.
It is a mystery why the queen chose to enter the convent. Did she suffer from a lifelong illness, did she have mental problems or had she been unfaithful to the king?
Landowner and historian Aage Brask believes that it could be probable that around 1355 there was infidelity on the part of the queen, which led to that her and Valdemar thereafter lived separately.
Lancelot's seduction in Le Livre de Lancelot du Lac from from 1401-1425. Photo Bibliothrque nationale de France
He finds it strange that Helvig's name is not mentioned at all in the contemporary accounts of Valdemar's wish to spend Christmas 1358 in Copenhagen with King Magnus and Queen Blanche of Sweden, nor in connection with the later solemn engagement between this couple's son, King Håkon, and Valdemar and Helvig's daughter, Margrethe, in 1359. Helvig's name is not mentioned in connection with the daughter Ingeborg's wedding in 1362 or Margrethe's wedding in 1363.
When Valdemar paid the pope a long visit to Avignon in 1364, he asked for many favors for himself, his family and his friends, but he did not mention Helvig. One would think that if the reason for Helvig's stay in the convent had been illness or mental problems, Valdemar would indeed have had good reasons to intercede for her. But if the cause, on the other hand, was infidelity, he could have felt bitterness and reluctance.
In 1377, Queen Margrethe received the pope's permission to move both her parents' graves from respectively Vordingborg and Esrum to Sorø Monastery Church, respectively, and thereby unite them in death. However, while Valdemar's body was actually moved to Sorø, Helvig was allowed to stay in Esrum. One can imagine that Margrete was given information about the reason for her parents' separation and then gave up moving her mother's grave.
Queen Helvig of Denmark on a fresco in Sct. Peter's Church in Næstved from the 1300's. The mural was painted shortly after the death of the king and queen, making portrait likeness likely. Photo Wikipedia.
In 1393, Margrete donated estates of a very significant extent to various monasteries and bishoprics. The gifts were accompanied by identical letters which made it a condition that these institutions hold soul masses for "the benefit and salvation of Queen Margrethe's father and her parents and her friends and her own soul". It seems contradictory to speak first of Margrethe's father and then of her parents (forældre), but in those days "parents" meant "ancestors" .
A few years later, Margrete donated some land to Roskilde's bishopric in exchange for holding Masses at a altar "at our brother's (junker Christoffer's) grave" and praying for her father, "parents" and herself. Here again she does not mention Helvig.
Only in connection with the transfer of the farm Egebjerg to Esrum Monastery did she feel obliged to mention her mother. The gift was given for "our lord (spouse) and father and mother and their parents and our son and our own souls".
Folk songs and folk tales are not certain historical knowledge. But a folk song about "Folke Lovmandssøn and Queen Helvig", which is available in three fairly similar editions, is still interesting in connection with the problem of Helvig's possible infidelity.
Saint Jørgen's martyrdom on fresco in Nibe Church. Saint Jørgen's head with the halo sticks out of the nail barrel. The black dots on the barrel indicate where the nails are hammered in. An executioner is in the process of rolling the nail barrel down a hill. Photo Aalborg Stift.
This song clearly expresses great sympathy with the queen and tells that there has been no sinful love between her and a certain nobleman, a young man named Folke Lovmandsøn. It tells in poetic terms about the false accusation of infidelity, and about how the innocent young man is executed by being put in a nail barrel and rolled down a hill. It ends by reporting that the false accusation and the cruel death of the young man also caused the queen to die of grief.
The folk songs were written down just two hundred years after Valdemar Atterdag's time.
Life was hard in the Middle Ages and mortality was high, also among Hedvig's children. The eternal wars could discourage anyone. But it is striking that Margrete chose not to move Hedvig's grave and does not mention her in connection with gifts for the family's souls salvation, while she repeatedly mentions specifically her father and ancestors.
King Valdemar spent the first half of 1375 traveling in Jutland. On October 7, he held a court hearing in Lund, it is said. Shortly afterwards, he fell ill during a stay at Gurre Castle.
