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King Harold Bluetooth

 

     
       
Danish

      
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   Runicstones in Jelling
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Harold Bluetooth was the son of Gorm the Old and Queen Thyra. The year of his birth is unknown, but it is assumed that he died in the autumn of 980 in Jomsborg when hit by an arrow from Palnatoke, who supported Sweyn, his rebellious son. King Harold was probably buried in the Trinity Church in Roskilde, which he himself had begun, and which was a forerunner of today’s Roskilde Cathedral.

The German historian Adam of Bremen mentions that Harold Bluetooth was married to Queen Gunhild.

A runic stone situated at Sønder Vissing Church south of Silkeborg describes a woman, who calls herself Tove as “Mistivoj’s daughter, wife of Harold the Good, son of Gorm, so Harold must have been married twice.

The larger Jelling stone is the largest and most magnificent runic stone in Scandinavia. It is also called “The Birth Certificate of Denmark.” It has many Christian symbols, among them a Christ figure and runic letters. Their son Harold Bluetooth put it up around 965 in memory of Gorm the Old and Thyra Danebod.

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The front of the big stone

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Haraltr kunukr bath kaurua
Harald konge bød gøre
Harold the King bade do


kubl thausi aft kurm fathur sin
kumler disse efter Gorm fader sin
these sepulchral monuments after Gorm his father


auk aft thaurui muthur sina sa
og efter Thyra moder sin, den
and after Thyra his mother. The


haraltr ias sar uan tanmaurk
Harald som sig vandt Danmark
Harold who won the whole of Denmark


ala auk nuruiak
al og Norge
and  all of Norway


auk tani karthi kristna
og danerne gjorde kristne
and made the Danes Christian.

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Find it here

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King Harold wanted to be remembered for some specific achievements, therefore he erected a runic stone intended to last forever. It has but for the loss of a few centimetres. Its height is 2,43 metres, and it weighs about 10 tons. It has 3 sides.

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The big animal and the snake

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King Harold used the very best counsellors and craftsmen for the job. The carving on the stone was carried out by two people: the decorations came first, and then the runes were struck by a runic craftsman. It took about a full year to complete the entire job. Some peeling from the stone may have been caused by the heat from the church fires that consumed the three wooden churches over the years.

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The oldest Nordic picture of Christ

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Here you see a man in a coat with his arms wide spread and a halo like a holy cross around his head: Christ crucified without a cross. The two pictorial sides are framed by intertwining connecting strings and ropes indicating that the pictures form a unity. The large stone is left almost in its original position. In 1981, however, the stone needed straightening up and some digging was carried out below the stone. It turned out that the stone was situated partly on top of some old graves. This indicates that the stone must have been moved about one metre to the west. This probably happened when in 1586 ”Caspar Markedaner” dug up the stone. It may have been slanting already then, and was partly covered with soil. Excavations in 1981 along the southern wall of the church showed that the surface of the churchyard had risen by one metre since the construction of the church, so perhaps Caspar Markedaner’s ”digging” makes sense. He actually put the stone straight and by doing so he may have moved it a little.

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Harold Bluetooth brings Denmark closer to Europe

The figure of Christ on the larger stone proves that the new faith had finally come to Denmark. The church had kept sending its own people to the Danish kings since King Willibrord visited King Agantyr in the 720s, but not until Harold became King in 958 did the church see any results from their very patient long-lasting efforts.

Poppa

Poppa, the stranger, who was a cleric in the church is said to have made himself noticed when propagating the new faith. Harold Bluetooth asked him a very tough question,” Will you carry hot iron for your faith?” Poppa consented and carried hot iron in his bare hands and thus passed the test as his hands were unscathed. Harold was convinced of Poppa’s faith and immediately wanted to be christened (around 965).

 

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The golden plaque is from around the year 1200 and comes from Tamdrup church.

While Harold Bluetooth was King, he built Episcopal residences in Aarhus, Ribe, and Slesvig – and probably also in Odense and Lund.

Harold Bluetooth was a very active king. He won the whole of Denmark and Norway and large enterprises were commenced during his reign; the Jelling stone and the Jelling mounds are just a few examples.

 

Harald Blåtand is christened
by Poppo

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Around 968 Dannevirke was fortified and a lot was built during these years. The 800 metre long bridge near Ravning and the four “trelle” castles were built for military reasons.

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The Viking Bridge in Ravning

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Even though there are several large important monuments in Jelling, it is not an established fact that Harold chose this place as his political headquarters. Maybe he gave up Jelling because of its important heathen past. He started all over again in Roskilde where he built the Trinity church and where he was buried. The successor of this church is Roskilde Cathedral where the members of the Royal Danish Family have been buried for centuries.

Another reason for wanting to move the centre of the kingdom might have been that Jelling was too vulnerable a place due to its proximity to the rest of Europe. An island (Zealand) would offer better protection for the royal estate.

Harold Bluetooth died around 986. Sweyn II Estridsson says in 1070 – 85 years after Harold Bluetooth’s death that Sweyn Forkbeard, Harold’s son and Sweyn II Estridsson’s grandfather, committed parricide.

The writer Adam of Bremen tells about Harold Gormsson: In Harold’s last days the Danish people rose against the old King and they were led by his son Sweyn. Harold found shelter in Jomsborg, which Adam of Bremen describes as the Venders’ most important trading post. Here he died of his wounds in the place that he himself had built.

The army brought his body to Denmark and buried him in the Trinity Church, which he had founded in Roskilde. Sweyn was later taken prisoner by people from Jomsborg and had to be redeemed for a considerable amount of money.

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