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Gunhilda of Wenden was a Polish princess, daughter of Mieszko I of Poland according to Chronicles of Thietmar of Merserburg, Adam von Bremen and Acta Cnutonis regis princess and Danish Viking Age queen consort, the supposed spouse of 10th-century King Sweyn I of Denmark (c. 960–1014). The sources about the wife or wives of Sweyn are contradictory (he is also said to have been married to Sigrid the Haughty), and historians have debated the whether she is the Polish Świętosława given another name in Norse sources.


In the 13th century collection of sagas, Heimskringla, Snorri Sturluson tells that Sweyn Forkbeard was captured in an attack on the Jomsvikings, and turned over to Burislav, king of Wenden. As part of their negotiations, it was agreed that Sweyn would marry Gunhild, the daughter of Burislav, while the latter would marry Sweyn's sister Tyri. By Gunhild, Sweyn is said to have had Harald II of Denmark and Cnut the Great. While this account agrees with certain aspects of the historical record, there are also differences.


There is scant material in medieval chronicles to provide details regarding the marriages of Sweyn of Denmark:


Several alternative interpretations of these data have been proposed. Gunhild might be identical to the historical wife of Sweyn. Further, the dual marriage reported by Adam of Bremen matches the Heimskringla account of Sigrid the Haughty. This may represent confusion between two wives, or it could be that Sigrid is a confused duplicate memory of the same historical wife. This would mean that the woman called Gunhild in the sagas was Eric's widow, as several historians have concluded.[1] Finally, it is possible that Gunhild is simply a legendary invention, not directly based on Sweyn's known Polish wife.


  1. ^ e.g. Lars O. Lagerqvist Kings and Rulers of Sweden ISBN 91-87064-35-9 p. 10