Kingdom of Northumbria
The Kingdom of Northumbria was a medieval Anglian kingdom in what is now Northern England and south-east Scotland. The name derives from the Old English Norþan-hymbre meaning "the people or province north of the Humber", which reflects the approximate southern limit to the kingdom's territory, the Humber Estuary. Northumbria started to consolidate into one kingdom in the early seventh century, when the two earlier core territories of Deira and Bernicia entered into a dynastic union. At its height, the kingdom extended from the Humber, Peak District and the River Mersey on the south to the Firth of Forth on the north. Northumbria ceased to be an independent kingdom in the mid-tenth century, though a rump Earldom of Bamburgh survived around Bernicia in the north to be absorbed into the mediaeval kingdoms of Scotland and England. Today, Northumbria refers to a smaller region corresponding to the counties of Northumberland, County Durham and Tyne and Wear in North East England; the term is used in the names of some North East regional institutions the Northumbria Police, (based in Newcastle upon Tyne, the Northumbria Army Cadet Force, the regionalist Northumbrian Association.
The local Environment Agency office, located in Newcastle Business Park uses the term Northumbria to describe its area. However, the term is not the official name for the EU region of North East England; the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria was two kingdoms divided around the River Tees: Bernicia was to the north of the river and Deira to the south. It is possible that both regions originated as native British Kingdoms which the Germanic settlers conquered, although there is little information about the infrastructure and culture of the British kingdoms themselves. Much of the evidence for them comes from regional names that are British rather than Anglo-Saxon in origin; the names Deira and Bernicia are British in origin, for example, indicating that some British place names retained currency after the Anglo-Saxon migrations to Northumbria. There is some archeological evidence to support British origins for the polities of Bernicia and Deira. In what would have been southern Bernicia, in the Cheviot Hills, a hill fort at Yeavering called Yeavering Bell contains evidence that it was an important centre for first the British and the Anglo-Saxons.
The fort is pre-Roman, dating back to the Iron Age at around the first century. In addition to signs of Roman occupation, the site contains evidence of timber buildings that pre-date Germanic settlement in the area that are signs of British settlement. Moreover, Brian Hope-Taylor has traced the origins of the name Yeavering, which looks deceptively English, back to the British gafr from Bede's mention of a township called Gefrin in the same area. Yeavering continued to be an important political centre after the Anglo-Saxons began settling in the north, as King Edwin had a royal palace at Yeavering. Overall, English place-names dominate the Northumbrian landscape, suggesting the prevalence of an Anglo-Saxon elite culture by the time that Bede—one of Anglo-Saxon England's most prominent historians—was writing in the eighth century. According to Bede, the Angles predominated the Germanic immigrants that settled north of the Humber and gained political prominence during this time period. While the British natives may have assimilated into the Northumbrian political structure contemporary textual sources such as Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People depict relations between Northumbrians and the British as fraught.
The Anglo-Saxon countries of Bernicia and Deira were in conflict before their eventual semi-permanent unification in 654. Political power in Deira was concentrated in the East Riding of Yorkshire, which included York, the North York Moors, the Vale of York; the political heartlands of Bernicia were the areas around Bamburgh and Lindisfarne and Jarrow, in Cumbria, west of the Pennines in the area around Carlisle. The name that these two countries united under, may have been coined by Bede and made popular through his Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Information on the early royal genealogies for Bernicia and Deira comes from Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People and Welsh chronicler Nennius’ Historia Brittonum. According to Nennius, the Bernician royal line begins with son of Eoppa. Ida was able to annex Bamburgh to Bernicia. In Nennius’ genealogy of Deira, a king named Soemil was the first to separate Bernicia and Deira, which could mean that he wrested the kingdom of Deira from the native British.
