James Bryce Bryce.

The book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) online

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navigators and discoverers.

There are numerous proofs that the
French Normans did not lose the love of
their forefathers for adventures and con-
quests. In the middle of the eleventh
century new kingdoms were founded in
England and Italy by the Normans,
who also took an active part in the


Germans of the empire were quarrelling
with the Greeks, and the Lombard
princes with the Arabs. Norman pilgrims,
who stopped occasionally at Salerno on
their return from the Holy Land, had
helped Prince Waimar the Great in a
successful battle against the Saracens in
1017. He would have willingly taken
them into his service, but they longed for
their native country, where, they told
him, there were just as many brave men.
Thereupon Waimar sent messengers to
Normandy ; immediately numerous knights
were induced by the costly and rare

JG ___


England's deliverance from the supremacy of the Danes found expression in the Peace of Wedmore, which followed
upon the submission of Guthrum and his followers. Reduced to despair by hunger, cold and misery, the Danes yielded
to Alfred, and Guthrum indicated his desire to embrace the Christian faith. Both circumstances gave intense pleasure
to Alfred, the latter no less than the former, for England's king had fought not only for the restoration of his kingdom
but also for the establishment of the Christian religion. Accompanied by thirty of his followers, Guthrum appeared in
Alfred's camp at Wedmore, in Somersetshire ; there he was bound by a solemn " peace," and there also he was baptised.
From the design by Herbert A. Bone, executed in tapestry, by permission of Mr. Antony Cibbs



presents which he sent to accept his pro-
posal and enter his service. However,
they soon left him and helped Sergius IV.,
Duke of Naples, who made them in return
a grant of land in 1129 ; there the Normans
founded the town of A versa (la Normanna)
in 1030 and fortified it strongly. In order
to increase their influence they summoned
their countrymen ; troops of
7i * Normans, eager for war and
of Norman lunder> stre amed to the South

Conquerors *, .T*-,!., ,.,i, Q ^ Q 4-V. Q ,r or>i-Trarl oc

mercenaries now one now another of the
rival factions. In this way for some time
the Normans helped the Greeks and fought
on the side of the Varangers ; in the end,
however, the Normans under the leader-
ship of the sons of a Norman knight,
Tancred of Hauteville, directed their arms
against the Greeks and took from them
one piece of land after another. At last
Robert Guiscard, the mightiest of Tancred's
sons, by the conquest of Bari, ended the
Greek domination in South Italy in 1071.
As early as 1059 ne had been created Duke
of Apulia by the Pope, whom he acknow-
ledged as his feudal lord ; in 1076 he con-
quered Salerno and the other small South
Italian principalities, crossed over to
Greece, defeated the imperial troops both
by land and sea, and plundered the country.
Soon afterwards, in 1085, he died, and
East Rome breathed again. Robert's
youngest brother, Roger, wrested the island
of Sicily from the Arabs (1061-1090),
and his son Roger II., who united Sicily
and Apulia, received in the autumn of
1130 the title of King of Sicily from the
Pope, and was crowned with pomp in

In England the Normans, or Danes as
they are more generally called in this
connection, appeared for the first time
in 787, and some years afterwards they
repeated their visits. Then four decades
elapsed during which England had rest
from the terrible sea- warriors. But in
_ _ . 832 they renewed their attacks,

1 ne 1 erriuie f .-, . .

Danes a from that time every year

they devastated the South of

in Lngland ,-, J . , . .

England ; several times they
were repulsed, but they always came back
with increased numbers and began to
winter in the country. From the coasts
they penetrated to the interior, plundering
everything as they went. They utilised
the mutual enmity of the Kelts and
Anglo-Saxons and concluded a treaty
with the Welsh. The disputes of the Anglo-


Saxons also furthered the enterprises of
the invaders. After the middle of the
ninth century they settled in the East of
England. In the year 866 a large fleet
landed on the coasts of East Anglia. The
most distinguished of the chieftains com-
manding this fleet were the sons of Lod-
brok, Ingvar and Ubbe ; they spent the
winter in East Anglia and concluded
peace with the inhabitants. In the follow-
ing spring they advanced over the river
Humbier to Xorthumbria, where two kings,
Osbrith and Ella, were striving for the
supremacy, and conquered York in 867.

