Thyra Danebod

Thyra Danebod is one of my big historical heroes even though we know very little about her. I suppose she`s my hero because she is one of few women mentioned by name in the Viking age.

We know she existed because her husband, King Gorm the Old, made a rune stone with her name on it and later her son Harald Bluetooth (yes, the Bluetooth technology was named after him) made a rune stone for both Queen Thyra and King Gorm.

The latter rune stone is often considered Denmark`s birth certificate because it explains that Gorm the Old was the one to gather Denmark to one country. This was between 960 and 985.

We can assume that Thyra Danebod was born in the early 900s. We know little of her origin but the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus (aprox. 1150 – 1220) claimed that she was the daughter of the King of Wessex, Æthelred/ Edelradus. Other sources claim she was the illegitimate daughter of the English King Edward the Elder.

According to legends Thyra Danebod built defense walls to the south, the defense walls that exist even today under the name Dannevirke. Apparently the German emperor Otto I wooed her and she kept stalling him for a year while building those defense walls. Unfortunately that story isn`t true. Archeological tests have shown that the walls were built before Thyra`s birth and rebuilt after her death. But it was a good story.

A picture by Lorens Frølich from the middle of the 19th century. It shows how Thyra Danebod plans the building of the defense walls Dannevirke.

The big Jelling stone erected by Harald Bluetooth for his parents, King Gorm the Old and Queen Thyra Danebod.

The small Jelling stone erected by Gorm the Old to his wife Thyra Danebod.

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