Absalon

Absalon

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Absalon'
Start a new discussion about 'Absalon'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Absalon was a Danish
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

 and statesman, who was the Bishop of Roskilde from 1158 to 1192 and Archbishop of Lund from 1178 until his death. He was the foremost politician and churchfather of Denmark in the second half of the 12th century, and was the closest advisor of King Valdemar I of Denmark
Valdemar I of Denmark
Valdemar I of Denmark , also known as Valdemar the Great, was King of Denmark from 1157 until 1182.-Biography:...

. He was a key figure in the Danish policies of territorial expansion in the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

, Europeanization in close relationship with the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

, and reform in the relation between the Church and the public. He combined the ideals of Gregorian Reform
Gregorian Reform
The Gregorian Reforms were a series of reforms initiated by Pope Gregory VII and the circle he formed in the papal curia, circa 1050–80, which dealt with the moral integrity and independence of the clergy...

 ideals with loyal support of a strong monarch
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

ical power.

Absalon was born into the powerful Hvide
Hvide
Hvide was a medieval Danish clan, and afterwards in early modern era a Danish noble surname of presumably one surviving branch of leaders of that clan. Before 16th century it was not used as surname...

clan, and owned great land possessions. He endowed several church institutions, most prominently his family's Sorø Abbey
Sorø Abbey
Sorø Abbey was the preeminent and wealthiest monastic house in all of Denmark during the Middle Ages. It was located in the town of Sorø in central Zealand.- History :...

. He was granted lands by the crown, and built the first fortification of the city that evolved into modern-day Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

. His titles were passed on to his nephews Anders Sunesen
Anders Sunesen
Anders Sunesen was a Danish archbishop of Lund, Scania, from March 21, 1201, at the death of Absalon, to his own death in 1228. He is the author of the Latin translation of the Scanian Law and was throughout his life engaged in integrating a Christian worldview into the old legislature...

 and Peder Sunesen. He died in 1201, and was interred at Sorø Abbey.

Early life


Absalon was born around 1128. Due to a name which is unusual in Denmark, it is speculated that he was christened on the Danish "Absalon" name day
Name day
A name day is a tradition in many countries in Europe and Latin America that consists of celebrating the day of the year associated with one's given name....

, October 30. He was the son of Asser Rig, a magnate
Magnate
Magnate, from the Late Latin magnas, a great man, itself from Latin magnus 'great', designates a noble or other man in a high social position, by birth, wealth or other qualities...

 of the Hvide
Hvide
Hvide was a medieval Danish clan, and afterwards in early modern era a Danish noble surname of presumably one surviving branch of leaders of that clan. Before 16th century it was not used as surname...

clan from Fjenneslev on Zealand. He was also a kinsman of Archbishop Eskil of Lund
Eskil of Lund
Eskil was a 12th century Archbishop of Lund, in Skåne, Denmark .He was one of the most capable and prominent princes of the Church in Scandinavia...

. He grew up at the castle of his father, and was brought up alongside his older brother Esbern Snare and the young prince Valdemar, who later became King Valdemar I of Denmark
Valdemar I of Denmark
Valdemar I of Denmark , also known as Valdemar the Great, was King of Denmark from 1157 until 1182.-Biography:...

. During the civil war following the death of Eric III of Denmark
Eric III of Denmark
Eric III Lamb was the King of Denmark from 1137 until 1146. He was the grandson of Eric I of Denmark and the nephew of Eric II of Denmark, whom he succeeded on the throne. He abdicated in 1146, as the first and only Danish monarch to do so. His succession led to a period of civil war between...

 in 1146, Absalon travelled abroad to study theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, while Esbern fought for Valdemar's ascension to the throne. At Paris, he was influenced by the Gregorian Reform
Gregorian Reform
The Gregorian Reforms were a series of reforms initiated by Pope Gregory VII and the circle he formed in the papal curia, circa 1050–80, which dealt with the moral integrity and independence of the clergy...

 ideals of churchly independence from Monarchical rule. He also befriended the canon William of Æbelholt at the Abbey of St Genevieve, whom he later made abbott of Eskilsø Abbey.