The Northumbrian kings abandoned
their strife and with combined forces
advanced to York to drive away the Danes,
but suffered a crushing defeat in which they
both perished. By this victory the Danes
secured for themselves the possession of
York ; and they soon subjugated the
whole of Northumbria, which they gradu-
ally transformed into a colony of North-
men. From Northumbria they made in-
cursions to the south, where the kingdom
of Wessex was still unconquered, and were
victorious there also. The King of Wessex,
Alfred the Great, was compelled

-, re t _. e . . to wander about the country in
Great Fights ,- , . ,,

disguise, and, in 878, after a war
the Danes , '. ' ,

of twelve years duration, the

Danes were masters of the whole country.
But they could not keep their possessions
for any length of time on account of the
smallness of their numbers, in spite of the
reinforcements which were constantly
being sent over from their own country.

Alfred, who had never given up hope,
declared war against them a few months
after they had conquered Wessex, and
succeeded in gaining a victory at Ethan-
dune in 878. In the same year a treaty
was concluded between Alfred and Guth-
rum, the Danish leader, under which the
Danes were established in the northern
and eastern half of the island known as
the Danelagh, and there they erected
strongholds, the chief of which were the
" Five Boroughs," Stamford, Leicester,
Derby, Nottingham, and Lincoln. They
devoted themselves to peaceful occupa-
tions ; many were baptised, and soon
they began to blend with the Anglo-Saxons.
For a long time, however, they preserved
their speech, manners, and laws, and the
appearance and language of the northern
English, as also numerous place-names,
still testify to their Scandinavian origin.
The rest of England was also influenced by



the Danes in many ways. Indisputable
traces of Norse influence are still found in
the government and jurisprudence of the

The attacks of the Danes, however, did

not cease with their settlement in the

Danelagh ; but they were not so successful

as formerly, since Alfred defended the

coasts well and built a fleet, by

means of which he was able to
and Danes 1,1 / , i

. n keep the enemy away from the

at Peace T jj - - ,1 T

coasts. In addition, the Danes

were now turning their attention to
France. The independence of the Dane-
lagh did not last long. Alfred's son
Edward compelled the Danes to acknow-
ledge his supremacy. It is true they soon
revolted, but they met with a crushing
defeat at Brunanburgh in 937, and later
attempts to secure independence came to
nothing. Gradually the relations of the
two races became more friendly ; many
Danes entered the service of the Anglo-
Saxon kings.

England enjoyed peace until the
end of the century, when, after the
accession of Ethelred the Unready in 979,
the land was torn with fresh struggles.
Attacks from Denmark were renewed, and,
as before, nothing escaped the ravages
of fire and sword. On St. Brice's
Day November I3th, 1002 a terrible
massacre of the Danes took place. But
the English did not succeed in destroying
all the Northmen in that portion of the
country which was under their own rule,
and there is no doubt that those in the
Danelagh escaped the slaughter.

In the year 1013 Sven Tveskjaeg Swe-
gen, or Sweyn Forkbeard who on several
previous occasions had plundered England,
collected a large army to accomplish the
conquest. He landed in Northumbria, and
soon took possession of the Danelagh,
where the inhabitants attached themselves
to him. He then turned his attacks to the
South of England, where his efforts were

_ . everywhere attended with sue-
i/anisn . , . ,

King in CeSS ' a SOOn " e resistan ce of
London the Anglo-Saxons was crushed.
In the same year London
opened its gates to the Danish king;
Ethelred was compelled to flee and Sweyn
became king. However, he did not enjoy
his victory long, for he died suddenly at the
beginning of the following year. Shortly
before his death he appointed as his
successor in England his son, Knut
(Canute), who had accompanied him on

his expedition ; but when the Anglo-Saxon
Witan heard of the king's death they
recalled Ethelred and promised never
again to submit to a Danish king.

Ethelred returned ; an Anglo-Saxon
army was quickly summoned, and
Canute left England to bring reinforce-
ments from his own country, as his
forces were too small. He equipped
a great fleet, which was manned by
veteran warriors from the north, and in
the year 1015 he again appeared in Eng-
land, where the magnates spiritual and
temporal soon paid homage to him.
Shortly afterwards, in 1016, the unfortu-
nate Ethelred died. But Canute found a
worthy opponent in his son, the brave
Edmund Ironside, who was proclaimed
king by the citizens of London. Canute
won a great victory by treachery at
Assandun in 1016, upon which a treaty
was concluded, dividing the kingdom
between the two kings. However, as
Edmund died in 1017, Canute remained
from that time sole ruler of England. In
'' 1018 he became king of Denmark, and in
1028 king of Norway. It is thought that

he wished to establish a
Influences of , . ,

, great northern empire de-

the Northmen s j r*> i j n

Expeditions p 1 "** 1 * n . England. But
his death, in 1035, did not
allow him to realise his hopes. As his
sons died after a short reign, the Danish
dynasty in England ceased in 1042.