Valdemar Atterdag's sarcophagus in Sorø Monastery Church as it looked like on a copper engraving from the 1600's. It is made of black Belgian marble, which is still preserved, while the decoration in alabaster has perished, except for a single relief of a bishop's figure. On the lid lay a statue of the king, which showed him under a canopy with his feet on a small lion. On the sides were two rows of reliefs, at the top apostles and at the bottom bishops. On the gable an illustration of the ascension of Christ. The damage is mainly due to the fact that the vault in the choir collapsed over the sarcophagus in 1651. Photo Danmarks Riges Historie.
The contemporary chroniclers tells nothing about the nature of his illness. Huitfelt reports that the king suffered from gout, and to relieve the pain he often kept his feet in cold water.
Around St. Michael's Day, which is September 29, it is said, a Hanseatic embassy arrived in Helsingborg, where they approached Henning Podebusk, who accompanied them to Gurre. When they arrived, they received the message that "The king was very ill. He was unable to negotiate the castles or anything. If God helped him to his health again, he would keep what he had promised the towns."
The king's men, who were Archbishop Niels Johnsen of Lund, the bishops of Odense and Roskilde, Henning Podebusk, Rikman von Lanken and a number of others, believed that if the king died, there would be unrest in the kingdom and they declared themselves willing to act in cooperation with the towns. Then the embassy of the cities left Gurre and embarked on the journey home. The king sent Henning Podebusk after them and he caught up with them in Helsingborg. He conveyed to them the king's message that "for God's sake they must forgive him whatever violation he might have added to them". As said above. It is likely that Valdemar had taken some exaggerated actions against the hanseatic merchants - not mentioned in history - that he later very much regretted.
Gurre Castle Ruin is located at Gurre Lake a few kilometers west of Helsingør. Gurre Castle was King Valdemar's favorite residence. A legend tells that he should have said: "Just let God keep his Kingdom of Heaven if I can keep Gurre " The punishment for this blasphemous statement was that he should forever ride on wild nightly hunts with his hunting companions. Photo Graphicos Wikipedia.
Shortly before his death, he decided that estates whose inclusion under the crown had no legal justification should be returned to the previous owners. He admitted, so to speak, that sometimes in his zeal to strengthen the monarchy economically, he had wrongfully seized the estates of some monasteries and nobles.
On Wednesday 24. October, King Valdemar died. The doctors had given him an antipyretic, which made the king sweat profusely. The door was then closed so that he could have some peace, but when it was opened again, he was dead.
He only became about 55 years old. Only one of his six children survived him, namely the youngest daughter, Margrete.
He was buried in Vordingborg, as he himself had determined. He had rebuilt and expanded this castle to such an extent that it had become Denmark's largest royal castle.
Valdemar Atterdag's sarcophagus as it appears today, June 2019, in Sorø Monastery Church. Photo Hakkasberra Wikimedia Commons.
As we know, his daughter, Margrete, obtained the pope's permission to move both his grave and Queen Helvig's grave to Sorø Monastery Church so that they could be united in death and he could be united with his brother and his parents.
One can imagine that he - as the first king - wanted to be buried in Vordingborg to mark the beginning of a new era, a new Denmark, which he also described in the Land Peace Treaty.
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Valdemar 4. Atterdag (1340 - 1375) Nationalmuseet
Valdemar Atterdag Wikipedia
Valdemar Atterdag, ca. 1321-1375 Danmarkshistoriendk
Valdemar Atterdags død Danmarkshistorien
Valdemar 4. Atterdag Den Store Danske
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Kong Valdemar Atterdag Kongegrave
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Valdemar Atterdags pavebesøg Forskerzonen
Anno 1340: Kampen Kogge vækker opsigt i øhavet Fyns Amts Avis
Ludwig V. Wittelsbach Historiske Rejser
Det forsvundne Brobjerg? Geocoaching
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