(Bloomberg) -- In Denmark, which has Europe’s oldest monarchy, new research shows that royal women in the age of the Vikings were much more powerful than previously assumed.
Queen Thyra, mostly known as the wife of the first Danish king, Gorm the Old, was likely more important than her husband and son, according to a publication by the National Museum of Denmark. Researchers found Thyra was mentioned on four rune stones — a Viking monument of power — which is more than any other person at the time.
Scholars made the discovery as part of a project to use 3D scanners to identify who carved the rune scripts on Denmark’s iconic Jelling stones. The findings support theories that the genders were more equal among Vikings compared with other societies at the time.
Thyra, who was queen from about 935 to 950, was “exceptionally important,” the researchers said. Gorm and her son Harald Bluetooth, in comparison, are mentioned on two rune stones each; the king only in connection with Thyra.
Queen Thyra probably came from a posher and older family than Gorm, whom Danes usually consider to be their first king, said Lisbeth Imer, runologist and senior researcher behind the study. “It’s incredibly interesting in terms of understanding the power relationship and how Denmark was formed as a nation at the very beginning,” she said.
In fact, Gorm was likely only king because he was married to Thyra, Adam Bak, the head of the museum where the Jelling stones are placed, told local media. The museum is now ready to dedicate more space to the queen in upcoming exhibitions, he said.
--With assistance from Thomas Hall.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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