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'Danish Conquest of England'

The Old Boar Suffered

Date 1007 - 1012
Location England
Result Decisive Danish Victory

Jomvikings (-1010)

Supported by: Gwynedd Suðreyjar

Anglo-Saxon Forces


England (1007-) Southern Jórvík Cornwall Jomvikings (1010-)

Commanders and leaders
Styrbjörn Rögnvaldrsson

Anlaufr the Old


Sweyn Forkbeard

Cnut Sweynsson Ormar II Alfrsson Ivar II Kolbjörnsson

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Hvitserk War  Anlaufr's War  War of the Jarls


The Danish Conquest of England refers to a series of conflicts between the Kingdom of Denmark and the Kingdom of Jórvík, as well as various other states in the British Isles. The first phase of the war began with a Danish invasion under Sweyn Forkbeard, supported by several rebellious states within Jórvík, such as the Kingdom of Wessex, in what is known as the Hvitserk War. Sweyn's invasion ended with his crowning as king in 1008, of a newly created Kingdom of England.

Sweyn Forkbeard's conquest saw the uprooting of the influential Hvitserk family from power in England, however elements of the family and those loyal to it continued resistance against Sweyn long after the deposing of the king of Jórvík, Styrbjörn Rögnvaldrsson. Over the course of the next year Hvitserk forces, supported by the Kingdom of Suðreyjar and a Welsh-backed Mercian rebellion, rallied behind Anlaufr the Old, a northern noble and Styrbjörn's cousin. Sweyn's empire was short lived, as he died soon after in 1011. In the power vacuum that ensued the Anglo-Saxon Æthelred would be declared king of England, while Sweyn was succeeded by his son Harald II in Denmark. Sweyn's army however supported his son Cnut, a veteran of the conquest of England. Cnut returned to England in 1011 set on restoring his father's empire, beginning the War of the Jarls, which resulted in Cnut's ascension to the throne of England in 1012.

The Danish Conquest of England would result in Cnut the Great's establishment of the North Sea Empire, a personal union between Denmark, England, and Norway, which persisted until after his death. Cnut's descendants would continue to rule over the Kingdom of England for generations after his death, becoming the dominant family in the British Isles.




Hvitserk WarEdit

Main article: Hvitserk War (The Old Boar Suffered)

Following the conclusion of the English Brother War of 900 to 902, ruler of the Kingdom of Jórvík was retained by Sigfrið Halfdansson, and his line was preserved through his grandson Rögnvaldr. Sigfrið died around the year 920, and was succeeded by Rögnvaldr. Rögnvaldr would have three children, his third being his son Styrbjörn. Born around the year 940, Styrbjörn would be established as Rögnvaldr's heir, and would become a formidable leader during this time, ruling over part of his father's kingdom.

Guðfrið died in captivity around the year 925, but his family lived on through his first son Halfdan. Living in exile, Halfdan would frequently plan to retake his father's domain and later overthrow the descendants of Sigfrið. Halfdan's attempts however would fail, and eventually he would die in exile. His son Guðfrið would father a daughter named Þyra, who was wed to Harald Bluetooth, King of Denmark. It was Harald's son Sweyn Forkbead who would eventually lay the foundations for invasion.

Sweyn Forkbeard inherited this claim to Jórvík following the death of of his grandfather Guðfrið, and although by now a weak claim, Sweyn possessed the resources to put an invasion into action. It is during Sweyn's reign that a number of raids would be carried out in England, causing disdain between King Styrbjörn Rögnvaldrsson of Jórvík and the Danish raiders. Sweyn made alliances with many nobles in England, and was active in southern England throughout 1003 and 1004, before famine the following year forced him to return to Denmark. In 1007 a full scale invasion was launched, utilizing a large army gathered in Scandinavia.

During the period of Sweyn's invasion, southern England was ruled by Ormar II, grandson of Ormanr Guðfriðsson, and subking under Styrbjörn. Sweyn collaborated with Ormar, securing an alliance in exchange for continued rule over a larger domain. That summer Sweyn arrived by ship in southeast England, quickly raiding across East Anglia and north toward the Humber's mouth. From there he sailed up the River Trent, receiving the surrender of the Anglo-Saxon people of central England. Sweyn met up with Ormar, who had raised his banner in rebellion and had captured the southern regions of England. After a brief campaign in central England, hostages and large gold payments were received. His men were provisioned and horsed, and led north toward York. A detachment of the main invasion force broke off and was led by Sweyn's son Cnut, while a third force under Ormar marched north to surround the Jórvík forces.

