Swein (Fork-Beard)

 Born     Born At  
 Died  3 Feb 1014   Buried At  Roskilde Cathedral, Denmark
Preceded by  Aethelred (II The Unready, King of the English 978-1013, 1014-1016) Succeeded by  Aethelred (II The Unready, King of the English 978-1013, 1014-1016)
 Royal House   Denmark

Titles Include

King of Denmark

Swein Fork-Beard was the King of Denmark and King of England for a short period of time. Swein was also the father of Canute who also became King of England. In 988 Swein overthrew this father Harold Blue-Tooth Gormsson the King of Denmark. Swein led a large number of raids along the east and south coasts of England. England was a rich country and the Danes were able to attack villages and religious communities without too much resistance. Much of the time the English paid the Danes money to leave. This money is known as Danegeld. In 994, with a huge fleet of 94 ships, Swein sailed into the Thames estuary along with another Dane called Olaf Trygvasson by his side to plunder England. London put up a good defence and drove the Vikings back so Fork-Beard moved his forces south to attack the south-east coast and to plunder whatever he could find. Swein's attacks on England continued for ten years until 1013 when he invaded England with his son Canute and took control of the country. Aethelred along with his wife and sons were forced to flee to Normandy for their own safety. Swein was King of England for only a few months before he died in February of 1014. After Swein's death Canute left England and Aethelred returned from Normandy to reclaim the English throne.


Do you want to explore a Saxon Hall, a medieval church or a large stone keep? Click the images below to enter a medieval world.

988   Swein becomes King of Denmark
 Swein Fork-Beard overthrew this father King Harold Blue-Tooth Gormsson, King of Denmark. 
994   Swein Fork-Beard invades Britain
 Swein Fork-Beard had overthrone this father King Harold Blue-Tooth Gormsson, King of Denmark in 988. With a huge fleet of 94 ships he arrived in the Thames estuary with Olaf Trygvasson by his side. London put up a good defence and drove the Vikings back so Fork-Beard moved his forces again to attack the south-east coast to plunder what he could find.[1]

Episode: Viking Invasions  
1003   Wilton and its abbey attacked
 Swein attacked the town of Wilton and possibly its abbey.[2]

Episode: Viking Invasions  
1004   Swein attacks Norfolk
 A Viking raiding fleet landed in Norfolk. The Ealdorman in the area was Ulfcetel who ordered some men to reach and burn the Viking ships to strand Swein. The plan failed and Ulfcetel's small army was defeated by the Vikings.  
1006   Destruction of Walingford
 The Danes, led by Swein, attacked and destroyed the river crossing at Wallingford.[3]

Episode: Viking Invasions  
1009   Danes repeatedly attack England
 Swein Fork-Beard repeatedly attacked England over several years destroying the land.

Episode: Viking Invasions  
1012   Danegeld paid
 The Danes were paid a large sum of money, known as the Danegeld, to leave England.

Episode: Viking Invasions  
1013   Swein Fork-Beard and Canute attack England
 Swein Fork-Beard and his son Canute sailed from Denmark to attack England. Again London defended itself and the Vikings moved elsewhere, taking Wessex, Mercia and Northumbria.

Episode: Viking Invasions  
 Nov  London surrenders to Swein
 London was the last part of the country to accept Swein as the new king of England. Swein and his Viking army had already taken control of the Danelaw and the rest of the country accepted him as their new ruler. Swein's rule of the country would only last a few months.

Episode: Viking Invasions  
1014   Aethelred goes into exile
 Aethelred had to abandon his country to Swein and went to Normandy to join his wife Emma and his sons.

Episode: Viking Invasions  
 Feb 3  Swein dies
 Swein Fork-Beard died. Canute left England not sure of his ability to hold the country but returned a year later. Aethelred sent ambassadors to England, including his own son Edward (later the Confessor) to negotiate a possible return.[4]

Episode: Viking Invasions  

View walkthroughs of the TimeRef Virtual Medieval Abbey reconstruction.

Village Life

Talk to a medieval girl about her life in a medieval village

Talk to Villager


Please note that this area should be showing an interactive map of events. This area will not show if you are currently using an older version of web browser. The map viewer viewer has been tested on IE9 and the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome.