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built were honey-combed by a number of holes or caves, which could not be seen from the ramparts above, but were easily perceived by looking from below at the steep wall of rocks. One day the idea of turning these holes to good account struck the young man, and without losing a moment he arranged with some of his fellow-soldiers what was to be done to carry out his plans. Setting to work, these young men brought together as much dry straw and as many sticks as they could collect, and under pretence of playing at a game of pitch and toss which the sentries above might watch if they liked, they filled a number of the holes in the rock with the sticks and the straw. One of their number then clambered up the side of the steep wall by using spears and stones for a ladder, and set light to the trains. In a few minutes to their great joy they heard the cracking sound of fire, and saw columns of smoke and flame rise up the face of the rock and close round the wooden spikes and palings at its summit, which were soon in a blaze.
Arcona taken.—The pagans trembled with horror and fright when they first noticed flames circling round the high mast, from which floated the banner of their great god Svanteveit, but before they could rally, the Danes, headed by Bishop Absalon, rushed to the assault and made themselves masters of Arcona. Then began the ceremony of baptizing the heathens. Attended by his monks, Bishop Absalon laboured for two days and two nights in the work, and only ceased when almost blinded with want of sleep he dropped down before the altar that had been set up beside the fonts, at which the converts were received and signed with the cross.
When all were baptized, King Valdemar caused the huge wooden image of the god to be dragged amid loud war-music to the open plain beyond the town, where it was cut up for firewood by the serving-men of the army. Although the islanders had been forced to receive Christian baptism, they had not ceased to fear their old gods, and nothing could persuade them to take part in the removal and destruction of the idol, for in their ignorance they expected every moment to see lightning descend from heaven to destroy the Danes, and to punish their own neglect of their god Svanteveit. The Christians were hardly more sensible, for they pretended that when the image was being carried out of the temple-gates, a horrible monster, spitting fire and brimstone, burst from the roof and hurled itself with wrathful howls from the high cliffs into the sea below, which opened to receive the demon, and closed over his head in loud bubbling waves of flame and smoke !
DEATH OF VALDEMAR AND ABSALON.
Absalon.—After these wars against the heathens Bishop Alsalon continued to serve King Valdemar as a loving friend and faithful servant. He was not, however, always a good and just master to those who were placed under his power, and the poor peasants on the estates which belonged to him in Skaania, while he was primate of Denmark, had great reason to complain of his harsh rule. It is said that his bailiffs forced the wives and daughters of the peasants on his lands to drag stones and timber through the forests in the midst of a hard winter, while the men were busy building up a fine house for his use. At last the people, nearly worn out with their labours, refused to work any longer; and then Absalon, finding that he could not compel them to obey the orders of his officers, crossed over the Sound, and went to the king's court at Vordingborg in Sjælland to beg him to come with an army to punish the disobedient peasants. Valdemar tried to make his archbishop act with more mercy, but when he saw that Absalon would not listen to reason, he set sail with a number of troops for the primate's estates in Skaania, declaring that no one should ever say King Valdemar had refused to give help to his friend Absalon when he asked for it. On his arrival, the king, who was of a kind and loving nature and not willing to make war on his own people, again tried to restore peace between the primate and his peasants. Had Absalon been as merciful as his royal master things might have come right without the shedding of blood, but he was proud and could not forgive the poor peasants for daring to oppose him, since he was high-born and they were only serfs. To punish them, he caused all the churches to be closed, and forbade the clergy from doing any of the services of religion as long as the people should refuse to perform the work he had set them to do. This made them more angry than ever, and when King Valdemar landed in Skaania with Absalon, he found a great crowd of peasants drawn up in battle array, on and near the bridge over the little river Dysia, which emptied itself into the sea close to the archbishop's chief city of Lund.' The rebels were only armed with scythes, wood-axes, clubs and any rude weapons that they could lay their hands on, and when Absalon observed their shabby and disorderly appearance, he cried out in a proud defiant tone, “ This beggarly rabble is unworthy of being cut down by the swords of nobles and knights, it will be best to hunt the pack with whip and lash!”
On hearing this unseemly remark, King Valdemar reproved the haughty churchman by saying, “You forget, good friend, that we are dealing with men, and not with dogs !”
The fight was hard and long notwithstanding the poor arms and humble rank of the bishop's foes, but it ended at last in the complete defeat of the peasants of Skaania, who saw themselves forced to pay tithes to the church, which they had long looked upon as a cruel injustice and striven to resist.? Soon after these events the good King Valdemar I. died at the age of fifty-one, in the spring-tide of the year, 1182, at the moment that his restless prelate was stirring up new troubles.
