When Nothing Is As It Seems To Be

Constantin Hansen (1804-1880), Slottet Kronborg, 1834. SMK

William Shakespeare and the Danish poet Hans Christian Andersen both linked unforgettable figures to the castle Kronborg
I know that Shakespeare chose the Castle Kronborg as a focal point for Hamlet.
But who put Holger Danske in the casemates in Kronborg, a figure cast in concrete?

I found out that Hans Christian Andersen wrote a fairytale about Holger Danske in Kronborg, which was first published on Apr. 7, 1845.
In 1907 a hotel close to Kronborg ordered a bronze statue of Holger Danske.
The sculptor Hans Pedersen-Dan created a large plaster figure, which formed the basis for the mold of the real statue.
This gypsum figure was placed in the casemate of Kronborg, and became far more famous than the finished statue.
In 1985, the plaster figure was so destroyed by moisture that it was replaced with a copy in concrete.

But we have a saying in Danish: What knowledge do farmers have about cucumber salad?
Perhaps Holger Danske was in fact a dog, a Grand Danois, who belonged to a knight.
The big dogs were trained to run ahead of the front and frighten the enemy’s horses witless.
And what about Shakespeare? Maybe it wasn’t Shakespeare that wrote Hamlet!
This terrible hypothesis is made available by a British Shakespeare researcher and former university teacher, Brenda James, and Professor William Rubinstein of the University of Wales in Aberystwyth.
They claim that the real Shakespeare was an English politician and diplomat Sir Henry Neville, who was the descendant of King Edward III and Johan of Gaunt.

The stories of Holger Danske origin is found in the early European poems and epics known as Chansons de Geste.
He first appears in The Song of Roland from the middle of the 12th century as one of Charlemagne’s knights under the name Ogier le Danois.
From the beginning of the 13th century he is found in the song La Chevalerie. In the song, he is the son of the Danish king Gudfred and will be handed over to Charlemagne, ruler of the Frankish Empire as a hostage for peace.

When Gudfred breaks the peace Ogier must die, but the ladies of Charlemagne’s court earnestly pray to spare Ogier’s life because they liked him, and since he is not guilty of his father’s actions, he will be spared.
Later in the 13th century Ogier is found in the poem Les Enfances where Ogier is portrayed as an honorable knight of Charlemagne’s court, and at the end of the song he leads the Frankish army to victory over the Saracens.

In Nordic literature Holger Danske appears in poems inspired by the French, the first time in Karlemagnussaga under the name Oddgeir danski.

In the Danish legend Ogier becomes a king in the mountain; he is said to dwell in the castle of Kronborg, his beard grown down to the floor. He will sleep there until some day when the country of Denmark is in peril, at which time he will rise up and save the nation.


The painting: Constantin Hansen (1804-1880), Slottet Kronborg, 1834. SMK

16 thoughts on “When Nothing Is As It Seems To Be

    • There are exquisite stories related to Kronborg and it is a pleasure to find them ❤
      Kronborg has always had great importance for sailors affiliated with Denmark. Meaning when they rounded the point at Kronborg, they were home 🙂
      All the best,

    • Hi Peggy. Big old castles are the best. But I know that you know that they are! 🙂 🙂
      The nordic myths er breathing and inspiring. I love them too!!

  1. Wonderful post, Hanna — what interesting theories you have shared here! But I’m inclined to agree with you that farmers don’t know much about cucumber salad. 🙂

  2. Mark Twain also postulates, that Shakespeare wasn`t Shakspeare – there are many theories around. But in the end, it doesn`matter: Whoeveer wrote this tragedies, he was the greatest. Thanks for giving a image of Kronborg in words and pictures – now I want to travle.

    • Nor does it distract me when I read texts by Shakespeare: I get an experience of being moved to a completely different universe. A wonderful spiritual enrichment.
      Thank you so much for your comment!! You are most welcome should you go travelling.

  3. Fantastisk maleri ville lyve hvis jeg sagde jeg ikke havde set det før. 🙂

    Rigtige flotte fotos, tænk sig så er Holger slet ikke dansk men fransk og hed Olger – det rammer min humor. 🙂

    • Haha! Det minder mig om Benny Andersen:
      Er der noget så dansk som en kartoffel? Kartoflen stammer fra Sydamerika.
      Er der noget som dansk som selve Dannebrog? Det faldt ned engang i Estland og minder om det schweiziske flag.

      Det helt store spørgsmål stiller han efter min mening her: Findes der nogen mere danske end danskerne?
      Det korrekte svar er ja! Svenskerne.

      Herefter følger en glimrende udredning af migrationens forunderlige væsen 🙂
      De vise ord kan du læse i Skabssvenskere, Samlede Digte 🙂

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