In this year of our Lord, 1365, I, Marienna Jensdatter, wife of Asbjørn Pedersen Marsvin to Buesholm, will tell you of my life and family, if it so pleases you.

We have two homes, the family estate outside Ystad in the hundred of  Ljunit, and also a town house in Ystad. The townhouse is a merchant home, a tall, three-storied building.

The ground floor is the office and shop area, the second has the utility spaces; kitchen, store rooms, pantry and a hall/dining room. The third floor holds the private apartment, bedrooms and a solar.


The house is located near the square, on the southern side of St. Mary’s church and only a couple of doors down from the Hansa kontor. It is prime real estate near the harbour, and a very modern building. My father built it not ten years ago, around the same time he bought the sturdy cog that plies the Baltic on my behalf. Out the back is a stable, our cabbage patch, and a chicken coop.

The estate house at Buesholm is a relatively modern building too. It is built of brick. Next to the house the kitchen is a separate building, and there are many barns and storerooms to hold the produce of the farm. Nowadays, the land is split into three tenant farms rather than worked from the estate buildings, and so most of the buildings are unused.

The tenant farmers have built new farmhouses on their lands, simple buildings in cross-timber filled in with wattle-and-daub.


The coast is a very short distance from our estate. On the coast is a small fishing village, built practically brand new by Asbjørn. Ten or so families live there now, fishing herring for their lord and their own survival. The farm workers and other people from the area join the fishermen when the herring runs, but they do so on license from Asbjørn, who owns the fishing rights. It is a lucrative business, and he has copied it from the king who controls the west-coast fishing. The proceeds of this village are mine, it was my morning gift.

 The head of our household is Asbjørn Pedersen Marsvin. I am his wife, Marienna. I brought the merchant house in Ystad into the marriage, along with the business that was built up by my father Jens before he perished in the plague. My mother died a long time ago, and her sister Estrid has brought me up. Now she lives with us and is nurse to my children! Asbjørn’s parents both died from the plague too, it was his good fortune that he was away in Europe when it struck our region. I do not know why I was spared, but I thank God daily for his grace.

When my father died, I became the ward of my uncle Ulf, who left Denmark many years ago now, in the great Anarchy, for England. I presented quite a dilemma to him, until he managed to marry me to Asbjørn. Although I am not noble born, I was rich, and so I became married to a noble man. On very good terms, too, I might add. But I am happy to be his wife. He is a kind and honourable man, and not afraid of business as some of his peers. We get along well.

The king rules Ystad, and his representative is the Gälkare, the constable of Skåne. The king is Valdemar of Denmark, the fourth of that name, and he is also known as Atterdag. I mention this because although we are Danish now, only a few years ago the Swedish king, Magnus Eriksson, ruled us. Then his son, Erik, rebelled, and conquered our province. Later, when father and son were reconciled, Valdemar brought his armies east. For the moment there is peace, and Valdemar’s daughter Margrethe is married to Magnus’ son Håkon, king of Norway.

It won’t last, that is the one sure thing. We are a rich province, and so it seems we are doomed to be battled over. However, much of the province is ruled not by the king, but the Archbishop of Lund. Both hundreds outside Ystad, Herrestad and Ljunit, are owned by the bishop with full royal privilege. So for our country estate, Asbjørn owes fealty to the church. In town, however, the king holds court. Complicated as it sounds, it gets difficult only when the king and bishop are arguing. Right now they are friends, as Niels Jonsen is a Jutish man and loyal to the Danish throne.

Things may soon change again. The Swedish noblemen are grumbling over Magnus’ taxes and wars, and the rumours (merchants are always the first to hear rumours) say that a faction of Swedish nobles have approached Mecklenburg to offer the Swedish crown to the Duke’s son!

To have a German king in Sweden would benefit the German Hansa, and so they are likely to support such a venture. Both Magnus and Valdemar are hostile to the Germans, and if Albrekt were to take the throne of Sweden, Valdemar is almost certain to support Magnus. And so it will be war again. That would make it difficult for those of us who deal with the Hansa daily, but if we are careful it could mean better profits too.

The Hansa is a powerful association of trading towns around the Baltic. The cities are mostly (but not only) German and Dutch, and Lübeck is the most powerful of them all since Valdemar sacked Visby a few years ago.

They have set up trading privileges with all the kingdoms, and have a virtual monopoly on the salt trade. And salt is important. Without salt, we’d starve. They bring salt from Lüneburg to the North, and return carrying fish, oxen, grains, furs and amber.

