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Aelfwine of Jórvík (The Once and Never Kings)

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Aelfwine
KingHaroldEnthroned Detail BayeuxTapestry.PNG
Aelfwine the Bastard
King of Jórvík
Reign 17 March, 1056 - 11 July, 1081
Predecessor Harald I
Successor Cnut II
Spouse Gudrid
Issue Cnut II
Aelfwine Aelfwinesson
Karl Aelfwinesson
Full name
Aelfwine Haraldsson
House Denmark (illegitimate)
Father Harald I
Mother Unknown
Born 1035
Lincoln, Jórvík(?)
Died 11 July, 1081
Jórvík, Jórvík

King Aelfwine, more commonly known as Aelfwine the Bastard, was the illegitimate son of King Harald I. His rule would be challenged several times, by both domestic and foreign adversaries, but he would solidify dynastic rule over Jórvík.

Life

Aelfwine was born in 1035, probably in Lincoln, around the end of the War of Wessexian Succession to an unknown mistress of Harald Harefoot, later King Harald I.

Initially, Aelfwine was shunned by his father, living his early life with his mother. However, when it became apparent Harald would not produce a legitimate son, he began a campaign to get Aelfwine selection as King upon his death confirmed. However, Harald was unable to effectively remove resistance to his attempts.

The death of Harald in 1056 could only be regarded as timely. His brother and legitimate heir, King Cnut III of Denmark, was embroiled in a losing war against Norway under a resurgent Fairhair dynasty. Not looking to get involved in a lost cause, the nobles of Jórvík confirmed the succession of Aelfwine.

But his succession didn't go unchallenged. The powerful and influential Ulf Knutsson, Jarl of Lindsay, declared himself the rightful king in late 1056. Initially, Aelfwine struggled to rally support for himself, but after a decisive victory in the Battle of Nottingham, defectors began changing sides from Ulf, and Ulf Knutsson was eventually captured and executed.

The victory in the civil war confirmed Aelfwines position at home, and the nobles quickly fell in line behind him. For ten years Aelfwine continued his fathers' policies of improving the administrative abilities of Jórvík. In 1066, however, Harald Hardrada, the King of Norway, decided his slim claim to Jórvíks throne. Invading in September of 1066, he occupied much of modern day coastal North Jorvikshire before meeting Aelfwine at Stamford Bridge on September 25. Aelfwine and his army would emerge victorious after Harald died in the battle, thus marking the last serious challenge to Aelfwines reign.

Not much is known about Aelfwines final fifteen years as King. Aside from a trade pact with the Kingdom of Man recorded in 1078, the next mention of Aelfwine is his death in 1081. He would be succeeded by his eldest son, Cnut, Jarl of Jórvík, who would found the House of Jórvík, making Aelfwine the last ruler of the House of Denmark.

Family

Marrying a woman named Gudrid in 1062, Aelfwine would have three children, all boys;

  • Cnut Aelfwinesson, Jarl of Jórvík and later King of Jórvík
  • Aelfwine Aelfwinesson
  • Karl Aelfwinesson

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