Harald Bluetooth: Great Viking King Slain By His Own Son

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Harald Bluetooth: Great Viking King Slain By His Own Son

It is a common question that whether Bluetooth technology had anything to do with Harald Bluetooth. The answer is "yes, it did". Bluetooth technology was actually named after "Harald Bluetooth" the first Viking king of Denmark and Norway. King Harald Bluetooth and Bluetooth technology had one thing in common: connecting people. This reasoned why Bluetooth is named so. 

But who was actually King Harald Bluetooth?

Before being known as King Harald Bluetooth, he was Harald Gormson. As his name indicated, Harald was the son of King Gorm who was the ruler of Denmark back to Jelling Dynasty. His mother was the beautiful and wise Queen, Thyra. At first, the King's favorite son was Knud instead of Harald. Knud was handsome, tall, and strong while Harald was short and slender. People loved Knud so much that they named him "Dana-ast" meaning "Danes love" 

However, Knud was never crowned as the King. Because he fell in battle somewhere on the British Isles in the 10th century. What caused Knud dead differed from account to account. But the most famous one was that he was shot by an arrow during the night. 

At this time, the Danes were spilt into many clans and each of region was ruled by a King and a Queen with different rules. But things quickly changed in the next few years when Harald Bluetooth became an ambitious and strategic king in his 30s.

Harald Bluetooth became the King of Denmark

Back to the time when King Gorm died circa 958, Harald Gormson was the most suitable to take over the throne of his father. And quickly, he proved himself as a military genius and strategic king. 

Harald Bluetooth ordered to build not only the Jelling burial mound in memory of his parents but also complexes of Viking trelleborgs (ring-shaped forts)

The first Jelling stone was allegedly erected in memory of Queen Thyra by King Gorm. And when King Gorm died, Harald Bluetooth built the next stone. On the Jelling stone by Harald Bluetooth, it honored Harald Bluetooth as the ruler unifying the Danes and the first Danish Viking king that converted the Danes to Christianity. 

Jelling stone by King Harald Bluetooth

On the Jelling stone was an image of Christ standing in the midst of plant patterns. Runes were written vertically on this Jelling stone and this was the first time that archaeologists found out an example of vertical rune writing.

Harald Bluetooth's ring forts

Regarding the complexes of trelleborgs, no Viking kings before had built such strategic and well-designed forts like Harald Bluetooth. Six out of seven Viking trelleborgs were believed to be erected under the reign of King Harald Bluetooth.

Viking Trelleborg

One Viking trelleborg found with the sign of longhouses inside and outside

All of them were constructed on important positions of the military. All of them had a similar design: ring-shaped fort with two major roads crossed inside. Scholars concluded that the Vikings had learnt this kind of fort when they were on their raiding time. But no other fort on planet circa 10th-century rival Harald Bluetooth's ones in terms of construction precision. 

Other structures

During his reign, King Harald Bluetooth saw the defensive potential of Danevirke fortress. He quickly ordered to improve and expand Danevirke fort. 

Harald Bluetooth also ordered to build Kovirke in 983. Both Danevirke and Kovirke demanded a great deal of manpower and time to finish. And it was no easy task to build such structures in the Viking Age. And these defensive walls provided the Danes protection within a long period. 

Harald Bluetooth got his baptism

Baptism was generally a Christian rite of adoption. Anyone who wanted to convert themselves to Christianity got baptized. 

When King Harald Bluetooth was on the throne, there had been a lot of attempts to convert the Danes to Christian long before. King Gorm, Harald's father, once refused to change his pagan belief to follow Christianity. But King Harald Bluetooth was different because the pressure of Christianity during his reign was intolerable. 

Harald Bluetooth's baptism

The baptism of King Harald Bluetooth

One account told that King Harald asked a Christian cleric to show the power of their God to persuade him. Then the cleric held a large weight of blazing iron on his hand without wearing any type of gloves. This impressed King Harald Bluetooth so much that he changed his mindset and decided to get baptised. 

Another account claimed that King Harald Bluetooth decided to convert his belief because of political reason. This was more reasonable because many Viking kings and jarls were politically motivated to abandon their pagan beliefs. Maybe King Harald Bluetooth considered his religious conversion to be a strategic move as he didn't want Otto I (King of German-Roman Empire) to force him to do so. 

How the King met his death

King Harald Bluetooth didn't die on his bed when old age and illness came to find him. During his lifetime, he made a lot of enemies, including his own son, Sweyn Forkbeard. 

Sweyn Forkbeard was not the favorite son of his father and probably not the most potential candidate to become the king. The last straw was when Harald Bluetooth converted himself and his people to Christian. 

Power is always dangerous. It attracts the worst and corrupts the best. Sweyn Forkbeard couldn't escape this. He harboured his hatred toward his father and his hatred finally motivated him to denounce his father. He started rebellion overthrowing and killing his father. 

Sweyn Forkbeard started rebellion to overthrow his father

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