Absalon first appears in Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus also known as Saxo cognomine Longus was a Danish historian, thought to have been a secular clerk or secretary to Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, foremost advisor to Valdemar I of Denmark. He is the author of the first full history of Denmark.- Life :The Jutland Chronicle gives...

's contemporary chronicle Gesta Danorum
Gesta Danorum
Gesta Danorum is a patriotic work of Danish history, by the 12th century author Saxo Grammaticus . It is the most ambitious literary undertaking of medieval Denmark and is an essential source for the nation's early history...

at the end of the civil war, at the brokering of the peace agreement between Sweyn III
Sweyn III of Denmark
Sweyn III Grathe was the King of Denmark between 1146 and 1157, in shifting alliances with Canute V and his own cousin Valdemar I. In 1157, the three agreed a tripartition of Denmark...

 and Valdemar at St. Alban's Priory, Odense. He was a guest at following Roskilde
Roskilde
Roskilde is the main city in Roskilde Municipality, Denmark on the island of Zealand. It is an ancient city, dating from the Viking Age and is a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network....

 banquet given in 1157 by Sweyn to his rivals Canute V
Canute V of Denmark
Canute V of Denmark was a Swedish prince and King of Denmark from 1146 to 1157, as co-regent in shifting alliances with his Sweyn III and Valdemar I. Canute was killed at the so-called Bloodfeast of Roskilde in 1157. Nothing certain is known about his person and character.-Biography:Canute was...

 and Valdemar. Both Absalon and Valdemar narrowly escaped assassination at the hands of Sweyn on this occasion, and escaped to Jutland
Jutland
Jutland , historically also called Cimbria, is the name of the peninsula that juts out in Northern Europe toward the rest of Scandinavia, forming the mainland part of Denmark. It has the North Sea to its west, Kattegat and Skagerrak to its north, the Baltic Sea to its east, and the Danish–German...

, whither Sweyn followed them. Absalon probably did not take part in the following battle of Grathe Heath
Battle of Grathe Heath
The Battle of Grathe Heath was fought in 1157 between the Danish armies of Valdemar I and his rival for the Danish throne, Sweyn III. Valdemar's forces won the battle, and Sweyn III was slain while attempting to flee.-Background to the battle:...

 in 1157, in which Sweyn was defeated and slain and led to Valdemar ascending the Danish throne. On Good Friday
Good Friday
Good Friday , is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of...

 1158, bishop Asser of Roskilde died, and Absalon was eventually elected bishop of Roskilde
Roskilde (titular see)
Roskilde is a Catholic titular see. The former see, suppressed in the sixteenth century, was Roskilde in Denmark....

 on Zealand with the help of Valdemar, as the king's reward for the Hvide family support.

Bishop and advisor


Absalon was a close counsellor of Valdemar, and chief promotor of the Danish crusades against the Wends
Wends
Wends is a historic name for West Slavs living near Germanic settlement areas. It does not refer to a homogeneous people, but to various peoples, tribes or groups depending on where and when it is used...

. During the Danish civil war, Denmark had been open to coastal raids by the Wends. It was Absalon's intention to clear the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 of the Wendish pirates who inhabited its southern littoral zone which was later called Pomerania
Pomerania
Pomerania is a historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea. Divided between Germany and Poland, it stretches roughly from the Recknitz River near Stralsund in the West, via the Oder River delta near Szczecin, to the mouth of the Vistula River near Gdańsk in the East...

. The pirates had raided the Danish coasts during the civil war of Sweyn III, Canute V, and Valdemar, to the point where at the accession of Valdemar one-third of Denmark lay wasted and depopulated. Absalon formed a guardian fleet, built coastal defenses, and led several campaigns against the Wends. He even advocated forgiving the earlier enemies of Valdemar, which helped stabilize Denmark internally.

