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Erik Bloodaxe

Erik Bloodaxe (d. 954), king of York (947–54). Erik was the last Scandinavian ruler of the short-lived kingdom of York. Son of Harold Fairhair of Norway, he was a typical battle-leader. Expelled from his native land, he made himself master of York in 947, and was welcomed for the protection he offered against the West Saxon advance, particularly by archbishop Wulfstan. He was soon dispossessed by Edred but returned in 952. Significantly his coinage for Jorvik (York) shows an unsheathed sword. In 954 he was killed at Stainmore, possibly making for the Norse kingdom of Dublin or for the Isles. York was then absorbed into the developing kingdom of England. ‘Hot-headed, harsh, unfriendly and silent’ was a saga description: ‘he ruled from York … under the helmet of his terror.’

J. A. Cannon

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