ESTONIAN ACADEMY
PUBLISHERS
eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
PUBLISHED
SINCE 1997
 
Acta cover
Acta Historica Tallinnensia
ISSN 1736-7476 (Electronic)
ISSN 1406-2925 (Print)

FROM SAXO GRAMMATICUS TO PETER FRIEDRICH SUHM. Danish views on medieval Estonian history; 3–29

Full article in PDF format

Authors
Tyge ANDERSEN, Priit RAUDKIVI

Abstract
A line of early Danish historians, who wrote on Medieval Estonia in relation to Denmark, is presented. Each author’s social background and the date of their contribution stand out through their sympathies and antipathies. Likewise, every author also had a Danish bias. German views were challenged, whereas Estonian views never mattered to these Danish authors. To them, the Estonians only played the part of silent extras on the historical stage; first as barbarous enemies, then as faithful subjects or allies and finally as victims. The most attractive theme to the Danish historians is the dramatic conquest in 1219, and its royal or clerical front figures, and the legends of a divine origin of Dannebrog – the national flag. The latter has been the single most popular subject, taking precedence over everything else.

 The history of Danish-Estonian active political and diplomatic relations until 1346, let alone until 1645, has been a mere niche in Danish history writing. It is possible to follow the different roles of the Danish historians in a changing political and ideological context and to view their position towards topical subjects such as justification of conquest, the means of Christianisation, colonialism and the genesis of medieval polities or states. Historiographic studies such as the present enable to understand the long and winding road towards establishing a concord on the simple course of events and critically question the written evidence, let alone the aristocratic and clerical traditions.

 
Resümee.

Eesti-Taani keskaegsete suhete siiani domineeriv narratiiv toetub suures osas baltisaksa ajalookirjutusele. See on paratamatult vaade ajaloole läbi kohalike sakslaste silmade. Samas on probleemistikul ka Taani-poolne vaatenurk, mille hinnangulised aktsendid erinevad baltlaste omadest oluliselt. Nüüdisaegse ajaloo­teadusliku sünteesi tasandil pole need kaks historiograafiat kokku saanud. Artiklis on analüüsitud taani ajalookirjutuse probleemiasetusi alates Saxo Grammaticusest kuni Peter Friedrich Suhmi 1808. aastal postuumselt ilmunud Taani ajaloo üld­käsitluseni. Seda perioodi taani historiograafias võib tinglikult nimetada annalistlikuks või siis kriitilise ajalooteaduse eelseks ajajärguks. Kuid samas on selle väär­tuseks just nimelt ehedus ja kitsalt Taani-keskne vaatenurk. Mitmete Eesti kesk­aja ajaloo justkui ammuilma selgeks räägitud probleemide puhul on ilmselt vajalik taanlaste arvamusega tõsiselt arvestada või vähemalt kontrollida nende paikapida­vust, kõrvutades seisukohti meil käibel oleva historiograafilise pärandiga.


References
1. Parallel developments within Polish and German historiography: Ekdahl, S. Crusades and colonisation in the Baltic: a historiographic analysis. – XIX Rocznik Instytutu Polsko-Skandynawskiego, 2004,1–42; also parallels in French and English historiography: Jensen, K. V. Introduction. – In: Medieval History Writing and Crusading Ideology. Eds T. M. S. Lehtonen et al. (Studia Fennica. Historica, 9.) Finnish Literature Society, Helsinki, 2005, 16–33.

 2. The name Knud is alternatively written in English either Cnut or Canute.

3. Knudsen, A. L. The use of Saxo Grammaticus. – In: The Birth of Identities. Denmark and Europe in the Middle Ages. Ed. B. P. McGuire. Medieval Centre, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, 1996, 149–151.

4. Hamburgische Kirchengeschichte. Adam von Bremen/Magistri Adam Bremensis gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum hrsg. von Bernhard Schmeidler. Capitulum 16: est illa quae Churland dicitur; …Hanc insulam credimus in Vita sancti Ansgarii Chori nominatam, quam tunc Sueones tributo subiecerunt. Una ibi nunc facta est ecclesia cuiusdam studio negotiatoris, quem rex Danorum multis ad hoc illexit muneribus. Ipse rex gaudens in Domino recitavit mihi hanc cantilenam.

