Valdemar I
Valdemar I Denmark (The Kalmar Union).png
Valdemar I
King of Denmark
Reign 14th September, 1157 - 20th November, 1182
Predecessor Cnut V
Successor Cnut VI
Born 1142
Birka, Svealand
Died 20th November, 1182
Rønnede, Denmark
Spouse Emma of Anglia
Issue Cnut VI Valdemarsen

Sophia Valdemarsdotter
Valdemar Valdemarsen
Magnus II Valdemarsen
Joanna Valdemarsdotter
Cnut Valdemarsen

Full name
Valdemar Knudsen
House Estridsson
Father Cnut V Lavard
Mother Ingeborg of Kiev

Valdemar I was the eldest son of Cnut V Lavard and named after his great-grandfather Vladimir II of Kiev. Much like his father he would have to spend the early part of his reign fighting for the crown.

Cnut V was murdered by nobles disaffected by his concentration of matters to the south and whilst a core quickly rallied around the young Valdemar others promoted an illegitimate descendant of Eric I, Harald Emune. The two agreed to divide the kingdom however in 1158 Harald reneged on the agreement and tried to conquer the whole country. Untested in battle Valdemar relied on the powerful Hvide family and they delivered victory, and Harald Emune's head. He would repay them with land and church titles. Archbishop Absalon, one of the Hvides and a good friend of Valdemar's, would use his estates to begin the construction of Copenhagen in 1167.

Also like his father Valdemar I's domestic policy is of little note, apart from the construction of several fine coastal fortresses, and he is mostly famous for the campaigns against the Obodtrites and Wends which extended Denmark's influence and territory permanently southwards.

Danish missionaries had already successfully Christianised the Ranish on the island of Rugia. Though the Ranish had sworn off raiding Denmark their mainland cousins in Pomerania had not. At Absalon's urging, Valdemar declared war on the Wends and Obodtrites. They had already endured nearly a century of pressure from Bremen and Magdeburg, while Cnut V had been granted influence over the Western Slavs by Emperor Frederick I. A previous crusade in 1147 had delivered much of the future Holstein to German settlement. Valdemar now moved against the Obodtrites crushing their host at Peene, dividing the conquered lands between Denmark and Henry the Lion of Saxony. The Slavs would rebel against the new rulers in 1164 but their new prince, Pribislav, secured peace by converting to Christianity and campaigning against his still pagan neighbours. He would be rewarded with the Duchy of Mecklenburg in response. Denmark however kept hold of a small Pomeranian territory south of Rugia, 'to protect the safety of the Christian island'.

Unlike his predecessors Valdemar died peacefully in 1182 at the age of 40. He had married Emma of Anglia, Cnut III's eldest daughter. Denmark would be inherited by their eldest child, Cnut VI and then subsequently by their second son, Magnus II.

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