Danemarce, Danemarche, Danmark, Denmarch, Denmarke
Denmark is a country located in Northern Europe and is one of the Scandinavian countries.
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 Aminaduc, Rions (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 | 400-600 AD
During the period between 400 and 600 AD, the area that is now modern-day Denmark was inhabited by various Germanic tribes, including Danes, Jutes, Angles, and Saxons. These tribes were part of the broader Germanic migration that occured during the Migration Period, circa 300-700 AD.
During the early part of this period, Denmark, along with other parts of the Northern Europe, was influenced by the Roman Empire. The Romans maintained trade and diplomatic relations with some Germanic tribes, but the Roman Empire’s control over the region declined in the fifth century.
The Angles and Saxons, who originated from the region of modern-day Denmark and northern Germany, migrated to Britain during this time. Their settlement in Britain contributed to the formation of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England.
The Germanic tribes in Denmark and the surrounding regions lived in tribal kingdoms with chieftains and leaders. These early political entities were not yet unified into a single cohesive kingdom. The Migration Period was characterized by movements of Germanic people, Huns, and other groups, leading to significant population shifts and the formation of new polities in Europe.
The Roman historian Procopius mentioned a tribe known as “Danes” in his writings, indicating that the region of Denmark was known to the Romans during this time. The latter part of the sixth century and onwards saw the beginning of the Viking Age, during which the Norse people, including the Danes, engaged in seafaring activities, trade, and raids in Northern Europe and beyond.
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