Denmark's earliest kings were also pirates
Denmark's earliest kings were also pirates A pirate ship anchored up in the harbor of Copenhagen. (Bente Jonsson/Flickr/Peter Carlsson/Etsa/Corbis)
Denmark's earliest kings were also pirates
Lexile: 970L

Assign to Google Classroom

Sitting in thrones. Brokering powerful alliances. Engaging in pomp and circumstance. Conducting pirate raids? One of these things may not seem like the others. But all four were things that would have seemed familiar to Denmark’s earliest kings. Pirates actually founded Denmark according to ScienceNordic’s Stine Rendrup Johansen.

Johansen writes that looting and piracy were the basis of the earliest Danish kings’ power. After all, the years between 800 and 1400 were the time of the Vikings. Medieval historian Thomas Heebøll-Holm tells Johansen that pirate raids weren’t just a method of robbing. They were also a means of “conventional warfare or revenge” for early Danish leaders.

“Essentially, Viking raids between 800 and 1000 CE funded the building of a Danish royal power.” That's what Heebøll-Holm told Johansen. 

Viking pirates used expeditions and pirate-approved methods to struggle for power. They also united their own warriors and funded their ongoing activity. Heebøll-Holm hopes to gain a better understanding of just how piracy affected things. These include laws and norms around the monarchy.

In case you’re still skeptical about the power of the pirate in days of yore, here’s a sobering description of the impact of Viking pirate raids. Stefan Eklöf Amirell and Leos Müller write that Viking pirates acted “as catalysts for political change and dislocation across Europe.” 

In ninth-century England, “every kingdom but one was destroyed  and up to half the country was occupied by Viking forces.” 

The Kingdom of Frankia had it even worse, with 14 percent of the entire economy surrendered to Vikings. “Whole regions are recorded as ‘laid waste’ and thousands were killed and enslaved.”

Source URL:

Filed Under:  
Assigned 261 times
Why do you think that Denmark's earliest kings chose piracy as a means to gain power?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • ethanm-orv
    8/22/2018 - 12:20 p.m.

    Thats really interesting that Denmark was founded by pirates. I thought pirates only cared about getting gold. Vikings were more important than I thought.

  • Rex S-hoy
    8/24/2018 - 12:47 p.m.

    Wow I never knew that.

  • Alicen-eic
    8/27/2018 - 11:29 a.m.

    Wow! That's very interesting ,and good to know.

  • joeyw-orv
    8/29/2018 - 11:46 a.m.

    I think that the kings of Denmark chose to be kings because it could've been one of the easiest was to gain more power. It would've been easy because they could travel long distances. The could travel the distances pretty easily sometimes because they had no big obstacles blocking them in the ocean.

  • AngelicaL-ilc
    8/31/2018 - 08:20 p.m.

    It seems that Vikings were good navigators and took advantage of this circumstance to plunder their neighbors in Europe. Piracy was an easy and quick way to access to economic resources that served to create empires.

  • Ella S-rud
    9/06/2018 - 11:44 a.m.

    It was interesting that Denmark was found by pirates, From what i heard fore tales was that pirates were greedy and only cared about tresaure and other valuble things.Then they were Viking Pirates! It doesn't stop there! First pirates, now, Viking Pirates!?!?! Weird. Welp,that's all I'm going to say.

  • Johnh-eic
    10/04/2018 - 02:21 p.m.

    that's cool I did not know that

  • wschl-wim4
    10/12/2018 - 11:49 a.m.

    When they chose piracy they would have the power to take stuff, land and more from people. They had the power of the navy. This gave them the power to raid. They could raid anything they wanted and gained resources and people from the land they raided. If they didn't chose this path they will probably have been raided by the other pirates.

  • GraceR-dec
    11/07/2018 - 08:23 a.m.

    It is amazing that pirates founded Denmark. I would have never thought that.

  • CassidyW-dec
    11/07/2018 - 08:23 a.m.

    My cousin and I always watch Pirates and the Caribbean!!!! Its awesome he loves pirates!!!!

Take the Quiz Leave a comment