Свен Аггесен


Known as the Thrugot or Thrugun family (Dan. Trugotslægt, Trundslægt) by modern historians, they, like other twelfth-century Danish dynasties, had no recorded designation at the time. The identity of the group was asserted by the use of recurrent names (Kristiarn, Asser, Agge, Eskil, Sven) and by public cooperation between kinsmen, usually for or against the king. Descent from a common ancestor also counted for something: from Skialm the White in the case of Absalon and his cousins, from Thorkil/Sven in the case of Sven Aggesen's family.

They were eminent in both Jutland and Scania and held land in Sjælland as well. The loss of land through Archbishop Eskil's endowments of new monasteries and canonries, the loss of the Eigenkirche of Lund in 1178, and the purges of 1177-82 reduced the cohesion and importance of the family, which ceased thereafter to play a central role in political affairs.

Elaborate and largely imaginary pedigrees of these people were published by Langebek in SRD, i, tracing descent from Pálna-Tόki, Hákon jarl Eiríksson and Ulf of Galicia. These are connexions wrenched out of context from saga-genealogies and cobbled together. They do not occur in Knýtlinga saga, a compilation of c.1250, which contains some Lundensian traditions of the Thrugot family. The ascertainable history of the dynasty begins in 1089, with the appointment of Asser Svensen (no. 6) to the see of Lund, although it must already have been important by then.

1. THRUGOT: Sueno, filius Thrugut (LC, p. 40 above), presumably a Jutlander alive in the first half of the eleventh century.

2. THRUGUN: Knýtlinga saga, ch. 40: Sveinn and Ástráðr váru kallaðir Þorgunnusynir. Þorgunna, mόðir þeira, var dóttir Vagns Ákasonar. A plausible tradition, supported by WR (see p. 46) and by NL, but Sven Aggesen uses 'son of Thrugut', not 'son of Thrugun'.

3. INGA: mater venerabilis Azeri, NL, 105 (Weeke, 195; 19 Nov.).

4. THORKIL/SVEN: obiit Throckil pater archiepiscopi, qui dictus est Suen (NL, 78; 20 June), Sueno, filius Thrugut—see no. 1 above. If he was inter primores regni, he may have been the staller Sven who witnessed the great Lund donation of 1085 (DD, i:2, no. 21). Knýtlinga saga, chs. 66-8, tells that he and his brother, Ástráðr, served Knut IV and were imprisoned in Flanders as hostages for the release of King Olaf Hunger until freed by the intercession of the martyred Knut. The story seems to reflect later links between the descendants of St Knut and of Thorkil/Sven; see no. 16 below.

5. ASSER: an Ascer Akonis filius witnessed the 1085 Lund charter after Sven (no. 4 above), and the recurrence of these names among Thorkil/Sven's descendants suggests kinship.

6. ASSER: bishop of Lund from 18 Nov. 1089, archbishop from 1103, died 5 May 1137: vir acer et amarus, et sapiens et nullius constancie (CR; SM, i 28). If he was of canonical age at his election, he must have been born c. 1050, but he remained politically active to at least 1134.

7. KRISTIARN: Christiarn pater domini arch. Eschili (Weeke, 128; 20 May); Christiemus, Suenonis filius (LC; p. 39 above). Sumamed Gamlse, 'the Old', in annals (DMA, 319, 320). According to Saxo, born to high status in Jutland and politically active against King Nicolaus and later in the election of Erik III (GD, 360, 361, 371; EC, 135-6, 356). (The two brothers, Asser and Kristiarn, flourished in the period down to 1137; the other brothers were active in the 1140s and 1150s and may not have been sons of Inga.)

8. SVEN: canon of Lund, provost and bishop of Viborg 1133-53, died in Palestine 3 March 1153/4 (NL, 63 n.) on pilgrimage with his brother Eskil, no. 9 below (SM, ii 437-41). Famous for his piety and high birth, with St Kjeld as his provost from c. 1147.

9. ESKIL: also inter primores regni according to Sven in LC (p. 40 above); described in SM, ii 437, as 'warlike and carnal, swollen with power... ferocious and fearsome'; died in Palestine on pilgrimage with his brother, Bishop Sven, on 3 March 1153/4 (SM, ii 437-9; NL, 63 n.). Not mentioned by Saxo, but he could be the præfectus of Erik III who witnessed DD, i:2, no. 85 (1142/6) and the villicus of Roskilde in 1145 (DD, i;2, no. 91).

10. AGGI: mentioned in LC (p. 40 above); he could be the chamberlain Ago of DD, i:2, no. 76 (1104/17), and possibly the father of no. 11.

11. KARL: Karl agisun attested the 1145 Lund charter, DD, i:2, no. 86.

12. ESKIL: provost of Lund c.1131, bishop of Roskilde 1134-8, archbishop of Lund 1138-78; died at Clairvaux 6 Sept. 1381. Apparently married when young; see no. 17 below.

13. SVEN: attested DD, i:2, no. 88 (1 Sept. 1145) as Swen Christians sun; mentioned by Saxo as the father of Kristiarn and Asser, nos. 18-19 below (GD, 51L 512; EC, 562, 563).

14. AGGI; patre meo Aggone in HC (p. 69 above); fought with Biorn Haraldsen for Erik II at Onsild in 1132, and for Sven III at Grathe Heath in 1157 (GD, 410; EC, 414). Possibly the brother who died unreconciled to Archbishop Eskil (SM, ii 436-7).

