Danish Kings and the Foundation of Jómsborg

Danish Kings and the Foundation of Jómsborg

Danish Kings and the Foundation of Jómsborg

By Jakub Morawiec

Scripta Islandica, Volume 65, 2014

Introduction: Jómsborg, the great stronghold and residence of that famous warrior band the Jómsvíkings, is closely related in the Old Norse tradition to numerous Scandinavian rulers and is also associated with several Danish kings. The various literary accounts analysed below indicate that members of the Jelling dynasty influenced the historiography of the place and its heroes.

The colourful and inarguably dramatic narrative of the legend is intertwined with the history of the town. Jómsborg was the Scandinavian name for Wolin (Wollin), the early Slavic urban complex located on the Odra (Oder) estuary. Its development was based, among other things, on direct economic, cultural, and political connections with the North. Moreover, the location of the urban complex and its character meant that its history was to some extent a history of the Danish kings as well.

The aim of this paper is to consider the extent to which the legend of Jómsborg and the Jómsvíkings could have been influenced by the memory of more distant and recent political affairs in the region, marked by constant Slavic­Scandinavian encounters. In other words, this study suggests that there is a need to look for potential historical events and circumstances that encouraged saga authors to associate a story of a famous warrior band with Slavic territories and Jelling kings in a very specific manner.

Top Image: 16th century map of Denmark

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