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Title: Gudfred  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Horik I, List of legendary kings of Denmark, Sigfred, Hemming of Denmark, Hedeby
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


King of Denmark
Predecessor Sigfred
Successor Hemming
Full name
Godfred Sigfredsson
House House of Sigfred
Father Sigfred

King Godfred (ruled from 804 or earlier until 810) was a Danish king during the Viking era. Gudfred was the younger son of King Sigfred. Alternate spelling include Gudfred, Göttrick (German), Gøtrik (Danish), Gudrød (Danish), and Godofredus (Latin).


King Godfred appeared in present day Holstein with a navy in 804 AD where diplomacy took place with the Franks. It is believed that Godfred's brother Halfdan became earl of some wealthy market towns south of the river Ejder, occupying what became known as North Frisia. Refusing to pay tax to Godfred, Halfdan swore his allegiance to Charlemagne in 807 to get his protection. In 798, the Obodrites had defeated the Saxons in the battle on Swentana river. The Saxons were dispersed by the Frankish Emperor Charlemagne. The part of their former land in Holstein north of Elbe was awarded to the Obotrites in 804, as a reward for their victory. In 804, a Frankish army penetrated as far as the Ejder, Denmark's traditional boundary at the time.[1]

Fearing an invasion by the Franks, who had conquered heathen Frisia over the previous 100 years and Old Saxony in 772 to 804, Godfred began work on an enormous structure to defend his realm, separating Jutland from the northern extent of the Frankish Empire. The Frankish invasion never materialized, but it caused Gudfred to construct the first sections of the Danevirke, which ran from the Schlei toward the west coast of Denmark by means of the river Trende. The wall was built with an earthen embankment topped by a wooden stockade and protected from the south by a deep ditch. Denmark's most important town, Hedeby, which apparently already existed on the Schlien, was expanded and garrisoned with Danish soldiers and the early sections of the wall were designed to protect it.[2]

In 808, King Godfred forced the Obodrites to acknowledge him as their overlord. The citizens of Reric were allied with Charlemagne, who used the port as part of a strategic trade route. King Gudfred attacked Reric burnt it down, killed Chief Drożko and ordered the merchants to resettle at Hedeby, which was being integrated into the Danevirke defensive line.[2]

In 809, King Godfred and emissaries of Charlemagne failed to negotiate peace. In 810, Gudfrid led 200 ships to plunder the Frisian coast, and forced the merchants and peasant to pay 100 pounds of silver and claimed Northern Frisia as Danish territory. To protect the northern coast of the Frankish Empire, Charlemagne began paying Viking chieftains to protect sections of the coast from the Schlei west to the Weser River. That same summer King Godfred was killed by one of his housecarls. According to Notker of St Gall, the bodyguard who murdered King Gudfred was one of his own sons.[2][3]


  1. ^ Danernes Sagnhistorie
  2. ^ a b c Huitfeldt, Arild. Danmarks Riges Krønike
  3. ^ Notker the Stammerer, De Carolo Magno, Book II, Chapter 13.
Legendary titles
Preceded by
Gormo I
King of Denmark Succeeded by
Olavus II
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