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A period of stagnation ensued until the end of the 18th century.Dramatic changes began in Odense in the 18th century to modernise the city and a great plan was drawn up for development.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.
From the 1840s, the city enjoyed a period of rapid expansion beyond its traditional boundaries, becoming Denmark's second largest city.
After the Danish Reformation, involving the suppression of the Catholic bishopric in 1536, the city enjoyed a sustained period of prosperity from the 1530s to the mid-17th century, becoming northern Funen's commercial centre.
One of the main sources of income was the sale of cattle, providing substantial funds for the construction of fine half-timbered houses for the local merchants.
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.