The date of this supposed separation is unknown. The first Deiran king to make an appearance in Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum is Ælle, the father of the first Roman Catholic Northumbrian king Edwin. A king of Bernicia, Ida's grandson Æthelfrith, was the first ruler to unite the two polities under his rule, he exiled the Deiran Edwin to the court of King Rædwald of the East Angles in order to claim both kingdoms, but Edwin returned in 616 to conquer Northumbria with Rædwald's aid. Edwin, who ruled from 616 to 633, was one of the last kings of the Deiran line to reign over all of Northumbria. Oswald's brother Oswiu succeeded him to the Northumbrian throne despite initial attempts on Deira's part to pull away again. Although the Bernician line became the royal line of Northumbria
Scandinavian York or Danish/Norwegian York is a term used by historians for the south of Northumbria during the period of the late 9th century and first half of the 10th century, when it was dominated by Norse warrior-kings. Norse monarchy controlled varying amounts of Northumbria from 875 to 954, it was associated with the much longer-lived Kingdom of Dublin throughout this period. York had been founded as the Roman legionary fortress of Eboracum and revived as the Anglo-Saxon trading port of Eoforwic, it was first captured in November 866 by Ivar the Boneless, leading a large army of Danish Vikings, called the "Great Heathen Army" by Anglo-Saxon chroniclers, which had landed in East Anglia and made their way north, aided by a supply of horses with which King Edmund of East Anglia bought them off and by civil in-fighting between royal candidates in the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria between the leaders of its two sub-kingdoms. Declaring a truce, the rivals for the throne of Northumbria joined forces but failed to retake the city in March 867, with their deaths Deira came under Danish control as the Kingdom of Northumbria and the Northumbrian royal court fled north to refuge in Bernicia.
A Viking attempt against Mercia the same season failed, in 869 their efforts against Wessex were fruitless in the face of opposition from Kings Ethelred and Alfred the Great. The archbishop, seems to have temporised and collaborated with the Norse, for he was expelled from York when a Northumbrian uprising in 872 was only temporarily successful; the Viking king Guthred was buried in York Minster, a signal that he and the archbishop had reached a lasting accommodation. All the Viking coinage appears to have emanated from the mint at York, a mark of the city's unique status in Northumbria as an economic magnet. York's importance as the seat of Northumbria was confirmed when the Scandinavian warlord, headed for East Anglia, while Halfdan Ragnarsson seized power in AD 875. While the Danish army was busy in Britain, the Isle of Man and Ireland, the Swedish army was occupied with defending the Danish and Swedish homelands where Halfdan's brothers were in control. Native Danish rulers who made Jelling in Jutland the site of Gorm the Old's kingdom, were in the East Anglian kingdom.
The Five Burghs/Jarldoms were based upon the Kingdom of Lindsey and were a sort of frontier between each kingdom. King Canute the Great would "reinstall" a Norwegian dynasty of jarls in Northumbria, with a Danish dynasty of jarls in East Anglia. Northern England would continue to be a source of intrigue for the Norwegians until Harald III of Norway's death at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066 just prior to the Battle of Hastings and the Norman conquest; the Old Norse placename Konungsgurtha, Kings Court, recorded in the late fourteenth century in relation to an area outside the site of the porta principalis sinistra, the west gatehouse of the Roman encampment, perpetuated today as King's Square, which nucleates the Ainsty indicates a Viking royal palace site based on the remains of the east gate of the Roman fortress. New streets, lined by regular building fronts for timber houses were added to an enlarging city between AD 900 and 935, dates arrived at by tree-ring chronology carried out on remaining posts preserved in anaerobic clay subsoil.
The Viking kingdom was absorbed into England in 954. After the Kingdom of Northumbria was remerged, the title King of Jórvík became redundant and was succeeded by the title Earl of York, created in 960. Loss of political independence did not cramp the region's economic success: by ca 1000, the urban boom brought the city to a population total second only to that of London within Great Britain. Although some of the early Earls of York were Nordic like the Jórvík Kings, they were succeeded by Normans after the Norman conquest. William the Conqueror ended the region's last vestiges of independence and established garrisoned castles in the city; the Earldom of York was abolished by King Henry II. Between 1070 and 1085, there were occasional attempts by the Danish Vikings to recapture their Kingdom of Jórvík; the title Duke of York, a title of nobility in British peerage, was created in 1341, but was merged with the Crown when the 4th Duke became King Edward IV. Subsequently, the title of Duke of York has been given to the second son of the King or Queen.
