More than 2,000 people died in the December 1534 siege of Aalborg and now 15 of the bodies may have been discovered. Photo: Nordjyllands Historiske Museum
Archaeologists from the Historical Museum of Northern Jutland (Nordjyllands Historiske Museum) believe that 15 skeletons unearthed during the construction of new youth housing likely date back to the 1534-1536 civil war known as the Count’s Feud, or Grevens Fejde in Danish.
The skeletons were found in two mass graves. The position of the bodies indicates that they were thrown into the grave on top of each other. With tests having shown that all 15 skeletons belong to men, researchers think that they must be the result of a war.
“This find gives indisputable cause to consider that we are either looking at a mass grave from a military operation in Aalborg or that the skeletons are the victims of an epidemic. But in the latter scenario, you would expect that there would also be women and children in the graves,” museum spokesman Stig Bergmann Møller said.
Møller said that if the skeletons are indeed soldiers, they likely date back to German-Danish general Johan Rantzau’s December 1534 siege of Aalborg in the midst of the Count’s Feud.
The civil war was fought following the death of King Frederik I between supporters of Frederik’s predecessor, the deposed King Christian II, and the incoming King Christian III. The war takes its name from Count Christopher of Oldenburg, who supported Christian II and led an uprising against the newly-appointed king.
Under Rantzau, royal troops are said to have killed more than 2,000 people in the December sacking of Aalborg.
The skeletons unearthed this week in Aalborg will now undergo carbon testing to determine if they can be definitely dated to the Count’s Feud.