Wendish campaigns



The first expedition against the Wends
Wends
Wends is a historic name for West Slavs living near Germanic settlement areas. It does not refer to a homogeneous people, but to various peoples, tribes or groups depending on where and when it is used...

 that was conducted by Absalon in person, set out in 1160. These expeditions were successful, but brought no lasting victories. What started out as mere retribution, eventually evolved into full-fledged campaigns of expansion with religious crusader motives. In 1164 began twenty years of crusades against the Wends, sometimes with the help of German duke Henry the Lion
Henry the Lion
Henry the Lion was a member of the Welf dynasty and Duke of Saxony, as Henry III, from 1142, and Duke of Bavaria, as Henry XII, from 1156, which duchies he held until 1180....

, sometimes in opposition to him.

In 1168 the chief Wendish fortress at Arkona
Cape Arkona
Cape Arkona is a cape on the island of Rügen in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. Cape Arkona is the tip of the Wittow peninsula, just a few kilometres north of the Jasmund National Park....

 in Rügen
Rügen
Rügen is Germany's largest island. Located in the Baltic Sea, it is part of the Vorpommern-Rügen district of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.- Geography :Rügen is located off the north-eastern coast of Germany in the Baltic Sea...

, containing the sanctuary of their god Svantevit
Svetovid
Sventevith, Sventovid , Svyatovit , Svyatovid , Svyentovit , Svetovid , Suvid Sventevith, Sventovid (Russian and Bulgarian, and alternative name in Serbo-Croatian), Svyatovit (Ukrainian), Svyatovid (alternative name in Ukrainian), Svyentovit (alternative name in Ukrainian), Svetovid (Serbian,...

, was conquered. The Wends agreed to accept Danish suzerainty and the Christian religion at the same time. From Arkona, Absalon proceeded by sea to Charenza
Charenza
Charenza, also Karentia or Karenz, later also Gharense, was a medieval burgh on the island of Rügen. It was the administrative center of the Rani tribe and of the Principality of Rugia. Today, the remnants are called Venzer Burgwall....

, in the midst of Rügen, the political capital of the Wends and an all but impregnable stronghold. But the unexpected fall of Arkona had terrified the garrison, which surrendered unconditionally at the first appearance of the Danish ships. Absalon, with only Bishop Sweyn of Aarhus, and twelve "housecarl
Housecarl
In medieval Scandinavia, housecarls and sometimes spelled huscarle or houscarl) were either non-servile manservants, or household troops in personal service of someone, equivalent to a bodyguard to Scandinavian lords and kings. This institution also existed in Anglo-Saxon England after its...

s" thereupon disembarked, passed between a double row of Wendish warriors, 6000 strong, along the narrow path winding among the morasses, to the gates of the fortress, and, proceeding to the temple of the seven-headed god Rugievit
Rugiewit
Davor was a Slavic deity. In a questionable interpretation he is seen by some as a local personification of the all-Slavic god of war Perun worshipped in all areas where the Slavic mythology was present....

, caused the idol to be hewn down, dragged forth and burnt. The whole population of Garz was then baptized, and Absalon laid the foundations of twelve churches in the isle of Rügen. Rügen was then subjected to Absalon's Bishopric of Roskilde.

The destruction of this chief sally-port of the Wendish pirates enabled Absalon considerably to reduce the Danish fleet. But he continued to keep a watchful eye over the Baltic, and in 1170 destroyed another pirate stronghold, farther eastward, at Dziwnów
Dziwnów
Dziwnów is a town in north-western Poland situated on the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the river Dziwna. Previously in the Szczecin Voivodeship , Dziwnów has been in Kamień Pomorski County in the West Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999. The population is 3,031 .-Twin towns — Sister cities:Dziwnów is...

 on the isle of Wolin
Wolin
Wolin is the name both of an island in the Baltic Sea, just off the Polish coast, and a town on that island. It is separated from the island of Usedom by the Świna river, and from mainland Pomerania by the Dziwna river...

