[MR] BBC: Death of Sweyn Forkbeard

Garth Groff and Sally Sanford mallardlodge1000 at gmail.com
Tue Dec 26 04:04:39 PST 2023

Noble Friends,

Yesterday BBC offered an interesting tale on the 1014 death of the first
Viking king of England, Sweyn Forkbeard.

Sweyn seized control of Denmark from his dad Harald Bluetooth circa 985. He
invaded England on the pretext of revenge after the Saxon king Aethelred
the Unready had Vikings killed during the 1002 St. Brice's Day Massacre
(apparently only in the parts of England still under Saxon rule). After
several years of raids-in-force, Sweyn led a full-scale invasion which
toppled Aethedred in 1013. Sweyn then declared himself King of England on
Christmas day in 1013, but ruled only five weeks before he died on 3
February 1014.

Sweyn had demanded taxes from lands controlled by the powerful abbey at
Bury St. Edmunds. These lands were traditionally exempt from taxation.
According to legend Sweyn was warned of divine retribution if he pressed
his demands for money, a warning he ignored. The newly-minted king died
screaming that the ghost of St. Edmund, martyred by earlier Vikings in 869,
had come to kill him. Whatever the cause, natural or felonious, King Sweyn
was now defunct. His son Canute the Great succeeded him as King. Hmmm.

If there is a moral to Sweyn's story it might be: Don't mess with abbeys
protected powerful saints. We will never know how Sweyn died, but blaming a
saint provided some very good cover if there was a real culprit.

The story of Sweyn's mysterious death is at
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-67687031 .

More about his conquest and very brief rule is at
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-25341754 .

A more complete biography is at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweyn_Forkbeard .

Yours Aye,

Mungo Napier, Laird of Mallard Lodge  🦆
Continuing a crusade to keep Merry Rose relevant and in business.

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