Monday, November 21, 2016

Early Kings of Denmark and Sweden

As can be seen in Chart #28, most of the early Kings of Denmark and Sweden were descended from Ragnar Lodbrok, who has a number of old legends surrounding him. I find many inconsistencies about his various wives and he is considered a legendary figure, although the men mentioned as his sons are usually thought to be historical.  His son, Sigurd Orm-i-Øye was born with a mark in his left eye that looked like a snake with it's tail in his mouth, thus his name Orm-i-Øye which means Snake in the Eye.

Many sources actually attribute Gorm the Old as being the first truly historical King of Denmark. There are two large carved rune stones in Jelling, Denmark, known as the Jelling Stones that are attributed to King Gorm and his son, Harald Bluetooth. I have provided a link below to Wikipedia's description of this site, which is really interesting stuff!

All the people shown in Chart #28 lived during the heyday of the Viking Era. Perhaps the most famous of all these was King Canute (Knut) the Great, who became King of all Denmark, Norway and England. I am not descended from King Canute. In fact, I can find no descendants except 4 children and 2 grandchildren who either died young or became a Monk or Abbess. So perhaps he has no direct descendants even today.  I am, however, descended from two of his sisters; Gyda who married Eirik Håkonsson, Earl of Lade and Estrid (Astrid) who married Ulf "Sprakalägger" Torgilsson and was the mother to King Svend (Sweyn) Estridsøn.

Svend II Estridson was married 3 times and said to have fathered over 20 children out of wedlock, including 5 future kings. In Chart #28 I show my descent from 2 of those Kings, Erik I "Ejegod" and Knut IV "den Hellige" (the Holy). But in my database I am also descended from King Nils (Nikolai) as well as two of Svend's daughters.

In my next blog I plan to discuss the relationship of the Vikings to the early Kings in Russia. Thus we see that Knud Lavard "the Pious" marries Ingeborg, a princess from Kiev (in modern day Ukraine) and gives his son a Russian name, Valdemar I "the Great", who through his mother's side really was descended from Vladimir I "the Great", the Grand Duke of Kiev.

Uppsala, Sweden is a very historical place in Scandinavian history. It was the original location where Odin and Frey settled and built a great temple to the old Norse gods. I can't help but include here this fascinating quote from Adam of Bremen concerning the old ceremonies:
At this point I shall say a few words about the religious beliefs of the Swedes. That nation has a magnificent temple, which is called Uppsala, located not far from the city of Sigtuna. In this temple, built entirely of gold, the people worship the statues of three gods.
A general festival for all the provinces of Sweden is customarily held at Uppsala every nine years. Participation in this festival is required of everyone. Kings and their subjects, collectively and individually, send their gifts to Uppsala; - and – a thing more cruel than any punishment – those who have already adopted Christianity buy themselves off from these ceremonies. The sacrifice is as follows; of every kind of male creature, nine victims are offered. By the blood of these creatures it is the custom to appease the gods. Their bodies, moreover, are hanged in a grove which is adjacent to the temple. This grove is so sacred to the people that the separate trees in it are believed to be holy because of the death or putrefaction of the sacrificial victims. There even dogs and horses hang beside human beings. (A certain Christian told me that he had seen seventy-two of their bodies hanging up together.) The incantations, however, which are usually sung in the performance of a libation of this kind are numerous and disgraceful, and it is better not to speak of them. [Wikipedia quoting from Adam of Bremen,]
Bjørn "Jarnsida" (Ironsides), a son of Ragnar Lodbrok was an early King of Sweden, ruling from the old capital at Uppsala. However, historians typically start the first "historical" King of Sweden with Erik VIII "Seigersal" (the Victorious) and then his son, Olof III "Skøtkonung", the first Christian King of Sweden.

Of all the Swedish Kings shown on Chart #28, I suspect it is really Birger Brosa and his nephew, Birger II, who are more famous as powerful and highly regarded Swedish Earls (Jarls). Magnus "Minneskjöld", brother of Birger Brosa named his own son Birger, in honor of his brother.

There is a really cool movie about this era which I watched on Netflix called "Arn: The Knight Templar" which is also a book trilogy by Jan Guillou (links to amazon are below). Although Arn is a fictional character, there are a number of historical people in the movie. Arn's father would be Magnus "Minneskjöld" Bengtson,, shown as an ancestor of mine on Chart #28. Magnus was brother to Birger Brosa, a famous Swedish Earl, who also appears in the movie.  Also appearing in the movie are King Knut (Canute) I Erikson; Knut's wife, Cecilia; Ebbe Sunesen, father-in-law to Sverker "the Younger" II; Eline (Helena) Sverkersdatter, shown as a direct ancestor; King Sverker "the Younger" II Karlsen;  and Eskil Magnusson, Arn's brother (a real historical person). In any case the movie and the books are highly recommended.

One more mention is Saint Birgitta right at the bottom left of Chart #28. We will continue her descendants in a  later blog to show how her granddaughter married a judge in Rogaland, Norway, thus  many Norwegians in southwest Norway are now descendants of Saint Birgitta, the patron Saint of Sweden.

Here are links to some of the key people in my online genealogy database:

Here are some links to help you learn more:

Here are the three books of the Crusades Trilogy by Jan Guillou:

 Here are some other useful books to read pertaining to the subjects in this blog:

Cumberland Family Software:

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