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of a few faithful friends and serving men stood ready to defend him.
“Now King Knud I will pay you for stealing my cows !” cried one.“ Take that, in return for robbing me of my oxen and my horses !” shouted another, as one by one they rushed forward and struck wildly at all persons within their reach. Benedict was cut down, and the murderers, pushing aside his body threw themselves on Knud, who without lifting a hand to defend himself, fell dead before the altar struck by a spear which had been thrown at him from a distance. His brother Erik made his escape, but seventeen of the king's servants were slain with him; and thus Knud paid with his life for the unwise eagerness he had shown in raising the power and wealth of the Church at the expense of the laity. The clergy proved their grateful sense of his efforts in their favour by getting the Pope to have him counted as a saint, and they took such pains to make the people believe that miracles were done through his help, that by degrees he came to be honoured as the patron saint of Denmark. 1
King Knud's only son, Karl, met with a similar fate as his father when he was about the same age. His widowed mother, Queen Adela, had fled from Denmark as soon as she heard of her husband's murder, and had carried the little prince, who was then a boy of three years of age, with her to Bruges, to the court of her brother Count Robert of Flanders. In the course of time the Danish prince was allowed to succeed his uncle as Count of Flanders, where he was known as Charles the Dane, and ruled from 1119 till 1127 in the time of our Henry I.; but having like his father, King Knud, shown too much favour to the clergy and been too strict and harsh to his people, they rose against him, and following him in anger to the church of Our Lady at Bruges, where he had taken refuge, they slew him before the altar.
1 In the year 1101, Knud was canonized, and his remains were laid within a splendid shrine and kept in St. Knud's church in Odense (Fyen). Soon afterwards guilds or brotherhoods were established in his honour and placed under his protection. These guilds had women as well as men among their members, and at first they were formed only for purposes of religion and charity, but by degrees the brothers and sisters also met together at feasts and merry.makings, which were in general held in honour of the anniversary of the foundation of their society.
LAWS OF DENMARK.
Olaf-Hunger, 1086-1095.-According to the old laws of Denmark, the people had the right to choose their kings, and it was usual, although it does not appear that it was necessary, for them to make their choice among the sons, brothers, or nearest male heirs of the former king. They in most cases gave the crown to the next heir, but the eldest son of the sovereign had no right whatever to take the title of king on the death of his father unless the people at the Thing, or National Parliament, had given a promise beforehand that they would have him for their ruler. When Knud was murdered no one seemed to think of choosing his little son, who with his mother was hurrying out of Denmark, and the people at once offered the crown to Knud's brother, Prince Olaf. It is very likely that the murderers of the late king were the more anxious to give the crown to Olaf, because he had once joined the rebels against Knud and his bishops, and on that account had been seized by his brother and forced to leave the country. He had then taken refuge amongst his wife's friends in Flanders, or, as some say, he had been sent to Bruges in chains, and kept a close prisoner by Knud's orders; and he now found great trouble in getting back to Denmark, for Count Robert of Flanders, the uncle of little Prince Karl, refused to release him, but at last the Danes paid a heavy ransom for him, and he was thus enabled to return to his own country.'
Olaf's reign, which is counted from Knud's murder in 1086, and lasted till 1095, was a very unhappy one on account
· The right of choosing a king rested almost wholly at this time in Denmark with the noble-free men and the Bonder, or peasant-free men. The nobles had no titles in Denmark till more than 600 years later. The clergy only by degrees and very slowly gained a voice at the great National Things, and the burgher-class cannot be said to have existed till after this period, for they owed their rise to the formation of guilds of trade, which are not heard of in Danish history till after the time of St. Knud.
of the grievous famine which troubled the land all the years he ruled, and which gained for him the unpleasant surname of “Hunger." The bishops tried to persuade the people
. that the want and distress in the country were sent direct from God to plague the land on account of the murder of the pious King Knud, and that other kingdoms were not thus cursed. And they and their clergy in their sermons told the Danes that while “for seven heavy years they had seen dry springs and hot summers burn up the grain and straw, and wet autumns hinder the corn from ripening, the Christians of other lands had overflowing crops and rich and early harvests." But these statements were not true, for the real fact was that England, Germany, France, and Italy were at that time visited by the same bad seasons, during which men and beasts died of want and disease; towns and villages were flooded with the overflowing of streams and lakes ; and domestic animals and birds, finding the houses deserted and their masters unable to give them food, betook themselves to the woods and moors and grew wild again.