5. Vööbus, A. Studies in the History of the Estonian People. Papers of the Estonian Theological Society in Exile. Stockholm, 1969, 31 and footnotes here.

6. See Rebane, P. P. Denmark and the Baltic Crusade, 1150–1227. Unpublished Ph. D. thesis. Michigan State University, Xerox University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1969; Nyberg, T. Kreuzzug und Handel in der Ostsee zur Dänischen Zeit Lübecks. – In: Lübeck 1226. Reichsfreiheit und frühe Stadt. Eds O. Ahlers et al. Verein für Lübeckische Geschichte und Altertumskunde, Lübeck, 1976, 173–206; Lind, J. et al. Danske korstog. Krig og mission i Østersøen. Høst & Søn, København, 2004.

7.            Saxo Grammaticus. Gesta Danorum, Book 14, Chapter 40, 1–12. http://www2.kb.dk/elib/lit//dan/ saxo/lat/or.dsr/
8. Ibid., 11.8, 11.11.1.

9.   Ibid., 11.11.1.

10. By an older tradition often named Knud VI.

11. Historians do not all agree on the exact dates of these expeditions, relying on differing sources. See Lind, J. et al. Danske korstog. Dates are here in accordance with those given in the latter publication.

12. Saxo Grammaticus. Gesta Danorum,16.4.3.

13. Suhm, P. F. Historie af Danmark fra Aar 1202 til 1241, IX Tome. J. F. Schultz, Kiøbenhavn, 1808, 750. Suhm’s version later copied by Bunge for his Liv-, Esth- und Churländisches Urkundenbuch nebst Regesten. Hrsg. Bunge, F. G. v. (LECUR), 1857, Band 3, XLI, a; Diplomatarium Danicum the volume covering this period is unfortunately not available in Estonia.

14.          Diplomatarium Danicum (DD), 1. række, bind 3. Det Danske Sprog-og Litteraturselskab, nr. 9. Also in LECUR, 1853, Band 1, CLX.

15. DD, 1990, 1. række, bind 7, nr. 56, 50–51. Also in LECUR, Band 1, CLXVI. Quod cum nos terram Estoniæ de infidelitatis deuio abiectis idolis, cum dei auxilio ad cultum conuertimus nominis Ihesu Christi… 

16. quod cum foelicis recordationis illustris rex Danorum Woldemarus, pater noster, terram Estoniæ de infidelitatis deuio abiectis idolis deO auxiliante ad cultum conuerterit nominis ChristianiDD, 1990, 1. række, bind 7, nr. 82 (compare nr. 86 of 21st September 1241). Also in LECUR, 1853, Band 1, CCVI (compare CCVII). NB! Bunge dated this letter erroneously
to 1249 (and CCVII), and other dates have also been applied by other authors, e.g. Suhm used the same letter twice under two different years! For an overview of earlier dates and discussion see DD.

17. E.g. Charter from king Abel (1250–1252), 8th of August 1251 to the Bishop of Saare-Lääne: …pater noster felicis memoriæ rex Woldemarus et frater noster rex Ericus, piæ recordationis…: DD, 1938, 2. række, bind 1, 46. Also in LECUR, 1853, Band 1, CCXXVIII.

18. Charter from Queen Dowager Margrethe, domina Estoniæ to the Chapter of Tallinn, August 21st 1277: Licet per quosdam dominos inclitos reges Danorum prædecessores nostros terra Estoniæ tracta sit ad cultum nominis Ihesu Christi…: DD, 1941, 2. række, bind 2, 298. Also in LECUR, 1853, Band 1, CCCCLV.

19. De edle Wolmar van Gades gnaden konink der Denen unde der Wenden, mit der hülpe Gades, mit der hülpe sines gemeinen rikes, der bischope unde der edlen Denen, riddern unde knapen, unde ok andern guden luden, sik nalende over see, Gade ton eren unde siner benedieden moder, sunte Marien, der reinen junkvrowen, dat lant Esten bedwank to dem Christen geloven van der heidenschop, unde vorlende dat riddern und knapen ofte knechten, unde begnadede se mit sodanem rechte, also noch hudes dages hebben sine manne in den landen, unde noch in den binnen beseten to Rige, to Darpte, to Ozele unde in der bröder lande, unde dat recht beholden is van koningen to koningen bet an dusse tiit: Bunge, F. G. v. Altlivlands Rechtsbücher. Breitkopt und Härtel. Leipzig, 1879, 55–70.

