Roskilde Cathedral, the tomb of Kings and Queens

Harald Bluetooth was a well loved king.

(Yes, this is where the word Bluetooth for the technology comes from)

He was a builder for it was during his reign that numerous public works for the people of Denmark and Norway were made including the reconstruction of the the Jelling runic stones and the fortifications around the city of Aros (Aarhus). He constructed the first bridge in Scandinavia, the Ravning Bridge, as well as a five ring fortress to defend the empire. After securing the interior, Bluetooth turned his attentions outwards, expanding Danish territory to include Norway, and present day Kaliningrad.

But perhaps Harald Bluetooth’s greatest legacy to the nation of Denmark was his conversion to Christianity, a controversial act. Controversial for two reasons: how conversion came about and why conversion came about. What is without doubt it that the conversion of Harald and the adoption of Christianity across his realm marked the beginning of Christianity in the Nordics – one of the last non-Christian outposts in all of Continental Europe.

And Roskilde was where he chose to build his first church. The small wooden church under which Harald was buried eventually became a grand Cathedral and still stands today as a the Roskilde Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which continues to be an imposing presence around the city.

The cathedral was the first religious building to be build of brick, launching a Brick Gothic style throughout the rest of Northern Europe. Its influence was derived from its position as the Seat of the Bishop of Roskilde, one of the earliest bishoprics in all of the Nordics.

Denmark, like Sweden, is not a religious country these days, it is still however a monarchy and the oldest in all of Europe. King Christian IX of Denmark is the Father-in-Law of Europe. The Danish crown is also the oldest crown in Europe and with deference paid to seniority the Queen of the United Kingdom needs to bow before the Queen of Denmark who is considered her senior, probably explains why Queen Elizabeth doesn’t really visit Queen Margarethe… heh heh…

The legitimacy of the monarchs comes from its ancestral link that goes back to Harald Bluetooth, their right to reign comes from their claims to a link to Harald Bluetooth, this became especially important in the middle ages as the actual bloodline link with Harald Bluetooth and the early Danish rulers was lost and replaced instead by individuals from powerful families around Germanic parts of Europe.

The Protestant Reformation led to the diminishing of importance of Roskilde – the capital was moved to Copenhagen and a new Diocese under the Lutheran Church of Denmark was set up in Copenhagen instead of Roskilde. However regardless of denomination, the power of Roskilde Cathedral and its links to royal legitimacy continue, as such the cathedral has been the burial site of Danish monarchs since the 15th century – almost 40 Danish Kings and Queens have been buried there.

There is even a slot prepared and ready for Queen Margarethe after she passes! Local Danish television even doing full reporting when the coffin as completed.

It seems kind of morbid if you ask me, but the back of the church was filled with exhibits to explain how the design was made and the coffin was designed…

people the Queen is still alive…


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