From 1976 to 1981, the York Archaeological Trust conducted a five-year excavation in and around the street of Coppergate in central York. This demonstrated that, in the 10th century, Jórvík's trading connections reached to the Byzantine Empire and beyond: a cap made of silk survives, coins from Samarkand were familiar enough and respected enough for a counterfeit to have passed in trade. Both these items, as well as a large human coprolite known as the Lloyds Bank coprolite, were famously recovered in York a millennium later. Amber from the Baltic is expected at a Viking site and at Jórvík an impractical and symbolic axehead of amber was found. A cowrie shell indicates contact with the Persian Gulf. Christian and pagan objects have survived side-by-side taken as a sign that Christians were not in positions of authority. After the excavation, the York Archaeological Trust took the decision to recreate the excavated
Malcolm II of Scotland
Malcolm II was King of the Scots from 1005 until his death. He was a son of King Kenneth II. To the Irish annals which recorded his death, Malcolm was High King of Scotland. In the same way that Brian Bóruma, High King of Ireland, was not the only king in Ireland, Malcolm was one of several kings within the geographical boundaries of modern Scotland: his fellow kings included the king of Strathclyde, who ruled much of the south-west, various Norse-Gael kings on the western coast and the Hebrides and and most dangerous rivals, the kings or Mormaers of Moray. To the south, in the Kingdom of England, the Earls of Bernicia and Northumbria, whose predecessors as kings of Northumbria had once ruled most of southern Scotland, still controlled large parts of the southeast. Malcolm II was born to Kenneth II of Scotland, he was grandson of Malcolm I of Scotland. In 997, the killer of Constantine is credited as being son of Malcolm. Since there is no known and relevant Kenneth alive at that time, it is considered an error for either Kenneth III, who succeeded Constantine, or Malcolm himself, the son of Kenneth II.
Whether Malcolm killed Constantine or not, there is no doubt that in 1005 he killed Constantine's successor Kenneth III in battle at Monzievaird in Strathearn. John of Fordun writes that Malcolm defeated a Norwegian army "in the first days after his coronation", but this is not reported elsewhere. Fordun says that the Bishopric of Mortlach was founded in thanks for this victory over the Norwegians. Malcolm demonstrated a rare ability to survive among early Scottish kings by reigning for twenty-nine years, he was a ambitious man. Brehon tradition provided that the successor to Malcolm was to be selected by him from among the descendants of King Aedh, with the consent of Malcolm's ministers and of the church. Ostensibly in an attempt to end the devastating feuds in the north of Scotland, but influenced by the Norman feudal model, Malcolm ignored tradition and determined to retain the succession within his own line, but since Malcolm had no son of his own, he undertook to negotiate a series of dynastic marriages of his three daughters to men who might otherwise be his rivals, while securing the loyalty of the principal chiefs, their relatives.
First he married his daughter Bethoc to Crinan, Thane of The Isles, head of the house of Atholl and secular Abbot of Dunkeld. His middle daughter, was married to Finlay, Earl of Moray, Thane of Ross and Cromarty and a descendant of Loarn of Dalriada; this was risky business under the rules of succession of the Gael, but he thereby secured his rear and, taking advantage of the renewal of Viking attacks on England, marched south to fight the English. He defeated the Angles at Carham in 1018 and installed his grandson, son of the Abbot of Dunkeld and his choice as Tanist, in Carlisle as King of Cumbria that same year; the first reliable report of Malcolm II's reign is of an invasion of Bernicia in 1006 the customary crech ríg, which involved a siege of Durham. This appears to have resulted in a heavy defeat by the Northumbrians, led by Uhtred of Bamburgh Earl of Bernicia, reported by the Annals of Ulster. A second war in Bernicia in 1018, was more successful; the Battle of Carham, by the River Tweed, was a victory for the Scots led by Malcolm II and the men of Strathclyde led by their king, Owen the Bald.