The combined armies met at the Battle of Leicester days later, meeting the army of Styrbjörn Rögnvaldrsson on the field of battle. Styrbjörn was heavily outnumbered, and choice to deploy his forces in a small, dense formation around a nearby hill, with nearby woods, cut with streams and marshes, guarding their flank. Prepared to fight defensively, Styrbjörn ordered his men to form a shield wall, to protect against oncoming attacks. Meanwhile Sweyn positioned his men to the south, divided between the three armies. In the center Sweyn personally led his Danish soldiers. The left flank was led by Ormar and consisted of local Norse and English soldiers from southern England and Jórvík. The right flank was led by Sweyn's son Cnut, and consisted of a large portion of Danish soldiers. The front lines of the Danish lines was lined with archers and ranged weaponry, supported next by a line of light soldiers armed with spears. The invading cavalry was kept in reserve to exploit any weaknesses in the defending English lines if the opportunity presented itself.

The battle began with a Danish barrage on the defending lines, with the Danish archers firing uphill at the English shield wall. The attack was largely ineffective, as the defenders held strong behind their defenses, while many of the fired arrows missed their targets entirely. The Danish light spearmen charged the hill and were met by a return bombardment of stones and spears. Ultimately the spearmen would be unable to puncture the defending line, and Sweyn ordered the Danish cavalry to support his infantry. The Danish retreated back to their lines, and Styrbjörn ordered his men to charge after them, causing panic to spread through the main Danish lines. It is in that moment that Cnut rode out onto the battlefield and rallied the invading forces in the center and right armies. With the majority of the defending army now lured out of their defensive positions, Sweyn's men charged and surrounded the defenders. Outnumbered, the defending army was quickly overwhelmed. During the battle Styrbjörn would be killed by Sweyn, causing his army to panic.

The battle would prove to be a decisive victory for Sweyn Forkbeard and his invading Danish army, with Styrbjörn now dead and his army destroyed. Sweyn continued his march north, his forces capturing a number of cities and towns, as well as raiding the surrounding countryside. Sweyn received the submission of a number of surviving English leaders, while in the north resistance continued under Anlaufr Baldarsson of House Skáld, Styrbjörn's cousin who was by now in his eighties. As a result rebellion against Sweyn's rule continued for many years afterword.

Later that year Sweyn surrounded and besieged the city of Jórvík itself, the capital of the kingdom and the center of resistance to Danish rule. After a brief siege the city would fall to Sweyn, and on 25 December he would be crowned King of England. As king war continued between Sweyn and Anlaufr, who established a rival government in the north of Jórvík.

Anlaufr's WarEdit

Main article: Anlaufr's War (The Old Boar Suffered)

In the aftermath of Sweyn Forkbeard's conquest of England, the majority of the nation had sworn fealty to the invaders, while the main resistance remained in Northumbria, the center of the late Styrbjörn's former power, led by his cousin Anlaufr. In spring 1008 Anlaufr led an army to surround and besiege the city of Durham, forcing Sweyn to march north with an army and relieve the siege, which was just north of the city of Jórvík. Although suffering a large number of casualties, Sweyn would successfully end the siege, the remaining rebel army retreating into the north. Over the course of the next year Sweyn would hunt down Anlaufr, who led a number of raids in the north. At the same time a rebellion arose in Mercia, supported by the nation of Gwyneddin Wales. Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall would all also be raided from the sea by allies of the old regime in Jórvík, who had fled to Suðreyjar and settlements in Ireland.

The majority of the rebels would be crushed by Sweyn Forkbeard by 1009. Sweyn would construct a number of forts for local garrisons loyal to him to station in and monitor regions of his new kingdom. Despite this, a large rebellion arose in early 1009, consisting of forces who had fled to Scotland. Sweyn pursued the rebellions into the city of Jórvík, slaughtering them and killing Anlaufr in the carnage. A second major fort would be constructed outside the city, allowing the city to crush a second minor rebellion later that year without Sweyn's assistance.

An army from Ireland and Suðreyjar landed in southern England, and was crushed by Ivar II Kolbjörnsson of Cornwall and Ormar II. After a series of brief battles the invaders would be crushed. At the same time a renewed rebellion in Mercia supported by their Welsh allies would be put down by Sweyn Forkbeard by the end of 1009.

War of the JarlsEdit

Main article: War of the Jarls (The Old Boar Suffered)

In 1011 Sweyn Forkbeard died unexpectedly, and his body was sent back to Denmark to be buried. Sweyn was succeeded as King of Denmark by his elder son, Harald II, but the Danish government and military established in England by Sweyn proclaimed his younger son Cnut as king. In the chaos of this transition however, an Anglo-Saxon rebellion broke out, in which a former nobleman named Æthelred declared himself king and began ravaging central England. Cnut began preparing an army immediately in Denmark, before sailing to southern southern England to support those loyal to him.

Known as the War of the Jarls, the war was fought between the last English or Norse jarls in England from before Sweyn Forkbeard's conquest, in rebellion against Cnut. A number of jarldoms across England raised their flag in rebellion, while those loyal to the Danish mobilized to defend their realms. In early 1012 Cnut landed on the shores of England with an army of approximately 10,000 Danish warriors and 200 longships. Cnut was then met by several thousand local warriors and deserters, most notably the Jomvikings, who had originally resisted Sweyn Forkbeard.