Healfdene was king of the Danes in the Old English or Anglo-Saxon
period, who after his reign as king, due to his success in warfare and many followers, Hrothgar took his throne. Hrothgar, one of
the major characters in the poem Beowulf, is king of the Danes and known as a good king.
He is also known as protector of warriors and dispenser of
treasure or ring-giver. (Norton 23) In the Old English period, there was
a very important relationship that existed between the king and his warriors. The
relationship between Hrothgar and his warriors is expressed in the poem Beowulf.
In the warrior society of Beowulf, when a warrior vowed loyalty to his lord, he
became not so much his servant as his voluntary companion, one who would take pride in
defending him and fighting in his wars. (Norton 23) This describes the devotion,
dedication and loyalty Hrothgar's warriors have for him.
After Hrothgar becomes king, he wins many battles with the help of his friends and family. Hrothgar is known as a protector of warriors, which allows him to have many followers in his kingdom. To commend his warriors, Hrothgar builds the largest mead hall anyone has ever seen, called Heorot. The mead hall, to Hrothgar, is a symbol of his accomplishment, and he wants to show his fellow warriors how much he appreciates their loyalty to him. During huge feasts in the mead hall, Hrothgar shares all his good fortune in gold and treasures with his warriors for their loyalty to him. However, in time, Hrothgar and his warriors are forced to leave the mead hall.
In the poem, Hrothgar and his warriors are forced out of the mead hall by the attack of what is described as a monster from hell. Though destruction awaited, fire and sword of family trouble; and outside in the night waited a tortured spirit of hell." (Breeden 6) The hell that attacks Hrothgar and his warriors is Grendel, a monster and a descendant of Cain. Grendel attacks the Danes for over twelve years and forces Hrothgar and his warriors to flee from his mead hall. Although Hrothgar is a great warrior and king, his old age and sadness for his fellow warriors who have lost their lives for him are the deciding factors in his being unable to kill Grendel.
Beowulf, a Geat warrior, hears of the problems the Danish king is having and sails over to help him out. Upon his arrival to Hrothgar's kingdom, Beowulf brags about his past accomplishments and displays his skills as a warrior by killing Grendel and his mother. The skills of Beowulf seem to diminish Hrothgar reputation as a great warrior.
Hrothgar is known as a good king in the Anglo-Saxon period mainly because of his kindness and battle skills. Because of these attributes, many great warriors choose to follow him to help protect his kingdom in times of trouble and despair. Beowulf, a Geat warrior, travels to help Hrothgar to win fame and to fight monsters.
Beowulf, M.H. Abrams. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol. 1. Sixth Ed. New York: W.W Norton & Company, Inc. 1993 Breeden,
David Dr. "The Adventures of Beowulf." http://www.lone-star.net/literature/beowulf/index.html (29 Jan. 1999).