English and British monarchs Part 2, 978AD – 1066AD House of Wessex and Denmark

English and British monarchs Part 2, 978AD – 1066AD House of Wessex and Denmark

The House of Wessex, also known as the House of Cerdic (Cerdicingas in Old English), refers to the family that initially ruled a kingdom in southwest England known as Wessex, from the 6th century under Cerdic of Wessex until the unification of the Kingdoms of England by Alfred the Great and his successors.

The Danish House of Knýtlinga (English: “House of Cnut’s Descendants”) was a ruling royal house in Middle Age Scandinavia and England. Its most famous king was Cnut the Great, who gave his name to this dynasty. Other notable members were Cnut’s father Sweyn Forkbeard, grandfather Harald Bluetooth, and sons Harthacnut, Harold Harefoot, and Svein Knutsson. It has also been called the House of Canute, the House of Denmark, the House of Gorm, or the Jelling dynasty.

Æthelred the Unready

Reign
18 March 978 – 1013 (first time)
1014 – 23 April 1016 (second time)

Born
966

Died
23 April 1016 (aged about 50)
London, England

Burial
Old St Paul’s Cathedral, London

Wives
1 Ælfgifu of York

2 Emma of Normandy

Children
1 Æthelstan Ætheling (No Image Available)
2 Ecgberht Ætheling (No Image Available)
3 Edmund Ironside
4 Eadred Ætheling (No Image Available)
5 Eadwig Ætheling (No Image Available)
6 Edgar Ætheling (No Image Available)
7 Eadgyth or Edith (No Image Available)
8 Ælfgifu (No Image Available)
9 Wulfhild(No Image Available)

10 Edward the Confessor

11 Ælfred Ætheling
12 Goda of England or Godgifu (No Image Available)

House
of
Wessex

Father
Edgar, King of England

Mother
Ælfthryth

Æthelred came to the throne at about the age of 12, following the assassination of his older half-brother, Edward the Martyr. His brother’s murder was carried out by supporters of his own claim to the throne, although he was too young to have any personal involvement.

The chief problem of Æthelred’s reign was conflict with the Danes. After several decades of relative peace, Danish raids on English territory began again in earnest in the 980s.

Following the Battle of Maldon in 991, Æthelred paid tribute, or Danegeld, to the Danish king. In 1002, Æthelred ordered what became known as the St. Brice’s Day massacre of Danish settlers.

In 1013, King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark invaded England, as a result of which Æthelred fled to Normandy in 1013 and was replaced by Sweyn. However, he returned as king for two years after Sweyn’s death in 1014. Æthelred’s 37 year reign was the longest of any Anglo Saxon king of England, and was only surpassed in the 13th century, by Henry III.

Sweyn Forkbeard

King of England
1013–1014

Born
960
Denmark

Died
3 February 1014
Gainsborough, Lincolnshire

Burial
Roskilde Cathedral
or St. Trinity in Lund

Wives
1 Swietoslawa

2 Sigrid the Haughty

3 Gunhild of Wenden

Children
1 Harald II of Denmark
2 Cnut the Great
3 Estrid Svendsdatter
4 Gytha
5 Gunnhild
6 Santslaue (No Image Available)
7 Thyra

House
of
Denmark Knytlinga

Father
Harald Bluetooth

Mother
Tove of the Obotrites

Religion
Chalcedonian Christianity

Sweyn’s father, Harald Bluetooth, was the first of the reigning Scandinavian kings to be baptised, in the 960s. In the mid-980s, Sweyn revolted against his father and seized the throne. Harald was driven into exile and died shortly afterwards in November 986 or 987

King Sweyn enlisted priests and bishops from England. Numerous converted priests of Danish origin from the Danelaw lived in England. There are records Sweyn’s involvement in raids against England during 1002–1005, 1006–1007, and 1009– 1012 to avenge the St. Brice’s Day massacre of England’s Danish inhabitants in November 1002.

Sweyn campaigned in Wessex and East Anglia in 1003–1004, but a famine forced him to return to Denmark in 1005. Further raids took place in 1006–1007 and in 1009–1012 Thorkell the Tall led a Viking invasion into England.

