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The city celebrated its thousandth anniversary in 1988, commemorating the first mention of the town's name in a letter dated 18 March 988 from the German Emperor Otto III which granted rights to Odense and neighbouring settlements.The territory, previously part of the vast Archbishopric of Hamburg, was created a Catholic diocese in 988.

Canute IV of Denmark, generally considered to be the last Viking king, was murdered by unruly peasants, discontent with the high taxes he imposed on the town, in Odense's St Alban's Priory on 10 July 1086.The priory no longer exists, although a church has been situated on the site since about 900.At the beginning of the 12th century, Benedictine monks from England founded St Canute's Abbey.In sports, Odense has a number of football clubs including OB, BM, B1909, and B1913, the Odense Bulldogs professional ice hockey team, and the city also hosts the H. The earliest community was centred on the higher ground between the Odense River to the south and Naesbyhoved Lake (now dry) to the north.Nonnebakken, one of Denmark's former Viking ring fortresses, lay to the south of the river.

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