— Palnatoke was a legendary Danish hero and chieftain of the Island of Fyn.
According to the Jómsvíkinga saga, Palnatoke founded the Brotherhood of Jomsvikings and established its laws, although, there is no evidence to support this claim.
Palnatoke (Toke Palnersson), was a Jomsviking who lived in the late 900s. Jomsvikings belonged to a Viking brotherhood of the elite warriors. In Icelandic Sagas they are described as a legendary mercenary army. This fearless Scandinavian warrior-brotherhood offered fighting skills and fought for any king who would hire and pay them what they required.
Palnatoke grew up at his home in Fyen. In the Jomsvikings Saga he is described as an intelligent and beloved child. He was still very young when his father dies and he was forced to help his mother to take over all of the family’s possessions. As soon as he was old enough he went on Viking raids to ravage and plunder.
About 980 Palnatoke went with twelve Viking ships to Wales, and was well received by Viking chief, Jarl Stefnir, who gave him his daughter Olaf to wife. Palnatoke also received half of Stefnir’s kingdom and got the title of Jarl. However, Palnatoke soon found his life in Wales was quiet and boring and decided to take his wife and return to Denmark, leaving her foster-father, Bjorn theBrezki (Bretlander), to keep his place, as Stefnir was growing old.
Palnatoke was a supporter of paganism and this was a problem because the reigning king in Denmark during this period was Harald Bluetooth who is today known for casting off the Norse pagan traditions and, becoming a devout Christian who strove to peacefully convert the people of Denmark during his rule.
King Harald Bluetooth managed to unite the outlying tribes of Denmark. He defended his people from many Norwegian and German incursions and the Danes were and Christianized in about 965, but not everyone was happy about the spread of Christianity in the country. Palnatoke did not wish to convert to Christianity.
Palnatoke raised king Harald Bluetooth’s son Sweyn Forkbeard and convinced him to wage war on his father. In the mid-980s, Sweyn revolted against his father and seized the throne. King Harald Bluetooth Harald was driven into exile and died shortly afterwards. According to some accounts, Palnatoke himself killed King Bluetooth.
Whether this is true is uncertain and has not been confirmed. However, Palnatoke had more than religious motives to get rid off King Harald Bluetooth. It’s very possible Palnatoke sought revenge for the death of his grandfather, Jarl Ottar, who was killed when King Harald Bluetooth invaded Götaland.
In addition, on one occasion Bluetooth forced Palnatoke to use a single arrow to shoot an apple from his own son’s head as the boy ran downhill. The legendary motif of the great archer forced to shoot an apple from his son’s head appears among other Germanic nations.
Jomsvikings were elite warriors.
Palnatoke built Jomsborg, a huge fortress where Jomsvikings lived and trained. When he grew older, he became weaker and weaker. Shortly before his death he gave, his grandson Vagn his kingdom and asked the Jomsviking to be brave, honorable and respect Vagn.
When Palnatoke died, all Jomsvikings mourned. It was great loss as no-one could ever be compared with the greatest Jomsvikings of all – Palnatoke.
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