. Absalon's last military exploit came in 1184, off Stralsund
Stralsund
- Main sights :* The Brick Gothic historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.* The heart of the old town is the Old Market Square , with the Gothic Town Hall . Behind the town hall stands the imposing Nikolaikirche , built in 1270-1360...

 at Whitsun
Whitsun
Whitsun is the name used in the UK for the Christian festival of Pentecost, the seventh Sunday after Easter, which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ's disciples...

, when he soundly defeated a Pomeranian fleet that had attacked Denmark's vassal, Jaromir of Rügen.

Policies


Absalon's main political goal was to free Denmark from entanglements with the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

. Absalon reformed the Danish church organisation to closer match Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 praxis, and worked to keep Denmark a close ally of the Holy See. However, during the schism
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

 between Pope Alexander III
Pope Alexander III
Pope Alexander III , born Rolando of Siena, was Pope from 1159 to 1181. He is noted in history for laying the foundation stone for the Notre Dame de Paris.-Church career:...

 and Antipope Victor IV, Absalon stayed loyal to Valdemar even as he joined the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barberossa
Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick I Barbarossa was a German Holy Roman Emperor. He was elected King of Germany at Frankfurt on 4 March 1152 and crowned in Aachen on 9 March, crowned King of Italy in Pavia in 1155, and finally crowned Roman Emperor by Pope Adrian IV, on 18 June 1155, and two years later in 1157 the term...

 in supporting Victor IV. This caused a split within the Danish church, as it possibly forced Eskil into exile around 1161, despite Abaslon's attempts to keep the Danish church united. It was contrary to Absalon's advice and warnings that Valdemar I rendered fealty
Fealty
An oath of fealty, from the Latin fidelitas , is a pledge of allegiance of one person to another. Typically the oath is made upon a religious object such as a Bible or saint's relic, often contained within an altar, thus binding the oath-taker before God.In medieval Europe, fealty was sworn between...

 to the emperor Frederick Barbarossa at Dole
Dole, Jura
Dole is a commune in the Jura department in the Franche-Comté region in eastern France, of which it is a subprefecture ....

 in 1162. When Valdemar returned to Denmark, he was convinced into strengthening the Danevirke
Danevirke
The Danevirke The Danevirke The Danevirke (modern Danish spelling: Dannevirke; in Old Norse Danavirki ; in German Danewerk ; is a system of Danish fortifications in Schleswig-Holstein (Northern Germany). This important linear defensive earthwork was constructed across the neck of the Cimbrian...

 fortifications at the German border, with the support of Absalon.

Absalon built churches and monasteries, supporting international religious orders like the Cistercians and Augustinians
Augustinians
The term Augustinians, named after Saint Augustine of Hippo , applies to two separate and unrelated types of Catholic religious orders:...

, founding schools and doing his utmost to promote civilization and enlightenment. In 1162, Absalon transformed the Sorø Abbey
Sorø Abbey
Sorø Abbey was the preeminent and wealthiest monastic house in all of Denmark during the Middle Ages. It was located in the town of Sorø in central Zealand.- History :...

 of his family from Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 to Cistercian, granting it lands from his personal holdings. In 1167, Absalon was granted the land around the city of "Havn" (Harbour), and built there a castle in the coastal defense against the Wends. Havn quickly expanded as one of Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

's most important centers of trade, and eventually evolved into modern-day Copenhagen
Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital and largest city of Denmark, with an urban population of 1,199,224 and a metropolitan population of 1,930,260 . With the completion of the transnational Øresund Bridge in 2000, Copenhagen has become the centre of the increasingly integrating Øresund Region...

. It was also Absalon who held the first Danish Synod
Synod
A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

 at Lund
Lund
-Main sights:During the 12th and 13th centuries, when the town was the seat of the archbishop, many churches and monasteries were built. At its peak, Lund had 27 churches, but most of them were demolished as result of the Reformation in 1536. Several medieval buildings remain, including Lund...

 in 1167. He was also interested in history and culture, and commissioned Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus also known as Saxo cognomine Longus was a Danish historian, thought to have been a secular clerk or secretary to Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, foremost advisor to Valdemar I of Denmark. He is the author of the first full history of Denmark.- Life :The Jutland Chronicle gives...

 to write Gesta Danorum
Gesta Danorum
Gesta Danorum is a patriotic work of Danish history, by the 12th century author Saxo Grammaticus . It is the most ambitious literary undertaking of medieval Denmark and is an essential source for the nation's early history...