I purchase salt from the Germans on commission, and I also deal in spices, fabrics and other small goods that I buy from the German markets. I have contacts in Norway, in Nidaros, which means I can supply narwhal tusks, furs and stockfish to the Germans as well as local goods. I’m also negotiating with a Flemish trading house for Scarlet and broadcloth of the finest quality.

International contacts are important, and in my business I have got to know many people. Because I am a woman, I prefer to deal with other women traders – that way we both get a fairer deal. Since the plague, many widows have become merchants, and I have got to know quite a few in such far-flung places as Flanders and Norway. When they travel this way, they often stay with us. We speak German then, for German is the language of the Hansa. Like Latin is to the Church, German is to merchants.

Denmark has no real native currency, there has been no minting for a long time, apart from some attempts at a royal penning, which is not worth much. When we trade we deal mostly in German currency, usually Cologne coin, but sometimes we see French or English coins. There is a standard system for converting currency, so it is not a problem.

The year of our Lord is 1366, and it is God's grace that I may let you know what has happened since I wrote the above. The rumours were true, and Albrekt of Mecklenburg marched on Sweden with an army of mercenaries, paid in good German coin. With no support from his nobles, Magnus was unable to resist, and was taken captive. A German sits on the Swedish throne, and Valdemar is unhappy. He plots with the young king of Norway, his son-in-law and Magnus' son, and the Germans are watching his every move. But there is little to be done, for Valdemar cannot afford to outbid the Hansa for the mercenaries' swords. In the meantime, Valdemar tries to force the Germans out of his lands by revoking their priviledges and granting new ones to the English and Flemish traders. We see baysalt from Biscay coming in now, competing with the Luneburg salt of the Germans. I fear those mercenaries may soon be coming hither, and have made arrangements to protect my property and my people when it happens.

The Lord has been kind to my lord and myself. We have two children, daughters both, but perhaps we will still be given a son. In any case, they will have substantial dowries, and I will make very sure they are given to good husbands when the time comes. Husbands such as mine, for we lead a happy life together. While my husband spends much time riding the tourneys, he is always happy to return home. He is fond of his children, and very kind to me, and while tourneying is expensive, we earn a good living from my trade. The Lord grant us it stays this way! 

A potted background of Skåne in the 14th Century
1325 Archbishop Esger Juels dies. His successor is Karl Eriksen, son of Sir Erik Jonsen and Ingerd. He receives his stole from Johannes XXII in Avignon.
1326 Valdemar Eriksen replaces king Christoffer on Denmark’s throne.
1327 King Valdemar issues a document giving Åhus special pretection. Marshal Ludvig Albrektsen witnesses the document in Malmö.
1327 The Danehof is held in Helsingborg.

A certain Jens Uffesen receives Rönne härad and town from the Archbishop. In return for handing them over, Karl Eriksen receives Vemmenhög with full royal priviledge. The archbishop promptly buys Rönne back for 1000 marks, and gives Jens Uffesen Slettetorp and Vällinge, along with Tystofte in Själland for life.

1329 Christoffer deposes Valdemar and regains his throne with the help of Count Johan of Holstein, who is given Skåne and Blekinge in pawn. The Germans are hard to the province.
1332 The Skåne people kill many Germans in Malmö and Helsingborg, and send for King Magnus Eriksson of Sweden and Norway, offering him their country. Archbishop Karl Eriksen leads the delegation to Magnus in Kalmar. On the 19th June, he confirms the priviledges of the church, and promises to compensate any damages incurred in the support of his kingship of the country. People mentioned:

Arch Dean Knud Eriksen (brother of Karl)

Dean Peder Jensen (future archbishop)

Knights Jens Uffesen Neb, Anders Nielsen, Niels Jakobsen, Niels Hak, Holger Nielsen, Peder Laxmand: Squires Sakse Pedersen, Peder Torbensen, Jakob Pedersen of Turestopsö (Vemmenhög), Niels Hak of Ljungby, Jakob Jensen.

