|fortification, Trelleborg, Zealand|
Some Viking chiefs, who had won riches, power and glory came home to Denmark and tried to usurp royal power. King Horik and most of his family were killed in such a power feud in 854. The old branch of the royal family gained footfold , but other homecoming Viking chiefs - some from the east - were more lucky in their fight about the throne. The fortification moats in Aarhus might have been built during that period.
The diplomatic connections between the Danish kings and the Frank and German rulers brought foreign influences to Denmark. King Harald was baptized in Mainz in 826, and he was not the only Dane, who experienced and was impressed by the court ceremoniel of the Franks. Maybe this infected the life in the Danish royal castle in the 800s, but as for the 900s the big Jelling stone and the cross-marked coins show that Harald Bluetooth fully understood the value of demonstrating his royal dignity. The Jelling church was probably bigger than many other Danish buildings, and its basic plan was inspired by the German churches.
The Franks and the Germans did not only affect their Danish neighbours - they also wanted to have power over them, but they did not succeed. The Danes could retriet from Jutland to security on the Danish Isles and gather new strenght while the peninsula Jutland was attacked - and the Saxon hertug Bruno and his army had to learn this in 880......the only Danish king who in the 800s had to acknowledge the supremacy of the Franks was Harald Klak, and he was deposed and driven into exile .
The feud between the various throne pretenders weakened seriously the power of the Danish kings, and in 934 the Danes could not resist an attack in southern Norway from the German army. The Danish supremacy broke down and Harald Fairhair was able to expand his Norwegian power while local rulers in the districts east of Storebælt (Danernes Mark) enjoyed a great independency.
|Fyrkat , Jutland, photo:GB|
Runic inscriptions mention two earlier rulers at Funen, Roulv and Alle. The Glavendrupstone was raised in the memory of Alle by his widow Ragnhild and his sons. Ragnhild had the Danish rune-
master to carve the inscription upon the runestone in Tryggevælde at Zealand
Harald's kingdom was exposed for disturbances from Viking fleets. As the leader of the expeditions to the west Sweyn Forkbeard saw to that his men were awarded like other men of the Viking chiefs. Torkel's fleet represented the biggest threat however. He was now in the service of the English king, but it was Sweyn who in 1013 seized the English throne and thereby got access to the rich sources in England.
The riches of Englands made Cnut the Great able to realise the Danish demand on the supremacy of a large part of Scandinavia, much more than his predecessors had ever been able to. Still before Cnut drove the Norse king Olav into exile he demanded to be king of the Norwegians - and at the same time he declared he was king of a part of the Swedes. It is not known what he actually meant - he might have thought of the West Goths, whose access to the sea went through Danish territory, but it was more probable that he considered himself as the overlord of the Swedes who had been warriors in his army. As king of England Cnut advised one of the most advanced and effective Governments of Europe - and it did not last long before this English influence was evident in Denmark. The attempts to establish a well-functioning coin was finally successfull and much was done to promote the development of cities which became metropols for the royal power. In some cities were established bishoprics - and the bishops were fetched from England or at least educated there. Cnut's great kingdom sank into the gravel after his death but the changes he had started were continued by his successors and long after the separation of Denmark and England the English influence was noticed in the Danish church.
Merchants, wandering craftsmen, Christian missionaires, diplomats and the Vikings themselves were all the cause of influences from abroad in Denmark. The Danes connected more and more to the outside world during the Viking period than ever before and the consequences began to show in the beginning of the 1000s - cities were founded, bishoprics and a royal coinage were established. It is clear via archaeology that all parts of society were affected by the contact to the outside world. In each archaeologically examined village from the Viking period are rests of mill stones from the Rhine district and soapstone-vessels and grindstones from the northern Scandinavia. In Jutland are found western European ceramics - and Slavic clay ware or Danish copies are found in the eastern part of Denmark . More perishable goods like clothes and wine were probably also widespread. The imported goods were spread all over Denmark - but they were not for free. Wealthy Danes who lived in the 1000s were capable of paying their shopping with coins and other silver - but the import was through the whole period generally paid with Danish export products or with services and catering to the foreign merchants who visited the Danish harbours on their tour between the Baltics and Western Europe. Cattle was one of the most important export products
|Highland cattle, foto:GB|
|village and church, Hjerl hede, foto:GB|
During the reign of Sven Estridsen the church began receiving estates as gift or inheritance, which had great consequences gradually, when large areas were added to the church. The Christian doctrine brought a still more perceptible change, namely the abolition of the old custom to expose infants. The restriction in this form of child restraint reulted in an increase of population - and new settlements occurred.
|Hedeby trading center|
|Trelleborg, house, foto:GB|
Excavations in other places also indicate that the Danish farmers were really well in the Viking period - also the landlords who received various benefits from the farmers. The king was the greatest landlord - and when Harald Bluetooth won all Denmark he must have expanded the royal estate enormously. His son and grandson increased also the royal riches when they conquered England. The Crown Land also grew when farms were given to the king as a fine for manslaughter. Several farms which Cnut the Holy in 1085 gave to the cathedral in Lund were acquired by him or his predecessors in this way.
|Detail, Ravning bridge, foto:GB|
|Northern Empire, 1000s, wikipedia|
The Danish royal power originated in its time in Jutland, and in the first centuries of the kingdom Jutland was kernelandet (the core country). When the scalds still celebrated Cnut the Great as Jótlands jøfurr (Jyllands høvding) it was a memory about that time. But by supplying their Jutland power with a firm grip of the regime of the Danish Isles and Scania - the large area, which until then were considered the outer districts of the kingdom ( danernes mark), the last great Viking kings, Harald, Sweyn and Cnut had created a strong and viable unit in Denmark with a future.
|The big Jelling stone , photo:GB|
photo: Grethe Bachmann
and photocopies:: wikipedia.