The Vikings went global. From hit-and-run attacks, the Vikings gradually assembled the larger military troops who aimed higher. They started territorial conquests around Europe. In this blog post, we are to discover four Viking kings that ruled England back in the Viking Age.
Sweyn Forkbeard (reign 1013)
Sweyn Forkbeard was one of the most controversial Viking kings in history. He was the son of King Harald Bluetooth of Denmark. And if you are wondering, this “Bluetooth” later became the inspiration for bluetooth wireless technology.
Sweyn Forkbeard overthrew Harald Bluetooth – his own father and managed to become the King of Denmark. At this point, the Danes had united under a single banner thanks to Harald Bluetooth.
Maybe the sworn enemy of Sweyn Forkbeard was not his own father. Instead, it was King Æthelred II known as the Unready. This King of Ango-Saxon only knew to pay the Vikings for peace. But his biggest mistake was to order a massacre of the Danes in his territory. Maybe the King thought that this movement would scare off the Norsemen. But what he had planned backfired. One of those killed in the St Brice Day Massacre included Gunhild – the sister of Sweyn Forkbeard.
Sweyn Forkbeard turned the death of his sister into a reason to declare war on King Aethelred. This cost King Aethelred of his throne.
On Christmas day of 1013, Sweyn Forkbeard declared himself the first Viking King of England after defeating the reigning king. But his reigning time didn’t last long. In February 1014, he died of apoplexy.
Cnut the Great (reign 1016-1035)
Cnute or Cnut was the son of Sweyn Forkbeard and also the grand child of Harald Bluetooth. Born in a noble warrior family, Cnut inherited whatever the best of his family’s genes.
He grew up to be a handsome and tall man. Everything was perfect except for his nose which was a little bit hooked. Cnut aided his father, Sweyn, in the battle against the Unready King.
After all, what Sweyn Forkbeard had in his power was the land of Denmark, Norway, a part of Sweden, and England. On the death of Sweyn, Cnut was about to take the throne of England. Yet, the return of Aethelred the Unready forced Cnut to turn back to Denmark.
Back to his homeland, he assembled his own army and waited for the right moment. In 1015, he returned to England and managed to take most lands there. But Cnut did not become the official king of England until 1016 when the son of King Aethelred, Edmund, died. Cnut became King of Denmark in 1019 and of Norway 1028, making him ruler of an Empire surrounding the North Sea. Cnut remained on throne until 1035 when he died.
Harald Harefoot (1035-1040)
Harald Harefoot was the illegitimate son of Cnut. The official king of England after Cnut’s death was Hardicanute son of Cnut and Emma of Normandy. Yet, two weeks after the father’s death, Harald Harefoot managed to seize the throne.
But Harald’s reign was short and brutish. After his death in 1040, the throne in England belonged to Hardicanute
The first deed Hardicanute made when he took the throne of England was to have his brother’s body dug up, beheaded, and put on stake. This caused an outrage to everyone living in England. Because most of them were Christians, this deed of Hardicanute was unacceptable. But who cared, Hardicanute was born and raised within the Viking community.
Another thing that the King made him be hated by his people was to increase taxes. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle stated that he never did anything worthy of a King throughout his entire reign. After two years of reign, he died “as he stood at his drink” in the wedding of one of his thanes. Short as his reign might be, he was also one of the Viking kings that ruled England.