Harald Klak: The First Viking King to Get Baptized

Posted by Ms Elly on

Harald Klak: The First Viking King to Get Baptized

The Christianization process happened quite slowly as it met with many strong disapprovals from the Vikings whose belief was firmly attached to Norse Pantheon. This process started from the royal family first then the king would gradually made his people to follow his new religion. The first Viking king that chose to abandon pagan belief to follow the new one was Harald Klak a Danish King.

According to sagas, King Harald Klak was on his exile when he asked for an alliance for his re-claiming his throne. In 826, he submitted himself to the cross making himself the first Danish Viking King who got baptized. 

The deed of baptism at this point was quite controversial as many scholars nowadays viewed it as a wise step while others considered it nonsense. 

But one thing I believe is that Harald Klak would never have abandoned his belief without a strong promise to form an ally with Frankish King Louis the Pious. 

Civil wars took over the country when the father of Harald Klak died. Lands were divided and brothers fought one another. That's why Harald sought for external power even if he had to abandon Norse Pantheon. And the King only agreed to offer support when Harald Klak promised to be baptised. It was during the 9th century when the Christians tried to convert all the pagans. And King Louis the Pious was the son of Charlemagne who devoted all his power to Christian belief and tried to convert the pagans. 

Viking King went on his raiding and plundering in search of fortune, reputation, and new land.

The deed of baptism of King Harald Klak was politically orientated

An offer to King Harald Klak under one condition was reasonable. 

Harald Klak at this point could do nothing but accept the deal and get baptized. At Ingelheim on the Rhine, Harald Bluetooth swore his allegiance to the king and submitted himself to Christian belief. King Louis the Pious was there to witness and offered Harald Klak an estate in Friesland. 

Now, with the support of King Louis the Pious, Harald Klak could finally launch his campaign to seize the throne. 

The Frankish King ordered the Frankish monk named Ansgar to accompany Harald back to Denmark. The truth was that Louis the Pious ordered Ansgar to undertake missionary activities in Denmark. And with the protection of Harald, Ansgar would be safe. 

Norsemen got baptised

Many Christian monks were sent to Scandinavia to conduct religious missionary yet not many of them succeeded because the Vikings held their firm belief in their gods

However, a year after, Harald failed and was forced out of Denmark as well as Ansgar. 

Quickly, King Louis the Pious realized that Harald was not a wise ally to rely upon. Some sources mentioned Harald used his estate in Friesland as a base and started his piracy. He remained quite influential yet was never powerful enough to launch a campaign again to regain his throne in Denmark. 

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