Had Olaf done his best to store up the grain and fruits of the earth, to drain his lands, and keep his people active and sober, he might have saved them and himself much trouble. But he did nothing to turn away the evil of some bad seasons, and spent his time in feasting and drinking, and his money in keeping up more state at his court than any other king had done before his time; and when he died in the year 1095 at an early age, no one seemed to regret him.
Erik Ejegod, 1095–1103.—Prince Erik, who had made his escape from the church of St. Alban in Odense, when his brother King Knud was murdered, was chosen by the people to succeed Olaf. Good seasons came back with the beginning of his reign, and therefore his subjects looked upon him with feelings of love and respect. His great beauty, which gained for him the name of Ejegod, or “good for the eyes,” made him a special favourite among the Danes, who felt proud of their tall handsome king. Erik had the blue eyes and long, flowing light hair, which were praised in the folk-lore of the North as having always belonged to the noblest of the vikingar of old. He was noted for his strength and his skill in warlike exercises, and for his knowledge of the eight arts which were required of a well-born, accomplished Northern knight and warrior. These eight arts were : riding, swimming, skating, steering, throwing javelins, playing chess, playing the harp, and composing verses. To these Erik added the gift of speaking many languages, so that when he journeyed through different lands on his way to Rome, he could converse with the natives of each country in their own tongue. And as he was also very friendly in his manners, free in giving to the poor, quick of tongue, and merry of heart, we need not wonder that this king, who was moreover handsomer and taller than any of his subjects, and had the strength of four ordinary men, should have been the idol of his people. He ruled justly for the most part, and defended his country from the Wends and other pagan pirates, who had for many years before his time sorely plagued the poor Danes, and obliged them to forsake their lands near the sea, and retire beyond the thick woods into the interior.
On Erik's first pilgrimage to Rome in 1098, he secured from the pope, Urban II., a promise that his brother King Knud should be counted as a saint, and on his return to Denmark the ceremonies of his canonization took place with great pomp at Odense, in the church known since then as St. Knud's. The year after this event (in 1102) King Erik went for the second time on a pilgrimage, in order that he might make atonement for the murder of one of his servants. His subjects had begged him to remain at home, and had even offered to give to the third of their substance for a blood fine, and for the masses which he wished to purchase at Rome and Jerusalem, but he was resolved to go himself, and so he and his queen Botilda set forth, but neither lived to enter the Holy City. King Erik died in 1103 in the isle of Cyprus, and the queen soon afterwards within sight of the gates of Jerusalem, near which she was buried.
Great was the grief of the Danes on hearing of the death of their much-loved king. For a time they would not believe that he could be dead, but when there remained no further doubt of it, they made choice of his brother Niels to succeed him, setting aside an elder son of Svend Estridsen on account of his weakness, and passing by the sons of Erik Ejegod. Some of the latter were still very young, and the eldest, called Harald Kesia, who had ruled the kingdom during his father's absence, had shown himself so cruel and unjust, that the people feared to choose him or any of his brothers.
REVENGE OF THE GUILD-BROTHERS.'
Niels, 1104-1134.-Niels, who reigned from 1104 to 1134, in the time of our King Henry I., was a poor weak ruler ; and as he could not keep his kingdom free from pirates, he gave Slesvig, or South Jutland as it was then called, to his nephew Knud, the son of Erik Ejegod, who was known as Knud Lavard, or Hlaford, the old northern word for chief lord, or master.' Under this warlike prince, the Wends were so thoroughly beaten that during his life Denmark had peace from these cruel foes. Knud had been trained to arms at the court of Lothaire, duke of Saxony, and when the latter prince was chosen Emperor of Germany, he gave him in reward for his defence of the Holstein lands from the attacks of the pagan Wends, the title of King of the Obotrites, and with his own hands placed the crown upon his head. These honours roused the envy of his cousin Magnus, the son of King Niels, who feared that on the death of his father the people might pass him over, and choose Knud to reign over them. To avoid this danger, Magnus made up his mind to put Knud out of the way; and in order to effect this purpose, he persuaded his father, Niels, to invite him to spend the Yule-tide with them in the royal castle of Roeskilde. Knud, who did not suspect the evil intentions of his kinsmen, came at their request, bringing with him only a small retinue of men-at-arms; and after spending the Yule-week in the feasts and games usual in those
? This Knud married Ingeborg, a daughter of Mistislav, Grand-Duke of Novogorod, and their only son, who was born about the time of Knud's murder (Jan. 1131), received the name Vladimir from his Russian greatgrandfather. This name was softened by the Danes into Voldemar or Valdemar.