Sveinn Tjuguskegg, ( Forkbeard O.N. ), was born around 960 A.C.E in Denmark, the son of Harald Bluetooth, and Gyrid Olafsdottir. Harald was the first king of Scandinavia to officially accept Christianity, ( further discrediting what Adam of Bremen says ). Sweyn was actually baptised , and given the name Otto I, but there is no record that he ever used this baptismal name. The unreliable Adam of Bremen says that Sweyn was exiled for up to 14 years in England, but I do not see how this is possible when Sweyn was in Denmark building churches during this time, and was leading raids against the country he was supposedly exiled in, England. If he was exiled it was probably for a much shorter period of time.
Sweyn is said to have married Gunhild of Wenden, and some sources, The Norse Sagas, say that he was also married to Sigrid the Haughty as well. His children included, Harald II, Cnut the Great, and a daughter, Estrid Swensdottir. In 987 A.C.E., when his father, Harald Bluetooth died, Sweyn became the King of Denmark. In 1000 A. C. E. because of his allegiance with Jarl Eirik of the Tronds, he also ruled over most of Norway as well.
To avenge the St. Brices day massacre of Danes living in England, Sweyn began raiding the English coast line from 1002 - 1012 A.C.E. . These raids allowed him to fill his treasury with great amounts of Danegeld. In 1013 he led a full scale invasion of England, with his son Cnut. Sweyn quickly subdued the inhabitants and many of the boroughs gave Sweyn hostages along with their oath of allegiance. Sweyn then left the hostages with his son Cnut and his smaller force, and took his main force south where most towns submitted to him rather easily, and gave up hostages as well.
The final stand of the English was in London where King Aethelred, with the help of the Jomsviking Thorkell the Tall, who changed sides rather often, held out for some time against Sweyn and his Danes. As more towns gave in, however, the Londoners began to see the futility of their resistance , and feared retribution if they continued to hold out. They too gave in to the powerful Danish warriors in 1013 A.C.E.. King Aethelred, and his sons, went into exile, while Thorkell the Tall looked for other fights to join in. King Aethelred did return, and that story I told in my article on Cnut the Great.
On Christmas Day, 1013 A.C.E., Sweyn Forkbeard was officially recognized as the King of England. Unfortunately his rule did not last long, as he died on February 3, 1014. His body was taken back to Denmark and buried in the church he had built in Roskilde. His son Harald II became his successor, and King of Denmark, but the Danish army in England was loyal to Cnut the Great and proclaimed Cnut as the King of England. That is also part of the story I told about Cnut that I posted on 3/30/2012.
King Sweyn Forkbeard was a great Scandinavian King of the late Viking Age. He was the king and ruler of Denmark, England and parts of Norway. He was a warrior king, leader of varied peoples, and man of religion, ( though I feel he chose the wrong one ), who accomplished many things in a short period of time. Though not remembered as well as the two King Olav's, Jarl Haakon, or even his son Cnut the Great, he was a king who rose above all others in the region, and his name will be remembered for his deeds for all time !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !