War Paint (Part 6): Battle of Clontarf

Part 6 in a 10 part series.

The Battle of Clontarf took place on April 23rd, 1014. It was fought between the forces of Brian Boru, Ireland’s greatest figure of the Middle Ages, and a rival king in rebellion, Máel Mórda. Máel Mórda’s side was aided by the Dublin Vikings, long a power in the area, while Boru had various other kings in support. The battle resulted in a rout of Mórda’s forces, the eventual diminishing of Viking influence in Ireland and, perhaps most importantly, the death of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland.

Ireland was a very fractured place at this time. There were numerous Kings and endless clan politics dominated life. Mórda had risen up a few years earlier, but a tentative peace had been agreed upon. He began enlisting the aid of numerous clans who would like to see Boru deposed. He also enlisted the aid of Sigtrygg Silkbeard and the Dublin Vikings, who then called in help from Orkney and the Isle of Man. The battle would go back and forth over the course of the day, Good Friday. Brian’s forces eventually got the upper hand and the Vikings fled. Their retreat was cut off and nearly all of the Viking leadership was killed in the process.

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On This Day in 1014: Sweyn Forkbeard, King of Denmark, Norway and England Dies

Sweyn Forkbeard, possibly being murdered in his sleep by St Edmund. 13th century, artist unknown.

Sweyn Forkbeard, possibly being murdered in his sleep by St Edmund. 13th century, artist unknown.

One thousand years ago today…

…Sweyn Forkbeard, son of Harald Bluetooth, father of Cnut the Great, died of causes yet to be agreed upon. By the time of his death, he had set the groundwork for a great maritime power known as The North Sea Empire, to be ruled by his son. He ruled over Denmark, his territorial homeland, Norway, and for a period of five weeks, England (becoming the first Viking king of that country).

The cause of death is uncertain. Some say he fell from a horse. Others say he was murdered in his sleep by St. Edmund. He died in Gainsborough in Lincolnshire. As if being a Viking king weren’t epic enough, he may have been murdered by a ghost saint!

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1014: An Introduction

Alfonso V of León. Date and artist unknown. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Alfonso V of León. Date and artist unknown. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Hello, again. I wanted to take a minute to explain my new series in a bit more detail. It’s called 1014, and will take a look at the world of the year 1014. It was born out of the impending over-coverage of World War I, in this year, the centenary of the conflict’s buildup and commencement. I realized I’d never been through an anniversary of anything major. While the hailing and lauding of the Great War is well-deserved, what the hell happened in 1014?

In the series I plan to look at the key events, star players and major empires that shaped the world of 1014. It was an age of Viking conquest and exploration. Wars raged from the Balkans to the British Isles. Empires were rising and falling across the globe. I’ll be posting on the 1000th anniversary of any of the key dates, though exact dates are often hard to come by. Otherwise I’ll be posting two or three times a month on various topics from the period.

There’s a lot to cover and I don’t plan to do it alone. The idea for this series is that it will be a collaboration. I’ve got a few guest contributors with knowledge on some of the key events lined up. I’ll also be looking to re-blog as much as possible. If you’ve got any info or content you’d like to share or would like to write a post, I’d love to hear from you. Whether it be a biography on Alfonso V of León, a study on farming techniques in medieval India or a post on siege warfare of the 11th century, I’m interested.

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