Sweyn (Suanus rex) invading England in 1013 (detail of a 13th-century miniature). Cambridge University Library.
|King of Denmark|
|King of Norway|
|King of England|
|Died||3 February 1014|
|Spouse||Świętosława / Sigrid/ Gunhild (detail)|
|House||House of Denmark|
|Mother||Gunhild or Tove|
Sweyn Forkbeard ( // ; Old Norse: Sveinn Haraldsson tjúguskegg; Danish: Svend Tveskæg; 960 – 3 February 1014) was king of Denmark from 986 to 1014. He was the father of King Harald II of Denmark, King Cnut the Great and Queen Estrid Svendsdatter.
Old Norse was a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and their overseas settlements from about the 9th to the 13th centuries.
Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by around six million people, principally in Denmark and in the region of Southern Schleswig in northern Germany, where it has minority language status. Also, minor Danish-speaking communities are found in Norway, Sweden, Spain, the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina. Due to immigration and language shift in urban areas, around 15–20% of the population of Greenland speak Danish as their first language.
Harald II of Denmark was King of Denmark from 1014 until his death in 1018. He was the youngest son of Sweyn Forkbeard and Gunhild of Wenden, and was regent while his father was fighting Ethelred the Unready in England. He inherited the Danish throne in 1014, and held it while his brother, the later king Cnut the Great conquered England. After his death in 1018, he was succeeded by Cnut the Great. Little detail is known about Harald II.
In the mid-980s, Sweyn revolted against his father, Harald Bluetooth, and seized the throne. Harald was driven into exile and died shortly afterwards in November 986 or 987.In 1000, with the allegiance of Trondejarl, Eric of Lade, Sweyn ruled most of Norway. In 1013, shortly before his death, he became the first Danish king of England after a long effort.
Harald "Bluetooth" Gormsson was a king of Denmark and Norway.
Historiographical sources on Sweyn's life include the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (where his name is rendered as Swegen),Adam of Bremen's 12th-century Deeds of the Bishops of Hamburg , and Snorri Sturluson's 13th-century Heimskringla . Conflicting accounts of Sweyn's later life also appear in the Encomium Emmae Reginae , an 11th-century Latin encomium in honour of his son king Cnut's queen Emma of Normandy, along with Chronicon ex chronicis by Florence of Worcester, another 11th-century author.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals in Old English chronicling the history of the Anglo-Saxons. The original manuscript of the Chronicle was created late in the 9th century, probably in Wessex, during the reign of Alfred the Great. Multiple copies were made of that one original and then distributed to monasteries across England, where they were independently updated. In one case, the Chronicle was still being actively updated in 1154.
Adam of Bremen was a German medieval chronicler. He lived and worked in the second half of the eleventh century. Adamus is most famous for his chronicle Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum.
Snorri Sturluson was an Icelandic historian, poet, and politician. He was elected twice as lawspeaker to the Icelandic parliament, the Althing. He was the author of the Prose Edda or Younger Edda, which consists of Gylfaginning, a narrative of Norse mythology, the Skáldskaparmál, a book of poetic language, and the Háttatal, a list of verse forms. He was also the author of the Heimskringla, a history of the Norwegian kings that begins with legendary material in Ynglinga saga and moves through to early medieval Scandinavian history. For stylistic and methodological reasons, Snorri is often taken to be the author of Egil's saga.
Sweyn's father, Harald Bluetooth, was the first of the reigning Scandinavian kings to be baptised, in the early or mid-960s. According to Adam of Bremen, Harald's son Sweyn was baptised "Otto" (in honour of German king Otto I).There are conflicting records as to the identity of his mother. Adam of Bremen identifies her as "Gunhild", but some modern day scholars give her name as Tove from Western Wendland. Sweyn married the widow of Erik, king of Sweden, named "Gunhild" in some sources, or identified as an unnamed sister of Boleslav, ruler of Poland.
Otto I, traditionally known as Otto the Great, was German king from 936 and Holy Roman Emperor from 962 until his death in 973. He was the oldest son of Henry I the Fowler and Matilda.
Tove of the Obotrites, also called Tova, Tofa or Thora, was a Slavic princess and a Danish Viking Age queen consort, the spouse of King Harald Bluetooth.
Eric the Victorious was a Swedish monarch as of around 970. Since he is the first Swedish king in a consecutive regnal succession, who is attested in sources independent of each other, Sweden's list of rulers usually begins with him. His son Olof Skötkonung, however, is considered the first ruler documented to definitely have been accepted both by the original Swedes around Lake Mälaren and by the Geats around Lake Vättern, which peoples were fundamental in forming the nation of Sweden.
