Danish prelate, jurist and poet. Born no later than 1170, died 1228. Son of Sune Ebbesen.
As a young man, in the 1180s, Anders Sunesen and his brother Peder studied in Paris. Anders continued his studies in Italy and England, and returned to Paris as magister (teacher at the University).
Upon his return to Denmark in the 1190s, he became dean of Roskilde Cathedral and royal chancellor. In 1201, he succeeded his relative, the illustrious Archbishop Absalon, as Archbishop of Lund and primate of Denmark.
Anders Sunesen took part in the Danish crusades in the Baltic region, including Estonia, where he was present at the Battle of Lyndanise, 1219. According to later popular tradition, his fervent prayers for triumph over the heathens persuaded God to send the Danes a vivid sign of divine favour: the Dannebrog, now the national flag of Denmark, which is said to have miraculously fallen from the sky,on that occasion.
As Danish primate, he tried to unite the Benedictine monasteries in the country under a single head. He also sponsored the founding in Lund of the first Dominican monastery in Denmark, in 1221-1222.
In 1222, Anders Sunesen received papal permission to step down from the archbishopric, due to failing health. He retired to the East Scanian manor Ivøhus, where he lived out the remainder of his life. Contemporary conjecture that he might have retired because he was suffering from leprosy cannot be confirmed. He was buried in Lund Cathedral.
Of all the many achievements of Anders Sunesen, the most significant is his monumental didactic poem, the Hexaëmeron ("The Six Days", referring to the Creation), which summarises the theological debate of his time in 8040 hexameters.
In all probability, Anders Sunesen was also one of the co-authors of the Skånske Lov ("Scanian Law", an early codification of Scanian regional legislative tradition), which he also published in a commented Latin edition, known as Anders Sunesens Parafrase af Skånske Lov ("Anders Sunesen's Paraphrase of Scanian Law").