Gunhilda of Denmark

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Gunhilda of Denmark
Holy Roman Empress
Reign 1036-1038
Predecessor Gisela of Swabia
Successor Agnes of Poitou
Spouse Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor
Issue Beatrice I, Abbess of Quedlinburg
House House of Denmark (by birth)
Salian Dynasty (by marriage)
Father Canute the Great
Mother Emma of Normandy
Born c. 1020
Died 18 July 1038 (aged 17–18)

Gunhilda of Denmark (c. 1020 – 18 July 1038) was the first spouse of Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor.


Gunhilda was a daughter of Canute the Great and his second wife, Emma of Normandy. Her maternal grandparents were Richard I of Normandy and his second wife Gunnora, Duchess of Normandy. Her paternal grandparents were Sweyn Forkbeard and his second wife Świętosława. (Świętosława's first husband was Erik Segersäll.)

She was a sister of Harthacanute. She was a paternal half-sister of Svein of Norway and Harold Harefoot. She was also a maternal half-sister of Alfred Aetheling and Edward the Confessor.

In 1036, Gunhilda married Henry III, King of Germany. He was the son and heir of Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor and Gisela of Swabia. Upon her wedding, she took the name Kunigunde. They only had one daughter, Beatrice I (1037 – 13 July 1061), Abbess of Quedlinburg and Gandersheim Abbeys.

Her marriage was part of a pact between her father Canute and Conrad II over peaceful borders in the area of Kiel. The agreement had occurred prior to the death of Canute in 1035.[1] She had by the time of her marriage lived at the German court since 1025.

According to the chronicles of Alberic de Trois-Fontaines and William of Malmesbury, Gunhilda was accused of adultery and defended in trial by combat, but after her champion's victory she disdained the success and became a nun.[2][3] However, it seems that Gunhilda and her husband reconciled shortly afterwards.

In 1038, Conrad II was asked to intervene in a territorial dispute between Guaimar IV of Salerno and Pandulf IV of Capua. He campaigned in the Mezzogiorno in support of Guaimar. Their victory found most of the Mezzogiorno loyal to the Holy Roman Empire. Both Henry III and Gunhilda followed Conrad in his campaign.

During the return journey to Germany, an epidemic broke out among the Imperial troops. Gunhilda was among the casualties.[4]



  1. ^ M. K. Lawson, Cnut: England's Viking King (2004), p. 104.
  2. ^ Chronica Albrici Monachi Trium Fontium 1041, MGH SS XXIII, p. 787.
  3. ^ Malmesbury II, 188, p. 179.
  4. ^ Fuhrmann, H., trans. Reuter, T. (1995) Germany in the high middle ages c.1050–1200 (Cambridge University Press), p. 40.
Preceded by
Gisela of Swabia
Queen consort of Germany
1036 – 18 July 1038
Succeeded by
Agnes of Poitou