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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Vol. I. Poetry for Scandinavian Rulers 1: From Mythological Times to c. 1035

1. Knútr inn ríki Sveinsson (r. 1014-1035)
2. Sveinn tjúguskegg Haraldsson (r. 986-1014)

(Vol. I. Poetry for Scandinavian Rulers 1: From Mythological Times to c. 1035 > 8. Volume Introduction > 4. Biographies > 4.1. Ruler biographies > 4.1.b. Kings of Denmark > 2. Sveinn tjúguskegg Haraldsson (r. 986-1014))

2. Sveinn tjúguskegg Haraldsson (r. 986-1014)

Sveinn tjúguskegg ‘Fork-beard’, son of Haraldr blátǫnn Gormsson, reigned over Denmark and enjoyed intermittent control over south-east Norway. With his stepson, the Swedish king Óláfr Eiríksson, and his son-in-law Eiríkr jarl Hákonarson of Norway, he won a decisive victory against Óláfr Tryggvason at Svǫlðr c. 1000. He made large-scale raids on England for two decades from the early 990s onwards, exacting massive Danegeld payments. He was formally accepted as ruler of England in 1013, reigning briefly until his death in 1014 (see further Lund 1993). See Theodoricus (MHN 23-4; McDougall and McDougall 1998, 18); HN (MHN 117-21; Kunin and Phelpstead 2001, 21-4); Ágr (ÍF 29, 22-4; Ágr 2008, 20-1); Fsk (ÍF 29, 124-5, 146-53, 163, 166; Finlay 2004, 96-8, 115-21, 130, 132); Hkr (ÍF 26, 272-4, 302, 340-3, 349-54, 357, 359, 370-2, ÍF 27, 13-14; Hollander 1964a, 174-5, 195, 224-6, 228-36, 244, 251); Knýtl (ÍF 35, 96-9). Sveinn also figures in the ASC and the works of Adam of Bremen and Thietmar of Merseburg. Skáldatal (SnE 1848-87, III, 258, 267, 282) names only Óttarr svarti (Ótt) as a skald of Sveinn.

Events documented in poetry: Sveinn deceived by Sigvaldi jarl (Stefnir Lv 1; OSnorr Lv); the battle of Svǫlðr c. 1000 (see Biography of Óláfr Tryggvason); military exploits in England (Þjsk Sveindr); Sveinn’s death (ÞKolb Eirdr 10). Sveinn himself is credited with a stanza about Þorleifr jarlsskáld’s revenge against Hákon jarl (Svtjúg Lv).

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