The Forgotten King of Denmark – Haraldr II
ABSTRACT: King Haraldr II ruled the Kingdom of Denmark from 1014 to 1018; however, his reign is challenging to study due to a lack of source material. A detailed analysis of the written primary sources from Denmark and Iceland—such as Saxo’s Gesta Danorum, Chronicon Roskilde, and Knýtlinga saga—gives the impression that the Danes wanted to forget Haraldr II by deliberately omitting his brief reign from these narratives. This article investigates the possible reasons why Danish historians of the eleventh and twelfth centuries may have wanted to collectively forget Haraldr. To demonstrate how Haraldr has been omitted from historical narratives, this study compares a variety of different primary sources from Scandinavia and England, in order to gather as much information as possible on the topic. The article subsequently explores three possible explanations as to why Haraldr has been omitted: (1) the possibility that Haraldr reverted to pre-Christian religious beliefs, contradicting medieval historians’ perspectives of a true king, (2) transmission of the sources in the medieval ages and (3) a lack of worthwhile events during the height of medieval Danish success.