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Sigurd Snake-In-Eye Ragnarsson [4396]
(Abt 0782-0873)
Heluna (Bleja) [59768]
Horda-Knut Sigurdsson [6923]

Gorm the old of Jutland King of Denmark [6922]
(Abt 0840-0958)


Family Links

Thyri Klacksdottir [6924]

Gorm the old of Jutland King of Denmark [6922] 24

  • Born: Abt 840
  • Marriage: Thyri Klacksdottir [6924]
  • Died: 958 about age 118

bullet  General Notes:

Acceded: 899
See Europäisch Stammtafeln Band II tafel 70.

Gorm the Old
(Danish : Gorm den Gamle, Old Norse : Gormr gamli), also called Gorm the Sleepy (Danish : Gorm Løge dvaske), was King of Denmark from c. 900 to c. 940.

The reported son of semi-legendary Danish king Harthacnut , Gorm was born in the late 9th century and died in 958, according to dendrochronological studies of the wood in his burial chamber.

Ancestry and reign

Adam of Bremen tells that his father came from Northmania to Denmark in the second decade of the 10th century and deposed the young king Sigtrygg Gnupasson ; when Harthacnut died, Gorm ascended the throne. Heimskringla reports Gorm taking at least part of the kingdom by force from Gnupa , and Adam himself suggests that the kingdom had been divided prior to Gorm's time.

Marriage to Thyra

Gorm married Thyra , who is given conflicting and chronologically dubious parentage by late sources, but no contemporary indication of her parentage survives. Gorm raised one of the great burial mounds at Jelling as well as the oldest of the Jelling stones for her, calling her tanemarkar but (Denmark's Salvation or Denmark's Adornment). Gorm was the father of two sons, Canute (Knud) and Harald, later King Harald Bluetooth .

His wife, Thyra, is credited with the completion of the Danevirke , a wall between Denmark's southern border and its unfriendly Saxon neighbors to the south. The wall was not new, but it was expanded with a ditch and earthen foundation topped by a timber stockade above it. The Danevirk ran between the Schlien and the Trende River across what is now Schleswig.[1]

Death, burial and reburial

Arild Hvitfeldt </w/index.php?title=Arild_Hvitfeld&action=edit&redlink=1>'s Danmarks Riges Krønike explains how Gorm died. Of his two sons, Gorm preferred the eldest, Canute, to Harald to the extent that he made an oath that the messenger who brought news of Canute's death would be executed. The two sons were Vikings in the truest sense, departing Denmark each summer to raid and pillage. Harald came back to the royal enclosure at Jelling with the news that Canute had been killed in an attempt to capture Dublin, Ireland. Canute was shot with a coward's arrow while watching some games at night. No one would tell the king in view of the oath the king had made. Queen Thyra ordered the royal hall hung with black cloth and that no one was to say a single word. When Gorm entered the hall, he was astonished and asked what the mourning colors meant. Queen Thyra spoke up: "Lord King, You had two falcons, one white and the other gray. The white one flew far afield and was set upon by other birds which tore off its beautiful feathers and is now useless to you. Meanwhile the gray falcon continues to catch fowl for the king's table." Gorm understood immediately the Queen's metaphor and cried out, "My son is surely dead, since all of Denmark mourns!" "You have said it, your majesty," Thyra announced, "Not I, but what you have said is true." According to the story Gorm was so grieved by Canute's death that he died the following day.[citation needed ] This would seem to contradict information on the Jelling Stones which seem to point to Queen Thyra's death before Gorm died. Historians have always suggested that Gorm was buried first in Queen Thyra's grave mound at Jelling, and later moved by his son, Harald Bluetooth , into the original wooden church in Jelling.
His skeleton is believed to have been found at the site of the first Christian church of Jelling. During the reign of Gorm, most Danes still worshipped the Norse gods , but during the reign of Gorm's son, Harold Bluetooth , Denmark officially converted to Christianity . Harald left the hill where Gorm had originally been interred as a memorial.


Gorm was "old" in the sense that he has always been considered the traditional ancestral "head" of the Danish monarchy, the oldest in Europe. The custom at the time was to give nicknames to individuals since surnames were not formalized until the mid-1800s in Denmark. Nicknames fell into several categories: names based on an event, names based on a physical characteristic, names based on a pun, and names listing a characteristic that was the opposite of the character of the person given that name, in essence, a joke nickname. For example, Gorm the Sleepy was not at all sleepy; he was watchful. Gorm the Old did not live an especially long life, but his rule of 40 years, from c. 900 to c. 940, is the longest of any Danish Viking monarch. Saxo Grammaticus in the Gesta Danorum asserts that Gorm was older than other monarchs and having lived so long was blind by the time his son Canute was killed. Records of earlier kings either were not available or discounted by royal historians. Gorm's name appears on the Jelling stones and that was definitive proof historians of the past needed.


1. ^
Hvitfeldt, Arild. Danmarks Riges Krønike


Birkebæk, Frank. Vikingetiden i Danmark. Viborg: Sesam, 2003. ISBN 87-11-13718-5

Hybel, Nils. Danmark i Europa: 750-1300. København: Museum Tusculanums forlag, 2003. ISBN 87-7289-882-8

Johannessen, Kåre. Politikens bog om Danmarks vikingetid. Politikens håndbøger. København: Politikens forlag, 2001. ISBN 87-567-6456-1

Sawyer, P. H. The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-19-285365-1

Thiedecke, Arendse, and Johnny Thiedecke. De danske vikinger: samfund, kongemagt og togter ca. 700-1050. Valby: Pantheon, 2003. ISBN 87-90108-21-3


bullet  Noted events in his life were:

• Acceded: King of Denmark, Abt 899. King of Denmark c.899 to c. 940


Gorm married Thyri Klacksdottir [6924] [MRIN: 2627], daughter of Klack-Harald of Jutland King in Jutland [6925] and Unknown. (Thyri Klacksdottir [6924] was born about 870 in Jutland, Denmark and died about 935 in Jellinge, Vejle, Denmark.)

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