Sweyn Forkbeard King of Denmark and England 960 – 1014

Sweyn Forkbeard

Father – Harald Bluetooth
Mother – Gunhilda
Spouse – Gunhilda, Sigrid
Children –  Thyra, Cnut, Harald, Estrid
King of Denmark 986 – 1014
Predecessor – Harald Bluetooth – 958 – 986
Successor – Harald II (Svenson) – 1014 – 1018
King of England – 1013 – 1014
Predecessor – Aethelred
Successor – Aethelred

960 (during)
Sweyn, Forkbeard, was born to Harald Bluetooth, King of Denmark and his wife Gyrid Olafsdottir. He was the couple’s second child, Thyra Haraldsdatter being their first.
961 (during)
Sweyn’s brother, Hakon was born
After 961 (around)
Sweyn’s sister, Gunhilda was born.
980 (during)
The Danish Vikings made raids on Chester and Southampton.
981 (during)
The Danish Viking made raids on Devon and Cornwall.
982 (during)
The Danish Viking made raids on Dorset.
985 (during)
Sweyn Forkbeard took leadership of the Vikings from his father, Harald Bluetooth.
986 (around)
Sweyn’s father, Harald Bluetooth, died.
990 (during)
Sweyn married Gunhilda, daughter of the Duke of Poland.
991 (10th August)
Battle of Maldon
A group of Vikings led by Olaf Tryggvason attacked Essex and defeated Byrhtnoth of Essex.
991 (during)
Following the Viking victory at Maldon, King King Aethelred was forced to pay the Vikings £10,000 pounds (3.3 kg of silver) to make them leave Wessex alone. The payment was known as a Danegeld.
993 (during)
A daughter, Thyra, was born to Sweyn Forkbeard and Gunhilda.
994 (during)
A son, Cnut, was born to Sweyn Forkbeard and Gunhilda.
994 (during)
Sweyn and Olaf Trygvasson led a party of Viking raiders up the River Thames and put London under siege. Aethelred was forced to make another Danegeld payment to make the raiders leave. This time the Viking leader demanded £16,000 (5.3 kg of silver)
995 (during)
A son, Harald, was born to Sweyn Forkbeard and his wife, Gunhilda.
1000 (around)
Sweyn divorced Gunhilda and married Sigrid known as ‘The Haughty’
1000 (during)
Sweyn defeated and killed his Norwegian rival Olaf Trygvasson and took control of Norway.
1001 (around)
A daughter, Estrid, was born to Sweyn Forkbeard and Sigrid.
1001 (during)
The Danish Vikings led by Forkbeard made a series of raids along the South coast of England.
1002 (during)
St Brice’s Day Massacre
Aethelred ordered the massacre of all Danes living in England. He hoped that by ridding England of Danes he would minimise the risk of attack from within. A significant number of Danes were killed including Gunhilda, Sweyn Forkbeard’s sister.
1002 (during)
Sweyn Forkbeard and a party of Vikings raided the South coast retaliation for the St Brice’s day massacre. They gained control of land from Exeter to Hampshire.
1002 (during)
Aethelred had no choice but to pay the Danes to leave his land alone. The Danegeld demanded by Sweyn was £24,000 (8 kg of silver).
1004 (during)
Sweyn Forkbeard destroyed the town of Norwich.
1005 (during)
Sweyn Forkbeard returned to Denmark to deal with problems caused by a severe famine.
1006 (July)
Sweyn Forkbeard and the Vikings returned and made a series of raids on Kent and Sussex.
1007 (during)
Aethelred was unable to raise sufficient forces to defeat Sweyn Forkbeard and so was forced to make another Danegeld payment to keep the Vikings away. The sum demanded was £36,000 (12 kg of silver).
1010 (during)
The Danes invaded East Anglia. A battle was fought near Ipswich which left the Danes in control of the town.
1011 (during)
The Danish Vikings captured Canterbury and took Archbishop Aelheah prisoner.
1012 (19th April)
The Danish Vikings in Canterbury went on a drunken raid and murdered Archbishop Aelheah of Canterbury. The Viking leader, Thorkell the Tall, tried to stop the murder but was unsuccessful. He was so angry at his comrades that he defected and joined Aethelred’s forces.
1012 (April)
Aethelred made another Danegeld payment of £48,000 (17 kg of silver) to stop the destruction being caused by the Vikings.
1013 (during)
Lyfing was appointed the new Archbishop of Canterbury.
1013 (during)
Sweyn Forkbeard returned and took Wessex, Mercia and Northumbria. London alone 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.
1014 (during)
Aethelred’s son, Aethelstan, died fighting the Danes.
1014 (3rd February)
Sweyn Forkbeard died possibly following a fall from his horse in Gainsborough. He nominated his son, Cnut to succeed him but the Witan asked Aethelred the Unready to return as King instead.


Published Aug 4, 2016 @ 4:14 pm – Updated – Mar 13, 2020 @ 3:21 pm

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2016 – 2020). Sweyn Forkbeard King of Denmark and England 960 – 1014. Available: https://www.totallytimelines.com/sweyn-forkbeard-960-1014/ Last Accessed [date]