Sunday, 20 September 2009

Character in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Series: Thyra

Origin: Norse Meaning: God

Lorenz Frølich's impression of Thyra Dannebod ordering the foundation of the Dannevirke.

Thyra (correctly spelled Þyrvé) was the consort of King Gorm the Old of Denmark. She is believed to have led an army against the Germans. Gorm and Thyra were the parents of King Harald Bluetooth.
While Gorm the Old had disparaging nicknames, his wife Thyra was referred to as a woman of great prudence. Saxo wrote that Thyra was mainly responsible for building the Dannevirke on the southern border, but archeology has proven it much older.
Gorm raised a memorial stone to Thyra at Jelling, which refers to her as tanmarka but, the 'Pride' or 'Ornament' of Denmark.
Gorm and Thyra were buried under one of the two great mounds at Jelling and later moved to the first Christian church there. This was confirmed when a tomb containing their remains was excavated in 1978 under the east end of the present church.
There are contradictory accounts of Thyra's parentage. Saxo holds she was the daughter of Æthelred, King of England[dubious – discuss] but Snorri says her father was a king or jarl of Jutland or Holstein called Harald Klak. Thyra predeceased Gorm.
According to popular tradition, her daughter was captured by trolls and carried off to a kingdom in the far north beyond Halogaland and Biarmaland.
Tradition also has it that before Thyra consented to marry Gorm, she insisted he build a new house and sleep in it for the first three nights of winter and give her an account of his dreams those nights. The dreams were told at the wedding banquet and as recorded, imitate the dreams Pharaoh had that were interpreted by Joseph in Genesis. Oxen came out of the sea (bountiful harvest) and birds (glory of the king to be born).

Source: Saxo Grammaticus: The History of the Danes Vol II. Davidson, Hilda Ellis and Peter Fisher. (1980)
D.S. Brewer: Cambridge Salmonson, Jessica Amanda.(1991) The Encyclopedia of Amazons. Paragon House. Page 251. ISBN 1-55778-420-5

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