Kværsæde: Fast demobilisering eller almindelig ledingsafløsning?


  • Niels Lund


Qwærsæth: Permanent demobilization or ordinary redemption of the leding?It has been generally assumed that in the middle ages parts of Denmark were permanently exempt from military obligations and not included in the division of the country into hafnæ, districts responsible for the provision of one crew member for the leding ship provided by the skipæn. These parts rendered a due called qwærsæth, from a word meaning 'sitting home', in lieu of the expeditio, or lething, rendered by others. This is based on certain clauses in the code of Jutland, which deal with those finding themselves obliged to render qwærsæth for part of their lands, and lething for other parts.It has, however, never been satisfactorily explained why parts of the land should have been treated like this, nor have such tracts been located or the extent of this exemption elucidated. Neither will the code of Jutland sustain this interpretation. Clause III, 17 makes it clear that a skipæn was expected to either perform expeditio or render qwærsæth: 'if some of a man’s house stand in one man's skipæn, and some in somebody else's, then where his barn stands and his harvest is stored, there lething shall be performed or qwærsæth rendered. Contrary to what Erslev thought, qwærsæth is therefore identical to the redemption paid by the skipæn in those years when it was not called upon to perform actual leding duty, that is, in three years of four. It is also identical to the charge levied in knights who neglected their expeditio. This is specified in clause III, 7, which repeats the rule familiar from the oldest known Danish charter, Knut the Holy's grant to St. Laurence in Lund 1085: if any of them neglect expeditio, they shall emend to the king. Qwærsæth is, thus, largely the equivalent of the scutagium familiar to English knights. It implies no permanent demobilization of parts of the Danish military potential.


Niels Lund





Lund, N. (2013). Kværsæde: Fast demobilisering eller almindelig ledingsafløsning?. Historisk Tidsskrift, 99(2). Hentet fra https://tidsskrift.dk/historisktidsskrift/article/view/55808