and what great names they have.
King Harald Bluetooth, (No, true, that really is his name. Would I lie to you?) ruled Denmark between 940 and 985 AD. He was the son of King Grom the Old and his wife Thyre Danebold, the daughter of King Ethelred of England. Harald’s grandson, Canute, went on to be the king of all of Denmark and England, and a mighty fine king to, according to all reports.
When still young Harald developed the usual passion to go a –viking in search of gold, treasure and new lands for Viking settlements , and, like his fellow Vikings, Harald considered it honourable to plunder wherever and whenever he felt like it.
Harald’s sister Gunhild was married to a Norwegian King with the marvellous name of Erik Blood Axe, but when he was killed Harald decided to seize Norway for himself, making himself king of much of Scandinavia. (Well, why not.)
Then, for some unlikely reason, especially considering he was a blood- thirsty Viking, Harald decided one day to become a Christian, and had himself baptized by a German priest named Poppo. ( The names just get better and better.) Harald then set about enthusiastically converting his subjects to Christianity as well. One report says he charged believers in the Old Gods twice as much tax as new converts, so the Norse folk were quick to see the benefits of the new religion. Before too long people stopped believing in Odin, Thor, Sigurd and the rest of the Norse gods. They were obviously too busy counting their new found tax cuts.
It seems Harald’s son, Sweyn Forkbeard was a bit of a wild boy, to say the least, so much so that in 987AD Harald and Sweyn went to war and Harald was killed in battle fighting his own son.
Having killed his dad, Sweyn still carried on with his Vikings ways, invading England in 1013AD, with no doubt with the usual amount of burning, plundering, pillaging and un-Christian like behaviour. By the time his grandfather-less son, Canute, came to power he was king of a massive kingdom.
Harald, having been converted to Christianity, was not given a proper fiery Viking funeral as all his ancestors would have been, but was buried in a cold, damp grave at a church he’d had built at Roskilde in Denmark.