Based in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, Sweyn began to organise his vast new kingdom, but he died there on 3 February 1014, having ruled England for only five weeks. His embalmed body was returned to Denmark for burial in the church he had built. Tradition locates this church in Roskilde, but it is more plausible that it was actually located in Lund in Scania (Sweden).

Edmund Ironside

Born
990

Died
30 November 1016 (aged 26)

Reign
23 April – 30 November 1016

Burial
Glastonbury Abbey

Wife
Ealdgyth

Children
1 Edward the Exile
2 Edmund Ætheling

Father
Æthelred the Unready

Mother
Ælfgifu of York

Edmund was not expected to be King however by 1014 two elder brothers had died, making him the oldest male heir. His father, was usurped by Sweyn Forkbeard in that same year, but Sweyn died shortly thereafter, paving the way for Æthelred and his family to return to the throne.

In the process they forced Sweyn’s son, Cnut, back to Denmark, where he assembled an invasion force to reconquer England. It would not arrive for another year.

People who had sided with the Danes in 1014 were punished, and some were killed. In one case, two brothers, Morcar and Sigeferth, were killed and their possessions, along with Sigferth’s wife, were taken by Edmund. Edmund unofficially became the Earl of the East Midlands and took Ealdgyth for his wife.

Cnut returned to England in August 1015. Over the next few months, Cnut pillaged most of England. Edmund joined Æthelred to defend London but he died on 23 April 1016, making Edmund King.

It was not until the summer of 1016 that any serious fighting was done Edmund fought five battles against the Danes, ending in his defeat on 18 October fter which they agreed to divide the kingdom, Edmund taking Wessex and Cnut the rest of the country. Edmund died shortly afterwards on 30 November

Cnut the Great

King of England
1016–1035

Born
995
Denmark

Died
12 November 1035 (aged 40)
Shaftesbury, Dorset, England

Burial
Old Minster, Winchester, England.

Wives
1 Ælfgifu of Northampton
2 Emma of Normandy

Children
1 Svein Knutsson (No Image Available)
2 Harold Harefoot
3 Harthacnut
4 Gunhilda of Denmark

House
of
Knýtlinga Denmark

Father
Sweyn Forkbeard

Mother
unknown which wife

Religion
Catholic

As a Danish prince, Cnut won the throne of England in 1016 in the wake of centuries of Viking activity in northwestern Europe. His latter accession to the Danish throne in 1018 brought the crowns of England and Denmark together.

Cnut sought to keep this power-base by uniting Danes and English under cultural bonds of wealth and custom as well as through sheer brutality. After a decade of conflict with opponents in Scandinavia, Cnut claimed the crown of Norway in Trondheim in 1028.

The Swedish city Sigtuna was held by Cnut. Dominion of England lent the Danes an important link to the maritime zone between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, where Cnut, like his father before him, had a strong interest and wielded much influence among the Norse–Gaels.

Cnut’s possession of England’s dioceses and the continental Diocese of Denmark with a claim laid upon it by the Holy Roman Empire’s Archdiocese of Hamburg Bremen was a source of great prestige and leverage within the Catholic Church and among the magnates of Christendom.

King Canute and the tide….

After his 1026 victory against Norway and Sweden, and on his way back from Rome where he attended the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor, Cnut, in a letter written for the benefit of his subjects, deemed himself “King of all England and Denmark and the Norwegians and of some of the Swedes”.

The Anglo-Saxon kings used the title “king of the English”. Cnut was ealles Engla landes cyning” king of all England”. Medieval historian’s have called him “the most effective king in Anglo-Saxon history”

Harold Harefoot

Consort
Ælfgifu (No Image Available)

Illegitimate son
Ælfwine (No Image Available)

Reign
12 November 1035 – 17 March 1040

Born
1016
Died
17 March 1040
Oxford

Burial
St. Clement Danes,
Westminster, England

Father
King Cnut

Mother
Ælfgifu of Northampton

Religion
Catholicism

Harold’s nickname “Harefoot” is first recorded as “Harefoh” or “Harefah” according to late medieval chroniclers it meant that he was fleet of foot. The son of Cnut the Great and Ælfgifu of Northampton, Harold was elected regent of England, following the death of his father in 1035.