It was through these expeditions that
the Northmen first came into contact with
Western and Central Europe a contact
which proved of great importance for the
Northmen themselves as well as for the
nations whom they infested. The mosit
important effect of these expeditions was
the fact that the Northmen by their settle-
ments imparted new strength to the
enfeebled and degenerate nations, and
opened up for them new spheres of useful-
ness. While the west gained in strength,
the north itself was weakened by the great
emigration. At the same time, however,
the north was freed from a number of
restless, proud, and obstinate cHieftains
and therefore the kings were more easily
enabled to unite many " lands " in
greater kingdoms and to strengthen the
kingship. Through these voyages, also,
the Northmen became acquainted with
the higher civilisation of the west. Chris-
tianity, which at first had made only
slow progress, gradually won the victory
over paganism.









rVENMARK had been united in one
*-^ kingdom before 800 A.D., and con-
sisted of three chief parts : (i) the peninsula
of Jutland, to the Eider ; (2) the islands,
of which Zealand, with the royal residence
Leire, was the most important ; and (3)
Scania, with Halland and Bleking. Each
of these divisions had its own Ting, or
assembly, where the people that is, the
peasants came together in order to
choose a king, to make laws, and to sit
in judgment the Jutlanders in Viborg,
the Zealanders in Ringsted, and the Scan-
ians in Lund.

The king was the bond of union
between the countries. He was chosen
from the royal family ; he acted as
high-priest, and it was his duty to
preserve peace and to summon the troops
in war. Next in rank to the king were
the jarls, who governed large tracts of
country in the king's name. The king
had his " hauskerle," or " hird,"
who, in conjunction with the

chieftains, the most powerful of
Murdered f. , ,

the peasants, were his helpers

in war and peace. The earliest reliable
accounts are contained in the Frankish
annals of the time of Charlemagne.
During the Saxon wars Widukind took
refuge with the Danish king, Siegfried, in
777, and when Charles had -defeated the
Saxons he came into friendly intercourse
with the Danes. Their king at that time,
Gottfried, or Gotrik, secured his south
boundaries by a rampart, and was just
arming himself for an attack on the
Frankish Empire when he was murdered
in 810. His successor concluded a peace
with the emperor, and the Eider remained
the boundary between Denmark and the
Frankish Empire. Shortly after this,
disputes, which lasted for a long time, broke
out in the Danish royal house concerning
the crown ; these disputes opened up the
way for Christianity, with which some
Danes had already become familiar,
partly through missionaries such as


in Jutland

Willibrord, partly through travels on the

King Harald was driven out by
Gottfried's sons ; he fled to Germany,
and was baptised in 826, in order to gain
the assistance of Louis the Pious. After-
wards, when he returned to
Denmark, the devout Ansgar,
a monk from the Benedictine
monastery of Corvey, followed
him as missionary. Ansgar was filled with
enthusiasm for his vocation ; he im-
mediately began his missionary work,
and founded a school for the training of
teachers at Hedeby in Jutland. He had
still many difficulties to overcome, and
conversion to Christianity' was slow. It
became still harder for him when his
protector, Harald, was driven out a second
time. Ansgar was also compelled to
leave the country. He crossed over to
Sweden, where he was well received and
won many converts to Christianity. Mean-
while an archbishopric for the north was
established in Hamburg and Ansgar was
called to the see, which was removed to
Bremen after the demolition of Hamburg
by the Danes. Ansgar succeeded in gain-
ing the friendship of the King of Denmark,
and was now able, as " apostle of the
north," to take up his work again with
renewed energy, a work which he con-
tinued with unwearied zeal till his death
in 865. For a long time after his death
Christianity made no progress, and at the
same time the land was divided by internal
struggles. At the beginning of the tenth
century Olaf, a Swedish chieftain, took
possession of at least a portion
1 of the country. His son Gnupa
was defeated by the German
king, Henry I., in 934, and was
forced to receive baptism. However,
the Swedish rule did not last long. Gnupa
submitted to a descendant of the Danish
royal house, Gorm the Old, whose wife,
Tyra Danmarksbod, is said to have built
the boundary wall known as the " Dane-




