Gorm "den Gamle", dansk konge - Birthplace and parentage

Started by Harald Tveit Alvestrand on Thursday, April 10, 2014
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4/10/2014 at 6:53 AM

[This discussion is started in English because some of the participants don't speak a Nordic language. Please continue in English if you can!]

There's been a number of changes to Gorm's birthplace in recent days, with no discussion that I could find. This is not good; the way to find a consensus is to talk, present evidence, and then draw a conclusion about what we can agree on - not to change what we disagree with.

As far as I can tell, the most frequently presented theory is that he was born in England, the son of Hardeknut, and that this person was identical with the king known as Godfred. This is based on reasoning given on the Web pages at vikingekonger.dk: http://www.vikingekonger.dk/Vikingekonger%20HTML/Artikler%20A/Gorm%...

Others have made changes that indicate that they do not agree with this theory, have other theories, or are saying that this theory is based on too much circumstantial evidence to be credible.

Can we use the discussion forum to have this discussion?

4/10/2014 at 9:16 AM

Could we start by only having the facts in the different fields and not having any speculations or theories in the eventfields on his profile. That is a better startingpoint than having the eventfields full of different unproven theories.

So what do we know about Gorm:

By dendrochronology from a tree found in the original tomb of Gorm it is found that he died during the winter 958-959, and that the place of his burial was in Jelling.

In 1978 his bones underwent Scientific studies and they found ot that he was ca. 50 years old when he died, which should make his birth around 908.

(Source: http://www.fortidensjelling.dk/jelling4.htm)

In the Danish wikipedia site there is listed a number of external sources with different authors. Does anyone know how trustworthy these authors work are? http://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorm_den_Gamle

Is anyone of them still valid (some of them are from the 1920-1930's) and how usable are they to shed some light in our work, and the same goes for the link Harald has in his first post, vikingekonger.dk

Does anyone have any knowledge of any modern critical work of the different sources and books about Gorm den Gamle that we can use?

4/10/2014 at 9:37 AM

I have had a communication with Günther Kipp the recent days, because I want the birthplace to be changed to unknown, since the sagas do not state anything the sort.
I also surgested that the information in about me should be what the sagas says and not what different theoris get out of it. There are some theoris that are on very thin ground, some might be valid, but I would think we should stick with the facts of what we do know.

Their has been some new information on the site in Jelling. Diggs after 2000 and a Ct scan of the tree in the mount surgest that Gorm was buriad around 958. Through this information found in this diggs they also believe that Gorm was born after 908.
I am right in communication with Aarhus Universitet to see if some historiens can help me here with the sagas. I hope for an answer soon.

Not all of the sites are still valid. I am trying to sort out what still goes. Hence also the contact with the different historians. I am a historian myself, but my special field is not the viking age, so I need a little help with that.

4/10/2014 at 9:40 AM

And by the way the site viking konger is not presented by any historian. and the conclusion that Hardeknud is Gotfrid is made on very thin argumentation as far as I can see.
Their is another Gorm that is also mentioned in Saxo. He is called Gorm the English. He comes befor Gorm, and acutally fits better with the time period. Otherwise Gorm would have been a very old man and so would his father.

4/10/2014 at 9:56 AM

Remi, most of the facts we have are theories; it's only that some of them have much better backing than others....
We know (well, it's been reported by contemporary sources) that there is a tomb, and a skeleton, and these have certain properties; on the theory that these belong to the king that the sagas name Gorm, we build the theory that he was born and died at certain dates. Remi, do you have a reference to the basis by which this was identified with Gorm the Old? (I note that vikingkonger.dk says that "his burial place is unknown" - apparently the author was unaware of this theory, or disagreed with it).

vikingekonger.dk is a personal project by Peter Lawætz, former president of the Danish Technical University (we verified his identity last time around). Not a historian, but not just a random person either.

I would like to order the links/references in the profile into three groups:

- Saga/old references (stuff from before 1400-or-so - Saxo, Snorre)
- Newer historians' references (later stuff published by historians)
- Contemporary theories (stuff like currentliy edited Web pages)

Would that make sense to people?
And Anette - do you have a reference to the place in Saxo where Gorm the English is represented?