In the mid-980s, Sweyn revolted against his father and seized the throne. Harald was driven into exile and died shortly afterwards in November 986 or 987.
Adam of Bremen depicted Sweyn as a rebellious pagan who persecuted Christians, betrayed his father and expelled German bishops from Scania and Zealand. According to Adam, Sweyn was sent into exile by his father's German friends and deposed in favour of king Eric the Victorious of Sweden, whom Adam wrote ruled Denmark until his death in 994 or 995. Sørensen (2001) argues that Adam's depiction of Sweyn may be overly negative, as seen through an "unsympathetic and intolerant eye".Adam's account is thus not seen as entirely reliable; the claimed 14-years' exile of Sweyn to Scotland does not seem to agree with Sweyn's building churches in Denmark throughout the same period, including the churches in Lund and Roskilde. According to Adam, Sweyn was punished by God for leading the uprising which led to king Harald's death, and had to spend fourteen years abroad (i.e. 986–1000). The historicity of this exile, or its duration, is uncertain. Adam purports that Sweyn was shunned by all those with whom he sought refuge, but was finally allowed to live for a while in Scotland. Adam also suggests that Sweyn in his youth lived among heathens, and only achieved success as a ruler after accepting Christianity.
Scania, also known as Skåne, is the southernmost province (landskap) of Sweden. Within Scania, there are 33 municipalities that are autonomous within the Scania Regional Council. Scania's largest city is Malmö, which is also the third largest in Sweden, as well as the fifth largest in Scandinavia.
Sweden, formal name: the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. Sweden has a total population of 10.2 million of which 2.5 million have a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi). The highest concentration is in the southern half of the country.
Lund is a city in the province of Scania, southern Sweden, across the Øresund from Copenhagen. The town had 91,940 inhabitants out of a municipal total of 121,510 as of 2018. It is the seat of Lund Municipality, Skåne County.
Harald Bluetooth had already established a foothold in Norway, controlling Viken in c. 970. He may, however, have lost control over his Norwegian claims following his defeat against a German army in 974.
Sweyn built an alliance with Swedish king Olof Skötkonung and Eirik Hákonarson, Jarl of Lade, against Norwegian king Olaf Tryggvason. The Kings' sagas ascribe the causes of the alliance to Olaf Tryggvason's ill-fated marriage proposal to Sigrid the Haughty and his problematic marriage to Thyri, sister of Svein Forkbeard.
The allies attacked and defeated king Olaf in the western Baltic Sea when he was sailing home from an expedition, in the Battle of Svolder, fought in September of either 999 or 1000. The victors divided Norway among them. According to the account of the Heimskringla, Sweyn re-gained direct control of Viken district.
King Olaf of Sweden received four districts in Trondheim as well as Møre, Romsdal and Rånrike (the Fagrskinna , by contrast, says that the Swedish part consisted of Oppland and a part of Trondheim). He gave these to his son in law, Jarl Svein Hákonarson, to hold as a vassal. The rest of Norway was ruled by Eirik Hákonarson as King Svein's vassal.
The Jarls Eirik and Svein proved strong, competent rulers, and their reign was prosperous. Most sources say that they adopted Christianity but allowed the people religious freedom, leading to a backlash against Christianity which undid much of Olaf Tryggvason's missionary work.
King Sweyn enlisted priests and bishops from England rather than from the Archbishopric of Bremen. This may have been a reason for Adam of Bremen's apparent hostility in his accounts. Numerous converted priests of Danish origin from the Danelaw lived in England, while Sweyn had few connections to Germany or its priests. By allowing English ecclesiastical influence in his kingdom, he was spurning the Hamburg-Bremen archbishop. Since German bishops were an integral part of the secular state, Sweyn's preference for the English church may have been a political move. He sought to pre-empt any threat against his independence posed by the German kings.
The "Chronicle of John of Wallingford" (c. 1225–1250) records Sweyn's involvement in raids against England during 1002–1005, 1006–1007, and 1009–1012 to avenge the St. Brice's Day massacre of England's Danish inhabitants in November 1002. According to Ashley (1998), Sweyn's invasion was partly motivated by the massacre of Danes in England ordered by Æthelred the Unready in 1002, in which his sister and brother-in-law are said to have been killed.but Lund (2001) argues that the main motivation for the raids was more likely the prospect of revenue.
Sweyn campaigned in Wessex and East Anglia in 1003–1004, but a famine forced him to return to Denmark in 1005. Further raids took place in 1006–1007, and in 1009–1012 Thorkell the Tall led a Viking invasion into England. Simon Keynes regards it as uncertain whether Sweyn supported these invasions, but "whatever the case, he was quick to exploit the disruption caused by the activities of Thorkell's army".Sweyn acquired massive sums of Danegeld through the raids. In 1013, he is reported to have personally led his forces in a full-scale invasion of England.
The contemporary Peterborough Chronicle (part of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle ) states:
before the month of August came king Sweyn with his fleet to Sandwich. He went very quickly about East Anglia into the Humber's mouth, and so upward along the Trent till he came to Gainsborough. Earl Uchtred and all Northumbria quickly bowed to him, as did all the people of the Kingdom of Lindsey, then the people of the Five Boroughs. He was given hostages from each shire. When he understood that all the people had submitted to him, he bade that his force should be provisioned and horsed; he went south with the main part of the invasion force, while some of the invasion force, as well as the hostages, were with his son Cnut. After he came over Watling Street, they went to Oxford, and the town-dwellers soon bowed to him, and gave hostages. From there they went to Winchester, and the people did the same, then eastward to London.
But the Londoners put up a strong resistance, because King Æthelred and Thorkell the Tall, a Viking leader who had defected to Æthelred, personally held their ground against him in London itself. Sweyn then went west to Bath, where the western thanes submitted to him and gave hostages. The Londoners then followed suit, fearing Sweyn's revenge if they resisted any longer. King Æthelred sent his sons Edward and Alfred to Normandy, and himself retreated to the Isle of Wight, and then followed them into exile.On Christmas Day 1013 Sweyn was declared King of England.
Based in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, Sweyn began to organise his vast new kingdom, but he died there on 3 February 1014, having ruled England for only five weeks. His embalmed body was returned to Denmark for burial in the church he had built. Tradition locates this church in Roskilde,but it is more plausible that it was actually located in Lund in Scania (now part of Sweden). Sweyn's elder son, Harald II, succeeded him as King of Denmark, while his younger son, Cnut, was proclaimed King of England by the people of the Danelaw. However, the English nobility sent for Æthelred, who upon his return from exile in Normandy in the spring of 1014 managed to drive Cnut out of England. Cnut soon returned and became king of all England in 1016, following the deaths of Æthelred and his son Edmund Ironside; he succeeded his brother as King of Denmark in 1019 and eventually also ruled Norway, parts of Sweden, Pomerania, and Schleswig.
Cnut and his sons, Harold Harefoot and Harthacnut, ruled England over a combined 26-year period (1016–1042). After Harthacnut's death, the English throne reverted to the House of Wessex under Æthelred's younger son Edward the Confessor (reigned 1042–1066).
Sweyn's daughter, Estrid Svendsdatter, was the mother of King Sweyn II of Denmark. Her descendants continue to reign in Denmark to this day. One of them, Margaret of Denmark, married James III of Scotland in 1469, introducing Sweyn's bloodline into the Scottish royal house. After James VI of Scotland inherited the English throne in 1603, Sweyn's descendants became monarchs of England again.
Sweyn had eight children with Sigrid the Haughty and Gunhild of Wenden:
Cnut the Great, also known as Canute, whose father was Sweyn Forkbeard, was King of Denmark, England and Norway; together often referred to as the North Sea Empire. Yet after the deaths of his heirs within a decade of his own, and the Norman conquest of England in 1066, this legacy was lost. He is popularly invoked in the context of the legend of King Canute and the tide, which usually misrepresents him as a deluded monarch believing he has supernatural powers, contrary to the original legend which portrays a wise king who rebuked his courtiers for their fawning behaviour.
Edmund Ironside was King of England from 23 April to 30 November 1016. He was the son of King Æthelred the Unready and his first wife, Ælfgifu of York. Edmund's reign was marred by a war he had inherited from his father; his cognomen "Ironside" was given to him "because of his valour" in resisting the Danish invasion led by Cnut the Great.
Magnus Olafsson, better known as Magnus the Good, was the King of Norway from 1035 and King of Denmark from 1042, ruling over both countries until his death in 1047.
Ælfgifu of Northampton was the first wife of Cnut the Great, King of England and Denmark, and mother of Harold Harefoot, King of England. She was regent of Norway from 1030 to 1035.