By this time Earl Uchtred may have been dead, Eiríkr Hákonarson was appointed Earl of Northumbria by his brother-in-law Cnut the Great, although his authority seems to have been limited to the south, the former kingdom of Deira, he took no action against the Scots so far as is known. The work De obsessione Dunelmi claims that Uchtred's brother Eadwulf Cudel surrendered Lothian to Malcolm II in the aftermath of the defeat at Carham; this is to have been the lands between Dunbar and the Tweed as other parts of Lothian had been under Scots control before this time. It has been suggested that Cnut received tribute from the Scots for Lothian, but as he had received none from the Bernician Earls this is not probable. Cnut, reports the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, led an army into Scotland on his return from pilgrimage to Rome; the Chronicle dates this to 1031, but there are reasons to suppose that it should be dated to 1027. Burgundian chronicler Rodulfus Glaber recounts the expedition soon afterwards, describing Malcolm as "powerful in resources and arms … Christian in faith and deed."
Ralph claims that peace was made between Malcolm and Cnut through the intervention of Richard, Duke of Normandy, brother of Cnut's wife Emma. Richard died in about 1027 and Rodulfus wrote close in time to the events, it has been suggested that the root of the quarrel between Cnut and Malcolm lies in Cnut's pilgrimage to Rome, the coronation of Holy Roman Emperor Conrad II, where Cnut and Rudolph III, King of Burgundy had the place of honour. If Malcolm were present, the repeated mentions of his piety in the annals make it quite possible that he made a pilgrimage to Rome, as did Mac Bethad mac Findláich in times the coronation would have allowed Malcolm to publicly snub Cnut's claims to overlordship. Cnut obtained rather less than previous English kings, a promise of peace and friendship rather than the promise of aid on land and sea that Edgar and others had obtained; the sourc
Æthelred the Unready
Æthelred II, known as the Unready, was King of the English from 978 to 1013 and again from 1014 until his death. His epithet does not derive from the modern word "unready", but rather from the Old English unræd meaning "poorly advised". Æthelred was the son of Queen Ælfthryth. He came to the throne at about the age of 12, following the assassination of his older half-brother, Edward the Martyr, his brother's murder was carried out by supporters of his own claim to the throne, although he was too young to have any personal involvement. The chief problem of Æthelred's reign was conflict with the Danes. After several decades of relative peace, Danish raids on English territory began again in earnest in the 980s. Following the Battle of Maldon in 991, Æthelred paid Danegeld, to the Danish king. In 1002, Æthelred ordered. In 1013, King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark invaded England, as a result of which Æthelred fled to Normandy in 1013 and was replaced by Sweyn. However, he returned as king for two years after Sweyn's death in 1014.
Æthelred's 37-year reign was the longest of any Anglo-Saxon king of England, was only surpassed in the 13th century, by Henry III. Æthelred was succeeded by his son, Edmund Ironside, but he died after a few months and was replaced by Sweyn's son, Cnut. Another of his sons, Edward the Confessor, became king in 1042. Æthelred's first name, composed of the elements æðele, "noble", ræd, "counsel, advice", is typical of the compound names of those who belonged to the royal House of Wessex, it characteristically alliterates with the names of his ancestors, like Æthelwulf, Ælfred and Eadgar.Æthelred's notorious nickname, Old English Unræd, is translated into present-day English as "The Unready". The Anglo-Saxon noun unræd means "evil counsel", "bad plan", or "folly", it was most used in reference to decisions and deeds, but once in reference to the ill advised disobedience of Adam and Eve. The element ræd in unræd is the same element in Æthelred's name that means "counsel", thus Æþelræd Unræd is an oxymoron: "Noble counsel, No counsel".
