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27 Jul

Kingdom of Denmark 10th – 13th c.)

The Kingdom of Denmark was established by Harald Bluetooth who unified the Danish lands about 980. His successor Sweyn I (986-1014) ruled over most of Norway and was also crowned King of England one year before his death. Sweyn was succeeded by his eldest son Harald II (1014-1018) as King of Denmark, while his younger son Canute the Great (1016-1035) was crowned King of England. Canute the Great assumed the Danish throne on Harald’s death in 1018 and conquered Norway and part of Sweden.

Canute the Great

Canute the Great

Both Sweden and Norway restored their independence after Canute’s death in 1035, while Danish rule in England collapsed in 1042. The Kingdom of Denmark fell into a crisis until the accession of Valdemar I (1157-1182). Valdemar ended the period of a civil war and strengthened his authority in Denmark with support of the Bishop of Roskilde, Absalon who canonized his father Canute Lavard and performed the coronation ceremony for his son Canute VI (1182-1202). Valdemar I was also active in foreign politics and extended Danish rule over southern Sweden and greater part of the Baltic coast. By the end of his rule Valdemar I rejected the overlordship of Frederick I Barbarossa.

Danish expansion continued under Valdemar’s son and successor Canute VI who refused to acknowledge the overlordship of the Holy Roman Emperor. He conquered Pomerania and Mecklenburg, while his younger brother Valdemar, Duke of Schleswig conquered Holstein, including Lubeck and Hamburg in 1201. Danish territorial expansion also took place through marriages of Canute’s sisters: Ingeborg to the French King Philip II Augustus and Helen to William of Winchester, Lord of Lunenburg and brother of Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor.

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