Sigrid the Haughty, also known as Sigríð Storråda, is a queen appearing in Norse sagas as wife, first of Eric the Victorious of Sweden, then Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark. Sigrid appears in many sagas composed generations after the events they describe, but there is no reliable evidence as to her existence as they describe her. The figure of Sigrid appears mainly in late Icelandic sagas, while more contemporary sources such as Thietmar of Merseburg and Adam of Bremen instead claim that Sweyn was married to a Polish princess, identified as Świętosława. Snorri Sturluson gives conflicting information and in one place says that Sweyn was married to Sigrid and in another that he was married to a Gunhild of Wenden.
Thorkell the Tall, also known as Thorkell the High in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, was a prominent member of the Jomsviking order and a notable lord. He was a son of the Scanian chieftain Strut-Harald, and a brother of Jarl Sigvaldi. Thorkell was the chief commander of the Jomvikings and the legendary stronghold, Jomsborg, on the Island of Wollin. He is also credited as having received the young Cnut the Great into his care and taken Cnut on raids. In the Encomium Emmae, a document aimed at the movers and shakers of the Anglo-Scandinavian court in the early 1040's, describes Thorkell as a great war leader and warrior.
Eadric Streona was Ealdorman of Mercia from 1007 to 1017. Eadric was given the epithet "Streona" in Hemming's Cartulary because he appropriated church land and funds for himself. Eadric became infamous in the medieval age because of his traitorous actions during the Danish re-conquest of England.
Eric Håkonsson was Earl of Lade, Governor of Norway and Earl of Northumbria. He was the son of Earl Hákon Sigurðarson and brother of the legendary Aud Haakonsdottir of Lade. He participated in the Battle of Hjörungavágr, the Battle of Svolder and the conquest of England by King Canute the Great.
Haakon Ericsson was Earl of Lade and governor of Norway as a vassal under Knut the Great.
Ulf was a Danish earl (jarl) and regent of Denmark. Ulf was the father of King Sweyn II of Denmark and thus the progenitor of the House of Estridsen, which would rule Denmark from 1047 to 1375, which was also sometimes, specially in Swedish sources, referred to as the Ulfinger dynasty to honor him.
Sweyn Godwinson, also spelled Swein, was the eldest son of Earl Godwin of Wessex, and brother of Harold II of England.
Eadwig Ætheling was the fifth of the six sons of King Æthelred the Unready and his first wife, Ælfgifu. Eadwig is recorded as a witness to charters from 993.
Svein Knutsson c. 1016–1035, was the son of Cnut the Great, king of Denmark, Norway, and England, and his first wife Ælfgifu of Northampton, a Mercian noblewoman. In 1017 Cnut married Emma of Normandy, but there is no evidence that Ælfgifu was repudiated, and in 1030 Cnut sent her and Svein as regents to rule Norway. However, their rule was considered oppressive by the Norwegians, and they were expelled in 1034. They imposed new taxes and harsh laws that made them unpopular. In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, there is a character called "Sweno, the Norways' king" based on Svein.
Gunhilda of Wenden was a semi-legendary Polish or other Slavic princess and Danish Viking age queen consort, the supposed spouse of 10th-century King Sweyn I of Denmark (986–1014).
The Thingmen was a standing army in the service of the Kings of England during the period 1013-51, financed by direct taxation which had its origins in the tribute known as Danegeld. It consisted mostly of men of Scandinavian descent and it had an initial strength of 3,000 housecarls and a fleet of 40 ships, which was subsequently reduced. Its last remnant was disbanded by Edward the Confessor in 1051.
Events from the 1010s in England.
Gunhilde is said to have been the sister of Sweyn Forkbeard, King of Denmark, and the daughter of Harald Bluetooth. She was married to Pallig, a Dane who served the King of England, Æthelred the Unready, as ealdorman of Devonshire. She is supposed to have been a hostage in England when she was killed in the St. Brice's Day massacre, ordered by Æthelred. Pallig is reported alternatively to have been killed in the massacre or to have provoked the massacre by deserting Æthelred's service.
The North Sea Empire, also known as the Anglo-Scandinavian Empire, was the thalassocratic domain ruled by Cnut the Great as King of England, Denmark, Norway and parts of what is now Sweden between 1016 and 1035.
The Danish House of Knýtlinga was a ruling royal house in Middle Age Scandinavia and England. Its most famous king was Cnut the Great, who gave his name to this dynasty. Other notable members were Cnut's father Sweyn Forkbeard, grandfather Harald Bluetooth, and sons Harthacnut, Harold Harefoot, and Svein Knutsson. It has also been called the House of Canute, the House of Denmark, the House of Gorm, or the Jelling dynasty.
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Æthelred the Unready
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Æthelred the Unready