The nickname has been translated as "ill-advised", "ill-prepared", thus "Æthelred the ill-advised". Because the nickname was first recorded in the 1180s, more than 150 years after Æthelred's death, it is doubtful that it carries any implications as to the reputation of the king in the eyes of his contemporaries or near contemporaries. Sir Frank Stenton remarked that "much that has brought condemnation of historians on King Æthelred may well be due in the last resort to the circumstances under which he became king." Æthelred's father, King Edgar, had died in July 975, leaving two young sons behind. The elder, was illegitimate, was "still a youth on the verge of manhood" in 975; the younger son was Æthelred, whose mother, Ælfthryth, Edgar had married in 964. Ælfthryth was the daughter of Ordgar, ealdorman of Devon, widow of Æthelwold, Ealdorman of East Anglia. At the time of his father's death, Æthelred could have been no more than 10 years old; as the elder of Edgar's sons, Edward – a young man given to frequent violent outbursts – would have succeeded to the throne of England despite his young age, had not he "offended many important persons by his intolerable violence of speech and behaviour."
In any case, a number of English nobles took to opposing Edward's succession and to defending Æthelred's claim to the throne. Both boys, Æthelred were too young to have played any significant part in the political manoeuvring which followed Edgar's death, it was the brothers' supporters, not the brothers themselves, who were responsible for the turmoil which accompanied the choice of a successor to the throne. Æthelred's cause was led by his mother and included Ælfhere, Ealdorman of Mercia and Bishop Æthelwold of Winchester, while Edward's claim was supported by Dunstan, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Oswald, the Archbishop of York among other noblemen, notably Æthelwine, Ealdorman of East Anglia, Byrhtnoth, ealdorman of Essex. In the end, Edward's supporters proved the more powerful and persuasive, he was crowned king at Kingston upon Thames before the year was out. Edward reigned for only three years. Though little is known about Edward's short reign, it is known that it was marked by political turmoil.
Edgar had made extensive grants of land to monasteries which pursued the new monastic ideals of ecclesiastical reform, but these disrupted aristocratic families' traditional patronage. The end of his firm rule saw a reversal of this policy, with aristocrats recovering their lost properties or seizing new ones; this was opposed by Dunstan, but according to Cyril Hart, "The presence of supporters of church reform on both sides indicates that the conflict between them depended as much on issues of land ownership and local power as on ecclesiastical legitimacy. Adherents of both Edward and Æthelred can be seen appropriating, or recovering, monastic lands." Favour for Edward must have been strong among the monastic communities. When Edward was killed at Æthelred's estate at Corfe Castle in Dorset in March 978, the job of recording the event, as well as reactions to it, fell to monastic writers. Stenton offers
Bernicia was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom established by Anglian settlers of the 6th century in what is now southeastern Scotland and North East England. The Anglian territory of Bernicia was equivalent to the modern English counties of Northumberland and Durham, the Scottish counties of Berwickshire and East Lothian, stretching from the Forth to the Tees. In the early 7th century, it merged with its southern neighbour, Deira, to form the kingdom of Northumbria and its borders subsequently expanded considerably. Bernicia occurs in Old Welsh poetry as Bryneich or Brynaich and in the 9th-century Historia Brittonum, as Berneich or Birneich; this was most the name of the native Brittonic kingdom, whose name was adopted by the Anglian settlers who rendered it in Old English as Bernice or Beornice. The counter hypothesis suggesting these names represent a Brythonic adaption of an earlier English form is considered less probable. Local linguistic evidence suggests continued political activity in the area before the arrival of the Angles.
Important Anglian centres in Bernicia bear names of British origin, or are known by British names elsewhere: Bamburgh is called Din Guaire in the Historia Brittonum. Analysis of a potential derivation has not produced a consensus; the most cited etymology gives the meaning as "Land of the Mountain Passes" or "Land of the Gaps". An earlier derivation from the tribal name of the Brigantes has been dismissed as linguistically unsound. In 1997 John T. Koch suggested the conflation of a probable primary form *Bernech with the native form *Brïγent for the old civitas Brigantum as a result of Anglian expansion in that territory during the 7th century; the Brythonic kingdom of the area was formed from what had once been the southern lands of the Votadini as part of the division of a supposed'great northern realm' of Coel Hen in c. AD 420; this northern realm is referred to by Welsh scholars as Yr Hen Ogledd or "The Old North". The kingdom may have been ruled from the site that became the English Bamburgh, which features in Welsh sources as Din Guardi.