Private User
4/10/2014 at 10:13 AM
4/10/2014 at 11:22 AM

De bedste oplysninger får vi forærende fra Peter Lawætz:


Skriv til ham og få flere oplysninger:

4/10/2014 at 12:33 PM

I have sent Peter Lawætz a bunch of questions and other toughts and comments about what he is saying on his site. Hopefully he will give me a thorough answer. At the moment, Ole Kristian Moustgaard I don't agree that Peter is giving the best answers to our questions, but we'll see what he is answering when I get one.

Private User
4/10/2014 at 5:04 PM

Well - if you want, you can try to read the Manuscript "Jomsvikursaga" and there in chaper 1 is Gormur named. You should give it a go - It's your old Norse :)

"Jomsvikingasaga" states that there was an older Gorm "the childless" a rich Danish king. He was a good friend of Arnfinn, earl of Saxony. Arnfinn had a sister and who got pregnant by Gorm and bore him a son. This was kept a secret from Gorm but the baby was found in the woods and brought to Gorm who raised him up and named him "Knut". After the death of Gorm "The elder" - his adopted son, Knutur became king and fostered the son of "Sigurd-orm-i-auga", and gave him the name "Hörda-Knut". The son of "Hörda-Knut" was Gorm "hinn-gamli" or "the rich". http://www.snerpa.is/net/forn/jomsvik.htm

It's also in Danish:

4/10/2014 at 8:26 PM

Thank you, Private User, for the good story. Here is another story: http://www.nyrups.dk/Historie/Gorm/GormIndex.htm#Gorm you're probably good in danish, so the links on that page shouldn't be a problem, and here are som more good stories: http://www.vikingekonger.dk/Vikingekonger%20HTML/Centrale%20dele/Fo...

These are just stories, though, Anna Kristin, just as Jomsvikingasaga is. At the moment we first want to establish the facts. Then we can do the stories afterwood! Do you think Jomsvikingasaga as facts or stories, meening like a primary, secondary or tertiary source?

4/10/2014 at 9:07 PM

I have this note on Gorm:

The genealogy of Danish kings in this period is uncertain. "As Adam of Bremen admitted in Book 1, Chapter 54, we do not know whether or not the kings named by him form a consecutive sequence, or show dynasties that were reigning in two different parts of Denmark at the same time. As a result, we can come to few chronological conclusions based on the meager evidence that we have, namely that the year 934 occurred during Gnupa's reign, that Gorm probably died about 958, and the less secure one that Gorm's reign probably began before the death of Unni (936). If we assume, as is usually done, that the Sigerich of Adam is the same person as the king Sigtryg, son of Gnupa and Asfrid, then we have three basic groupings, first the reign of Helge, perhaps in the last years of the ninth century or the first years of the tenth, either followed by or partly contemporaneous with Olaf and his sons and grandson in Haddeby, who in turn were either followed by or partly contemporaneous with Hardegon/Hardeknud and Gorm. The consecutive scenario seems very unlikely from the fact that we would then have to place the reigns of both Sigtryg and Hardeknud in the period 934 to 936. Thus, it seems very likely that the Haddeby and Jelling dynasties were at least partially overlapping with each other, ruling in different parts of Denmark. In that case, since Harald claimed on his runestone that he was the one to unite Denmark, we must even leave open the possibility that Sigtryg lived until after the death of Gorm." (Stewart Baldwin (compiler), Royal Succession: Gorm of Denmark and His Immediate Predecessors)

4/10/2014 at 9:35 PM

My opinion is that the writings closest to a person's life are the only documentary evidence we have. We can supplement that information with archaeology, but everything else is just someone's opinion. Even if that opinion is very good, it's not a fact. Scholars are rarely unanimous, and even the best academic opinion can change. (Of course, the information in documentary evidence is not a fact either, but it's the closest we have.)

If the primary sources disagree, then we don't know.

