Monday, January 04, 2010

First Archbishoprics and Closters.

Christianity and Church in the early Middle Ages III


In 1103 king Erik Ejegod achieved the pope's acknowledgement of an archbishopric in Lund, a effort of which his wise father Sweyn had corresponded with pope Gregor 7.

During Erik's successor, his brother Niels' long rule from 1104 till 1134, Christianity simmered overall. A few kept letters from the period enlighten the organization of the church. Much landed property were willed to the church for the sake of peoples' peace of mind. The English archbishop Anselm of Canterbury congratulates the first Danish archbishiop and warn him at the same time not to take apostated, foreign church people in his service. The pope underlined that the so-called "Petersmoney", a tax which the bishops had to pay to Rome, now had to be paid each year as a love gift without any deductions. The English monk and historian Ælnoth dedicated ab. 1115 his biography of the murdered Knud he Holy to his brother, the pious king Niels, who at the same time discretely was asked to let his royal power embellish such a brother's precious remains with gifts which is worthy of him and let it increase the beauty in the holy house.... Niels understood and he gave in the following years estate, rights and money gifts to the church in Odense, which probably in that period was the most magnificent and richest church in Denmark built over the martyre king Knud's shelved bones. The questions about taxes to the church, the priests who must not marry, the authority of the bishops and the missionary work at Rügen were also parts of the corrrespondance of the period.

Sortebrødre, Ribe

It is not known when the first closter was founded in Denmark. But it began with Erik Ejegod's establishment of St. Knud's Kloster in Odense in 1096. The first 12 Benedictine monks were fetched in Eversham in South England. The bishop in Odense came also from England. The closters of Vestervig, Børglum, Ringsted and Esrom were also founded before 1150. In Herrevad in Skåne was built the largest Cisterciense-closter of the North. In 1153 Esrom closter was changed into a Cisterciense-closter and developed fast into the spiritual center of agriculture order of the North. In the same period the church building in stone was intensified both in the country and in the town. On 30 June 1123 archbishop Asser inaugurated the altar in the cathedral of Lund and at the same time the building of Ribe and Viborg cathedrals began.

Viborg cathedral

King Niels' 30 years rule ends in murder, rebellion and civil war, where the bishops take part . In the battle of Fodevig at the coast of Skåne in the summer 1134 four Danish bishops were killed. But the church building and the closter foundations continued. Several churches were built as fortifications against inner and outer enemies, especially the round churches at Bornholm, which were meant as a refuge for the people of the island, while the round churches in the rest of the country were a mixture of a house of God or a power symbol of the local magnate.

Source: Niels Peter Stilling, Danmarks kirker,2000.

Next.: The Valdemars and the Catholic church.

photo: grethe bachmann

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