20. Mollerup, W. Danmarks Forhold til Lifland fra Salget af Estland til Ordensstatens Opløsning (1346–1561). Jacob Erslevs Forlag, Kjøbenhavn, 1880, 10–11.

21. Esmark, K. Godsgaver, calumniae og retsantropologi. Esrum Kloster og dets naboer ca. 1150–1250. – In: Ett annat 1100-tal. Individ, kollektiv och kulturella mönster i medeltidens Danmark. Eds P. Carelli et al. (Centrum för Danmarksstudier, 3.) Göteborg, 2004, 143–180.

22. White, S. D. Proposing the ordeal and avoiding it: strategy and power in Western French litigation, 1050–1110. – In: Cultures of Power. Lordship Status and Process in Twelfth-Century Europe. Ed. T. Bisson. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1995, 89–123.

23. Mollerup, W. Danmarks Forhold til Lifland, 1–48.

24. Ibid., 2–6.

25. Malling, O. Store og gode Handlinger af danske, norske og holstenere. København, 1777, 353–354.

26. 21st of Sept. 1329 see LECUR, 1855, Band 2, DCCXXXVII.

27. Huitfeldt, A. Danmarks Riges Krønike. Chronologia, II. Fra Erik Menved til Valdemar Atterdag. København,1601 (photographic reprint Rosenkilde og Bagger, 1977).

28. Fabricius, L. P. Sagnet om Danebroge og de ældste Forbindelser med Estland. Kirkehistoriske Samlinger, række 6: 1, bind 1933-35. København, 1933, 485–533.

29. “Livonia” instead of “Estonia” became the favourite term used in Denmark, following German custom, towards the end of the 15th century; see Jørgensen, A. D. Historisk Tidsskrift, 6, I. København, 156.

30. Huitfeldt, A. Danmarks Riges Krønike (reprinted version). Rosenkilde & Bagger, København, 1976–1978, originally 1595–1603. The 2 volumes relevant for the period 1219–1346 in Estonia were originally in two volumes respectively 1600 (Chronologia, I. Fra Knud VI til Erik Glipping) and 1601 (Chronologia, II. Fra Erik Menved til Valdemar Atterdag).

31. Huitfeldt, A. Chronologia, I, 227–228.

32. Ibid., 107–108. While describing the geography of Estonia, clearly the name encompassed more or less the area of the present republic and knowledge of Swedish insular population, mixed with Estonians.

33. Ibid., 17 (year 1186, King Knud IV).

34. Scanians and Zealanders appear to have been the driving force behind the expeditions in the Baltic Sea while Jutlanders turned their attention further westwards. For usage of this regional division among Danes during the Valdemarian era, see e.g. Heine, N. G. Valdemar II.s Udenrigs­politik. Ǿstersøproblemer omkring 1200. Humanistiske Studier, II. Institutarbejder fra Aarhus Universitet. Universitetsforlaget i Aarhus, København, 1941, 23, 61. For the opposite opinion see Johansen, P. Die Estlandliste des Liber Census Daniae. København-Reval, who argued that the Jutlanders were tougher and therefore more suitable for colonisation under hard conditions!

35. Huitfeldt, A. Chronologia, I, 56.

36. Ibid., 83.
37. Ibid., 104–105.
38. Given as Felin.

39. The Roman Emperor Constantine the Great before the Battle of Milvian Bridge in front of Rome on Oct. 28th in the year 312.

40. Huitfeldt, A. Chronologia, I, 194.

41. Exactly the same narrative pattern as explanation in a manuscript committed to paper c. 1590
by a lady Anna Munk. Again a king (Erik V, murdered in 1286) is punished for the rape of a vassal’s wife, by the husband, and as an aggravating point, similar to that of king Valdemar, king Erik was at same time guardian of his vassal’s family. Compare Grundtvig, S. et al., Danmarks gamle Folkeviser. København, 1853–1883, 145 Ab and 145 D.