Near this high-status residence lay the island of Lindisfarne, which became the seat of the Bernician bishops. It is unknown when the Angles conquered the whole region, but around 604 is likely. There are several Old Welsh pedigrees of princely "Men of the North" that may represent the kings of the British kingdom in the area, which may have been called Bryneich. John Morris surmised that the line of a certain Morcant Bulc referred to these monarchs, chiefly because he identified this man as the murderer of Urien Rheged who was, at the time, besieging Lindisfarne; some of the Angles of Bernicia may have been employed as mercenaries along Hadrian's Wall during the late Roman period. Others are thought to have migrated north from Deira in the early 6th century; the first Anglian king in the historical record is Ida, said to have obtained the throne and the kingdom about 547. His sons spent many years fighting a united force from the surrounding Brythonic kingdoms until their alliance collapsed into civil war.
Ida's grandson, Æthelfrith, united Deira with his own kingdom by force around the year 604. He ruled the two kingdoms until he was defeated and killed by Rædwald of East Anglia around the year 616. Edwin became king; the early part of Edwin's reign was spent finishing off the remaining resistance coming from the Brythonic exiles of the old British kingdom, operating out of Gododdin. After he had defeated the remaining Brythonic population of the area, he was drawn towards a similar subjugation of Elmet, which drew him into direct conflict with Wales proper. Following the disastrous Battle of Hatfield Chase on 12 October 633, in which Edwin was defeated and killed by Cadwallon ap Cadfan of Gwynedd and Penda of Mercia, Northumbria was divided back into Bernicia and Deira. Bernicia was briefly ruled by Eanfrith, son of Æthelfrith, but after about a year he went to Cadwallon to sue for peace and was killed. Eanfrith's brother Oswald raised an army and defeated Cadwallon at the Battle of Heavenfield in 634.
After this victory, Oswald appears to have been recognised by both Bernicians and Deirans as king of a properly united Northumbria. The kings of Bernicia were thereafter supreme in that kingdom, although Deira had its own sub-kings at times during the reigns of Oswiu and his son Ecgfrith. Ida son of Eoppa Glappa Ida's brother Adda son of Ida Æthelric son of Ida Theodric son of Ida Frithuwald Adda's son Hussa Adda's son Æthelfrith, son of Æthelric Under Deiran rule 616–633) Eanfrith of Bernicia son of Æthelfrith Under Oswald son of Æthelfrith, Bernicia was united with Deira to form Northumbria from 634 onward until the Viking invasion of the 9th Century. Bede, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum. Jackson, Kenneth H.. Language and History in Early Britain. Edinburgh University Press. Jackson, Kenneth H.. The Gododdin: The Oldest Scottish poem. Edinburgh: Edinburg
Eric Håkonsson was Earl of Lade, Governor of Norway and Earl of Northumbria. He was brother of the legendary Aud Haakonsdottir of Lade, he participated in the Battle of Hjörungavágr, the Battle of Svolder and the conquest of England by King Canute the Great. Eric is referred to by modern scholars, he most witnessed charters as Yric dux but his name is spelled Yric, Iric, Eiric or Eric in 11th-century Latin and Old English sources. In Old Norse sources, using normalized orthography, he is most Eiríkr jarl or Eiríkr jarl Hákonarson, but sometimes as Eirekr. Modern historians use a variant of Eiríkr/Eirik/Eric and his patronym, Hákonarson/Hakonarson/Hakonson, meaning "son of Haakon". In modern Norwegian, it would be Eirik Håkonsson; some English works prefer Eric of Norway. Principal sources on Eric's youth are Heimskringla, they relate that Eric was the son of Hákon Sigurðarson and a woman of low birth whom Hákon bedded during a sojourn in Oppland. Hákon gave him to a friend of his to raise. On one occasion when Eric was eleven or twelve years old he and his foster father had harboured their ship right next to earl Hákon.