For example, Adam of Bremen says Hardacanute's father was Sveinn. Ragnarssona þáttr says his father was Sigurd Snake-in-the Eye. Saxo Grammaticus, much later, says his father was Eirik. I don't see a way to resolve that question except by forming an opinion. Of the two, I might prefer Adam of Bremen, but after a long and exhausting argument someone else might disagree.

I don't like the theory that Hardecanute was the same person as Godefridus. It's just one of many competing theories trying to make sense of conflicting sources and troublesome chronologies.

4/10/2014 at 10:46 PM

Justin Durand thanks! Just to be sure: When you write "Haddeby", you mean https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedeby (now in Schleswig), while Jelling is near present-day Vejle?

The distance between these places is slightly under 200 km. Plenty of room for 2 small kingdoms in Viking times :-)

Private User
4/10/2014 at 10:52 PM

Did you read the Google book page I linked to above, http://goo.gl/erKc3A, which seem to be an understanding of what Saxo writes?

It clearly mention two Gorm's, and some of the problems might be that they are mixed.

4/10/2014 at 10:56 PM

Yes, Hedeby. That's part of a quote from Stewart Baldwin, but it's clear he means Hedeby.

4/10/2014 at 11:57 PM

I am right now waiting for a phonecall from the Arkeologist that is head of the resent diggs in Jelling. I was tolled that she was number one person to run to, if you whant to now something about Jelling and Gorm.

4/11/2014 at 12:13 AM

Er vi ikke lige ved at komme fuldstændigt ud af trit med hensyn til Gorms liv og levned.

Jeg bor i Jelling, hvor Det danske kulturarvstyrelse har endevendt byen til fordel for nye forskningresultater omkring Gorm og kongebyen Jelling.
Byen er blevet gennemgravet og palisader er blevet rejst, huse er blevet fjernet - og lige nu bliver der bygget kolossal meget omkring kongernes Jelling.

Det er derfor trist at høre, at det udelukkende er norske Curatoer der nu igen har taget diskussionen op og efterlyser nye teoretiske beviser og DNA, på noget, som Kurturarvstyrelsen (DK) har fundet beviser på.

Danskere forskere har ikke fundet anledning til at diskutere Jelling som kongeby - det er slået fast. Günther Kipp, som ikke så langt fra Jelling mener det samme og låste Gorm som dansk emneområde.

At Hedeby skulle være et kongested - forekommer mig dybt skeptisk, idet den danske stat aldrig har beskæftiget sig med den som kongeby i forhold til Jelling.

Det er beskæmmende, at forskere stadigvæk sår tvivl om Gorm og Jelling som kongeby. Prøv at besøge Jelling i dag - så vil alt tvivl være væk.

At jeg ikke er enig med Remi Pedersen ændrer ikke ved historiens gang.
Det kan mange bøger, Saxoer, m.v. ikke gøre noget ved.

Peter Lawætz svarer alle, når man skriver til ham. Det har jeg beviser på.

4/11/2014 at 12:35 AM
4/11/2014 at 12:41 AM

Sorry Ole did you just read what I just posted, and do you know what Saxos Krønnike is???
And the Jelling as digg is today under the dansih national museum, so that they do not see Jellings importense is nonsens!!.
If you go in under Aarhus university. The do talk about these things.
So actually what we are discussing here is what is known of Gorm, not what some one think is known.
Lawætz is just one of many theories. And in that theori it will meen that Hardeknud died over the age of 100. I do not think that is likely.
Especially because, according to the historians he came to Jelling between 909 - 916 and conquered the place. That would have made him a old man when he did that!!

4/11/2014 at 12:54 AM

This is what Lawætz writes as HArdeknud Gotfrid as KIng. Sorry it is not in English.

