(Latin: "Of the Voyage of the Danes to Jerusalem")

Mediaeval Latin chronicle, probably written in Denmark or Norway around 1200 (no earlier than 1197, and probably no later than 1202). The author, identified only as frater X. canonicus in the surviving manuscripts, was probably a Premonstratensian monk, resident in either Denmark or Norway.

The text was found in a parchment manuscript in Lübeck, ca. 1620, by Johann Kirchmann. This manuscript is now lost, but three paper manuscript copies are known. The first printed edition was published in 1684 in Amsterdam by Kirchmann's grandson, B.C. Kirchmann.

De Profectione describes the experiences of the Danish crusaders who set off in 1188, following Pope Gregory VIII's call (in 1187) for a crusade to deliver Jerusalem from the forces of Saladin (later known as the Third Crusade).

The chronicle is divided into 27 chapters, as follows:

1-2: The author complains of the sins of the world; Jerusalem is occupied by the heathens.

3: (1187) Partial transcript of a papal letter sent to the secular princes of Europe. Not identical with Audita tremendi, the papal bull declaring the crusade. No other copy of this letter exists - it may be a fiction or a paraphrase of Audita tremendi.

4: (1187) The letter is read aloud at Knud VI Valdemarssøn's Christmas court in Odense.

5: (1187) Danish nobleman Esbern Snare is moved by the papal letter and gives a speech in favour of a crusade.

6: (1187-1188) Fifteen Danish noblemen take oath to follow Esbern Snare on crusade, but ten recant, due to the "plottings of the old Enemy" (i.e., the Devil).

7-8: The crusaders meet at Hals, near the mouth of the Limfjord, and sail from there to Læsø, and on to the mouth of the Götaelv. Here, they meet the Norwegian Ulv from Lauvnes.

9: (1188) A description of Tønsberg in Norway; the ships are repaired.

10: The crusaders sail from Tønsberg to the Seløy islands. Here, on advice from Ulv, they decide to sail to Bergen to seek advice from Norway's King Sverre

11: A description of Bergen and "the uproar caused by the Danes there".

12: King Sverre arrives to Bergen, inspects the Danes' ships and equipment.

13-14: Digression: the story of a false pretender for the Norwegian throne. Sven Thorkilssøn, one of the crusaders, who has been a rebel against King Sverre, is forgiven.

15-18: The crusaders set sail, but have to wait for Ulv. When Ulv arrives, he wants to wait some more. The crusaders split - some, under Sven, travel on, but others wait with Ulv for a while before setting off.

19-22: Svens ships are crushed by a storm in the North Sea, on Good Friday, and the survivors drift ashore in Frisia. From here, they travel overland to Venice.

23: Brief description of Venice.

24: The crusaders sail to the Holy Land.

25: (After September 7, 1192) Arrival at Jerusalem, which is reported to be "in the hands of heathens and idolators". Since there is a truce (brokered by Richard the Lionheart and Saladin), the crusaders manage to visit the holy places. Some Englishmen confuse the Danes with Greeks, and try to capture them and kill them, but the confusion is cleared up.
Some of the crusaders return home via Rome, others via Constantinople, where they are received with honour and gifts by the "King of Greece" (the Byzantine Emperor).

26: Digression: description of the ikon of the Virgin Mary, known as Eudoxa, in Constantinople.

27: The Danes take their leave of the imperial "hirdmen" and travel from Greece through Hungary and Saxony to their homeland.

The chronicle may have been written for a number of purposes - but it is most likely that the purpose was to explain the apparent failure of the crusaders to achieve anything of note. The chronicle makes a point of describing the shipwreck as taking place on Good Friday "at the hour of Our Lord's death", and thus establishes the drowned crusaders as martyrs.

There may also be a subtext dealing with the political affairs in Norway. King Sverre's very public reconciliation with the rebellious Sven may reflect a normalisation of affairs in the wake of the grueling civil wars that had been tearing Norway apart. The delaying actions of Ulv may also represent a deliberate effort on his part to hinder Sven - the author certainly thinks so, describing Ulv in Biblical terms as a parallel figure to Husai (who gives bad advice to Absolom, as described in 2 Sam. 15-17).

Whatever the purpose, the text itself deals much more with the events in Norway than with the crusade itself. To a modern reader, this can seem somewhat comical - after all, they did arrive too late for the crusade itself....

Note to 25-27: The confusion of the Danes with Greeks in the Holy Land in 25 is probably closely coupled with the reference to the imperial "hirdmen" in 27. The Byzantine emperors had a long tradition of keeping a lifeguard of Varangian mercenaries, originally vikings from Russia or the Nordic countries. With origins far removed from the local court intrigues, they were more reliable than a locals.

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