4 Nov 1332 A general peace treaty is signed. Magnus will hold Skåne and Blekinge, Lister and Ven with all Royal priviledges, in pawn for a sum of 34,000 pure silver marks, cologne weight. 10,000 marks of this sum will be given to count Johan’s man Sir Eggert Brockdorff, who previously held Helsingborg in pawn from Johan. Until the sum is paid, the castle there will be held by Sune Jonsson and Sir Nicolaus Langelo, of Holstein. Magnus signs himself Rex Sveciae, Norvegiae et terrae Scaniae.
1333, end of april The Landsting meets at Lund. Magnus appoints Swedish knights Anund Sture and Ulf Filipsson as his governors of Skåne.
November, 1333 Magnus gives the widow of Marshal Ludvig Albrektsen Blekinge and Lister in pawn for the 8,000 marks he owes her.
16 May, 1334 Karl Eriksen dies. Dean Peder Jensen is chosen as his successor. Denmark is effectively kingless.
1334 Otto Christoffersen makes an attempt to take the throne of Denmark. He is kept captive in Holstein until 1341.
May, 1338 Otto’s brother Valdemar Christoffersen confirms Anklam’s priviledges at the Skåne market, naming himself ’with God’s grace heir to the kingdom of Denmark’.
1339 Pope Benedikt XII in Avignon responds negatively to a letter from King Magnus Eriksson, requesting the Pope’s confirmation of his legitimacy as king of Skåne and his claim to the rest of Denmark.
Oct 1339 Magnus accuses Jens Uffesen of treason. The settlement gives most of Jens’ lands to the king.
1339 Magnus pawns Skanör and Falsterbo to Albrekt of Mecklemburg for his sister Eufemia’s dowry. 2,000 mark cologne for Skanör before the 25 July 1340, another 3,000 marks to be gained from the market.
1340 Count Gert of Holstein is killed in a Jutish uprising. Valdemar Christoffersen is crowned king at Viborg, and marries Count Valdemar of Sønderjylland’s daughter Helvig. King Valdemar immedately begins to reclaim the parts of Denmark held by other parties – he himself holds very little.
28th June 1340 Magnus issues a document outlining the governance of Skåne. Certain named men will be free of taxes. Priests are free of all duties. Knights and squires have the right to the three-mark fines from their men. The Arch Bishop is free from secular justice. Nobody may be arrested and carried away from Skåne without conviction. The church has freedom of their tithes. Queen Blanche and the prince Erik witness the document.
1341 Valdemar received København from the bishop of Roskilde, but is forced to pawn it to two Holsteiners.
Early 1340’s Valdemar fights on Sjaelland. Magnus attacks him with the help of his brother-in-law Albrekt of Mecklenburg. Magnus purchases the pawn of København for 7000 marks. Valdemar attacks the city but does not win it. Magnus bars the Hansa from the market and confiscates their property in all kingdoms. A cease fire between Magnus and Valdemar is settled.
1343 Magnus makes peace with the Hansa. He agrees with Valdemar to settle their dispute over Skåne through a court in Varberg.
18 Nov 1343 Valdemar confirms that he has sold Skåne, Halland, Blekinge, Lister and Ven for 39,000 marks. 34,000 has already been paid to Count Johan of Holstein. 8,000 has been paid to Valdemar for Halland. 7,000 is considered paid through the handing over of København. The kings swear each other fealty. Valdemar formally gives Magnus the land, through placing a sod of dirt in his cloak.
1353 King Magnus appoints Bengt Algotsson (supposedly Magnus’ lover) duke of Finland and Halland.
16 April 1355 Arch bishop Peder Jensen dies. Chancellor Jakob Nielsen Kyrning is his successor.
1355 Bengt Algotsson confiscates the arch bishop’s estates.
1356 Jakob Nielsen returns from Avignon.
1356 Håkan Magnusson (younger son of Magnus Eriksson) is made king of Norway.
17 October, 1356 Erik Magnusson declares an uprising against his father from Kalmar. He takes Halland, and Bengt Algotsson flees. In the treaty between father and son, Erik is given Skåne, Ven, Blekinge, Lister, South Halland, Östergötland, Småland and Finland. Magnus keeps the rest of Sweden, North Halland and Finnveden in Småland.

Duke Albrekt, who aided Erik, is given Skanör, Falsterbo and Fuglie. South Halland is given to Albrekt’s sons.

Erik’s council includes Arch bishop Jakob, Jens Truedsen, Tue Galen of Färlöv, Holger Gregersen Krognos and Axel Ågesen Thott of Härlöv.

1358 King Erik declares war on Valdemar of Denmark, along with his allies of Holstein and Mecklenburg. Magnus attacks at the end of the year and takes Helsingborg.
1359 Magnus allies with Valdemar. Magnus, Blanka and Håkan go to København. Håkan is betrothed to Margarethe Valdemarsdatter, who is six years old.

