(About) A King of Vikings Needs A Kingly Viking Sword
King Godfred of Denmark valiantly asserted his Danish Kingdom’s territorial claims against the rising Carolingian Empire led by the legendary Charlemagne – no mean feat. Although history has not left us Godfred’s real sword, swordsmiths have been fascinated by this figure, whose brief reign stands in the twilight at the edge of the Dark Ages. The Godfred Viking Sword is a painstaking recreation of the contemporary 9th-century swords that Godfred himself would have wielded in his military campaigns against the Obodrites, Frisians and Franks – one that can be used in full-contact re-enactments, as well as to compliment Viking-inspired roleplay outfits.
Godfred’s Sword – Up Close
The blade of the Godfred Viking Sword would have been one instantly recognisable to Godfred and his Danes. It is a faithful Oakeshott Type X shape, with a wide fuller, parallel edges and rounded point that gave it its fearsome reputation in the hands of vikingr. This sword was primarily designed for cutting with the heavy sides of the blade, and the rounded point gave it much greater strength than a slender point, with surprisingly little compromise on thrusting ability. The blade is made from handsome polished carbon-steel, and looks just like the experimental all-steel swords that were beginning to emerge during Godfred’s reign.
The hilt of our Godfred Viking Sword is made from a shining brass, simulating the sumptuous gold Viking sword hilts that pepper the burial offerings of Kings and wealthy jarls during the Viking period. Its simple, functional crossguard curves down towards the blade, providing reassuring weight and balance. Almost all Viking swords are one-handed; the handgrip of our Godfred Viking Sword accommodates one hand and is wrapped in hand-stitched natural leather. The pommel is a Viking-style ‘five-lobed’ design, made from two parts riveted together, as Frankish smiths would have done more than a thousand years ago. It also includes a fine hand-stitched leather scabbard with a brass chape and locket.
(History) The Historical Godfred: A Mysterious Murder
It is one of the medieval period’s great frustrations that clearly fascinating figures are often wreathed in the obscuring fog caused by a lack of sources: this problem plagues us with the Danish King Godfred. We know from the archaeological record that there was already a thriving and wealthy state in Denmark by the time Godfred came to the throne in 804, and even his Frankish enemies refer to him as Rex (King). Charlemagne pushily inserted himself into the Danish sphere of influence by importing a Slavic people called the Obodrites onto former Saxon land on the Danes’ southern border, setting off a decade of conflict between the two kingdoms that would last Godfred’s entire reign.
Godfred was a canny politician, neatly sidestepping offers of meeting Charlemagne in person, which would have been tantamount to accepting vassalage, and after finishing off the Obodrites, he invaded Frankish Frisia with 200 longships. But, just as the pugilistic King was squaring up to the much wealthier and larger Carolinian force, he was murdered by one of his own housecarls. The only details we have are from a source written 75 years later; we are told that he was murdered by his own son whilst out hunting with falcons, in order to revenge the King’s abandonment of his wife. This appears to have ended the war at a stroke; his successor assumed the throne and withdrew, confirming Charlemagne’s supremacy. Was this really a pro-Carolingian coup? We will likely never know!
What we do know is that the Godfred Viking Sword is the closest we can get to wielding a piece of 9th-century Danish history.
- Total length: 40 ½ inches
- Blade length: 30 inches
- Blade width: 1 ¾ inches
- Blade material: Carbon-steel, polished & oiled
- Guard and pommel material: Brass
- Grip material: Leather