Sunday, October 19, 2008

Harald Gormsen/ Harald Bluetooth (* c.935 + 986)

Harald being baptized by Poppo. wikipedia.

The large Jelling Stone
Danmarks Dåbsattest
Harald konge bød gøre kumler disse

efter Gorm fader sin og efter Thyra moder sin

den Harald som sig vandt Danmark al og Norge

og Danerne gjorde kristne.

Harald king bid make kumler these
after Gorm father his and after Thyra mother his
the Harald who himself won Denmark all and Norway
and Danes made Christian.

The tradition says that Harald ruled for fifty years, but as he died no later than 987 he must have been his father's co-ruler. Besides the runic monuments at Jelling he built two big mounds and a substantial wooden church. In the north mound he buried his father in a wooden chamber in 958. No grave has been found in the south mound. It might have been meant for Harald himself, but not used because he converted - and having adopted Christianity, probably in 965, Harald removed his father's remains from the mound and reburied them in the timber church between the mounds.

Tamdrup church by Horsens. A part of the gilt copper sheets on the big altar with relief motives. Picture nr. 2 top row is Poppos ordeal by fire. The iron in shape of a glove is placed above a hot fire. Poppo puts his hand into the glove. Picture nr. 3 top row is the baptism of Harald. Poppo is now in a bishop's dress and with a halo, he lifts his hands in blessing over the king. Harald stands naked in the baptism bassin, which because of lack of space has been diminished into a barrel. (See fx my blog: Church and Manor with Tamdrup church/many photos and the whole altar. )

Harald is said to have been persuaded that Christ was the only true god by a missionary named Poppo, who allegedly underwent ordeal by fire. But politically he could simply not avoid being christianized. There was a big christianized Europe with a powerful and insisting emperor south of the Danish border. I guess that Harald thought by himself: "Let me be a Christian for God's sake, so I can get rid of that pressure from south of the border!'

Harald adopted Christianity no later than 965, when the German emperor issued a charter relinquishing imperial rights over the Danish dioceses, thereby acknowledging that Denmark had a Christian ruler - but it was very obvious that Harald was not at all sure that the German intentions were entirely friendly. He continued to fortify everything and everywhere in Denmark.

The Ravning Bridge, built near the dynamic Jelling area in Harald Bluetooth's ruling periode . The bridge is built in oak ab 979 at the same time as the viking fortifications Trelleborg, Fyrkat, Aggersborg and Nonnebakken, all being counted to Harald Bluetooth. For some reason they lost their military significance and fell into decay after ab. 5 years of use. The Ravning bridge was discovered in 1953; it is situated 10 km south of Jelling in Vejle Å-dal and has a natural connection to the longitude road of Middle Jutland, Hærvejen (Army Road/Oxen road) and to the old roads southwards. The bridge is 760 metres long and 5 metres broad, and the building is characterized by an impressing accuracy. The sequences of the bridge only differ up to 5 cm from a straight line.

A little piece of the huge circle! Aggersborg in North Jutland by Limfjord, which is the double size of the other circular viking fortresses from Harald's reign.

Many fortifications were constructed during Harald's reign. Hedeby, Ribe and possibly Århus were fortified with walls, and Dannevirke, a complex of banks and sand ditches was re-fortified in the 950s and new walls were built to connect the main wall to the semicircular wall surrounding Hedeby.

The most impressive monuments are the circular fortresses constructed c. 980 at Trelleborg in west Sjælland, at Fyrkat in east Jutland, at Odense on Fyn and Aggersborg in North Jutland by Limfjord - and possibly Trelleborg in Skåne. Dendrochronology has dated them to the reign of Harald, the timbers used were felled between September 980 and May 981.
The purpose of these fortresses were short-lived, they were only in use for a few years - and
no repairs have been traced in any of them. It seems that they fell into decay during Sven Tveskæg's rule.

photo: grethe bachmann

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