Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Valdemars and the Catholic Church

Christianity and Church in the early Middle Ages IV

Ringsted, Zealand

When Valdemar 1. after 11 years of war in 1157 went on the Danish throne and became " the Great" the way was opened for the ultimate alliance between king and church. In 1170 his murdered father Knud Lavard was beatified in Ringsted, and Valdemar's son was anointed as elected king by the archbishop. The divine inherited kingdom had been introduced. And in 1177 Valdemar's foster brother Absalon was appointed archbishop.

During the Valdemars' great period between 1157 and Valdemar 2. Sejr's death in 1241 the Catholic church culminates in Denmark. The period was characterized by a close co-operation between the royal power and the church, and the organization of the church was the basis for the display of force. Stone churches were built all over the country and closters were established - and new cities and agricultural growth provided a breeding ground for boom. Around 1250 only few wooden churches were left. In return were inside the present Danish borders ab. 2000 Romanesque stone churches. Furthermore about 500 churches in the lost lands east of Øresund and in south Schleswig.

Esrom, Zealand

The closters also had a flowering period during the Valdemars. At its peak were ab. 150 closters, as many as the rest of the North alltogether. Valdemar the Great and his allied was behind the establishment of another important closter order in Denmark: the Cistercians. A mother closter in Esrom (Zealand) became a starting point, and in ab. 1170 important closters like Holme at soutwest Funen, Løgum and Ryd in Sønderjylland (south) and Øm and Vitskøl in Nørrejylland (north). At the same time Sorø closter was converted into a Cistercian-abbey and important nunneries were founded in Slangerup, Roskilde and Odense. Finally were the closters of the Augustines from the second half of the 1100. : Æbelholt in north Zealand and some Jutland closters, which churches are kept as parish churches in Tvilum, Asmild, Grinderslev and Vestervig.

Asmild (Viborg, Jutland)

In the 1300s came the Dominican order which was based upon sjælegaver (soul gifts) and the Fransiscans based upon begging. From practical reasons the closters of both orders were placed in the cities and in their own way they are a symbol of the decline in the second half of the 1200s. The Romanesque church was strong, international and far-sighted and based upon agricultural economy and the alliance between the king and the church, while the Gothic church after 1250 was an expression of a development towards mildness, suffering and guilt. The architecture was aiming at heaven, but artistically Denmark grew isolated in line with that the German Hanseatic League was an insuperable bank between the cultural exchange of Scandinavia and southern Europe.

Next: Church Feud and Civil War

Source: Niels Peter Stilling, Danmarks kirker, 2000.

photo: grethe bachmann

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