Waldemar IV (Denmark)

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Waldemar Atterdag, fresco in Sankt Peders Kirke, Næstved , Denmark.

Waldemar IV. Atterdag ( Danish Valdemar IV Atterdag ; * around 1321 ; † October 24, 1375 at Gurre Castle near today's Helsingör ) was King of Denmark since 1340 .

His epithet “Atterdag” literally means “day again ” in Danish - the usual interpretation in German historiography as “In what times do we live!” Is derived from the Low German “ter tage”, not from Danish.

Waldemar Atterdag was the father of the Danish Queen Margaret I of Denmark.


Waldemar was the youngest son of King Christoph II of Denmark and Euphemia of Pomerania-Wolgast , daughter of Duke Bogislaw IV. From 1326 to 1338 he was educated at the court of the Roman-German Emperor Ludwig of Bavaria . In 1340 he became King of Denmark and married Helvig , the daughter of Eric II of Schleswig . 1347 Waldemar Atterday was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem by Margrave Ludwig of Brandenburg to the Knights of the Holy grave defeat.

The first outbreak of the plague in Europe from 1348–1350, which also killed many people in Northern Europe, and the so-called Waldemark Wars (two wars between Denmark and the Hanseatic League ) 1360–1370 fall under Waldemar Atterdag's reign . Waldemar Atterdag died in 1375. His body was first buried in Vordingborg and in 1377 transferred to the monastery church of Sorø .

Waldemar's policy

At the time Waldemar came of age around 1336 there was no central government in Denmark, and rule over the pledged provinces was exercised by the pledges, some of them by pledges. Previously, an uprising by his older brother had failed in 1334. As a result, Emperor Ludwig the Bavarians mediated between Waldemar and the Count of Holstein Gerhard III. enables. The emperor 's son of the same name made himself available as an intermediary . The takeover of power in Denmark, however, could only take place after the death of the count, as this was his nephew as Waldemar III. had put on the throne and was thus de facto the governor of Denmark.

Restoration of imperial unity

After Gerhard's murder, Waldemar was elected King of Denmark in 1340. His sphere of influence was very limited, however, as it only included the northern part of Jutland . The part of Jutland north of the Königsau was to the former King Waldemar III. pledged, while Schleswig was pledged to the Count of Holstein . Skåne had been sold to King Magnus Eriksson by its pawnbroker . Waldemar IV was recognized as King of Denmark and had the right to redeem the pledged lands.

Waldemar began redeeming Zealand , with the Bishop of Roskilde doing important services to him. In general, he knew how to make the church his most important ally. Copenhagen was made available to him, and in the years to come Waldemar acquired castle after castle by conquering or redeeming the pledge. He sat preferred canons too Schlossvögten. Waldemar gained funds for his further expansions from the income of the redeemed castles, through taxes and the sale of crown rights in Estonia , which he sold to the Teutonic Order . The Wittelsbachers were also important donors. From 1349 to 1354 he took part on their side in several campaigns in Germany. In agreement with the Pope, he could even tax the Danish church. At the same time he managed to accommodate his followers in the various cathedral chapters, which he could then provide with church benefices . In collaboration with the Pope in Avignon , the Danish king gained full control of the Danish bishopric for the first time. When he died, almost all the bishops' seats were occupied by supporters of Waldemar.

Waldemark cross in Visby from the 14th century. Latin inscription commemorates the battle of July 27th 1361.

By 1349 Waldemar had restored royal rule over the Zeeland archipelago, over most of Jutland and part of Funen . During the 1350s he succeeded in regaining the remaining provinces, in 1358 he captured Nordborg Castle on Alsen . In 1359 Atterdag survived an uprising of the nobility under the leadership of Niels Bugge . After the reconciliation between the government and the opposition in the land peace of 1360 , Waldemar Schonen conquered the Hanseatic city of Visby on Gotland and in the following year in the Battle of Visby , whereupon he also acquired the title "Lord of the Gotlanders".

