Absalon - Bishop and Advisor - Policies


Absalon's main political goal was to free Denmark from entanglements with the Holy Roman Empire. Absalon reformed the Danish church organisation to closer match Holy See praxis, and worked to keep Denmark a close ally of the Holy See. However, during the schism between Pope Alexander III and Antipope Victor IV, Absalon stayed loyal to Valdemar even as he joined the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barberossa 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 to the emperor Frederick Barbarossa at Dole in 1162. When Valdemar returned to Denmark, he was convinced into strengthening the Danevirke fortifications at the German border, with the support of Absalon.

Absalon built churches and monasteries, supporting international religious orders like the Cistercians and Augustinians, founding schools and doing his utmost to promote civilization and enlightenment. In 1162, Absalon transformed the Sorø Abbey of his family from Benedictine to Cistercian, granting it lands from his personal holdings. In 1167, Absalon was granted the land around the city of "Havn" (English: Harbour), and built there a castle in the coastal defense against the Wends. Havn quickly expanded as one of Scandinavia's most important centers of trade, and eventually evolved into modern-day Copenhagen. It was also Absalon who held the first Danish Synod at Lund in 1167. He was also interested in history and culture, and commissioned Saxo Grammaticus to write Gesta Danorum, a comprehensive chronicle of the history of the Danes. In 1171, Absalon issued the "Zealand church law" (Danish: Sjællandske Kirkelov), which reduced the number of Canonical Law offenses for which the church could fine the public, while instituting the tithe payment system. Eventual violation of the law was specified as subject to a secular legal process.

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