Once a political and military center of power and legendary kings, Vordingborg is an impressive castle in Denmark located on the southern coast of Zealand facing across the Baltic Sea towards Germany.
Vordingborg is Denmark’s’ the biggest royal castle. It was long thought that the castle was built in the 12th century by King Valdemar the Great.
King Valdemar the Great used it as a base for raids on Germany and, later under Valdemar’s son Valdemar II the Victorious, Estonia.
During the 14th century, the castle was expanded by the third Valdemar, Valdemar the Younger.
The three Valdemars have since been considered the original lords of the castle and given credit for making it one of the most impressive sights in the country.
However, recent archaeological discoveries put the record straight and force us to re-write the castle’s history and put King Canute VI in the spotlight instead of the King Valdemar the Great and his sons.
King Canute VI (1163- 1202) should not be confused with Cnut the Great, who was – England’s Danish King and ruler of one of the largest Nordic empires.
King Canute VI was the eldest son of King Valdemar I and Sophia of Polotsk and he reigned between the first and second Valdemars.
A recent archaeological dig in Denmark now reveals that King Canute VI was the founder of the Vordingborg castle.
“Traditionally, Valdemar the Great is seen as the founder, with Victorious and Younger later expanding the castle. Other kings of the period are not given a lot of credit, but our excavations have revealed that Canute VI has played a greater role than previously thought,” Lars Sass Jensen, medieval archaeologist and research assistant at Aarhus University said.
During their excavations, Jensen’s team discovered wood that they were able to exactly date to the years 1189-90, 1195 and 1198-99 – years in which Canute ruled the castle and Denmark.
“He didn’t just build over the castle, he expanded it continuously. He was, in other words, a king that invested heavily in the site as well as in its political function as a base for Baltic Sea expansion,” Larsen said.
The Vordingborg castle tells a remarkable story of kings and power in the medieval times. Only this time, ancient history has been slightly re-written and the castle’s true founder has been given proper credit for its foundation.