Valdemar attacks Skåne and Lister, but is forced to withdraw. Magnus reneges on his promise to give Helsingborg to Valdemar.

Erik takes arch bishop Jakob prisoner at Åhus castle.

Erik and Magnus make peace, then Erik dies suddenly. His wife Beatrix dies during a caesarian, along with the child.

1360 The Pope orders Arch Bishop Jakob to appear before a papal court on accusations of holding prisoner an associate of the former legate John Guilaberti.

Valdemar arms for war after making peace with Albrekt, and conquers Skåne.

1361 Arch bishop Jakob dies and is buried on the 18th Feb, in Lund. Niels Jonsen is his successor – a jutish clerk who is faithful to Valdemar.

The Hansa offers Valdemar 1,200 marks for the return of their priviledges. Valdemar demands 4,000, the Hansa agrees. Then Valdemar conquers Gotland, one of the Hansa’s own territories. The Hansa allies itself with Magnus and Håkan and send a fleet up the sound. Valdemar defeats it, then reaffirms his previous alliance with Magnus and Håkan. Håkan’s intended bride, Elisabeth of Holstein, is intercepted on her way to Sweden by Niels Jonsen and held captive on Bornholm.

1363 Håkan marries Margrethe Valdemarsdatter. Elisabeth of Holstein is set free.
1364 The war between Denmark and Sweden is ended.
1365 Albrekt of Mecklenburg’s son, Albrekt, is made king of Sweden and takes Magnus captive.
1367 The three factions of the Hansa, the vendish, prussian and dutch cities, join forces with the dukes of Holstein and Mecklenburg (and the king of Sweden) against Valdemar.
1368 Valdemar leaves Denmark to his governor Henning Podebusk while he pursues support in Europe.

Albrekt of Sweden attacks Skåne, taking control of the north west. He is supported by Tue Andersen Galen (nephew of Peder Jensen, previous Arch Bishop), Anders Jakobsen Grim and Hasse Tuesen Galen.

The war goes against Denmark. The cathedral compound in Lund is conquered and Åhus is besieged. Niels Jonsen flees to Bornholm.

1369 The peace treaty of Stralsund is signed. The Hansa get their priviledges confirmed and enlarged. They are also given the rights of all incomes and castles in Skåne for 15 years.
1370 The arch bishop publishes an edict against Albrekt’s supporters in Skåne. Valdemar is restored as king in Skåne, with the exception of the ownership of the castles, still held by the Hansa. Piracy and rivalry between the parties reduces the value of the markets, and the Hansa does not make the profit it expected from the arrangement.
1371 The Hansa engages Henning Podebusk as their governor in Skåne. Magnus is freed from captivity.
1375 King Valdemar Atterdag dies. His byname means ‘day again’, and refers to him restoring Denmark and the kingship.
1376 Valdemar’s five-year old grandson Olof, son of Håkan Magnusson and Margrethe, is his successor, his parents regents. Another Albrekt of Mecklenburg, grandson of the Duke and nephew of the king of Sweden, is a pretender, but is passed over.
1377 Skåne knights Tue Galen and Anders Jakobsen declare for Albrekt, along with Jakob Axelsen Thott, Peter Due and squire Jesse Tufe, in return for sums of money.
1378 The governance of Skåne is given to Gregor Swerting and Nicolaus Segefrid from Stralsund.
1379 Duke Albrekt of Mecklenburg (father of the king of Sweden) dies. Niels Jonsen dies also, and is succeeded by Magnus Nielsen.
1380 An agreement of ’land peace’ in Skåne is signed by the Danish crown, the arch bishop’s men and the opposing knights.

Four months later representatives of Skåne, including the knights and the arch bishop, journey to Sweden to sign a separate peace treaty between Sweden and Skåne.

Signatories of the treaties include also Trued Mus, Holger Jensen, squire Niels Jonsen of Åraslöv in Göinge, and Niels ’svarteskåning’ (black scanian). Some of these were known pirates, encouraged by Margrethe to harass the Hansa.

Håkan of Norway dies, leaving his son king of Norway and his wife, Margrethe, sole regent in both Denmark and Norway.

1382 Margrethe defeats Tue Galen, rebellious ’gälkare’ (steward) of Skåne.
1384 Albrekt of Sweden attacks Skåne and also Västergötland (held by Norway). When Margrethe’s troops march on his camp, he flees. The chronicles mention his ’shyness’ ironically.
1385 Olof comes of age. The Hansa at first refuses to hand back the castles in Skåne despite the agreement, but eventually give in.