Valdemar II (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: Valdemar II was a warrior, lawgiver, builder, and Crusader. He extended Danish control over North Germany, Scandia, and Estonia, leaving to his successors the dream of an empire extending over the Baltic Sea.
Valdemar I (1157-1182) had brought to an end the long struggles between the Church and Crown for dominance in the north. Working with Absalon, the Archbishop of Lund, he began a crusading program which secured internal peace through external expansion, occupying the military talents of potentially rebellious nobles in defeating Wendish pagans on the Mecklenburg coast and islands and seizing Scandia (the southern part of modern Sweden), while establishing royal authority inside the kingdom. His defeat of the Wendish pirates made possible the rapid expansion of agriculture, the foundation of towns, and the growth of international trade. He secured his mainland conquests by wedding his sons, Canute (Knut) and Valdemar, to daughters of the Welf prince, Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony.
Canute VI (1182-1202) continued this program, with his brother Valdemar’s help, by occupying Mecklenburg, Holstein, and the archbishopric of Hamburg-Bremen. Canute was not a modern nationalist. He paid little attention to the ethnic origin of his subjects, and since his Danish-speaking subjects were hardly numerous enough to settle on the underpopulated mainland coast, the principal beneficiaries...
(The entire section is 1570 words.)
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