Hákon's closest friend, Skopti and asked Eric to move away so that he could harbour next to Hákon as he was used to. When Eric refused, Hákon sternly ordered him away. Humiliated, Eric had no choice. In the following winter he avenged the humiliation by killing him; this was Eric's first exploit, as commemorated by his skald Eyjólfr dáðaskáld who mentions the incident in his Bandadrápa. The sagas say that after killing Skopti, Eric sailed south to Denmark where he was received by king Harald Bluetooth. After a winter's stay in Denmark, Harald granted Eric earldom over Romerike and Vingulmark - areas in the south of Norway long under Danish influence. In Heimskringla this information is supported with a somewhat vague verse from Bandadrápa; the Battle of Hjörungavágr was Eric's first major confrontation. The battle was fought between the earls of Lade and a Danish invasion fleet; the battle is described in the Norse kings' sagas—such as Heimskringla—as well as in Jómsvíkinga saga and Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum.
Those late literary accounts are fanciful but historians believe that they contain a kernel of truth. Some contemporary skaldic poetry alludes to the battle, including verses by Þórðr Kolbeinsson and Tindr Hallkelsson. Hákon Sigurðarson was a strong believer in the Old Norse gods, when King Harald Bluetooth attempted to force Christianity upon him, Haakon broke his allegiance to Denmark. A Danish invasion force was defeated at the battle of Hjörungavágr in 986. According to Heimskringla, Eric reconciled with his father, commanded 60 ships in the battle and emerged victorious. After the battle he gave quarter including Vagn Ákason. In 995, as Óláfr Tryggvason seized power as King of Norway, Eric was forced into exile in Sweden, he allied himself with King Olof of King Sweyn whose daughter, Gyða, he married. Using Sweden as his base he launched a series of raiding expeditions into the east. Harrying the lands of King Vladimir I of Kiev, Eric looted and burned down the town of Staraya Ladoga. There are no written continental sources to confirm or refute this but in the 1980s, Soviet archaeologists unearthed evidence which showed a burning of Ladoga in the late 10th century.
Eric plundered in western Estonia and the island of Saaremaa. According to the Fagrskinna summary of Bandadrápa he fought Vikings in the Baltic and raided Östergötland during the same time. In the Battle of Svolder in 1000, Eric and Olof, ambushed king Óláfr Tryggvason by the island of Svolder; the place cannot now be identified, as the formation of the Baltic coast has been much modified in the course of subsequent centuries. Svolder was an island on the North German coast, near Rügen. During the summer, King Olaf had been in the eastern Baltic; the allies lay in wait for him at the island of Svolder on his way home. The Norwegian king had with him seventy-one vessels, but part of them belonged to an associate, Jarl Sigvaldi, a chief of the Jomsvikings, an agent of his enemies, who deserted him. Olaf's own ships went past the anchorage of Eric and his allies in a long column without order, as no attack was expected; the king was in the rear of the whole of his best vessels. The allies allowed the bulk of the Norwegian ships to pass, stood out to attack Olaf.
Olaf refused to flee, turned to give battle with the eleven ships about him. The disposition adopted was one, found recurring in many sea-fights of the Middle Ages where a fleet had to fight on the defensive. Olaf lashed his ships side to side, his own, the Long Serpent, the finest war-vessel as yet built in the north, being in the middle of the line, where her bows projected beyond the others; the advantage of this arrangement was that it left all hands free to fight, a barrier could be formed with the oars and yards, the enemy's chance of making use of his superior numbers to attack on both sides would be, as far as possible, limited — a great point when all fighting was with the sword, or with such feeble missile weapons as bows and javelins. Olaf, in fact, turned his eleven ships into a floating fort. Norse writers, who are the main authorities, gave all the credit to the Norwegians, according to them all the intelligence of Olaf's enemies, most of their valour, were