Aelfgifu of Northampton b. c990

Aelfgifu of Northampton

Father – Aelfhelm Ealdorman of Northampton
Mother – Unknown
Spouse – King Cnut
Children – Sweyn, Harold

990 (around)
Aelfgifu of Northampton was born the daughter of Aelfhelm, ealdorman of south Northumbria.
1002 (during)
Sweyn Forkbeard invaded England in revenge for the St Brice’s Day Massacre where Danes living in England, including Sweyn’s sister, were killed by order of King Aethelred. He gained control of land from Exeter to Hampshire and King Aethelred was forced to make a Danegeld payment to the Vikings.
1006 (during)
Aelfgifu’s father was murdered on the order of King Aethelred.
1007 (during)
The Vikings had continued to make raids on England and another Danegeld payment had to be made.
1010 (during)
The Vikings invaded East Anglia and took control of Ipswich.
1013 (around)
Aelfgifu met Cnut, son of Sweyn Forkbeard. They were married soon afterwards. It is likely that they married by Danish custom of handfasting.
1013 (during)
Sweyn Forkbeard took Wessex, Mercia and Northumbria. Only London held out against the Danes.
1013 (December)
Having conquered the majority of England, Sweyn Forkbeard proclaimed himself King of England. King Aethelred, his wife, Emma and their children fled to Normandy. Aethelred’s son Edmund and his brother Aethelstan remained in Wessex.
1014 (3rd February)
Sweyn Forkbeard died. He nominated his son, Cnut to succeed him.
1014 (Spring)
Although the English nobles had accepted Sweyn as King they were not so keen to support his young son and called for Aethelred to return. 
1014 (Autumn)
King Aethelred returned to England. Aelfgifu’s husband, Cnut returned to Denmark to raise an army against Aethelred.
1015 (around)
A son, Sweyn was born to Aelfgifu and Cnut.
1015 (August)
Cnut was determined to take the English throne and invaded England with a large Danish force.
1016 (around)
A son, Harold was born to Cnut and Aelfgifu of Northampton.
1016 (23rd April)
King Aethelred died. His son, Edmund Ironside, was proclaimed King Edmund II.
1016 (Autumn)
Aelfgifu of Northampton almost certainly remained in the north with her children when Cnut went south to attack London.
1016 (Autumn)
Aelfgifu’s husband Cnut was determined to take the throne for himself and mounted a series of raids and skirmishes.
1016 (18th October)
Battle of Assandun
Cnut defeated Edmund in this battle for London.
1016 (after 18th October)
After failing to defeat Cnut, Edmund had no choice but to agree to share rule with Cnut. Cnut ruled Northumbria, Mercia and East Anglia while Edmund ruled Wessex. It was agreed that on the death of either party the other would rule all of England.
1016 (30th November)
Edmund Ironside, died and Cnut seized the throne of England.
1017 (6th January)
Cnut was crowned King of England at St Paul’s Cathedral.
1017 (2nd July)
Cnut married Aethelred’s widow, Emma. This was a political marriage to gain the support of Normandy as well as the English over whom Emma had been queen for the last 15 years. Cnut also wanted to prevent any rising by Emma’s sons, Edward and Alfred. It was agreed that the succession would be with the children of Emma and Cnut.
1028 (during)
Cnut became King of Norway. He was now King of England, Denmark and Norway and became referred to as Cnut the Great. Hakon Eriksson was made regent in Norway.
1030 (during)
Cnut’s regent in Norway, Hakon Eriksson, died. Cnut named his eldest son by Aelfgifu of Northampton, Sweyn, as King of Norway. Aelfgifu went with her son to Norway.
1035 (Autumn)
The rule of Aelfgifu and Sweyn in Norway had not been popular. They had tried to introduce Danish laws to Norway and had imposed heavy taxation. The people of Norway rose against them forcing them to flee to Denmark. Magnus the Good took over as King of Norway.
1035 (late)
Aelfgifu’s eldest son, Sweyn, died in Denmark.
1035 (12th November)
King Cnut died at Shaftesbury. His wife, Emma announced that her son, Harthacnut, who was in Denmark as regent, had been nominated by Cnut to succeed to the English throne and took control of the treasury in his absence.
1035 (late)
Earl Godwin, the most powerful nobleman in England, did not support Emma and allied himself to Aelfgifu’s and Cnut’s son Harold Harefoot who was in England.
1036 (early)
As soon as she heard of Cnut’s death, Aethelgifu returned to England and began to push for her son, Harold, to be crowned King.
1035 (late December)
Emma’s sons by her marriage to Aethelred, Edward and Alfred, arrived in England. Edward landed at Southampton and Alfred in Kent. It is thought that they had come to take the throne back for their family. Alfred was met by Earl Godwin. He seized Alfred, blinded him and then sent him to the monastery at Ely. On hearing of his brother’s capture, Edward returned ot Normandy.
1036 (5th February)
Emma’s son, Alfred, died from his injuries.
1037 (During)
Emma’s son, Harthacnut had been unable to return to England due to problems in Denmark and so the Witan allowed Aelfgifu’s son, Harold, to take the throne as King Harold I.
1037 (during)
Emma left England and went to Bruges where she contacted Harthacnut calling for him to return to England and take the throne.
1040 (17th March)
Aelfgifu’s son, King Harold I, died.
1040 (after March)
Aelfgifu of Northampton disappeared from records. It is thought she fled overseas.


Published Feb 18, 2020 @ 3:01 pm – Updated – Jun 17, 2020 @ 11:48 am

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2018 – 2019). Aelfgifu of Northampton b c990. Available: Last Accessed September 23rd, 2021