Ogier the Dane
Ogier the Dane is a legendary character who first appears in an Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 chanson de geste
Chanson de geste
The chansons de geste, Old French for "songs of heroic deeds", are the epic poems that appear at the dawn of French literature. The earliest known examples date from the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, nearly a hundred years before the emergence of the lyric poetry of the trouvères and...

, in the cycle of poems Geste de Doon de Mayence
Doon de Mayence
Doon de Mayence was a fictional hero of the Old French chansons de geste, who gives his name to the third cycle of the Charlemagne romances dealing with the feudal revolts.There is no single unifying theme in the geste of Doon de Mayence...


Possible historic basis

The 12th c. Danish chronicler Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus also known as Saxo cognomine Longus was a Danish historian, thought to have been a secular clerk or secretary to Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, foremost advisor to Valdemar I of Denmark. He is the author of the first full history of Denmark.- Life :The Jutland Chronicle gives...

 was not familiar with the character and Ogier has not been connected to any historic event in Denmark. However, there is a chronicle from St Martin's monastery in Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

 which claims that the monastery had been pillaged by the Saxons
The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

 in 778, but that it was rebuilt by an "Olgerus, dux Daniæ", with the help of Charlemagne.

Chansons de geste

Ogier makes his first appearance in Chanson de Roland from the 11th century, and later in a number of rhyme chronicles from the 12th to 14th centuries, where his life is elaborated on considerably with several adventures.

According to his legend
A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude...

, he is the son of Geoffrey
King Gudfred was a Danish king during the Viking era. Gudfred was the younger son of King Sigfred. Alternate spelling include Godfred, Göttrick , Gøtrik , Gudrød , and Godofredus .-Biography:King Gudfred appeared in present day Holstein with a navy in 804 AD where diplomacy took place with the...

, king of Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

. In La Chevalerie Ogier de Danemarche, he had a son who was slain by Charlot
Charlot is a fictionalized form of Charles the Younger , son of Charlemagne, in the tradition of the Matter of France. His legend may also incorporate elements of Charlemagne's great-grandson Charles the Child....

, son of Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

. Seeking revenge
Revenge is a harmful action against a person or group in response to a grievance, be it real or perceived. It is also called payback, retribution, retaliation or vengeance; it may be characterized, justly or unjustly, as a form of justice.-Function in society:Some societies believe that the...

, Ogier sought out and slew Charlot, and was only barely prevented from killing Charlemagne. He resisted Charlemagne for seven years but made peace with him to fight at Charlemagne's side against the Saracen
Saracen was a term used by the ancient Romans to refer to a people who lived in desert areas in and around the Roman province of Arabia, and who were distinguished from Arabs. In Europe during the Middle Ages the term was expanded to include Arabs, and then all who professed the religion of Islam...

s, in which battle he slew the giant
Giant (mythology)
The mythology and legends of many different cultures include monsters of human appearance but prodigious size and strength. "Giant" is the English word commonly used for such beings, derived from one of the most famed examples: the gigantes of Greek mythology.In various Indo-European mythologies,...


Ogier the Dane had a sword named Curtana
Curtana, also Cortana or Courtain, is a Latinized form of the Anglo-French curtein, from Latin curtus, 'shortened', used for a ceremonial type of sword.-Famous curtanas:For the main article see Sword of Mercy...

 which, according to legend, bore the inscription "My name is Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse
Joyeuse , was the name of Charlemagne's personal sword. The name translates as "joyful".-Joyeuse in legend:Some legends claim that it was forged to contain the Lance of Longinus within its pommel; others state it was smithed from the same materials as Roland's Durendal and Ogier's Curtana.The 11th...

 and Durendal
Durendal or Durandal is the sword of Charlemagne's paladin Roland in the literary cycle known as the Matter of France....



It is likely that he became known in Scandinavia in the 15th century through the translation of Karlamagnús saga
Karlamagnús saga
The Karlamagnús saga, Karlamagnussaga or Karlamagnus-saga was a late 13th century Norse prose compilation and adaptation, made for Haakon V of Norway, of the Old French chansons de geste of the Matter of France dealing with Charlemagne and his paladins...

, but he rapidly became popular and he is depicted on 15th-century paintings in two churches in Denmark and Sweden.

In 1515, Kristiern Pedersen was living in Paris, and there he translated a prose novel based on the rhyming chronicles into the Danish Olger Danskes krönike, which was printed in 1534. Pedersen made Ogier into the son of a Danish king named "Godfred" who leaves Ogier as hostage to Charlemagne. This translation quickly became popular in Denmark.

Like Frederick Barbarossa, Saint Wenceslas and King Arthur
King Arthur
King Arthur is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who, according to Medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and...

, in Danish legend Ogier becomes a king in the mountain
King in the mountain
A king in the mountain, king under the mountain or sleeping hero is a prominent motif in folklore and mythology that is found in many folktales and legends...