Kongen i York o.880-995 hedder Godfred (se Simeon af Durham: "History of the Kings of England"). Vi kender ad anden vej to Godfred'er på dette tidspunkt, nemlig Godfred Normanneren, søn af Halfdan
Regnarsen og død 885 i Flandern, og den Godfred, søn af Ivar Regnarsen , som efter alt at dømme faldt i kampen ved Löwen 891. De ville begge via deres fædre have været berettiget til at blive konge i York. En del af deres brødre ville også være kvalificerede, men de kunne ikke også hedde Godfred. Den Godfred, man vælger, har altså en anden baggrund, og så er der ikke andre berettigede end Hardeknud/Fundne-Knud.

His conclusion comes from ruling out to other candidates with the name, and then saying that the king therefor must have another background. From their he jumbs to HArdeknut being then the only candidate left.
Not the most solid argumentation I have seen

4/11/2014 at 1:30 AM

Jeg tror at UNESCO vil protestere, ved at give dig ret i dine antagelser, da du jo ikke har fremmanet en dokumentation der kan afvise Peter Lawætz argumenter.

Det vil være en fin idé at rette diisse anskuelser direkte til Peter
- det er ham der kommer med den nyeste forskning (februar 2014) omkring vikingekonger og Gorms fødested.

4/11/2014 at 1:52 AM

I thought this is surposed to be a debate, and what has Unesco got to do with Lawæts.??
I just talked to the arkeologist that is head of the digg. This is what she said.
FAct is Gorm must have died 958 - 59. That is what the wood in the camber can tell them.
OFcause they can not be sure the man in the church is Gorm, but their was found Bronceplates that where similar to the ones found in the burial mound. So it makes it likely that it is Gorm. Also because their is known of other reburials from this period of time.
She also said about Adam of Bremen and his sorce to the information Svend Tveskæg king of Denmark. It is Svend that explain the family relations to Adam of Bremen. Though i might have gotten something wrong, it is unlikely that he would have missed if HArdeknud var konge af York. It is something Svend would have tolled him, because that would have given him a clame to this throne.
They also know that their was a Gotfrid in Hedeby, but they do not believe that it is surposed to be the Hardeknud Gorms father. Also because he is named in the sagas as Hardeknud Sveyns son.

She did not want to go any further into the discussion of the sagas, because her expertice is Arkeology. She did however send me in the direction of a Else Rosdahl PRofessor at the Danish nation museum and a Anne Pedersen. These to should be the experts on the sagas and about Gorm.
So their is some danish experts who can tell us something about this.

4/11/2014 at 2:35 AM

Saxo grammaticus "Danmarks riges krønike" udgivet af forlaget Danmark 1924: Side 138 - 139:

Gorm Engelsmand:

Gorm som kaldtes - med tilnavnet Engelskmand, fordi han var født i England, havde også den lykke at blive konge på øen, men det varede kun lidt, thi da han efter sin fader kong Frodes død, tog til Danmark en kort tid, for at sætte tingene på plads, Anglerne lejligheden til at sætte sig i frihed og rev sig løs fra Danmark. og ville aldrig siden falde til føje.

Det var imidlertid hans lykke, at da Anglerne forsmåede ham, de danske tog til takke, ja fordoblede endda deres hengivenhed, - og hvad kan man såandet sige, end: der vil stærke baand til store kar, naar de ikke skal falde i stave, 0g naar man har mange jern i ilden, brændes gerne det halve, saa det er aldrig godt at være for gerrig på verden.

Saaledes mistede Gorm England, da han greb ud efter Danmark, men greb dog ikke fejl og anstrengte sig ikke for at få England igen.

Efter Gorm blev Harald hans søn - konge af Danmark - men der er ikke skrevet så meget om det.

Efter Harald kom Gorm den gamle - som havde en uudslukkelig had til kristendommen, hvis tilhængere, han af al magt stræbte at udrydde og kaldte dem afskummet af menneskeskægten. På alle mulige måder gjorde han livet surt for de kristne og sværtede dem til med de sorteste beskyldninger han kunne finde. ( side 141 - 149)

Han blev gift med den angelsaksiske prinsesse - datter af Kong Hedelrad og fik børnene Knud og Harald.

Men for at gifte sig med Gorm - forlangte hun at få hele Danmark som morgengave. Hun forsøgte at vinde Gorm for Kristendommen.