15. NICOLAUS: comes, came et sanguine michi proximus in Archbishop Eskil's 1158 charter for Esrum (DD, i:2, no. 126). He became a monk there and left land to the brothers at Tjæreby and Veksebo in N. Sjælland (DD, i:2, no. 127). The Vita Prima of St Bernard (iv, ch. 26) records that he was propinquus to Eskil, but a great sinner, and dead (Weeke, 102; 30 April) by the time of Eskil's visit to Clairvaux in 1156. As he held the rare new title of 'count' (greve) and was still adolescens at his death, he must have been the son of a powerful man or woman, perhaps of Count Erik (fl. 1130-45), whose son Karl married Eskil's daughter (no. 17 below), or of Count Ubbi Esbiornsen (DD, i:2, nos. 32, 34), who married King Nicolaus's daughter, Ingerd (Ingigerth) and was hanged in 1133 (GD, 364; EC, 140). His connexion with Eskil was presumably through Eskil's mother or sister. See McGuire, and Szacherska 1977, 140 n., for further refs.

16. KARL: the 'Lord Karl' was a charter witness 1145-57/8 (DD, i:2, nos. 88, 102, 121); son of Cecilia, daughter of Knut IV; Saxo says he was governing Halland for Sven in 1153 (GD, 388; EC, 382).

17. ESKIL'S DAUGHTER: Saxo says that the sons of Karl, the conspirators of 1176/7, had Eskil as their maternal grandfather (GD, 503; EC, 549), although he fails to mention the fact earlier, when he describes how in 1153(7) Karl's wife (unnamed) was abducted by Jon Sverkerson of Sweden and later returned to him (GD, 388; EC, 382). This alliance of the Thrugot family with Knut IV's descendants through Cecilia created a yet more powerful group, perhaps in response to the growing power of the Skialm family under Ebbi Skialmsen in Sjælland and Toki Skialmsen, who married Knut Lavard's daughter, also in the 1140s, and got land in Jutland.

18. KRISTIARN: a 'Kristiarn, whose father was Sven' was exiled after confessing complicity in Magnus Eriksen's plot in 1176/7 (GD, 511-12; EC, 562-3).

19. ASSER: canon and provost of Lund by 1171 (DD, i:3, no. 19), exiled for conspiracy 1176/7 (GD, 512; EC, 564); at Magdeburg 1185-6 (DD, i:3, nos. 119, 125); died before 1194 (Weeke, 62; 25 March), and left land at Venestad and Bjæverskov to his chapter (Weeke, 70-1). He may have had a sister, Cunnild doter Suens (Weeke, 89), and he left heirs who sold more land at Bjsverskov to the brothers of Sorø c. 1200 (SRD, iv 36 and 470).

20. SVEN: for his biography see pp. 1-4 above.

21. KNUT: son of Karl; an extremely well-connected but unlucky noble man, who was implicated in the conspiracy of 1176/7, fled to Sweden, invaded Denmark 1179/80, was wounded, imprisoned and disinherited by Valdemar I (GD, 502-23; EC, 549-80). According to Saxo, he was grandson of Eskil, cognatus with Absalon (through Absalon's mother, Inga, perhaps a sister of Count Erik, Knut's paternal grandfather?), and propinquus to Birger jarl of Sweden (also a great-grandson of Knut IV, through his daughter Ingerd/Ingigerth). Date of death unknown; no known descendants.

22. KARL: shared his brother Knut's fortunes but was mortally wounded in the invasion of 1179/80, and his corpse later found in a wood on the Halland-Götaland frontier (GD, 523; EC, 580). These brothers were aided by a half-brother, a bastard son of Karl Eriksen called Benedikt (GD, 506-9; EC, 554-9), and the appearance of a Bendict Karlssun among the twelve Scanian worthies who swore to the boundaries of the Lund estate at Bällingslev (1202/41; DD, i:4, no. 72) raises the possibility either that Benedikt the bastard lived to be very old, or that a son of Karl Karlsen was named after his uncle Benedikt.

23. ASSER: Ascer Cristiarnsun appears in a brotherhood associated with Harsyssel, NW Jutland, in the Brother-list (KVJ, i:2, 84, ii:2, 550); presumably a descendant, alive in the 1190s, of old Kristiarn, no. 7 above.

24. ESKIL: Asceri hic filius erat wrote Saxo of a conspirator unmasked in 1176/7 (GD, 511; EC, 562), and the only Asser he mentions in the context was Provost Asser (no. 19 above). It is possible that Archbishop Eskil had an otherwise unmentioned brother called Asser, who could have been this Eskil's father.


Thus within four years, 1176-80, six members of the most powerful group of kinsmen in Denmark were dead or exiled or imprisoned. Eskil the former archbishop was preparing for death as a monk at Clairvaux; and the way was clear for the dominance of Archbishop Absalon and his kinsmen: Esbiom Snara, Alexander Petersen, Ebbi Olafsen, Suni Ebbesen and his seven sons, Aki Stighsen and Provost Toki Stighsen, and the four sons of Ingerd/Ingigerth Petersdottir.

However, the records of Lund, the Brother-list, and the Avia Ripensis suggest that descendants of Sven Aggesen's family survived as local 'gentry' in both Scania and Jutland. A Benedikte Kristiarnsdottir married Thorkil Bille c.1230 (Weeke, 203-4); Peter Aggesen and Kristiarn and Nicolaus, Aggi and Kristiarn, formed brotherhoods in Omersyssel and Almindsyssel; Kristiarn Benediktsen lived near Aarhus in 1243 (SM, ii 223); and Kristiarn Aggesen was alive in 1275 (Avia Ripensis, 20).


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