Thursday, September 8, 2016


Some big changes are being made in the monarchy with the Danes coming into power.  More from "Kings and Queens of England and Scotland".

SWEYN 1013-1014  (Svegn)  Known as Forkbeard

Born:  ?965

Succeeded as King of Denmark in 986, as King of Norway in 995, as de facto King of England (Ethelred having fled abroad) in the winter of 1013 aged about 48.

Married:  1.  Gunhilda who died 992;  2.  Sigrid who died 995.

Children all of Gunhilda:  Gytha, Harald, CNUT, Thyra, Estrith.

Died:  at Gainsborough 3 February, 1014 from a fall from his horse, aged 48, having reigned little more than a month.

Buried first in London, later in Denmark.

Sweyn had sent his earls to harass England by invasion with increasing attrition from the year 1009.  In 1012, after receiving an enormous sum in Dane-geld, the earls murdered Elfeah, Archbishop of Canterbury (St Alphege).  In 1013 Sweyn, commanding his naval forces in person, occupied England.  He died after a fall from his horse during an army advance - traditionally struck down in the course of an hallucination that the sainted martyr King Edward, whom he had obsessionally hated, rode towards him in full armour to challenge him in single combat.  Sweyn's youngest daughter, Estrith possibly married Robert, Duke of Normandy, but she was not the mother of William the Conqueror.

EDMUND II 1016  (Eadmund)  Known as Edmund Ironside

Born:  ?990

Succeeded as King of England 23rd April, 1016 aged about 26.

Eldest surviving son of his predecessor Ethelred II.

Married: Ealdgyth

Children:  Edward, Edmund.

Died;  30 November, 1016 in London, probably murdered, at the age of 26 having reigned seven months.

Buried at Glastonbury.

After the sudden death of Sweyn of Denmark there were three candidates for the throne.  Sweyn's eldest son Cnut had possession of the throne, with command of his late father''s forces and with control of the royal treasury, such as it was in an uncertain time of war and lapsed taxes.  But Cnut, then aged about 19, decided to defer his claim and he went  back to Denmark to consolidate his forces having first mutilated, with Viking ruthlessness, the English hostages whom has father had taken from London and all the shires.  The throne therefore fell by default to its original occupant Ethlred, who had never formally abdicated.  But Ethelred's eldest surviving son Edmund (called Ironside because of his physical strength), disputed his father's capacity to rule with sufficient virility to protect England from the Danes.

This problem was resolved by Ethelred's death in April of 1016.  However, Cnut had already returned with strong forces in 1015, and a slight majority of the English ealdormen (the nobility of the shires) saw more chance of achieving swift law and order with Cnut as king rather than Edmund.  If there had been a full meeting of the English magnates at that time it is probable that Cnut would have obtained a narrow vote of confidence.  He did not bother with this formality, but proclaimed himself king and conspired against the lives of Edmund and others in the Saxon succession.

Edmund therefore virtually manipulated his own accession  He summoned in London a meeting of the king-making council, the Witanagemot.  Only those members who lived near London or were there at the time on business were able to attend.   Sincerely pursuing their own advantage, the 'Rump of the Witan', the equivalent of powerful money-men of today, named Edmund as king (i.e. they 'elected' him), and immediately the citizens of London acclaimed him,

The rival kings began to  for initial advantages in a military trial of strength which culminated in victory for Cnut at the battle of Ashingdon in October 1016.  Next month Edmund died suddenly, reputedly assassinated by being stabbed.

(After reading about the dreadful deeds of the Danes I'm not so sure about claiming my Danish heritage!!!)


  1. Don't be so hard on the ancient Danes. The world everywhere was a harsh place.

    1. I guess it was just my own connection with the Danes that made me shudder but you are so right, the whole world was a harsh place. Unfortunately, in certain places, it is not much better today.

  2. Hari OM
    ...ever was and ever will be, R Mac... I remembered quite a bit about Cnut, but had forgotten about his father Sweyn. Another good summary Mimsie! YAM xx

    1. I am so glad you are enjoying these Royal stories Yamini. It's good to refresh one's memory or, in my case, teach me more than I had previously known.xx

  3. This is very entertaining reading. I think you did not mean to type 1914 and 1916, that would make them very OLD, ha ha. This series reminds me that the world has ever been a brutal place, not just now.

    1. Glad you are enjoying these summaries and you did notice my typos didn't you!! I try to proof read but as is always the way, something that looks 'normal' can escape careful scrutiny
      I think while mankind exists there will always be some type of brutality somewhere which saddens me no end.

  4. The reigns were short in those days. I'm sure each one was not in the least bit excited about becoming king.

    1. I felt that too and yet they readily took their turn (or not their turn in some cases).
      Their youth if what amazes me.

  5. "..the dreadful deeds of the Danes.."?
    what about all the previous murders of English kings, by Englishmen. Just as horrific in my eyes and I wouldn't be happy claiming any English heritage if I had any. I'm equally sure there is background brutality in most countries, it was the way of things back then and at least it doesn't go on like that now.

    1. I think those events took place all over the world. One only has to think of the Romans and their brutality.
      There unfortunately is a certain amount of brutality these days and it's not always physical. The modern world hurts people in different ways.
      I am extremely proud to claim my English heritage and also my Danish heritage for that matter.

  6. .. great reading ....
    I wouldn't want to be in line for the throne in those days.. short lives.. xxx .. violent times...
    ... Barb xxx

    1. Thanks Barb, glad you are enjoying it.
      Those times in England were far different to today when you think of how long our Queen has been on the throne and still doing such a wonderful job too.
      I am leaning while doing this and hopefully will soon come across some of the royalty whose history I am more familiar with. xxx