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tinies he took friendly leave of the king, and set forth on his way home. Then Magnus, on pretence of wishing to consult him on some family matters, rode after him with a large band of armed men, and, attacking him as he was resting in a wood near the town of Ringsted, killed him before he could list a hand to defend himself.
Erik Emun's Vengeance. - This deed brought no good to Magnus or his father, for as soon as Knud's brother, Erik, known afterwards as Erik Emun, or the Boaster, heard of the murder he made an appeal to the people at the great Thing, and begged them to give him men and money to make war on his false uncle, King Niels. The Danes, as well as the men of the Slesvig and Holstein provinces, had always held the brave Knud “ Lavard” in great esteem, and they therefore took up arms and willingly gave Prince Erik all the help he needed to punish the murderers of his brother, so that he soon found himself strong enough to offer battle to the royal troops. The two armies met at Fodevig in Skaania, in the spring of 1134, when Prince Magnus was slain, and all the bishops and priests who had come into the field with him were either killed or made captive. King Niels himself barely escaped falling into the hands of the victors; and, in the hurry of his flight he let himself be persuaded to cross the Belt to Slesvig, not thinking of the danger that would befall him in a town where Knud Lavard had held his court, and where he was well known and much beloved by the citizens.
Knud Lavard had, moreover, been head-master of St. Knud's Guild, or Company, which had a law that no brother must leave the death of another member of his brotherhood unrevenged. When the King was begged to bear in mind this well-known law, he laughed and said : “ It would be a shame if Svend Estridsen's son, King Niels, should have a fear of cobblers and brewers !” and with these words he rode boldly into the courtyard of the royal palace.
But soon King Niels was made to feel that cobblers and brewers could prove as fierce foes as kings and princes, for no sooner had he and his men come into the castle-hall than they heard the outer gates closed behind them, and a ringing of bells from every belfry and tower in the town. The watch-word of the guild-brothers passed from street to street, and soon the market-place outside the castle swarmed with noisy, angry and fierce armed men, who were all eager to take vengeance on the father of Prince Magnus, for whom, although he was their king, they cared very much less than for their slain guild-brother, the brave Knud Lavard. The clergy, who wished to prevent bloodshed, came forth from their churches robed in their state vestments and bearing on high the host, but the guild-brothers sternly thrust them aside, and, making good their entrance into the palace, slew King Niels and all who stood by him. And thus died, in the year 1134, the last of Svend Éstridsen's five king-sons, about sixty years after the death of that father and ancestor of all later Danish rulers.
The time of the Valdemars—The troubles that had come upon Denmark
after the death of Niels-Valdemar the Great ; his early training ; his want of courage in his youth ; his great bravery in later years; his campaigns against the pagans in the island of Rygen—The downfall of the temple of the great god Svanteveit at Arcona ; the trick by which the place was taken ; the demon that the Danes said they saw-Bishop Absalon ; his love of his king and the church, and his contempt for peasants ; his quarrels with the people-King Valdemar's death-Grief of Danes, and sorrow of Absalon-Knud VI. ; his bold defiance of the Emperor ; his successes—Absalon's activity; the monks of Sorö – Knud's death-Valdemar II. receives the homage of the German princes.
TROUBLES BEFORE THE VALDEMARS.
Troubled Times from 1131 to 1157.-The age of the Valdemars, which began with Knud Lavard's only son Valdemar, is the most brilliant period of the history of Denmark, and the Danish people from those early times to the present day have continued to love the name and memory of Valdemar I. and of his sons Knud and Valdemar, and to look back to those princes as the greatest and best rulers they have ever had. Young Valdemar grew up in the midst of civil wars, troubles, and sorrows of all kinds, for the kingdom was in a wretched state during the latter part of King Niels' reign as well as after his murder in 1134, when his nephew Erik Emun was raised to the throne. Erik was a brave man, and kept the country free from the attacks of the Wendish pirates, which, as we have seen, had long proved a heavy scourge to the people living on the coasts; but his cruelty in causing his brother Harald Kezia together with his ten sons to be murdered, made the Danes hate and fear him. His nephew, Erik the Lamb, who was chosen king after him, let his kingdom be overrun by searobbers and spent his time with the monks, leaving his poor subjects to defend themselves until they came to despise him as much as they had dreaded his uncle. When Erik the Lamb died in 1147, after having taken the vows of a monk in St. Knud's Abbey in Odense, a great civil war broke out which lasted ten years. During this time the Bonder, or peasants, suffered severely, and when a Thing was called in 1157 to discuss the question of choosing a king, they had become so poor and powerless that the nobles and bishops did not think of consulting them, when they made choice of Knud Lavard's son Prince Valdemar to be their ruler. There were other changes, too, in the manner of proclaiming the new king which showed how much power the higher classes had gained. In former times when a Danish king had been chosen to reign over the people, it was the custom that he should go from town to town, from hundred to hundred, and from province to province, to show himself and receive the homage of all his subjects. But Valdemar who had been abroad, and liked German and foreign fashions, despised making this kind of royal progress, and instead of it he caused himself to be crowned in a church by the bishops, after having been anointed with holy oil, decked in royal robes of state, adorned with a finely jewelled cap on his head, and invested with a golden sceptre.
Valdemar, 1157–1182.—When Valdemar I. came to the throne he found no money, no soldiers, no trade, and no order in the kingdom. But when he died he left to his son a flourishing, well defended, busy, and peaceful monarchy, to
• It is stated by some writers that to secure support from the side of Germany, he made an alliance with the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, and recognized him as his suzerain, doing homage to him as his vassal when he visited his court in 1162. Valdemar's friend Axel Hvide, known as Bishop, Absalon, had implored the king not to take this step, which did not, however, entail upon Valdemar any of the usual duties of a vassal, and must therefore have been more of a ceremony than a formal act of submission.
which he had added large tracts of land on the pagan shores of the Baltic, where the Wends and Esthonians had been made to submit to him, and to receive Christian teachers and renounce their cruel heathen practices.
In the course of his reign Valdemar made as many as twenty great expeditions against these heathen pirates, at all seasons of the year, not sparing himself from any labour or hardship. In the earliest of these expeditions he did not, however, show much bravery; and he so often turned back on some pretence or other that the sailors in his fleet had begun to think him a coward, and once he had heard some of these rough men laugh at him as “a knight who wore his spurs on his toes, only to help him to run away the faster !" These taunts made him very angry, but when he found that even his friend and foster-brother Axel Hvide, who was known later as Bishop Absalon, felt contempt for his want of courage, he all at once began to face danger bravely, and from that time till the very close of his life he was never again known to shun any risk.
Absalon was more of a sailor or a soldier than a churchman, and seemed to like nothing better than to stand on the deck of his own ship and give his commands to the seamen, or to lead them on shore against an armed foe, and pursue with a few followers some fierce band of sea-rovers. From his castle Axelborg, on the present site of Copenhagen, he kept a sharp look-out for pirates, and it was not often that this fortress was without a row of heads set up in proof of the vengeance that he took on robbers, and as a warning to others of the fate they would meet with if they chanced to fall into the hands of King Valdemar's zealous friend, Bishop Absalon. The war against the fierce pagans of the Baltic ended in 1168 with the taking of the town of Arcona, on the island of Rygen, and the complete destruction of the great temple of the god of the Slaves, Svanteveit, whose monstrous four-headed image was torn down from its stand and burnt in the presence of the islanders. • This great event was brought about by the clever trick of a young Danish man-at-arms, who while the army lay encamped on the sea-beach of the Island of Rygen, below the town of Arcona, had noticed that the high cliffs on which the temple was