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The myth of Queen Thyra

Around 1185 the Danish historian Sven Aggesen praised Queen Thyra’s beauty, wisdom and energy. 15 years later Saxo added new information with his great work on the achievements of the Danes. By all accounts Thyra came from England and had two sons, Cnut and Harald. Sven Aggesen and Saxo were in agreement that it was Thyra who built the Danevirke and defended the Danish kingdom against the German emperor.

The picture is a drawing showing how the artist imagined Thyra, giving orders to the men, who with shovels and other tools will build the Danevirke.
Queen Thyra as builder of earthworks by Lorenz Frølich (1856).

Sven Aggesen’s and Saxo’s accounts have lived on as a source of the myths which have appeared about Queen Thyra over the centuries. Interest in the Queen was especially great in the 1800s, when various artists of the period were inspired by the myths surrounding her.


Like the rest of Europe Denmark was influenced by a national romantic movement. History and its famous people were looked back to, particularly after the defeat to Prussia in 1864, when a large part of Jutland was lost. Queen Thyra was a shining example of the female ideal of the time – both mother and queen, the brave defender of the kingdom and the Christian faith.