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Sweyn Estrithsson

Sweyn Estrithsson (d.1074), king of Denmark (1047–74). Overshadowed by the energy and glamour of his rival Harold Hardrada, king of Norway, Sweyn nevertheless contributed mightily to the stabilization of the Danish monarchy and at various stages posed a significant threat to the rulers of England. The son of Cnut's sister Estrith and Jarl Ulf ( Earl Godwine's brother-in-law), Sweyn was actively interested in English affairs in the 1040s when two of his brothers, Beorn and Osbern, were prominent among the Anglo-Danish nobility at the court of Edward the Confessor. Concentration on Danish security after 1047 precluded serious prosecution of a claim to the English throne as Cnut's heir but Sweyn's existence as a possible heir to the childless Edward and his powerful Danish fleet made him a consistent element in the tangled northern politics of the age. After the death of Harold Hardrada at Stamford Bridge in September 1066 and the subsequent Norman conquest of England, Sweyn came to the forefront of English politics. In 1069 he sent a huge fleet which sacked York, inflicting a rare defeat on the Normans. He intervened in person in the spring of 1070 in Humberside and off the East Anglian coast in support of Hereward's resistance at Ely. William, however, came to terms, more or less buying him off, and Sweyn's death on 28 April 1074 signals a virtual end to any revival of Cnut's Anglo-Danish kingdom.

Henry Loyn

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