"Summer is the best time before the ice and snow set it. Then it will be time to sit around the fire to hear the stories of their exploits upon their return. If they do not go away in their Viking Ships, where would we find such marvelous stories of their conquests? A Viking is to be feared. You have been born into a line that goes back to the early rulers of Denmark, from King Harthacnut to Gorm the Old..."
"Yes, that will come later in the telling of our story tonight. As I was saying, after Gorm, then his son, your great grandfather, Harald the Blue Tooth was ruler over all of Denmark. But tonight I wish to tell you the story of the beautiful Thyri Danebod, your great-great grandmother."
"Ahh, we want to hear tales of battles, not about queens who sit at home and do nothing," the boys fussed while her daughters clamored to hear the story.
"That is where you are mistaken, my sons. She was a warrior princess, some say Gorm called her the Salvation or Adornment of Denmark."
"You mean what is carved on the Jelling Stone?"
"Yes. She was buried in a great stone ship in a mound as was Gorm. Then Harald the Blue Tooth built a church over the remains when he converted the country to Christianity instead of the Norse gods. As a daughter of King Edward, Queen Thyri was of English heritage and taught her son Christianity and lived before him such a life as turned him to her religion. It is he who turned the Danish to Christendom."
"What about Gorm the Old?"
"He worshipped the Norse Gods and never found the peace that Thyri had."
"Why did Thryri marry him then?" asked one of the girls.
"King Edward made peace by marrying his children to different kingdoms. Actually Emperor Otto I of Germany sought her hand in marriage, however Thyri put him off for a year. In the meanwhile she encouraged the building up of the ancient earthen Danevirke wall calling on all adult males` to protect Denmark from his invasion. It is said she even lead an attack on the army of Germany."
"Thyri finally consented to marry Gorm before he was old, and I'll tell you why perhaps he is also known as Gorm the Sleepy. Before she would agree to marry him, she asked him to build a new house, and to sleep in it for the first three nights of winter and tell her of his dreams. The dreams were told at the wedding banquet, of oxen coming out of the sea interpreted to mean a bountiful harvest for the Vikings, and of birds symbolizing the glory of the king to be born."
By this time the children's eyes were saucers, and they hugged their knees enraptured by the tale so their mother went on.
"To Gorm and Thyri two sons were born, Knud and Harald. Knud was their father's favorite and the oldest. Knud was the more handsome of the two and was called "Knud dane ast," or Knud the delight and love of the Danes. Knud and Harald arrived in England when Adelbrecht was King and conquered Northumbria as their inheritance which their parents owned. The battle continued as they moved over the countryside. One day as they were swimming, an attack came with bows and arrows and Knud was killed. Five young kings and seven Earls were among the dead in this conflict.
Gorm was now old, nearly blind, and staying at home. He had once made an oath that the messenger who brought news of Knud's death would be executed. When Harald came back alone, no one would tell the king. Queen Thyri ordered the royal hall to be painted black, but no one was to say a word. When the king entered the hall, he was astonished as even he could see how it was hung in black and asked what the mourning meant. Queen Thri said, "Lord King, You had two falcons, one white and the other gray. The white one flew far afield and was set upon by other birds which tore off its beautiful feathers and is now useless to you. Meanwhile the gray falcon continues to catch fowl for my king's table." At that the king cried out, "My son is surely dead and all Denmark mourns." Thyri replied, "You have said it, not I."
Knud's son challenged his uncle Harald demanding half the kingdom. Harald replied, "No man had claimed from his father Gorm that he was to be half king of Denmark, nor from his father's father Hordenud nor from Sigurd Ormoye or Regnar Lodbrok." So Harald was King of Denmark and he honored his mother's memory as the prudent, pretty, and virtuous queen, the Mother of Denmark."
"Did she have daughters?" finally one her girls asked.
"Oh, there is a story that her daughter was stolen away by trolls and carried beyond Halogaland and Biarmaland."
"I'm not afraid of trolls!" one of the children bravely said.
"I don't believe in trolls," another declared.
"Perhaps she became Snow White with the Seven Dwarfs as in the old fairy tale," yet another daughter said.
"I think she fell in love with someone who wasn't of royalty and snuck away to live happily ever after."
"When your father returns, he will bring many more stories for you. But now, it is time to say good night."