Waldemark Wars

Waldemar's expansion policy, however, called the rival Wendish Hanseatic cities on the scene. In the first war between the Hanseatic League and Denmark , where it came to rule over Skåne and Skåne market, Waldemar successfully maintained, but was defeated in the Second War of 1368 to 1370. In these and Norway initially was under Haakon VI. included, but had to quickly conclude a separate peace because of a sea blockade.

The war was waged by the Cologne Confederation of 1367, namely the Hanseatic League , Duke Albrecht von Mecklenburg and the Holstein counts , with the aim of guaranteeing the old trade privileges and gaining control over the Øresund . Waldemar left the warfare to his henchman Henning Podebusk ; he himself undertook a trip to Europe at this time, probably to find further allies. The Mecklenburg and Holsteiners planned a complete division of Denmark: Duke Albrecht would get Sjælland , Møn and Falster , his son, King Albrecht of Sweden, would get Skåne and Gotland and the Holstein counts Jylland , Fyn and Langeland . Since Duke Albrecht did not have enough armed forces, he brought pirates to help. The Hanseatic cities under the leadership of Lübeck reached the favorable separate peace of Stralsund in 1370 . They received the fortresses Helsingborg , Malmö , Skanør and Falsterbo for 15 years, to be released for 12,000 marks of pure silver. This brought customs on the Øresund from Denmark to the Hanseatic League. In addition, the Danish Imperial Council was not allowed to elect a king in future without the prior consent of the Hanseatic League. Duke Albrecht felt left out and concluded a separate peace with Denmark the following year. It determined that his grandson Albrecht should become King of Denmark after Waldemar Atterdag.


During the last years of his reign, Waldemar endeavored to gain rule over Schleswig. Before he could realize these plans, however, he died in 1375 on the Gurre Slot (Gurre Fortress) in northern Zealand .

Waldemar ensured good relations with the Pope, whom he visited in 1364, with the respective emperor, i.e. with Ludwig the Bavarian as well as with Charles IV , and with Mecklenburg, which could be a valuable ally for him against Sweden and the Counts of Holstein.

Within his empire, Waldemar tried to fill vacant positions in the church with loyal people and to increase his income, above all through a rigorous tax policy.

Waldemar IV was one of the most important medieval kings in Denmark. The sources give the impression of an intelligent, cynical, nefarious and wise ruler with a sure instinct for politics and economics, as propagated by Niccolò Machiavelli over a hundred years later . His successor was his grandson Oluf III. of Denmark, the son of his daughter Margret and Haakons VI. of Norway, son of Magnus II of Sweden.

There are many legends and stories about the king; he is the hero of the legend of the " Wild Hunter ". A famous legend about his mistress Tove, who was murdered at the Queen's instigation, inspired many romantic poems. Originally, however, his ancestor Waldemar I seems to have been the hero of this legend.


  1. Christoffer (1341 / 1344–1363), called "Junker Christoffer", Crown Prince of Denmark (also Duke of Laaland and Halland ). Buried in Roskilde Cathedral .
  2. Margrethe (1345–1350) ⚭ ?.
  3. Ingeborg (1347 – approx. 1370) ⚭ 1362 Heinrich von Mecklenburg . Ingeborg was Erich von Pommern 's maternal grandmother .
  4. Katrine (* 1349), died as a child.
  5. Valdemar (* 1350), died as a child.
  6. Margrete (1353–1412), later Queen Margrete I of Denmark.

See also


  • Sven Tägil: Valdemar Atterdag och Europa. Gleerup, Lund 1962.
  • Theodor Storm: A festival on Haderslevhuus

Web links

Commons : Waldemar IV.  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Sven Tägil: Valdemar Atterdag och Europe. Gleerup, Lund 1962.
  2. Heinrich Beck [Hrsg.] Hero saga and hero poetry in Germanic , page 69
  3. Cf. Brothers Grimm : Deutsche Mythologie, Cap. XXXI. Ghosts , Chapter 31 as well as: Brothers Grimm : Deutsche Mythologie, Cap. XXII. Heaven and Stars , Chapter 22
predecessor government office successor
before Interregnum :
Christoph II.
King of Denmark
Olaf II.