Today’s Svendborg is the second largest city on the fairy-tale island of Funen and, thanks to its name, probably misleads almost every amateur eymologist: isn’t the origin story of the place just another castle built in honor of a brave warrior and therefore allowed to bear his name? In fact, many researchers are sure that this is not true at Svendborg.
Instead, it is assumed with great certainty that the term “Svend” hides the ancient word for “Svin”, i.e. “pig” – after all, the spelling Svendborg was not introduced before the 18th century and was previously Swineborg, Suyneborgh and Swynborch. Therefore, the name of the city can be quite unromantically translated as “castle with pigs”, understood as a locality with a particularly large number of domestic pigs behind the castle walls or a particularly large number of wild boars in front of it.
In 1229 Svendborg was mentioned for the first time under one of the older spellings; already during this time the place grew into an important trading and handicraft town, the central focus of which was seafaring. The first mention of Svendborg comes from a letter from Valdemar Sejr, who is also known as King Valdemar II due to his tax laws in the so-called “Earth Book”; in it, the king stipulated that his son, Valdemar the Young, had to give Svendborg and the southern Funen as a gift to his wife Princess Eleonora.