virke " (Danework). Gorm's son, Harald
Blaatand (Bluetooth), who ruled not only
over all Denmark but for some time also
over Norway, was baptised in 940, and
from that time was a zealous promoter of
Christianity in his kingdom. He de-
clares on the runic stone at Jellinge,
which he set up to the memory of his

parents, that he won over the
Danish King who j e Q{ Denmark and Nor .

Eni , nqu way and baptised the Danes.
Some of the Danes, however,
were not pleased with his religious zeal.
The discontented attached themselves to
his son Sweyn (Forkbeard) in 985. Harald
fell in battle in 986 or 987. Sweyn became
king, and, as has already been mentioned,
conquered England in 1013. He was
baptised, but exercised toleration in
religious matters.

It was not until the reign of his second
son, Knut better known to us as Canute
the Mighty (1018-1035), that Christianity
triumphed in Denmark. Canute greatly
extended his dominion ; he ruled over
Denmark, England and Norway. He was
acknowledged as emperor of Bretland, or
Britain, by the Emperor Conrad II., who
ceded to him the Mark of Schleswig, and
his aim, as mentioned above, was the
foundation of a great northern empire.
But he did nothing to unite the countries
permanently under his power. He lived
mostly in England, which he considered
the most important of his dominions, and
this country, under his powerful govern-
ment, advanced in every respect. He
also turned his attention to Denmark,
which by the union with England, a
country which had attained to a higher
standard of civilisation, came into closer
contact with the higher culture of Central
Europe. A fresh impetus was given to
Christianity ; Anglo-Saxon bishops and
priests worked in the country, churches
were built, and the first monasteries were
established. Canute was very generous
The Great tO * h * Church; the clergy
Work received great rewards, and

of Canute tne ' r influence increased. As
by this means Canute laid the
foundations of a Danish hierarchy, he also
formed the beginning of a secular nobility
by his law which he gave to his Hird, the
"Tingamannalid," by which the members
of the Hird received various privileges.

With the death of Canute's son, Hardi-
canute, the old royal family became extinct.
According to a former treaty, the Norwe-


gian king, Magnus Olavsson, was also
ruler in Denmark. But in 1047 the Danes
chose as their king Sven Estridsson, the
son of Ulfdarl and Estrid, a sister of
Canute. Norway was ultimately com-
pelled to acknowledge him as king. By
Sven's accession the house of Estrid
ascended the Danish throne, which they
occupied for three centuries. The Estrids
raised Denmark to the height of its power ;
but it was also under their rule that the
country experienced its deepest humilia-
tion. Sven (1047-1076) was a cultured and
affable man, very popular with the Danes.
Like Canute, he took a keen interest in the
affairs of the Church ; he regulated
bishoprics, and attempted to make the
Danish church independent of Bremen.
His work was continued after 1080 by his
sons Knut IV. and Erik Eiegod. Knut
was hated by the people on account of his
cruelty, and was ultimately killed by them
in 1086. After 1101, however, he was
honoured as Denmark's national saviour.
He was the first to define the Church's
special jurisdiction, and to assure her the
possession of a revenue by introducing
tithes. In 1104 Erik (1095-
1103) received permission from
the Pope to establish an
archbishopric in Lund, to
the northern churches were
made subordinate.

For a long time after the death of Erik,
Denmark was torn by the struggles
for the throne among the descendants
of Sven Estridsson, until finally a grand-
son of Erik, Waldemar the Great (1157-
1182), triumphed over his opponents.
Then quiet was restored in Denmark.
During the strife for the crown Denmark
was constantly ravaged by the Wends,
who lived on the Baltic Sea and were still
pagan. The country was unprotected,
the peasants fled, and the Wends met
with hardly any resistance. But when
Waldemar became king the situation was
altered ; he began a vigorous campaign
against the pirates. Supported by his
friend, the warlike Bishop Absalom, and
in league with the Saxon Duke Henry the
Lion, he attacked the Wends in their own
country and subdued the island of Riigen.
The prince of the island became his vassal.
Absalom remained true to Waldemar's
son, Knut VI., and victory always followed
his banner. The princes of Pomerania and
Mecklenburg were reduced to submission,
while Knut's brother Waldemar. whom

in Dispute

which all


he had appointed duke of South Jutland,
took prisoner the Count of Holstein and
subdued his lands.

