List of legendary kings of Denmark

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The legendary kings of Denmark are the predecessors of Gorm the Old, half legend and half history. The accounts of the Danish kings are confusing and contradictory, and so this presentation tries to separate the various sources from each other. They sometimes mention the same kings.

Multiple Sources[edit]

Many kings are mentioned by multiple sources, but are for various reasons still considered more legendary than historical kings of Denmark

  • Harthacnut (Hardeknud) (c. 916 – c. 936), the father of Gorm the Old according to multiple sources. The main question is whether he was king of Denmark or only king of some part of Denmark. His parentage is also disputed, as either from an unknown king Sweyn, or from either Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye or king Erik, both said to be children of Ragnar Lodbrok.
  • Sigtrygg Gnupasson, deposed c. 916 either by Harthacnut or a contemporary, depending on sources. Likely had base in Schleswig, but the extent of his realm is unknown. Son of Gnupa.
  • Gnupa (early 900s). Father of Sigtrygg. According to one source he shared power with his brother Gyrd. According to the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason, he was defeated as one of the minor border kings by Gorm when he united Denmark, though that conflicts with Gnupa's son being deposed by Gorm's father according to other sources.
  • Olof the Brash conquered Denmark (or part of Denmark) c. 900.
  • Helgi, supposedly deposed by Olaf the Brash.
  • Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye (Sigurd Orm-i-øje or Snogeøje) became king of Zealand and Scania according to the sagas, perhaps correctly named Sigfred and co-ruling as king of Denmark with his brother Halfdan Ragnarsson (d. 877). Mentioned by Chronicon Roskildense and Ragnarssona þáttr. Son of Ragnar Lodbrok.
  • Halfdan Ragnarsson (c. 871 – 877), son of Ragnar Lodbrok and older brother of Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye. Leader of the so called Great Heathen Army of the Anglo-Saxon sources, in 870 and 871. King Bagsecg joined him to become the co-leader of the Great Summer Army of 870 but Bagsecg was killed in battle with the English in January 871. Halfdan succeeded Bagsecg as king of Jutland.
  • Bagsecg, Danish king who came to England and was killed in 871.
  • Horik II, king from about 854 until about 870.
  • Horik I, co-ruler of Denmark from 813, the sole king of Denmark c. 828 to 854. Son of Gudfred.
  • Harald Klak, 812 to 813 and 819 to 827, a period of civil war with the sons of Gudfred. Nephew of an earlier Harald.
  • Hemming, c. 810 to c. 812. Nephew of Gudfred. Brother of Ragnvald, Håkon and Angantyr.
  • Gudfred (Godfred or Gøtrik), a Danish king c. 804 to 810. Said to be father of Ogier the Dane (Holger Danske); possibly the son of Sigfred.
  • Ragnar Lodbrok was a legendary king, allegedly flourishing before 865. He is mentioned in multiple sources, but the sources are wildly inconsistent. There is no historical record of anyone named Ragnar ruling Denmark in the 9th century. However his sons Halfdan Ragnarsson and Sigurd Snake-In-the-Eye may have become kings of Denmark, while his son Bjorn Ironside became king of Sweden and Uppsala according to various late sagas.
  • Sigfred, Danish king c. 770 to c. 804. Possibly the historical basis for Sigurd Hring. Reported to have assisted the Saxons against Charlemagne.
  • Harald Wartooth (Harald Hildetand), legendary king of Denmark, Sweden and parts of Norway, sometimes assigned to c. 715 to c. 770. Mentioned in multiple sources. According to one source his conquests reached as far as the Mediterranean. Said to be grandfather of Ragnar Lodbrok.
  • Ongendus was a king of the Danes, reigning c. 710, the first Danish king known from contemporary literature.
  • Randver, sometimes assigned to the early 700s. Son of Valdar (or Radbard) according to late sagas; fell in England.
  • Valdar, sometimes assigned to the early 700s. Son-in-law of Ivar Vidfamne and sub-king in Denmark according to the late sagas.
  • Ivar Vidfamne, sometimes assumed to have died in c. 700. The Viking sagas say that Ivar Vidfamne ruled over most of Denmark, Sweden, Saxland and even parts of England.

Rig and Scylding line[edit]

Early kings of the Rig and Scylding lines, mentioned by multiple sources

After Hrólf Kraki no two sources give the same succession.

Adam of Bremen[edit]

Adam of Bremen mentions several kings from the 10th century preceding Gorm the Old. He claims Svend Estridson as his source. Many of these are also confirmed by other sources.

Gesta Danorum[edit]

Humbling family tree.svg

The kings from Saxo Grammaticus' chronicle Gesta Danorum ("Deeds of the Danes").

