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The History Fangirl Podcast

May 8, 2018

On today’s episode of the History Fangirl Podcast, we talk with Noah Tetzner, host of the fantastic The History of Vikings Podcast. Vikings have come up a few times on this show, including their time in Iceland’s Thingvellir and their sacking of Lindisfarne. So this time we turn to another sliver of lesser-known Viking history and talk about their time in Denmark. As Noah tells me in this episode, while the Vikings may have a reputation for violence and pillaging, they were actually a simple, agrarian people. On this episode we talk about Norse mythology, Viking raids and a man named Bluetooth.

The Vikings of Denmark

As Noah told me on this week’s show, if you were to encounter the Vikings of any Scandinavian country, their lifestyles would look similar to you. But while the Vikings of Sweden explored, and the Vikings of Norway colonized, the Vikings of Sweden perhaps had the largest impact on history, or at least the largest footprint. They were the ones that raided and settled in York in the north of England and really changed English history. But the Vikings also established Danish history. Before the Vikings came, there was no recorded history, and the Roman and Greek armies didn’t bother exploring that far north. So once we hit 700 A.D., the Vikings land in Denmark and the history of Denmark begins.

Raiders of the Lost York

When Vikings settle in Denmark, they’re really set up as a series of farming communities. But they do gain notoriety when they show up on the shores of England and raid Lindisfarne. Denmark becomes one of the most powerful nations in the world, and the Viking structure transitions from a loose collection of farming towns to more of a traditional monarchy. The nation of Denmark really begins with the second king, King Harald Bluetooth, who came to power in 958. And he’s significant for a number of reasons, but in particular history will remember him for making Christianity the state religion of Denmark, and setting the country on a similar course to other world powers.

The founding of Roskilde

King Harald Bluetooth, aside from inspiring the name of everyone’s favorite local wireless technology, also founded the city of Roskilde. If you’re ever traveling to Denmark, Roskilde is a must-visit, particularly the Viking Ship Museum, where you can actually crew a Viking ship. Also worth visiting in Roskilde is the cathedral, built in the 12th and 13th centuries, which is also known as the royal burial cathedral. Danish monarchs since the 15th century have been buried here, making it an amazing place to connect with history.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:48] How Noah got interested in Vikings
  • [3:22] Who are the Vikings in Denmark?
  • [7:24] Viking life in Denmark
  • [11:06] King Harald Bluetooth
  • [14:25] Christianity in Viking life
  • [21:13] The founding of Roskilde
  • [40:00] How to connect with Noah

Resources Mentioned

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Featuring the song “Places Unseen” by Lee Rosevere.

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