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Civil War and Crusade

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At the end of the 12th century the church and the king started a close collaboration. Valdemar the Great and and Bishop Absalon carried out a crusade against the heathen Wends in North Germany.

The King´s Officials
The long reign of King Niels from 1104-34, marks a consolidation period, where the church and royal power mutually fortify their position in the society. The royal power seems not to challenge the magnates, but extends its positions by appointing officials, among others a chamberlain, who was to take care of the financial circumstances and monetary matters in the realm, and later the king´s chancellor, who was his personal secretary. Incidentally this position was reserved for the bishop in Roskilde.
For the operation of the churches a tithe is introduced on production around 1125, which is allotted to the church and the clergy and this marks a step in the direction of the financial integration of the church into the medieval society, which is taking shape.
The military functions are separated and are transferred to the army and its officers. The duty of the men of the realm to volunteer for the defence of the nation goes back the Viking Age, but the arrangement is now modernised. The king´s housecarls of magnates are changed into a circle of local officials, or ombudsmen, which took care of the local administration. Larger units were managed by the king´s earl, magnates like for instance Skjalm Hvide, who was earl of Zealand. In Scania the king had a special official, or governor, the “gælker”.
The Bastrup Tower
The Bastrup Tower

The Battle of Fotevik
The Battle of Fotevik, June 4th 1134 signified the end of the long reign of King Niels. The battle is described as one of the most bloody in medieval Denmark. The cause was a long conflict between the descendants of Svend Estridsen (1047-74), about who was to succeed King Niels on the throne.
King Niels, who was the son of Sven Estridsen, landed with his son Magnus and a great army in Fotevik in the south-western part of Scania, in order to settle accounts with his closest rival, Erik Emune, who was the son of King Niels´ brother, Erik Ejegod. Erik Emune was supported by the archbishop in Lund, Asser, as well as by a mercenary German army of approximately 300 riders. It is believed that this was the first time a cavalry was used in Denmark.
The result was that King Niels´ army was destroyed, which had catastrophic consequences for the political stability in Denmark. Magnus, the son, fell and King Niels only just escaped. Three weeks later he was murdered by dissatisfied citizens in Slesvig. Among the fallen was a large part of the Danish administration, among them 5 bishops and around 60 clergymen. It is not known how many of the rank and file was killed. The Battle of Fotevik is described as early as 1138 in the Roskilde Chronicle and somewhat later by Saxo.
The Roskilde Chronicle
The Roskilde Chronicle

King Valdemar the Great and Absalon
King Valdemar the Great appointed his childhood friend Absalon (who belonged to the Hvide family) bishop in Roskilde in 1158. He did this although Absalon still was not thirty years old, which was necessary to become a bishop. With this a cooperation was established and the good relationship betwen the church and the royal power was revived.
Absalon
Absalon
Højbro Plads
Højbro Plads

The Expedition to the Wendish Coast
In 1159 Valdemar and Absalon went on an expedition to the Wendish coast. Wendish raids had for a long time ravaged the Danish coast. The Danish attack on the Wendish was in reality also a raid and not a crusade, which was what they said.
The Crusade Against Rügen
The Crusade Against Rügen
The Crusade Against Rügen
The Crusade Against Rügen
Absalon
Absalon

©  Øresundstid 2009