Eric had such a great army that five kings followed him because he was a valiant man and a battle winner. He trusted in himself and his strength so much that he went far up country and everywhere he went with warfare.
- The Fagrskinna Saga
Eric was an awesome character who lived up to his name, brawny, bewhiskered, brave and the proud possessor of a big axe. He was one of the last pagan kings in England, with a violent temperament and a habit of taking what he wanted wherever he found it. His pedigree was good, being the son of the King of western Norway and married to Ozursdottir Gunnhild1, the daughter of the King of Denmark.
Eric fled to England after his failed attempt to seize the Norwegian crown in 935 (he had been slowly improving his chances by taking up the mostly harmless hobby of fratricide). Upon arriving in England he made such an impression (by raiding in Scotland and such like) that by 947 he was elected King of Northumbria2, holding court in the hip and happening city of Jorvik (York). From there with the support of a kindred spirit in the form of Archbishop (of Jorvik/York) Wulfstan he resisted Saxon claims to the North for a short while but in 948 the Saxon King Eadred managed to dislodge and expel Eric.
At this point Eric went off adventuring but he returned to England in 952 and once again took over the North. It took two years for King Eadred to regain control of the North but in 954 Eric, his son Haeric and his brother Ragnald were killed3 at the battle of Stainmoor thus ending for good the Scandinavian royal tradition in Jorvik.
Eric's Name - Traditional Spellings
It should be noted that there are several spellings of Eric's name, the modern version has been used throughout this text but for completeness sake here are all the spellings you should look for when doing further research on Eric Bloodaxe:
- Eric Bloodaxe
- Eric Blooaxe
- Erik Blooaxe
- Eirik Blooaxe
- EirÝkr blˇ°x
The same is true of other people mentioned in this text, for instance the wife of Eric, Ozursdottir Gunnhild could have her name spelt as Ozursottir Gunnhil, his son Haeric could have his name spelt HŠric and Ragnald, his brother could also be spelt Ragnal.