Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Tiny Piece of Viking Trivia

The little things you learn in research can amaze you. While continuing my studies on Vikings, I came across the story of King Harald Bluetooth of Denmark, who died after a battle with his rebellious son, Svein Forkbeard, circa 987 A.D. It turns out that Harald’s surname, “Bluetooth,” provides the name for the ever popular technology that we enjoy every day on our smart phones. 

In fact, the Bluetooth logo is comprised of Harald’s initials in Viking-age runes: Hagall (ᚼ) and  Bjarkan (ᛒ). It’s amazing how history more than a thousand years old can touch our modern lives.

Incidentally, Harald defeated Svein in a great sea battle off the coast of Jutland. But, according to at least one account, while Harald was warming himself that evening, naked by a campfire, one of Svein’s men ended up shooting Harald with a bow and arrow – right in Harald’s bare behind. That night Harald bled to death, paving the way for Svein Forkbeard to become King of Denmark.

Svein may have won the throne, but it's Harald's name that lives on.

2 comments:

BJB said...

1. What, did Harald's mouth transmit a local area network? Of halitosis, perhaps?
2. Begging for competing technology to be named Forkbeard.
3. If he was cold, why the hell was he naked??
4. Who the hell bleeds to death from his ass??!

Joseph Finley said...

I assume he was naked because his clothes were soaked from the sea battle, but who knows. I think it's fairly well-accepted that he bled to death, but Lord knows where the real wound was. As for his teeth, I suspect the odor he "transmitted" was that of rotting teeth. Harald is a character in The Long Ships, a novel by Frans G. Bengtsson (which happens to be one of the most read novels in Sweden). Bengtsson devotes a scene to Harald's dental mishaps, including the pain caused by his teeth, "all except the two blue ones." In the book, Harald would fly into rage and threaten to kill the two monks who were trying to ease his pain. Also, I wholeheartedly agree that any competing technology should be called "Forkbeard"!