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Now we direct our attention to the three Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Like England and Scotland much of the early history of these monarchies are shrouded in myths and legends. We have many names for these per-histtorical kings but many are legendary and may not have existed at all.

Denmark is such a country shrouded in these myths. For example, Gyrd and Gnupa were alleged kings of Denmark and ruled during part of the 10th century according to King Sweyn II of Denmark and Adam of Bremen. They were the sons of the Swedish chieftain Olaf the Brash who was said to have conquered Denmark, ruling jointly, according to Swedish tradition. Did they actually exist?

King Gnupa is mentioned on the two Sigtrygg Runestones found near Schleswig by his wife Asfrid for their son Sigtrygg. Also, a Danish king Chnuba is named by Widukind of Corvey in his Saxon Chronicles as having been defeated and was forced to accept Christian baptism at the hands of King Gnupa in 934. There is a saga by Olav Tryggvasson’s that tells of Gnupa’s defeat by Gorm the Old. The problem with this claim is that it contradicts the chronology of Adam of Bremen, who places the succession and subsequent defeat of Sigtrygg during the tenure of Archbishop Hoger of Bremen (909-915/7). These conflicting dates influenced Gesta Danorum of Saxo Grammaticus who names a nobleman, Ennignup, who allegedly served as a guardian for a young king Canute I at some time prior to accession King Gorm the Old and it has been suggested this may be confused representation of King Gnupa.

With all of that confusion Gorm the Old is the first historically recognized King of Denmark, reigning from c.  936 to his death c.  958. He ruled from Jelling, and made the oldest of the Jelling Stones in honor of his wife Thyra. Gorm was born before 900 and died c.  958. King Gorm is the reported to be the son of semi-legendary Danish king Harthacnut. Chronicler Adam of Bremen says that Harthacnut came from Nortmannia to Denmark and seized power in the early 10th century. He deposed the young king Sigtrygg Gnupasson, reigning over Western Denmark. When Harthacnut died, Gorm ascended the throne.

Conflicting reports mention Gorm taking at least part of the kingdom by force from Gnupa, and Adam himself suggests that the kingdom may have divided prior to Gorm’s time. Gorm is first mentioned in extant documents as the host of Archbishop Unni of Hamburg and Bremen in 936. Despite the historical certainty of Gorm as King of Denmark it is recorded that Denmark was not completely unified during his reign. According to the ancient Jelling Stones it was Gorm’s son, Harald Bluetooth, brought together the various tribes in Denmark under one rule. This leads historians to speculate that Gorm only ruled Jutland from his seat in Jelling.

As in the other nations in this series I have looked at what the exact titles were in the past and Denmark will be no exception. The monarchs of Denmark have a long history of royal and noble titles. Historically Danish monarchs also used the titles ‘King of the Wends’ and ‘King of the Goths’ along with the title King of Denmark. Here is a select list of titles born by the kings of Denmark.

Eric VII of Pomerania: By the Grace of God, King of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, the Wends and the Goths, Duke of Pomerania.

Christopher I of Bavaria: By the Grace of God, King of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, the Wends and the Goths, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Duke of Bavaria.

The full title of the Danish sovereigns from Christian I to Christian II was: By the Grace of God, King of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, the Wends and the Goths, Duke of Schleswig, Holstein, Stormarn and Dithmarschen, Count of Oldenburg and Delmenhorst. Christian II’s successor, Frederik I, didn’t style himself King of Norway because he never visited the country. Therefore he was never crowned King of Norway, so he styled himself King of Denmark, the Vends and the Goths, elected King of Norway.

Upon her accession to the throne in 1972, Queen Margrethe II, abandoned all outdated historical titles except the title “Queen of Denmark.”

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