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There has been human settlement in the Odense area for over 4,000 years, although the name was not mentioned in writing until 988, and by 1070, it had already grown into a thriving city.
Canute IV of Denmark, generally considered to be the last Viking king, was murdered by unruly peasants in Odense's St Alban's Priory on 10 July 1086.
Although the city was burned in 1249 following a royal rivalry, it quickly recovered and flourished as a centre of commerce in the Middle Ages.
After a period of decline, large-scale plans for development were made during the 18th century, which led to the rebuilding of Odense Palace and the building of a canal to the Port of Odense, facilitating trade.
By road, Odense is located 45 kilometres (28 mi) north of Svendborg, 144 kilometres (89 mi) to the south of Aarhus and 167 kilometres (104 mi) to the southwest of Copenhagen.
The city is the seat of Odense Municipality and was the seat of Odense County until 1970, and Funen County from 1970 until 1 January 2007, when Funen County became part of the Region of Southern Denmark.
The first recorded bishops of Odense were Odinkar Hvide and Reginbert, who was consecrated by Archbishop Æthelnoth of Canterbury, in 1022.
Nonnebakken, one of Denmark's former Viking ring fortresses, lay to the south of the river.In 1482 Bishop Karl Rønnov brought the German printer Johann Snell to Odense to print a short prayer book, Breviarium Ottoniense, considered to be the first work to be printed in Scandinavia.In parallel Snell printed De obsidione et bello Rhodiano, an account of the Turkish siege of the island of Rhodes.The local nobility also participated in the city's development by building residences where they spent the winter months.
But the city's prosperity came to an abrupt end in the late 1650s heavy taxes were imposed after the end of the Swedish Wars.All this provided an ideal basis for industrialisation, attracting a wide range of industries including iron and metals, textiles, and food and beverages.