The Battle of Grathe Heath on 23 October 1157 marked the end of a civil war for royal power between Svend III Grathe, Knud V and Valdemar I the Great. In 1146 Sven Grathe became the King of Zealand and Skåne, and Knud the King of Jutland. Knud made several attempts to conquer Zealand (1147 and 1150), but was ousted and fled to Germany. Valdemar, who had initially joined ranks with Svend, who had appointed him Duke of Schleswig, switched allegiance, becoming engaged to Knud’s half-sister Sophie in the process. However, the three candidates for the crown agreed to share the power, so Valdemar got Jutland, Knud the islands and Svend got Skåne. A reconciliation banquet was held in Roskilde on 9 August 1157, but Svend had his men attack the other two kings. Knud was killed, but Valdemar managed to flee to Jutland, where he gathered a large army. By late September, he had become so strong that he dared to meet Svend’s army, and on 23 October, the two armies met on Grathe Heath. The battle ended with Svend being forced to flee. He came out in some swamps at the end of Lake Hauge Sø, where he lost his weapons and armour. He was later captured and killed by the blow of an axe. A stone cross commemorating the event was erected by Thor Lange. The monument marks the spot of “Grathe Chapel”, where Svend Grathe is believed to be buried.
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