Valdemar I of Denmark

Valdemar I of Denmark

name = Valdemar the Great
title = King of Denmark

reign = 1157-1182
coronation =
predecessor = Sweyn III
successor = Canute VI
consort = Sofia of Minsk
issue =
royal house =
royal anthem =
father = Canute Lavard
mother = Ingeborg, daughter of Mstislav I of Kiev
date of birth = 14 January 1131
place of birth =
date of death = 12 May 1182
place of death =
place of burial= |

Valdemar I of Denmark (14 January 1131 - 12 May 1182), also known as Valdemar the Great, was King of Denmark from 1157 until 1182. Buried in Skt. Bendts Church, Ringsted.

He was the son of Canute Lavard, a chivalrous and popular Danish prince, who was the eldest son of Eric I of Denmark. His father was murdered days before his birth; his mother, Ingeborg, daughter of Mstislav I of Kiev, named him after her grandfather, Vladimir Monomakh of Kiev. {Vladimir's father in law was King Harold Godwinson of England. Vladimir 's grandfather was Constantine Monomachus, Byzantine Emperor}.

As an heir to the throne, and with his rivals quickly gaining power, he was raised in the court of Asser Rig of Fjenneslev, together with Asser's sons, Absalon and Esbern Snare, who would become his trusted friends and ministers.

When Valdemar was sixteen years old, King Erik III abdicated and a civil war erupted. The pretenders to the throne were: Sweyn III Grathe, son of Eric II Emune; Canute (Knud V Magnussen), son of Prince Magnus who was the son of King Niels; and Valdemar himself (he was holding Jutland, at least southern Jutland, as his possession). The civil war lasted the better part of ten years.

In 1157 King Sweyn hosted a great banquet for Canute, Absalon and Valdemar during which he planned to dispose of all his rivals. King Canute was killed, but Absalon and Valdemar escaped. Valdemar returned to Jutland. Sweyn quickly launched an invasion, only to be defeated by Valdemar at Grathe Hede. He was killed during flight, supposedly by a group of peasants who stumbled upon him as he was fleeing from the battlefield.

Valdemar, having outlived all his rival pretenders, became the sole King of Denmark.

In 1158 Absalon was elected Bishop of Roskilde, and Valdemar made him his chief friend and advisor. He reorganized and rebuilt war-torn Denmark. At Absalon's instigation he declared war upon the Wends who were raiding the Danish coasts. They inhabited Pomerania and the island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea. In 1168 the Wendish capital, Arkona, was taken, and the Wends became Christians and subject to Danish suzerainty. Danish influence reached into Pomerania.

Valdemar's reign saw the rise of Denmark, which reached its zenith under his second son Valdemar.

Marriage and children

Valdemar married Sofia of Minsk (c 1141-1198), half-sister of Canute V of Denmark and daughter of Dowager Queen Rikissa of Sweden from her marriage with Volodar of Minsk (Vladimir or Volodar Glebovich of the Rurikids, died 1167), ruling Prince of Principality of Minsk, and they had the following children:
*King Canute VI of Denmark (1163-1202)
*King Valdemar II of Denmark (1170-1241)
*Sophie, (1159 –1208), married Siegfried III, Count of Orlamünde
*Margareta and Maria, nuns at Roskilde
*Rikissa of Denmark (died 1220), married King Eric X of Sweden
*Helen (died 1233), married William of Lüneburg
*Ingeborg (1175-1236), married King Philip II of France

His widow Sofia married then Louis III, Landgrave of Thuringia.

External links

* [ Find-A-Grave profile for Valdemar I the Great]

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