Hvide (English: Whites) was a medieval Danish clan, and afterwards in early modern era a Danish noble surname of presumably one surviving branch of leaders of that clan. Before the 16th century it was not used as surname. It signified the color white.

Medieval Hvide clan

The Hvide were influential in the Danish island of Zealand, and occasionally in other close parts of the country, such as other Danish islands and Skåne. They had a stronghold in Jørlunde.[1]

A folktale of the clan name contrasts this clan against the "black" clan of Viking leaders of Skåne (that then belonged to Denmark but now belongs to Sweden) ("Svarte Skåning") who had Thor as their chief god. The white islander clan were "protectees" of non-black god Odin.

The Hvide leaders seem to have been among first to accept Christianity, and later, the clansmen regularly rose to highest positions of Danish church, including several catholic archbishops of Lund.

Several leaders of the clan and of variety of its branches are known since the early 12th century. At that time, a number of Hvide leaders were dubbed as "brothers" and as sons of mythical Skjalm Hvide, earl of Zealand in the latter half of the 11th century; or as his grandsons. Such genealogy is however probably a mythical invention, them generally being more distant kinsmen with each other and "brothers" in the sense of being leaders of parts of the same clan.

Family of Stig Hvitaleder

Lord Stig Hvitaledr ("chieftain of the Hvide") was a magnate, and the clan leader, in the mid-12th century. His first wife, Margrete Knudsdatter af Hedeby, was sister of the future king Valdemar I of Denmark, a Hvide ally, and daughter of the "martyred" Knud Lavard, granddaughter of king Eric I of Denmark and his wife Bodil, an heiress of the Ladejarl.

The couple's daughter, Kirsten Stigsdatter, was married to king Charles VII of Sweden.

Family of Asser Rig

Brothers Absalon, archbishop of Lund, and lord Esbern Snare, castellan of the Kalundborg castle, are mentioned as sons of legendary Asser the rich.

Galen clan

Apparently the Galen, whose maternal forefathers were perceived a branch of Hvide clan, settled in Skåne. At least after continuing in cognatic lines, not agnatic. The "proto"-Galen magnates had originally their seat at Knardrup in Zealand.

Lord High Constable Ebbe Sunesen, Lord of Knardrup (killed 1208), is on one hand counted as one of the proto-Galen, on the other hand traditionally regarded as a Hvide, and thus apparently was a relative of contemporary leaders of the Hvide clan. His seat was in northern Zealand (Knardrup manor), but he is documented to have possessed lands in Skåne too (for example, the Härlöv manor). After him, the Galen presumably increased their lands in Skåne and more or less moved to that province.

Archbishop Jakob Erlandsen is known to have been one of the brothers who were sons of lady Sidsel, the foremother of the Scanian Galen noble family, herself a descendant and heiress of that Knardrup branch of the Hvide clan.

Little family

The Litle (de Scania) was a noble family which appears to have started as cognatic offshoot of the proto-Galen branch of the Hvide clan, and settled to Skåne. Their foremother is mentioned to have been a daughter of the aforementioned Ebbe Sunesen, Lord of Knardrup and Härlöv.


The Hvide clan and its relations seem to have dominated the Danish church for some century or more. Archbishops and bishops counted as sons of these clans included:

Post-medieval noble family

In 153? king Frederick I of Denmark and Norway ordered all nobles to take a surname. At that time, Rødkilde and Katterøe branches of the Hvide clan (according to legendary genealogies, descended from Lord High Constable Stig Andersen Hvide) yet survived in male line, and they took the surname. These Hvide became extinct in male line already before the beginning of the 17th century.


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