42. Huitfeldt, A. Chronologia, I, 193–194.

43. Huitfeldt, A. Chronologia, II, 481.
44. Ibid., 485.

45. Holberg, L. Dannemarks Riges Historie. Deelt udi 3 Tomer. J. Levin, Kjøbenhavn, 1856, 302 (1st edition published 1732). For a different point of view see Arup, E. Danmarks Historie, bind II-A, 1282–1523. Gyldendal, København, 1961, 97–98 (original published 1926). On a danehof or diet in January 1249, King Valdemar presented financial accounts on the spending of his income, both national and personal. Apparently, the down payment for Estonia went to pay for several mortgages or for troops, capturing some strongholds on the Danish Isles from German knights.

46. Holberg, L. Dannemarks Riges Historie, 195.

47. Ibid., 197.
48. Ibid., 196, 206.
49. Ibid., 197.

50. De ordine Danebrogæ, whose author claims to have verbal confirmation from the famous antiquarian Wilhelm (erroneous for Ole) Worm, supported by written evidence in old manu­scripts kept at the Royal Archive: Holberg, L. Dannemarks Riges Historie, 209.

51. Holberg, L. Dannemarks Riges Historie, 198. To his contemporary readers, an image of a cupid, blowing soap bubbles might have come to mind. The inconsistency of life was a particular favourite motif of the rococo period, in imagery as in writings.

52. The disputed territories of the Teutonic Order are given as Alenpoys. Normecunde. Moche. Weigele. Both charters dated august 8th, 1251: DD, 1938, 2. række, bind 1, nr. 45, 46. Compare LECUR, Band 1, CCXXVIII, CCXXIX. See also Huitfeldt, A. Chronologia, I, 220.

53. But now his heart was so embittered that he did not spare his natural brother, a cruelty,
which a Pagan would have been ashamed to commit, not to mention a Christian
: Huitfeldt, A. Chronologia, I, 226.

54. Holberg, L. Dannemarks Riges Historie, 224.

55. Ibid., 301, compare 213.
56. Ibid., 302.

57. Suhm, P. F. Historie af Danmark, 654. On king’s minor importance, compared to that of their ministers see 352.

58. It has thus happened as now, and as it always will happen that it rests on the ministers’ presentations, and that the regent, as a human being, cannot remember everything: Suhm, P. F. Historie af Danmark, 342. In turn first the king’s physician, aided by the queen, then the Queen Dowager and her son, the Prince Heir and in the end the matured Crown Prince, who could not rule in his own name, until the death of his father. In this instance, though, the critic of the authors is hidden as aimed at the Pope!

59. Ekdahl, S. Crusades and colonisation, 12; Jensen, K. V. Introduction, 20–21.

60. Suhm, P. F. Historie af Danmark, 339.

61. Ibid., 332.
62. Ibid., 333
63. Also written leiðangr in Old Norse.

64. SuhmP. F. Historie af Danmark, 75.

65. The year 1205 or 1206 has become a controversy between Baltic German and Danish historians, however Suhm was convinced of 1205, thus agreeing with his foreign colleagues.

66. Suhm, P. F. Historie af Danmark, 74; Chronicler Henry, only implies that it is vengeance for attacks on Danes.

67. Nyberg, T. Kreuzzug und Handel, 185.

68. Skyum-Nielsen, N. Kvinde og Slave. Danmarkshistorie uden retouch. København, 1971, 162, 221; Lind, J. et al. Danske korstog, 199.

69. Suhm, P. F. Historie af Danmark, 342.

70. Ibid., 533.
71. Ibid., 555.
72. Ibid., 357.
73. Ibid., 358.
74. Ibid., 553.
75. Ibid., 361.
76. Ibid., 533, 555.
77. Ibid., 365–366.
78. Ibid., 683, 707.
79. Ibid., 384–385.

80. Popes did work against Danish interest from time to time, see SuhmP. F. Historie af Danmark, 555. The papal legate William is even described as anti-Danish, so why did Suhm maintain that popes were supporters of Danish kings?; SuhmP. F. Historie af Danmark, 532, 642. It has always been a favourite notion among Danish historians until the latest synthesis: Lind, J. et al. Danske korstog.

81. SuhmP. F. Historie af Danmark, 430.

82. Ibid. Estonians against Danes 399–401, 509; Danes against Estonians, 358, 383.

83. Ibid., 430–431.
84. Ibid., 510–511.
85. Ibid., 575. In Danish Erobringsret.
86.        Ibid., 666.
 

Back to Issue