Harald Bluetooth: Viking King Got Baptized and Usurped

Viking King Harald Bluetooth

Bluetooth is one of the most awesome wireless technological development in our time. One cool thing is that “Bluetooth” technology was named after Harald Bluetooth Viking King of Denmark and Norway. In this piece of article, the very first blog post about the Viking Legends, I would briefly demonstrate how this great Viking King came into power, why he decided to submit to the cross, and how he was overthrown by his own son, Sweyn Forkbeard.

If anyone asks whether Harald Bluetooth was a historical figure, give them a solid YES, because Harald Bluetooth was historically true.

Harald Bluetooth Born as a King’s unfavored son

Harald before “Bluetooth” was Harald Gormsson. His father was King Gorm the Old and his mother was the beautiful and benevolent queen Thyra. King Gorm the Old desired to conquer every piece of the Danish lands. He did, yet not thoroughly. While King Gorm was a dedicate pagan who held a firm belief in the Norse gods, his wife seemed to care about the new religion – Christianity. Many historians believed that the viewpoint of Queen Thyra somehow shaped the future opinion of Harald Bluetooth about Christianity.

In the life of Gorm, he made a wrong move to attack Friesland in 934 where he lost to the hand of German King Henry I who was Christian. Accordingly, Gorm had to make some toleration to the Christianity as well as lost some lands. Gorm died a few years later leaving his throne to Harald Bluetooth.

In fact, the favorite son of Gorm wasn’t Harald. It was Knud brother of Harald. Knud grew up as a tall and handsome man while Harald wasn’t. Knud was polite and favored by many. Yet, this brother of Harald fell during a raid in British Isles in the 10th century. Some sources mentioned Knud’s death in the forest near Dublin, some killed by arrows. Following the death of the King and the favorite son, Harald became the only one eligible for the throne.

Harald Bluetooth Destined to become a great king

But the Norns had something special written for Harald Bluetooth. The gods had something to give this man. And Harald Gormsson started to become the King.

At this point, Denmark was divided into clans. Each clan would have its own King and Queen. The only thing that Gorm the Old desired to most was to conquer them all, yet unfulfilled. And Harald Bluetooth was to make his father’s dream come true.

Harald was around his 30s when he became an ambitious king as well as a military genius. And after a few years, he managed to unite the Danes under a single rule.

Alleged scene of Harald Bluetooth got baptized
Harald Bluetooth Baptism

Along with unifying the Danes, Harald, this time Bluetooth, ordered to build multiple forts which he used to protect his people. These forts were the complexes of trelleborgs found mostly in Denmark. They were the ring-shaped forts. Many scholars believed that the Vikings learnt this building techniques from somewhere outside their borders. Yet, they learnt it very well, so excellently to the point that their forts were geometrically perfect in the ring shape.

Another great work by Harald Bluetooth was the erection of Jelling Mounds from which he paid tribute to his gone parents – Gorm and Thyra. There were two stones in the site – one by Gorm and the other by Harald. Gorm erected the first Jelling stone in memory of his wife – Thyra and Harald erected the other in memory of his father and mother.

Famous jelling stones b Harald Bluetooth
The Jelling stones

The Jelling Stone by Harald claimed Harald as the one who unified the Danes and managed to introduce Christianity into the Danes. Yes, he claimed himself to introduce a new religion. It was true that the Vikings could tolerate other religions. But it was unacceptable for the dedicate pagan to see fellow pagan abandon Norse Pantheon.

Made The Way for Christianity into Pagan Community

Yes, Harald Bluetooth was the one who paved the way for Christianity into Danish Vikings. This deed of Harald has always been in dispute. Because whatever point of view, it makes sense.

Harald Bluetooth continued to tolerate Christians in his community, whether deliberately or not. Although some Christian monks failed to persuade King Gorm to submit to the cross, they managed to persuade Harald Bluetooth.

A saga told us that Harald originally showed his neutral opinion on the new religion. Until one day, he saw a Christian monk hold a hot iron piece on his bare hands. There he was convinced in the power of Christ.

The historians believed that it was more likely to be a political move, rather than anything to do with his personal belief. Harald learnt that if he didn’t allow Christians in advance, the German-Roman King Otto I would force him to do so by the power of sword. That’s why the deed of Harald about Christianity remains a dispute.

Usurped by his own son

One remarkable thing about Sweyn Forkbeard was that he was usurped by his own son.

Indeed, a king like Harald Bluetooth could not have a chance to die a cozy death on bed. During his lifetime, he made tons of enemies. To reach such high place and to pave the way for the Christianity, he had to abandon his pagan belief, this gave Harald many enemies, including his own son, Sweyn Forkbeard.

This Sweyn Forkbeard was raised by a pagan in blood – Palnatoke. And Palnatoke’s hatred toward Harald was reasonable. He fueled the son of Harald with hatred too. When there time came, they triggered off an uprising which put an end to the reign of Harald Bluetooth.

Today, the Jelling Stone is recognized as the UNESCO World Heritage.


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