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Waldemar I

Waldemar I (Waldemar the Great) (wäl´dəmär), 1131–82, king of Denmark (1157–82). In 1147, Waldemar, Sweyn III, and Canute (son of Magnus the Strong and grandson of King Niels) each claimed the Danish throne. After a war Waldemar received Jutland as his share of Danish territory. When Canute was assassinated (probably on Sweyn's orders), Waldemar conducted a campaign against King Sweyn, whom he defeated (1157) in a great battle near Viborg. Although now supreme in Denmark, Waldemar found his country overrun by the Wends. With Henry the Lion of Saxony and Albert the Bear of Brandenburg he subjugated the Wends and forced them to accept Christianity. He became the vassal of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I in order to gain German support, but was later powerful enough to free himself from that control. Waldemar codified the laws and gained Norwegian territory. The marriages of his daughters to the sons of Frederick I, Eric X of Sweden, and Philip II of France increased his prestige. Archbishop Absalon was his adviser in ecclesiastical, political, and military affairs. Waldemar was succeeded by his son, Canute VI (reigned 1182–1202).

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