Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia


Danemarce, Danemarche, Danmark, Denmarch, Denmarke

Denmark is a Nordic country country located in Northern Europe.

During the Arthurian period, Denmark was populated by collections of Scandinavian clans. The united country of Denmark (Dane-marche, “borderland of the Danes”) did not exist until the ninth century. No such history prevents the “kingdom of Denmark” from appearing in the Arthurian legends, however.

According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Arthur conquered Denmark and gave it to Aschil, one of his noblemen, whom supported him in his last battle. In Wace, Aschil is the ruler of Denmark already, but subjugates himself to Arthur’s rule in order to avoid a hopeless war. Geoffrey Gaimar (a twelfth-century Welsh writer) has Arthur conquer Denmark by killing King Gunter, whose brother, Odulf, subsequently claimed the throne. Another Arthurian tale features a king of Denmark named Tryffin.

Welsh legend also makes Arthur ruler of Denmark, naming Yder as one of his Danish warriors. The Didot-Perceval names its king as Guillac, who assists Arthur in the Roman War. In the Vulgate Merlin, on the other hand, Denmark is ruled by the Saxon kings AminaducRions (Ryons), and Bramangue, who are defeated by Arthur.

In the Post-Vulgate Merlin continuation and in Malory, an unnamed King of Denmark (who is the brother of the King of Ireland) invades Britain with four other rulers, and is killed at the battle of the Humber. In the Welsh Triads, the King of Denmark is the father of Arthur’s warrior Nasiens. In Claris et Laris it was ruled by Heldins, then by Tallas who besieges King Urien but is defeated by Arthur’s knights and succeeded by Laris. A Queen of Denmark, who hates the Round Table, is the ruler of the Castle of Maidens in the Livre d’Artus, the romance also mentions a Saxon named Aminaduc as king of Denmark. Morte Arthure says Mordred made the Danes his allies. Durmart calls the king Jozefant (Josefent of Wales).

Various references are made to this country’s rulers in Arthurian tales. It is not possible to say who was actually in power in Denmark in the Arthurian period: the first definitely historical king of all Denmark was Gorm the Old who commenced his reign about the year AD 900. Danish traditional lists go much further back, claiming there were various smaller kingdoms in Denmark before unification under Gorm, notably that of Lethra which had a list of kings going back to Skioldr, son of Odin. In Anderson’s ‘Royal Genealogies’, kings of Denmark in the traditionally Arthurian period were Harald IV (AD 481-527) and also Eschyllus (AD 527-543).

Denmark | 0 to the 9th century AD

Pre-Roman Period
In the centuries before the Common Era, the region that is now Denmark was inhabited by various Germanic tribes. These tribes were part of a larger cultural and linguistic group known as the Germanic peoples. The people of this region had connections with other Germanic tribes across Northern Europe.

Roman Influence | 1st – 5th centuries
During the Roman Empire’s expansion into Northern Europe, the Danish lands experienced contact with Roman culture, trade, and military activities. However, the direct Roman influence on the Danish territory was limited.

Migration Period and Settlement in Denmark | 4th – 9th centuries
The Angles and Saxons, who originated from the region of modern-day Denmark and northern Germany, migratied to Britain in the post-Roman period. Their settlement in Britain contributed to the formation of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England.

During the Migration Period, the Danes began to settle in the region that would later become Denmark. The area was inhabited by various Germanic tribes, including Danes, Jutes, Angles, and Saxons. The process of tribal consolidation and the establishment of early chieftaincies laid the foundation for the formation of the Danish kingdom.

Procopius, a Byzantine historian (c. 500-565 AD), mentioned a tribe known as “Danes” in his writings, indicating that the region of Denmark was known to the Romans during this time.

Viking Age | 8th – 11th centuries
The Viking Age, which roughly corresponds to the late eigth to early eleventh centuries, is a significant period in Danish history. Danish Vikings engaged in raids, trade, and exploration across Europe, the North Atlantic, and even as far as the Mediterranean. Denmark became a part of the broader Viking culture and played a key role in the Viking expansion.

Conversion to Christianity | 8th – 10th centuries
The process of Christianization began in Denmark during the eighth century. The conversion was gradual, and by the tenth century, Denmark officially embraced Christianity. King Harald Gormsson (Harald Bluetooth), who ruled in the tenth century, is credited with the conversion of the Danes to Christianity.

Formation of a Kingdom | 9th century
Towards the end of the ninth century, the various Danish tribes and chieftaincies coalesced into a more unified entity. The reign of Gorm the Old and his son Harald Bluetooth marked a significant phase in the formation of a centralized Danish kingdom.

See also
Five Kings | The Legend of King Arthur
Seven Kings of Cornwall | The Legend of King Arthur
Godfrey | The Legend of King Arthur
Vikings | The Legend of King Arthur

Historia Regum Britanniae | Geoffrey of Monmouth, c. 1138
Roman de Brut | Wace, c. 1155
Didot-Perceval | c. 1220-1230
Vulgate Merlin | 1220-1235
Le Livre d’Artus | Early 13th century
Post-Vulgate Suite du Merlin | 1230-1240
Breudwyt Rhonabwy | 13th century
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470