Er vi nu ikke på rette spor?

Private User
4/11/2014 at 2:48 AM

Ja, - og det bekrefter min mistanke om at påstanden at Gorm den gamle er født i York sannsynligvis skyldes at noen har blandet sammen Gorm Engelsmand og Gorm den gamle.

Legg også merke til at det stå "Efter Harald kom Gorm den gamle", - ikke at det var en sønn.

Private User
4/11/2014 at 2:50 AM

Yes, - it confirms my statement that claiming that Gorm the old is born in York/England is because someone have mixed Gorm the old with "Gorm the Englishman". It fits the timline also better.

4/11/2014 at 2:56 AM

Historikerne i denne debat burde læse disse afsnit i Saxo Grammaticus 1924.

- endvidere står der: side 146:

Knud blev dræbt - fik en pil gennem brystet - og dette måtte Gorm ikke faa at vide.

På dette tidspunkt da Knud og Harald kæmpede - også i Irland -
var Gorm blevet meget gammel og blind og var på gravens rand.
Sit eget liv brød han sig ikke om, thi han var blevet så gammel et menneske kan blive.! Han var mere bekymret for sine sønners liv og
velfærd, og især elskede han den ældste så højt, at havde svoret på, at den første, der meldte ham Knuds død, skulle have sit liv forbrudt.

Det var Thyra der først fik besked og hun afførte Gorm hans kongekaabe og hængte en lurvet kappe omkring ham, som betegnelsen på sorg.

4/11/2014 at 2:58 AM

I think too that there has been a confusion of Gorm the Englishman and Gorm den Gamle.

ifølge Historia Norwegiæ var Erik blodøkses dronning Gunhild datter af den meget tåbelige danske konge Gorm og hans meget forstandige hustru Thyri (HNW s.105). Gorms ringe forstand er afledt af tilnavnet “hinn heimski”, som optræder i norrøn litteratur, men formentlig blot er en misforståelse af Ensci, som optræder i kongeliste III og betyder engelske. Som tidligere nævnt blev Erik blodøkse forjaget 954 og døde kort efter, men med Gunhild havde han flere voksne børn, hvilket udelukker, at deres mor kan have været datter af Gorm og hans kone.

Denne Gorm Engelske kommer også, før Gorm den Gamle i JElling.

4/11/2014 at 3:07 AM

Ole for det første kan vi godt læse. Vi andre har flere gange i debat om Gorm nævnt saxo og Adam og Bremen og så videre. At du først opdager dem nu er da lidt utroligt og han døde stadig i 958 og man kan got blive blind og gammel i en alder af 50 i vikingetiden. Der behøver man ikke blive 100.
Men du vil så også påstå at Arkæologerne ikke ved noget om noget som helst går jeg ud fra. Aldrig åbnet en bog.???

4/11/2014 at 3:17 AM

Jeg har hele samlingen af "Danmarks riges krønike" bind 1 - 13.
Den kan findes i flere genbrugsbutikker - har jeg set.
Bøgerne er fordansket af Niels Severin Grundtvig og illustreret af Gudmund Hentze.
Forlaget Danmark 1924.

I forordet står der:
Det er nu en menneskealder siden Saxo Runemesters Danmarks-krønike i følge med Snorre Sturlesens Norges krønike udkom på dansk 1818 - 1823. En brand ødelagde en stor del af de 3000 eksempl. og kun 300 stk kom til Norge. Resten blev strøet rundt om i Danmark.

Det var måske en god idé at få fat i et eksemplar-

4/11/2014 at 3:22 AM

Anette - vil du ikke være rar at skrive på dansk når du sender noget - jeg skal læse.

Jeg har ikke haft fornemmelsen, at du har læst SAXO - så ville du jo have skrevet, at der findes 2 personer der hedder Gorm.
Nu spurgte du mig om jeg havde læst SAXO - og det havde jeg før denne diskussion - det er stadig Gorms fødselssted det handler om.
Han blev født i England - som der står skrevet!

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