Harald Kesja, Harald the Spear, (1080–1135) was the son of Eric I of Denmark and anti-king of Denmark.
He acted as regent 1103-1104 for his father while he was on pilgrimage to Jerusalem alongside Archbishop Asser of Lund. As regent, he was courageous, but violent, cruel and debauched. Harald plundered far and wide from his stronghold Haraldsborg at Roskilde. This has greatly contributed to that he was not elected king after his father died in 1103, instead, his uncle Niels of Denmark was elected king in 1104.
In 1132, he allied with his half-brother Eric Emune in order to avenge his third brother Canute Lavard, but he later turned to the murderer Magnus I of Sweden because he had desires for the Danish throne himself. He tried to gain recognition as king by the name of Harald IV and was successful in receiving the homage of Jutland, but he was defeated along with Magnus Nilsson at the Battle of Fotevik in Skåne, 1134. He fled after the defeat but he was taken captive near Vejle on Jutland and decapitated together with eight of his sons.
Harald Kesja had married to Ragnhild Magnusdotter, the daughter of King Magnus III of Norway. They had four or six sons:
- Björn Haraldsen Ironside (d. 1134), married Katarina Ingesdotter, the daughter of Inge I of Sweden. and the father of Christina of Denmark, a Swedish queen. He accidentally drowned with his brother Eric in 1134 near Schleswig.
- Eric Haraldsen (d. 1134), was a deacon. He accidentally drowned with his brother Björn in 1134 near Schleswig.
- Magnus Haraldsen (d. 4 June 1134), killed at the Battle of Fotevik.
- Olaf Haraldsen (d. 1143), ruled Skåne in opposition to King Eric III of Denmark; he was defeated and killed in 1143.
Harald Kesja had also eight illegitimate sons beheaded with him:
- Canute Haraldsen, killed in 1135, could have been legitimate son.
- Harald Haraldsen, killed in 1135, could have been legitimate son.
- Sivard Haraldsen, killed in 1135.
- Eric Haraldsen, killed in 1135.
- Sweyn Haraldsen, killed in 1135.
- Niels Haraldsen, killed in 1135.
- Benedict Haraldsen, killed in 1135.
- Mistivint Haraldsen, killed in 1135.
|Ancestors of Harald Kesja|
Notes and references
- A kesja is in fact an unidentified weapon, probably a polearm which may have included some kind of hook in addition to the spear blade. See Viking halberd.
- Johannes C. H. R. Steenstrup. "Medieval Danish Families: Harald Kesja, --1135--, ~ Ragnhild, a daughter of Magnus Barfod". Retrieved 2010-12-21.