In the previous blog post, we discuss three out of six great Viking kings whose reputation is now known. They are Ragnar Lothbrok Father of Great Viking Kings, Ivar the Boneless the Cunning Viking Military Genius, or Harald Fairhair the first King of Norway. In this part, we briefly discuss three remaining Viking kings: Harald Bluetooth, Cnut the Great, and Harald Hardrada.
If Harald Fairhair was the first Viking king that unified Norway, Harald Bluetooth was the first Viking king uniting the Danes. If you are wondering whether this “Bluetooth” has something to do with the bluetooth wireless technology, the answer is “Yes”. Inspired by the story of Harald Bluetooth’s unification, the wireless technology that connects people is named after him.
Harald Bluetooth was the son of King Gorm the Old and Queen Thyra. Harald had a brother whose name was Knud whom Harald couldn’t rival with during his younger years. Everything, even the crown, was ready for Knud and King Gorm hardly paid attention to Harald who was a little bit short and not excellent. Yet, the fate didn’t smile on Knud when he fell in a battle away from home. Harald then was crowned when King Gorm passed away. From then on, Harald turned out to be an ambitious King who did many good things for his people.
Harald Bluetooth managed to unify many tribes in Denmark under a banner. Although not all parts of Denmark came under control of Harald, he managed to do something that his ancestors failed to do.
Harald ordered to continue building the Dannevirke fort. Many of the Viking trelleborgs (ring-shaped forts) were erected under the reign of King Harald Bluetooth as well. According to the archaeologists, the Viking forts almost reached perfection in constructing though it wasn’t the Vikings that invented this kind of fort.
King Harald Bluetooth was the first Viking king that converted the Danes to Christianity. This religious conversion finally led to war between Harald Bluetooth and his son Sweyn Forkbeard whose ally was Panaltoke a committed Pagan.
Cnut the Great
Cnut the Great was the Viking King of Norway and Denmark. However, he is commonly know as the Viking King of England. Cnut was the son of King Sweyn Forkbeard which made him the grandson of King Harald Bluetooth.
From the beginning, no one expected Cnut to rule over the throne. When his father Sweyn Forkbeard died, Cnut was in England. The successor to the throne was the eldest son of Sweyn, Harald II of Denmark. The situation forced Cnut to fight or he would have nothing. In 1018, Harald II died without an heir. This unintentionally gave the throne to Cnut.
It was shortly after his success to the throne of Denmark, he showed his force through Baltic Sea conquering Norway and southern part of Sweden. According to the historians, Cnut once proudly wrote in a letter declaring himself “king of all England and Denmark and the Norwegians and of some of the Swedes”.
Harald Hardrada was often considered to be the last Viking king. He was a descendant of King Harald Fairhair who united Norway.
Harald Hardrada had a half-brother who he admired a lot. His brother was Olaf Haraldsson who later became St Olaf. Since his early years, Harald went into exile far away from home. When he turned 15 years old, he heard his brother’s plan to overthrow Cnut with 600 warriors. He joined his brother only to see the tragic death of St Olaf. The 15-year-old Harald at that time was seriously wounded. Somehow he managed to get away from the battle and moved to Kievan Rus whose king used to be a friend of Olaf. There he became a mercenary warrior.
Harald Hardrada spent more than a decade to offer mercenary service to powerful empires before he came back to Scandinavian regions. He was so talented that without the title of “prince” he won the hand of a princess in Kievan Rus.
During his 30s, he turned back home for the greater chapter of his life. He managed to become the King of Norway roughly 20 years before meeting his demise in the battle of Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, England.