He was initially ruling England in place of his brother Harthacnut, who was stuck in Denmark due to a rebellion in Norway, which ousted their brother Svein. Although Harold had wished to be crowned king since 1035, Æthelnoth the Archbishop of Canterbury, refused.

It was not until 1037 that Harold, supported by earl Leofric and many others, was officially proclaimed king. The same year Harold’s two step-brothers Edward and Alfred returned to England with a considerable military force, Alfred was captured by earl Godwin, who had him seized and delivered to an escort of men loyal to Harefoot. While en route to Ely he was blinded and soon after died of his wounds

Harold died in 1040, having ruled just five years his half-brother Harthacnut returned and took the kingdom peacefully. Harold was buried in Westminster, but Harthacnut had his body dragged up and thrown into a “fen” (marsh) then thrown into the river Thames, but it was after a short time picked up by a fisherman and taken to the Danes, and was honourably buried by them in their cemetery at London.

Harthacnut

Reign
17 March 1040 – 8 June 1042

Born
1018
England

Died
8 June 1042 (aged 23–24)
Lambeth, England

Burial
Winchester Cathedral, England

House
of
Knýtlinga Denmark

Father
Cnut

Mother
Emma of Normandy

Harthacnut (Danish Hardeknud “Tough-knot”) sometimes referred to as Canute III, was King of Denmark from 1035 to 1042 and King of England from 1040 to 1042. He was the son of King Cnut the Great (who ruled Denmark, Norway, and England) and Emma of Normandy.

When Cnut died in 1035, Harthacnut struggled to retain his father’s possessions. Magnus I took control of Norway, but Harthacnut succeeded as King of Denmark and became King of England in 1040 after the death of his half-brother Harold Harefoot.

He died in 1042. Magnus I of Norway visited the court of Harthacnut in Denmark. The two monarchs argued on a matter of etiquette, on whether the host or the guest should drink first. The two eventually agreed that the host should drink first.

Then Ælfgifu of Northampton entered the royal hall, welcoming Magnus. She poured a drink for him. But the guest offered the drink to Harthacnut. He drank from the drinking horn and fell dead, poisoned. Álfífa had intended to poison Magnus, but accidentally killed Harthacnut instead. She fled to escape punishment.

Saint
Edward the Confessor

Reign
8 June 1042 – 5 January 1066

Coronation
3 April 1043, Winchester Cathedral

Born
1003
Islip, Oxfordshire, England

Died
5 January 1066 (aged about 63)
London, England

Burial
Westminster Abbey, England

Wife
Edith of Wessex

House
of
Wessex

Father
Æthelred the Unready

Mother
Emma of Normandy

Edward succeeded Cnut the Great’s son and his own half brother – Harthacnut, restoring the rule of the House of Wessex after the period of Danish rule since Cnut (better known as Canute) conquered England in 1016.

Some portray Edward the Confessor’s reign as leading to the disintegration of royal power in England and the advance in power of the House of Godwin, due to the infighting that began after his heirless death.

On the other hand, he is also portrayed as a successful king, one who was energetic, resourceful and sometimes ruthless they argue that the Norman conquest shortly after his death tarnished his image.

About a century later Pope Alexander III canonised the late king. Saint Edward was one of England’s national saints until King Edward III adopted Saint George as the national patron saint in about 1350. Saint Edward’s feast day is 13 October, celebrated by both the Church of England and the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Edward’s Norman sympathies are most clearly seen in the major building project of his reign, Westminster Abbey, the first Norman Romanesque church in England. This was commenced between 1042 and 1052 as a royal burial church, consecrated on 28 December 1065, completed after his death in about 1090, and demolished in 1245 to make way for Henry III’s new building, which still stands.

In October 1065 Harold’s brother, Tostig, the earl of Northumbria, was hunting with the king when his thegns in Northumbria rebelled against his rule, which they claimed was oppressive, and killed some 200 of his followers.

Edward was forced to submit to his banishment, and the humiliation may have caused a series of strokes which led to his death. He died on 5 January 1066.

Harold Godwinson

Reign
5 January – 14 October 1066

Born
1022ad
Wessex, England

Died
14 October 1066 (aged 43/44)
near Senlac Hill, Sussex, England

Wives
1 Edith the Fair
2 Edith of Mercia