, a comprehensive chronicle of the history of the Danes. In 1171, Absalon issued the "Zealand church law" , which reduced the number of Canonical Law offenses for which the church could fine the public, while instituting the tithe
Tithe
A tithe is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a contribution to a religious organization or compulsory tax to government. Today, tithes are normally voluntary and paid in cash, cheques, or stocks, whereas historically tithes were required and paid in kind, such as agricultural products...

 payment system. Eventual violation of the law was specified as subject to a secular legal process.

Archbishop of Lund


Archbishop Eskil returned from exile in 1167. Eskil agreed on canonizing
Canonization
Canonization is the act by which a Christian church declares a deceased person to be a saint, upon which declaration the person is included in the canon, or list, of recognized saints. Originally, individuals were recognized as saints without any formal process...

 Valdemar's father Knud Lavard in 1170, with Absalon assisting him at the feast. When Eskil stepped down as Archbishop of Lund in 1177, he chose Absalon as his successor. Absalon initially resisted the new position, as he did not want to loose his power position on Zealand, but complied with Papal orders to do so in 1178. By a unique Papal dispensation, Absalon was allowed to simultaneously maintain his post as Bishop of Roskilde. As the Archbishop of Lund, Absalon utilized ombudsmen
Ombudsman
An ombudsman is a person who acts as a trusted intermediary between an organization and some internal or external constituency while representing not only but mostly the broad scope of constituent interests...

 from Zealand, demanded unfree labour
Unfree labour
Unfree labour includes all forms of slavery as well as all other related institutions .-Payment for unfree labour:If payment occurs, it may be in one or more of the following forms:...

 from the peasantry, and instituted tithes. He was a harsh and effective ruler, who cleared all Orthodox Christian liturgic
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 remnants in favour of Papal standards. A rebellion in the Scania
Scania
Scania is the southernmost of the 25 traditional non-administrative provinces of Sweden, constituting a peninsula on the southern tip of the Scandinavian peninsula, and some adjacent islands. The modern administrative subdivision Skåne County is almost, but not totally, congruent with the...

n peasantry forced him to flee to Zealand in 1180, from where he returned and subdued the Scanians with the help of Valdemar.

When Valdemar died in 1182, his son succeeded him as Canute VI
Canute VI of Denmark
Canute VI was King of Denmark . Canute VI was the eldest son of King Valdemar I and Sophia of Polotsk.-Life:...

, and Absalon served as Canute VI's counsellor. Under Canute VI, Absalon was the chief policymaker in Danish politics. Absalon kept his hostile attitude to the Holy Roman Empire. On the accession of Canute VI in 1182, an imperial ambassador arrived at Roskilde to the new king swear fealty to Frederick Barberossa, but Absalon resolutely withstood him. This represented the final Danish rejection of German supremacy.

Death



When Absalon retired from military service in 1184 at the age of fifty-seven, he resigned the command of fleets and armies to younger men, like Duke Valdemar, the later king Valdemar II
Valdemar II of Denmark
Valdemar II , called Valdemar the Victorious or Valdemar the Conqueror , was the King of Denmark from 1202 until his death in 1241. The nickname Sejr is a later invention and was not used during the King's own lifetime...

. He instead confined himself to the administration of the Danish empire. In 1192, Absalon made his nephew Peder Sunesen his successor as Bishop of Roskilde, while his other nephew Anders Sunesen
Anders Sunesen
Anders Sunesen was a Danish archbishop of Lund, Scania, from March 21, 1201, at the death of Absalon, to his own death in 1228. He is the author of the Latin translation of the Scanian Law and was throughout his life engaged in integrating a Christian worldview into the old legislature...

 was named the chancellor
Chancellor
Chancellor is the title of various official positions in the governments of many nations. The original chancellors were the Cancellarii of Roman courts of justice—ushers who sat at the cancelli or lattice work screens of a basilica or law court, which separated the judge and counsel from the...

 of Canute VI. Absalon died at Sorø Abbey on March 21, 1201, 73 years old, with his last will granting his personal holdings to the Abbey, apart from Fjenneslev which went to Esbern Snarre. He had already given Copenhagen to the Bishopric of Roskilde. Absalon was interred at Sorø Abbey, and was succeeded as Archbishop of Lund by Anders Sunesen.

Legacy


Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum was not finished until after the death of Absalon, but Absalon was one of the chief heroic figures of the chronicle, which was to be the main source of knowledge about early Danish history. Absalon left a legacy as the foremost politician and churchfather of Denmark in the 12th century. Absalon was equally great as churchman, statesman and warrior. His policy of expansion was to give Denmark the dominion of the Baltic for three generations. That he enjoyed warfare there can be no doubt; yet he was not like the ordinary fighting bishops of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, whose sole indication of their religious role was to avoid the shedding of blood by using a mace in battle instead of a sword. Absalon never neglected his ecclesiastical duties, and even his wars were of the nature of crusades.

In the 2000s, "Absalon" was adopted as the name for a class of Royal Danish Navy
Royal Danish Navy
The Royal Danish Navy is the sea-based branch of the Danish Defence force. The RDN is mainly responsible for maritime defence and maintaining the sovereignty of Danish, Greenlandic and Faroese territorial waters...

 vessels, and the lead vessel of the class. HDMS Absalon (L16)
HDMS Absalon (L16)
HDMS Absalon and her sister ship HDMS Esbern Snare are the biggest ships ever to serve in the Royal Danish Navy , and are the two members of the Absalon class flexible support ships...

 and Esbern Snare (L17) were launched and commissioned by Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 in 2004 and 2005. In December 2008, HDMS Absalon was involved in the rescue of putative Somali pirates 90 miles off Yemen
Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....

 in the Gulf of Aden
Gulf of Aden
The Gulf of Aden is located in the Arabian Sea between Yemen, on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and Somalia in the Horn of Africa. In the northwest, it connects with the Red Sea through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, which is about 20 miles wide....

. The craft from Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 was reported to hold rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 assault rifles, and to have been adrift for several days. Also per the report, the Absalon took the sailors and weapons aboard, sunk the craft, and turned the sailors over to the Yemen coast guard. The Absalon, according to The New York Times report, "was deployed in the Gulf of Aden [in] September ['08] as part of an international effort to curb piracy," part of Combined Task Force 150
Combined Task Force 150
Combined Task Force 150 is a multinational coalition naval task force working under the 25 nation coalition of Combined Maritime Forces and is based in Bahrain established to monitor, inspect, board, and stop suspect shipping to pursue the "War on Terrorism" and in the Horn of Africa region ...

.

Further reading

  • Saxo, Gesta Danorum
    Gesta Danorum
    Gesta Danorum is a patriotic work of Danish history, by the 12th century author Saxo Grammaticus . It is the most ambitious literary undertaking of medieval Denmark and is an essential source for the nation's early history...

    ,
    ed. Holder (Strassburg, 1886), books xvi.
  • Steenstrup, Danmarks Riges Historie. Oldtiden og den ældre Middelalder, pp. 570–735 (Copenhagen, 1897–1905).
  • Absalon's Testamentum, in Migne
    Jacques Paul Migne
    Jacques Paul Migne was a French priest who published inexpensive and widely-distributed editions of theological works, encyclopedias and the texts of the Church Fathers, with the goal of providing a universal library for the Catholic priesthood.He was born at Saint-Flour, Cantal and studied...

    , Patrologia Latina
    Patrologia Latina
    The Patrologia Latina is an enormous collection of the writings of the Church Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers published by Jacques-Paul Migne between 1844 and 1855, with indices published between 1862 and 1865....

    209,18.