Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gorm the Old / Gorm den Gamle (* c. 910 + 958)

Gorm and Thyra, fantasy-portrait 1800s, wikipedia.

Silver cup, found in Gorm's burial chamber

Jelling Church, a silver band covers Gorm's grave

The Danish kingdom existed long before Gorm's lifetime. According to Norse legends Gorm's father was Hardicanute (Knut 1. Hardegon), who was king before Gorm, but Gorm is the first Danish king after 873, who is more than a name to us. The runestones in Jelling confirm that Harald was his son and successor and that Gorm's wife, Haralds mother, was Tyre. These inscriptions and monuments at this place show that Jelling was an important power center.

Gorm was first buried in the big Jelling hill, but after Harald's conversion his body was moved and buried under the floor in the middle of the church, which Harald built. The wooden burial chamber in the big hill has been excavated, and dendrochronology tests show that Gorm's death must have been in the winter of 958.
Most of Gorm's skeleton was found in a chamber grave in the church in 1978, and it was sent to the National Museum for further examinations. They showed that he was c. 172 cm tall and not heavily built. He was about 40-50 years old, and ' like most middle aged Danes he suffered from osteoarthritis in the lower part of the spinal column.' In year 2000 Gorm was reburied in Jelling kirke in a metal chest placed in a concrete chamber in front of the chorus. The church floor is here decorated with a silver band.

photo and sketch : grethe bachmann

Source: Dansk/Norsk/Svensk Biografisk Lexicon; Danmarks Historie, Politiken 3-4; Vikingeskibsmuseet; Nationalmuseet; Skalk, arkæologisk magasin; Saxo Grammaticus; Emma emmorium; Sejer Olesen Leth og hans slægt af P. Filtenborg; Den Hvide Klan af Michael Kræmmer; Thi de var af stor slægt af Marianne Johannesen & Helle Halding.

Denmark's Birthcertificate, the Jellingstone, photo: gb

Gorm, Thyra and Harald

In history there are periods, where interpretations of this period's history presuppose a line of estimates, which because of an absence of concrete evidence must be a matter of calculated probability. The Viking Age and the early Middle Ages are such periods. There are many sources and chronicles in which to do research, but most of the material was written a hundred years later or more after the time of the events. Today choices have to be taken, theories have to be made. I have been working seriously with the various sources, and I have made some theories of myself and used my imagination based on different sources. I cannot promise that every word of mine is the absolute truth. Who can promise that? A historian is someone who wasn't there.

What was important to me in this first part about the Hvide-Family was to follow the names. Parents were so practical in those days to name their children's last name after their father's first name, and this leads to a family story in itself. Only important people were mentioned by name - therefore the final picture is often very obvious, delivering a genealogy of probability.

Before the ancestor of the Hvide-family Toke Gormsen and the rest of the Hvide-dynasty here's first a little introduction about Gorm and Thyra and Harald Gormsen, the first beginning of the thousand-years' kingdom in Denmark.

Best wishes
Grethe Bachmann

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