Skip to comments.Sweyn Forkbeard: England's forgotten Viking king
Posted on 12/30/2013 6:09:05 PM PST by SunkenCiv
On Christmas Day 1013, Danish ruler Sweyn Forkbeard was declared King of all England and the town of Gainsborough its capital. But why is so little known of the man who would be England's shortest-reigning king and the role he played in shaping the early history of the nation?
For 20 years, Sweyn, a "murderous character" who deposed his father Harold Bluetooth, waged war on England.
And exactly 1,000 years ago, with his son Canute by his side, a large-scale invasion finally proved decisive.
It was a brutal time, which saw women burned alive, children impaled on lances and men dying suspended from their private parts...
Ethelred the Unready had ordered the slaughter of all Danes living in England in 1002, in what became known as the St Brice's Day massacre.
Another reason why Sweyn's story remains largely untold may be the lack of physical evidence.
Mr Childs says there was once a fortification in Gainsborough on the site of what is now the Old Hall, with evidence of a moat fed from the nearby River Trent.
And clues to a "sizeable" army camp can also be found in the town's Castle Hills.
(Excerpt) Read more at bbc.co.uk ...
Sweyn Forkbeard (shown left), England's shortest reigning king, remains in the shadows of both his son Canute the Great, and father Harold Bluetooth
My maternal grandfather’s family came from Nutsford. I suspect it’s a contraction of Canutes Ford.
Among my ancestors were men using the first name “Athe” which I believe comes from northern England, and could be a means of noting their Nordic ancestry?
Mine were Vingen. From Vingen Fjord.
My English Grandmother’s maiden name was Nutting. I researched the origin of the name and came across this:
This is a famous English surname, believed to be from Yorkshire, which is certainly where the first recording comes from. The style and spelling suggests that it may have an Olde English or Danish-Viking pre 7th century origin, and derive from the word “knut”, which literally means a hard fruit. To this has been added the term “inga”, normally used to indicated a people or tribe. “Knut” was used for many centuries as a baptismal or given name before the introduction of hereditary surnames, and can be found in a such a name as the famous “King Canute”.
Athe is a Saxon first name, like Aethelstan and Ethelred.
In Search of Aethelstan (pts 1 thr 6)
In the 1970's, science fiction writer John Norman wrote a series of novels that take place on a planet called Gor, where life resembles that of ancient Greece and Rome, Aztec Mexico, Viking-ruled Scandinavia, etc., with some exotic beasts and space aliens thrown in. Two of his Viking-type characters are named Ivar Forkbeard and Sweyn Bluetooth.
Speaking of crossroads, tomorrow is the anniversary of the battle of Parker's Crossroads (NBF: "Charge them both ways!"), Dec. 31, 1862.
I always liked the covers of those paperbacks.
According to Wikipedia, Sweyn was an ancestor of James VI of Scotland, and therefore also of Queen Elizabeth II.
Those stories would be considered highly politically incorrect today.
Bluetooth does take it's name after Harold because of his role as a uniter. The Bluetooth icon is an old rune...
‘Aethel’ is simply an Anglo-Saxon word meaning noble or glorious. It is a common element in Germanic first names for obvious reasons. The modern German cognate is ‘edel’.
“Ethelred The Unready”?
Now, there’s a name that will strike fear in the hearts of your enemies.
“”Who is leading them?”
“Ethelred The Unready.”
“They couldn’t get Steve The Sleepy?”
The girl's name Ethel is the only purely Anglo-Saxon first name that has survived to this day that I can think of. The German name Adelheid, which becomes Adelaide or Adeline in English, is also related.
Brings to mind Louis the Fat, who ruled France a few decades later.
I have been to see the Jelling Stones in Jutland, a surprisingly impressive site and the earliest marker of Christianity in Scandinavia. Harald’s direct descendent, Dronning Magrethe, is Queen of Denmark and leader of the oldest royal family in Europe.
Another little known fact is that Sweyn’s attempt to force the English to eat lutefisk led to more popular revolts resulting in his ultimate downfall. Uff da.
You mean lutefisk wasn’t proto-English cooking?
Or using obamacare as a baseline, as socialist democrats would state "A good time was had by all..."
I should check before typing this (in case it has ULready been posted), but Ethelred the Unready is a modern joke, used to help UK kids remember the name. His nick was Unraed, which means without counsel, or counsel-less, given because of his practice of making up his mind and just charging on in.
The Vikings never invaded mainland Scotland, probably the haggis kept them out, *that’s* how bad it was.
The legend that this town name was supposed to be where King Canute crossed the Lily is bogus. He crossed a lot of rivers after all and there aren’t a lot of Nutsfords, are there?
No, the name Nutsford actually was a descriptive term for a ford on the river Lily that was almost waist deep.
I believe that the Viking/Germanic law had a great impact on resultant Manorial law which gave us trial by jury, notions of trespass and tort and individual rights defined in physical, psychological and property. It also recognized a natural law right to secure rights against aggression.
In addition, King Cnut withdrew certain lands from free common access and reserved them for his own use, maintaining them primarily for exclusive royal hunting purposes or “chases.” In later reigns, it became a practice for kings to “forest” occupied areas by virtue of “sovereign ownership” of all land. At one time, it has been estimated that almost one-third of the country had been converted into “royal forest.” by royal proclamation.
The Latin term “foris” actually referred to exclusion from the application of the ordinary law and not to a wooded land. A separate system of “Forest Laws” and enforcement mechanisms were introduced by the Normans. That has transferred in America into our National Forests.
The harshness of the forest laws and the enlargement of “forested” areas became one of the issues dealt with in the Magna Carta (Parva Carta.) Seems we have not learned from history.
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