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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.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.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.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.
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.
Odense has close associations with Hans Christian Andersen who is remembered above all for his fairy tales.
He was born in the city in 1805 and spent his childhood years there.
The University of Southern Denmark was established in 1966.
In the present day, Odense remains the commercial hub of Funen, and has a notable shopping district with a diversity of stores.