Duchy of Schleswig

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Schleswig or South Jutland (Danish: Sønderjylland or Slesvig; German: Schleswig; Low German: Sleswig; North Frisian: Slaswik or Sleesweg) is a region covering the area about 60 km north and 70 km south of the border between Germany and Denmark; the territory has been divided between the two countries since 1920, with Northern Schleswig in Denmark and Southern Schleswig in Germany. The region is also known archaically in English as Sleswick.

The area's traditional significance lies in the transfer of goods between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, connecting the trade route through Russia with the trade routes along Rhine and the Atlantic coast (see also Kiel Canal).

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History

Roman sources place the homeland of the Jute tribe north of the river Eider and that of the Angles to its south who in turn abutted the neighboring Saxons. Towards the end of the Early Middle Ages, Schleswig formed part of the historical Lands of Denmark as Denmark unified out of a number of petty chiefdoms in the 8th to 10th centuries (The heyday of the Viking incursions).

During the early Viking Age, Haithabu - Scandinavia's biggest trading centre - was located in this region which is also the location of the Danewerk. This construction, and in particular its great expansion around 737 has been interpreted as an indication of the emergence of a unified Danish state.[1]

In May 1931 scientists of the National Museum of Denmark announced the finding of eighteen Viking graves with eighteen men in them. The discovery came during excavations in Schleswig. The skeletons indicated that the men were bigger proportioned than twentieth century Danish men. Each of the graves was turned east to west. It was surmised that the bodies were entombed in wooden coffins originally, but only the iron nails remained.[2]

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