When Waldemar II. Seir (the Victorious)
succeeded his brother as king, 1202, he
ruled over all the countries west of the
Baltic. He now wished to extend his
power to the east, and in 1219 undertook
a crusade against the Esthonians. It
is supposed that the king intended to
establish a bishopric in Esthonia, and
to make it independent of Riga. The
Esthonians were defeated in a battle with
which there is associated the legend about
the standard which fell from heaven, the
Danebrog ; they were forced to receive
baptism, and the town Reval was founded.
Waldemar's power, however, did not last
long. After he was taken prisoner by his
vassal Henry, count of Schwerin, the
dependent countries regained their free-
dom. It is true that Waldemar was released
in 1225 and attempted to restore his former
dominion, but he was totally defeated at
Bornhoved in 1227. This battle decided
the fate of North Germany. Waldemar
was obliged to conclude peace with his
numerous enemies, and scarcely
any of his conquests remained

except Esthonia and Riigen.
up War ,-. ,

From that time he gave up war

and directed his energies to the internal
welfare of the country, principally to the
improvement of the laws. The law of
Jutland, which he probably intended to
make the code for the whole of his empire,
was enacted shortly before his death
in 1241.

From these laws we can see the changes
that took place in the social conditions,
through the influence of the continent,
during the reigns of the two Waldemars.
The peasants, who had formerly been
the only class in the country, were now
subordinate to the nobility and clergy;
second to these, a burgher class was being
formed. Serfdom had disappeared, and
the serfs had become cottagers. Agri-
culture was making rapid progress ; the
ground which the peasants cultivated in
common was gradually being turned into
arable land, and the number of villages
was increasing. As in former times, the
peasants assembled at the " Har den-
Ting " and the " Landschafts-Ting," but
the political importance of these assem-
blies was decreasing. The more important
matters were generally decided by the
king in the assembly of the nobles. The

peasants were also losing their former
importance as soldiers. It is true that the
old military organisation still existed ; the
country was divided up into districts of
different size, which had to provide ships
and fighting men ; but the picked men
of the army were the " Hauskerle " of the
king, who served as horsemen. These,
together with the royal

The King s r?

.,. officials, were exempt from

First '. ,Jf

-, taxes ; in this way they were
Counsellors ,. ,. ' . , . , ,1

distinguished from the rest of

the peasants and formed a nobility.
Among the officials whom the king after-
wards summoned as his first counsellors
were the Marsk (marshal), the Drost (high
bailiff), and the Kanzler (chancellor).

The clergy, under the influence of the
continent, also severed themselves from
the people, and strove to make themselves
independent of temporal power. Although
at that time the Church did not succeed
in entirely realising her demand for im-
munity, still her power and influence
steadily increased without the friendly
relations being disturbed which existed
between the Church and the Waldemars.
Many of the clergy visited the continent,
especially the University of Paris, in
search of higher learning, and were thus
the only Danes who possessed a higher
culture and occupied themselves with
literature. Archbishop Absalom in par-
ticular, who was distinguished as a
clergyman, warrior, and statesman, ren-
dered great services to literature. At
his instigation, his secretary, Saxo Gram-
maticus, wrote in Latin, the language
of the Church, a detailed history of
Denmark, of which the Danes are justly
proud. The laws of Waldemar, however,
were published in Danish, and therefore
possess great importance as monuments
of the language, in addition to their
value in the history of civilisation. The
buildings of the Church increased in
magnificence with her growing power ;
_ instead of the old wooden places

rowing Q j Wors j 1 jp ) stone buildings were

ower c being erected according to

the Church ,, j 13 , & , u

the models supplied from the

West of Germany and North of France.
The towns, which sprang up from fish-
ing villages, harbours, and market places
or around the castles, were still small
and few in number ; they were improving
at this time through commerce, navigation,
fishing especially herring fishing and
industry. The inhabitants of the towns



Time of

were gradually separating themselves from
the country population and forming a

Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceThe book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) → online text (page 8 of 55)