King Sweyn Estridsson of Denmark was born to Ulf Thorgilsson and Estrid Svensdatter (daughter of Sweyn Forkbeard
) in England. Sweyn’s father had been part of the Danish invasion force that had set Cnut on the English throne.
Sweyn’s father had been appointed regent of Denmark by King Cnut
who had taken the English throne in 1016. Sweyn had been left in England as a hostage to ensure Ulf’s good service but it is believed that Sweyn was in Denmark by this year.
Battle of Helgea
A combined force of Norwegian and Swedish armies mounted an invasion of Denmark. Danish and English forces sailed to meet them and a naval engagement took place. The Norwegians/Swedes were forced to retreat leaving Cnut secure in Denmark.
Sweyn’s father, Ulf, had contrived to have Cnut’s son, Harthacnut
, crowned King of Denmark. As Ulf was Harthacnut’s guardian this would effectively give him control of Denmark over Cnut. Cnut was furious when he found out and had Ulf murdered.
After his father’s murder, Sweyn’s mother took him to Sweden and he was placed in the service of King Anund.
1035 (12th November)
King Cnut of England and Denmark died. His son Harthacnut was appointed his successor. However, Harthacnut could not leave Denmark because there was still conflict between Denmark and Sweden.
Harthacnut was still in Denmark and so the English appointed his half-brother, Harold
Sweyn served King Anund Jakob, King of Sweden. He was caught and imprisoned for a short while by the Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen after pillaging the Elbe-Weser area.
1040 (17th March)
Harthacnut’s half-brother, Harold King of England died. Harthacnut agreed a peace with King Magnus of Norway that whoever lived the longest would rule both Norway and Denmark.
King Harthacnut of England and Denmark created Sweyn a Jarl of Denmark.
1042 (8th June)
King Harthacnut of England and Denmark died. He was succeeded in England by Edward the Confessor
and in Denmark by Magnus the Good.
1042 (after June)
King Magnus of Denmark created Sweyn Jarl of Jutland and regent of Denmark, suggesting that Sweyn swore allegiance to Magnus.
Many Danes felt that Sweyn Estridsson was the rightful King of Denmark. He was also supported by the Wendish people of the south Baltic shore. When he learned of Sweyn’s treachery, Magnus sailed for the south Baltic.
1043 (28th September)
Battle of Lyrskov Heath
This was a battle between the forces of Magnus the Good and Sweyn Estridsson. The Wendish forces were no match for those of Magnus and Sweyn was defeated. Sweyn fled to Sweden.
Harald Hardrada and Sweyn Estridsson made a series of devastating raids on Denmark.
Magnus the Good agreed to share the rule of Norway with Harald Hardrada. This agreement meant that Sweyn no longer had the support of Hardrada.
Sweyn married Gyda, daughter of King Anund of Sweden. This may have been part of an agreement to gain Anund’s support against Magnus the Good.
Sweyn continued to try to gain control of Denmark.
1047 (25th October)
King Magnus the Good of Denmark and Norway died. Before he died he determined that he would be succeeded in Norway by Harald Hardrada and in Denmark by Sweyn. However, Hardrada did not want to give up Denmark.
Sweyn Estridsson’s wife, Gyda died. She may have been poisoned by Sweyn’s mistress, Tora.
Harald Hardrada declared war on Estridsson and began a series of yearly campaigns and raids against Denmark with a raid on Jutland. Sweyn was unable to resist.
Harald Hardrada made a devastating raid on Hedeby, an important trade centre, causing such destruction that the town never recovered.
Sweyn married Gunnhilda. Historians are divided on whether she was the daughter of a closely related Earl or his mother-in-law. The marriage was dissolved by Pope Leo IX on the grounds of consanguinity (being too closely related).
After another raid by Hardrada, Sweyn’s fleet gave chase as Hardrada’s ships left the town laden with goods and captives. When Sweyn got close Hardrada ordered goods and captives thrown overboard. Sweyn decided to save the captives rather than pursue Hardrada.
Sweyn was a christian and he split Denmark into eight dioceses and encouraged the building of churches.
1062 (9th August)
Battle of Nisa
This was a battle fought between the forces of Sweyn Estridsson and Harald Hardrada for control of Denmark. Although Hardrada won the battle he allowed so many Danes to escape that he was unable to consolidate the victory.
Despite winning skirmishes and battles against Denmark over the previous fifteen years, Harald Hardrada had not managed to take the country. He now decided to make peace and he and Sweyn Estridsson agreed an unconditional peace whereby they would respect each others’ kingdoms.
1066 (25th September)
Battle of Stamford Bridge
Harald Hardrada had invaded England at the beginning of September. After defeating the northern earls Edwin
at Fulford he was surprised at Stamford Bridge by the forces of Harold Godwinson
. Hardrada was killed during the battle.
Sweyn married Thora, the widow of Harald Hardrada.
Sweyn Estrithson of Denmark decided to attack England and sent a force to attack England. He may have decided to support Edgar Aetheling
or he may have wanted to take England for himself. He joined forces with Hereward the Wake
who had set up resistance to the Normans on the Isle of Ely. After Hereward and his army were defeated Sweyn returned to Denmark.
1069 (late Autumn)
The children of Harold Godwinson, Godwin
and their sister Gytha arrived in Denmark. They wanted Sweyn to support them in an invasion of England but Sweyn refused.
The Revolt of the Earls
In England, Roger of Montgomery allowed Ralph de Gael to marry his sister even though the alliance had been forbidden by King William. The two men then plotted to overthrow William and invited the Earl of Northumbria, Waltheof and Sweyn Estridsson to join them. However, Waltheof got cold feet and told William of the plot. William reacted quickly and imprisoned Roger of Montgomery. Ralph escaped to Brittany leaving his new wife to hold out against William alone. She too fled to Brittany after William agreed a safe passage for her. When Sweyn Estridsson arrived with a sizeable force and found no army waiting for him he raided York and then returned to Denmark.
1076 (28th April)
Sweyn Estridsson died in Denmark.