In the eleventh century the English royal house could trace its origins, without employing too much fiction, back to the seventh century. Cnut’s dynasty had no such antiquity, though his propagandists soon began to manufacture one.2 But despite their attempts to make him a descendant of Ivar inn beinlusi, his historical ancestry goes back only to his greatgrandfather, Gorm the Old (d. 958), known chiefly from the runestone he erected to his wife Thyre (‘Denmark’s pride’) at Jelling (Jutland). Jelling, the centre of the family’s power, was developed by Gorm’s son Harald Bluetooth (958–87), whose own runestone boasts that ‘he won for himself all Denmark and Norway and made the Danes Christian’. Towards the end of his reign, however, he was deposed by his son, Swein Forkbeard, and died on 1 November 987.3 In Swein’s time, the centre of royal power in Denmark began to shift from Jelling in Jutland towards the eastern lands, notably to Roskilde in Sjaelland, soon to become the richest of the Danish bishoprics.4 Impressive though the achievements of Harald and Swein were, neither the Danish kingdom nor its nascent church were as developed as their counterparts in England.
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