Name Consort(s) Claim Note(s)
Dan I Grytha Title created Didn't actually rule as a king, but mere governor.
Humble Son of Dan I Elected as a king after the death of his father, however, he proved a weak ruler and was soon deposed by his brother.
Lother After deposing his brother, he resorted to tyranny and was killed while fighting a rebellion.
Skiold Alfhild Son of Lother Became king when younger than fifteen, renown hunter and fighter, extraordinarily tall. Subjugated the Alemanni in order to marry a Saxon princess.
Gram Roar
Groa

Signe

Son of Skiod While his father was still alive, he invaded Sweden, and his father rewarded him by crowning him as co-ruler.
Later, he was killed by Svipdagr, king of the Norwegians.
Svipdagr Daughter of Gram and Groa Son-in-law of Gram After Gram slew his father, he retired to Sweden and made peace with Gram when he agreed to marry his sister. Later, Gram abandoned his sister in favor of a Finnish princess, this prompted Svipdagr to continue the war, which eventually led to his victory, thus he took over Sweden and Denmark.
Guthorm Son of Gram

Nephew of Svipdagr
Puppet king of Svipdagr.

Other Danish kings include:

Chronicon Lethrense and Annales Lundenses[edit]

The kings from the Chronicle of Lejre.

Other manuscript have a supplementary list, following the name of Hartwar:[2]

Beowulf[edit]

The kings in epic poem Beowulf

Gróttasöngr[edit]

The kings in the poem Gróttasöngr

  • Skjöldr
  • Friðleifr
  • Fróði

Skjöldunga saga (partial list)[edit]

The kings of the saga of the Scylding family.

Sögubrot[edit]

Sögubrot or Sǫgubrot af nokkrum fornkonungum Dana ok svíaveldi is an Old Icelandic saga fragment which is believed to be a part of the original Skjöldunga saga. The fragment begins in the middle of a discussion between the Scanian king Ivar Vidfamne and his daughter Auðr.

Kings of the whole of Denmark or individual Danish regions, which appear in Sögubrot
  • Helgi, (joint ?) king of Zealand
  • Hrœrekr Ringslinger (brother of Helgi), king / (co-kingship) of Zealand
  • Ivar Vidfamne (the father-in-law of Hrœrekr), King of Scania – later King of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and parts of several adjoining countries.
  • Harald Wartooth (grandson of Ivar), he became king after Ivar (possibly identical with the "former" or "senior" King Harald mentioned in connection with the royal Danish brothers Anulo and Harald in the Royal Frankish Annals)
  • Hring or Sigurd Hring (nephew of Harald Wartooth), at first king of Sveariket (Beowulf: Swēorice; oldest Swedish form: Swerike), later also king of Denmark (could possibly be identical with king Sigfred).
  • At the end of Sögubrot is mentioned Ragnar (Ragnarr) as a son of Sigurd Hring. From other known sources it must be concluded that this Ragnarr is the famous Viking king Ragnar Lodbrok.

Ynglinga saga[edit]

The kings of the saga of the Ynglinga family.

  • Skjöldr
  • ...
  • Frið-Fróði
  • ...
  • Danr hinn mikilláti
  • Fróði hinn mikilláti eða friðsami
  • Hálfdan
  • Friðleifr
  • Áli hinn frækni
  • ...
  • Fróði hinn frækni
  • ...
  • Helgi Hálfdanarson
  • Hrólfr kraki

Other sources[edit]

  • Chlochilaicus: 6th century killed by Theuderic I during a Viking raid in ca 516, mentioned as a Dane though that might have been be a mistake on the author's part. He is called 'Rex Getarum' (King of The Geats) in most accounts and is thought to be Hygelac, mentioned in Beowulf as the King of Geatland.
  • Fróði: 6th century or 7th century
  • Ongendus (Angantyr): mentioned early 8th century
  • Siger: mentioned 8th century
  • Sigfred (Sigfred/Sigurd): mentioned 777, d. before 804
  • Gudfred (Godfred): latest 804 – d. 810
  • Hemming: d. 811
  • Anulo (Anulo/Ring): d. 812
  • Sigfrid (Sigfred/Sigurd): d. 812
  • Harold: 812–813, 819-827, died in exile
  • Eric (Horik/Erik): 812-854
    • Halfdan (Halvdan) o. 812, possibly died in exile
  • Eric the Child (Horik/Erik Barn): 854- after 864, dead or deposed by 873
  • Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye (Sigurd Orm i Øje): mention 873, d. 903, do coin money by East Anglia
  • Guichtlac: King of the Danes in antiquity. Cited In Book III of the Historia Regum Britanniae by Geoffry of Monmouth.

For later Danish monarchs whose existence is verified, see List of Danish monarchs

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Saxo Grammaticus, ed. Hilda Ellis Davidson, p. 165.
  2. ^ The Chronicle of the Kings of Lejre, ed. Peter Tunstall.