Knud VI, 1182-1202.—Valdemar I. like many of his forefathers was buried in the church of Ringsted, and as the funeral procession headed by Bishop Absalon drew near, a crowd of peasants met it and begged, with tears and loud cries of grief, to be allowed to carry the remains of their beloved king to his
· This great churchman is known in Danish History as Bishop Absalon," and is seldom spoken of under his higher rank of archbishop. He had been appointed to the primacy during the life-time of the former archbishop, Eskil, when the latter gave up all his dignities and retired to the monastery of Claravalle in France in the year 1177. The primate Eskil took this step from grief at the treason of his grandsons, the princes Knud and Karl, who on their father's side were related to the royal family and who had joined in a revolt against King Valdemar,
· The Danish people for many ages strove to resist the payment of tithes and to force the clergy to marry, as they, like the other Northern nations, had a great dislike to the monkish system of the church.
last resting-place. When the bishop began to read the service for the dead his voice failed him, and he wept and trembled so much that he had to be held up by two of the assistant monks, and after all was over the people went sorrowfully away, saying that now Denmark's shield and the pagan's scourge had been taken from them, the country would soon again be overrun by the fierce heathen Wends.
But Absalon ordered all things so well for the young prince Knud, Valdemar's eldest son, who at the age of twenty had been proclaimed king, that Denmark was able to maintain a bold front against all foes, whether pagan or Christian, and the Danish people had cause to feel proud of their gallant king. When Knud came to the throne, the Emperor of Germany, Frederick Barbarossa, demanded that he should appear at the imperial court at Ratisbon and receive the crown of Denmark as a gift of the empire. But so changed were the power and credit of the Danish monarchy since the time when Valdemar the Great, much against Absalon's wishes, had been forced to obey a suinmons of the same kind, that Knud VI. was able with bold words to defy the power of the empire. master," said Knud to the envoy who brought the emperor's command that the Danish king should appear at Ratisbon to receive the crown from his hands, “I am as much monarch in my own realm as the kaiser is in his, and if he has a fancy for giving away my crown, he had better first find the prince bold enough to come and take it from me!"
After that daring speech nothing more was said for a long time about giving or taking the Danish crown, and Frederick Barbarossa, who had more foes in Italy and elsewhere than he well knew how to deal with, was forced to let the question rest for the time, but he neither forgave nor forgot the insult, and he never lost a chance during the rest of his life of stirring up strife against Denmark. In 1184 he helped the pagan princes of Pomerania to invade the Danish islands with a fleet of five hundred ships, and the land would again have been overrun by the fierce heathen Wends, if old Bishop Absalon had not boldly attacked and beaten off their vessels before they reached the coasts of Sjælland. In this encounter the pagans were so thoroughly routed, that when the heavy fog cleared
“ Tell your
away by which the Danes had been able, unseen, to approach the enemy, only thirty-five of their ships remained fit to keep out at sea, although they had brought five hundred great well-armed vessels into the fight. The king gave an account of Absalon's great victory to the people at the National Thing, and the fame of his exploits was made the subject of songs and tales in every part of Scandinavia, and even among the Væringjar at Miklagaard.
Knud's Successes.—After this great victory, which brought all Pomerania and some of Eastern Prussia under the power of Denmark, Knud took for himself and all his successors the title of “King of the Wends and other Slaves," and from that time to the end of his reign, Knud by the help of his warlike brother, Duke Valdemar, went on adding one district after the other to his old dominions until he had made himself master of Hamburgh, Lübeck, and all the country of Holstein, Lauenburg and Mecklenburg. Not content with these great successes, Knud was anxious to extend his conquests, and he next turned his arms against the pagan lands of the Esthonians and Livonians. As long as his Danish troops were in the country, he found it an easy matter to make the people declare themselves to be Christians, and attend the churches which he had caused to be built; but no sooner were his armies withdrawn than the natives returned to their old heathen practices, and thus little progress was made towards the spread of Christianity in those pagan lands on the south of the Baltic.
In the meanwhile there was no lack of trouble at home while the Danish flag was being planted on foreign ground. The emperor had found it easy to raise foes in Denmark against King Knud, and by his help a very serious rebellion was soon kindled in Slesvig, the object of which was to set on the throne Valdemar, Bishop of Slesvig, who was a grandson of that Prince Magnus who had slain Knud Lavard, the grandfather of King Knud and of his brother Prince Valdemar. The latter had been inade governor of all South Jutland, and to him the task was now given of putting down the Slesvig rebels, which he did so quickly and so thoroughly, that all the schemes of the emperor to injure the Danish monarch failed. Bishop Valdemar was taken captive by his active young namesake, and was