Monday, 30 April 2012

House of Denmark

Sweyn Forkbeard
With Æthelred now in exile, the House of Wessex was no longer the dominant force in England, and up popped the Danish King, Sweyn Forkbeard to bring about a new era in English Kings.....or would he???
Sweyn Forkbeard was to become the first of the Danish Kings to have ruled England.

He had become King of Denmark after his father, Harald Bluetooth (yep, they had Bluetooth in them ther days) died in either 986 or 987, and had effectively become King of Norway in 1000 when he forged an alliance with the Trondejarl, Erik of Lade.

According to the chronicles of John of Wallingford, Sweyn has made a number of raids during the periods 1002–1005, 1006–1007, and 1009–1012 to avenge the massacre on St Brice's Day where his sister was one of the fatalities.

The Five Boroughs
Sweyn first went to Sandwich, and then mopped up East Anglia and upwards along the Trent as far as Gainsborough. He soon added Northumbria as well as the people of Lindsey and then the people of the Five Boroughs. After he realised that the people had submitted to him, he got provisions and horses and moved southwards, with the main part of the invasion force with the rest commanded by his son, Cnut Canute).

After Watling Street fell, he moved on to Oxford where the people bowed to him and gave his hostages.  From there he moved on to Winchester (who did the same), and then eastwards to London.

However, London put up more resistance as Æthelred and Thorkell the Tall (a viking leader who had defected) held their ground against him. Sweyn then moved to Bath where the western Thanes submitted to him and gave hostages, and fearing any revenge that Sweyn might undertake, the Londoners followed suit leaving Æthelred and his sons, Edward and Alfred, little choice but to exile themselves to Normandy.

Sweyn was then declared King of England on Christmas Day 1013.

Sweyn now began to organise his new Kingdom however, having only been King for five weeks, he died on 3 February 1014.

Although Canute was named King by the Danish Fleet, councellors had arranged for Æthelred to return as King, and when he did, managed to drive Canute out of England. 

This, however, was not the last time that Canute would be heard of by the English, and the newly returned King would face the ongoing Viking challenge to wrest the crown away from him.

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