; 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
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 is in peril, at which time he will rise up and save the nation. The largest WWII Danish resistance group, Holger Danske
Holger Danske (resistance group)
Holger Danske was a Danish resistance group during World War II. It was created by veteran volunteers from the Winter War who had fought on the Finnish side against the Soviet Union. It was among the largest resistance groups and consisted of around 350 volunteers towards the end of the war...

, was named after the legend.

In some versions, Morgue le Faye (commonly known today as Morgan le Fay
Morgan le Fay
Morgan le Fay , alternatively known as Morgane, Morgaine, Morgana and other variants, is a powerful sorceress in the Arthurian legend. Early works featuring Morgan do not elaborate her character beyond her role as a fay or magician...

) takes him to Avalon
Avalon is a legendary island featured in the Arthurian legend. It first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's 1136 pseudohistorical account Historia Regum Britanniae as the place where King Arthur's sword Excalibur was forged and later where Arthur was...

, from where he returns after two hundred years to save France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. According to the tour guides of Kronborg Castle, legend has it that Holger sat down in his present location after walking all the way from his complete battles in France.

The 1789 opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 Holger Danske
Holger Danske (opera)
Holger Danske is the title of a 1789 Syngespil opera based on the Oberon myth, with music by F.L.Æ. Kunzen and a Danish libretto by Jens Baggesen.-Synopsis:...

, composed by F.L.Æ. Kunzen
F.L.Æ. Kunzen
Friedrich Ludwig Æmilius Kunzen was a German composer and conductor who lived and worked for much of his life in Denmark.-Life:...

 with a libretto
A libretto is the text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata, or musical. The term "libretto" is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as mass, requiem, and sacred cantata, or even the story line of a...

 by Jens Baggesen, had a considerable impact on Danish nationalism in the late 18th century. It spawned the literary "Holger feud," which revealed the increasing dissatisfaction among the native Danish population with the German influence on Danish society. Amongst others, the Danish intellectual Peter Andreas Heiberg
Peter Andreas Heiberg
Peter Andreas Heiberg was a Danish author and philologist. He was born in Vordingborg, Denmark. The Heiberg ancestry can be traced back to Norway, and has produced a long line of priests, headmasters and other learned men...

 joined the feud by writing a satirical version entitled Holger Tyske ("Holger the German") ridiculing Baggesen's lyrics.

Modern works

Poul Anderson
Poul Anderson
Poul William Anderson was an American science fiction author who began his career during one of the Golden Ages of the genre and continued to write and remain popular into the 21st century. Anderson also authored several works of fantasy, historical novels, and a prodigious number of short stories...

's fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 Three Hearts and Three Lions
Three Hearts and Three Lions
Three Hearts and Three Lions is a 1961 fantasy novel by Poul Anderson. It is also a 1953 novella by Poul Anderson which appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction.-Plot:...

(ISBN 0-671-72186-0) (1961) draws upon these legends and also alters them. Its protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

 Holger Carlsen (a Danish resistance
Resistance movement
A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to opposing an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign state. It may seek to achieve its objects through either the use of nonviolent resistance or the use of armed force...

 fighter) is transported to a fantasy alternate history
Alternate history (fiction)
Alternate history or alternative history is a genre of fiction consisting of stories that are set in worlds in which history has diverged from the actual history of the world. It can be variously seen as a sub-genre of literary fiction, science fiction, and historical fiction; different alternate...

 where the Matter of France
Matter of France
The Matter of France, also known as the Carolingian cycle, is a body of literature and legendary material associated with the history of France, in particular involving Charlemagne and his associates. The cycle springs from the Old French chansons de geste, and was later adapted into a variety of...

 is historical. He eventually learns that he is Ogier the Dane, sent to our universe to remove him from the conflict between humans and Faerie in that one. At the book's end he returns to our world in time to cover Niels Bohr
Niels Bohr
Niels Henrik David Bohr was a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr mentored and collaborated with many of the top physicists of the century at his institute in...

's escape to Sweden and prevent the Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 from capturing him - thus facilitating Bohr's part in the Manhattan Project and effectively fulfilling the prophecy that Ogier would return at the time of France and Denmark's grave need.

In his recent (2010, Harvill Secker) novel I Curse the River of Time (translated into English by Charlotte Barslund, with the author), award-winning Norwegian novelist Per Petterson
Per Petterson
Per Petterson is a Norwegian novelist. Petterson's debut was Aske i munnen, sand i skoa , a collection of short stories. He has since published a number of novels to good reviews. To Siberia , a novel set in the Second World War, was published in English in 1998 and nominated for the Nordic...

endows a small ferry sailing between Norway and Denmark with the name Holger Danske; one of the main characters - a dying Danish woman going home - feels accepted and understood by its crew. She has lost a son some years ago. The ferry's name may or may not be relevant to the story, which has many interwoven strands.
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