10 Mighty Viking Leaders

Note that Viking leaders are not the same as King of Sweden / Norway or Scandinavia. Several of them lived and ruled in countries and areas outside Scandinavia, but they all had Danish, Swedish or Norwegian origin.

The list is sorted in order of power / importance

1. Canute the Great, Knut den Store [995 – 1035].

Knut was the son of Sven Tveskägg (see #6 below) and his first wife Gunhild

Canute the Great
Canute the Great, born about 995 in Denmark, died in 1035 in Shaftesbury in Dorset, England, King of England from 1016, King of Denmark from 1018 and King of Norway from 1028, as well as governor of Schleswig and Pomerania

Even though he was not the eldest son of the king, he managed to conquer a huge kingdom. Knut was so powerful that the Church did not even dare object to the fact that he had two wives: one in the North and one in England. He strengthened the trade in his huge kingdom by reforming the currency system.

Without the help of his younger brother, Harald II of Denmark, Knut’s Viking empire had probably remained a dream. Knut’s sons lived not very many years after his father’s death, and his mighty kingdom is therefore quickly broken.

2. Rollo Gengu-Hrólfr [846-932]

The name he got because he was so big that no horse could bear him. Gengu-Hrolf means “Rolf who walked”. The Viking chief ruled so wildly in the Franconian kingdom that his enemies gave him Normandy.

In 911 he founded the Normandy Empire in northern France and became Count of Rouen. He is sometimes counted as the first duke over Normandy, even though the title first came to his successor. As a payment for Normandy, Rollo was forced to swear loyalty to the Franconians and let himself be baptized.

Kingdom of Rollo

3. Leif Eriksson Leifr Eiríksson [970-1020]

Leif Eriksson was the son of Erik Röde (see #7 below) and the first European to discover and name Greenland.

He sailed from Greenland to America around 1000 – about 500 years before Columbus (but some historians believe that the islander Bjarni Herjólfsson may have reached America about 15 years before Leif)

4. Ragnar Lodbrok [9th Century ]

He was Danish, son of a Svea-king called Sigurd Ring. According to the stories, he was named Lodbrok because he wear a protective variety of wolf shorts pants impregnated with beck as a protection to snakes.

Ragnar from the TV-series Vikings

He went to Paris in 845 with 5,000 men and forced the Franconians to pay 7,000 pounds of silver. After Ragnar’s death, the sons divided the North between themselves, so that, among other things, Sigurd Ormiöga get Denmark and Björn Järnsida get Sweden.

5. Björn Järnsida [9th Century]

Attended with his father, Ragnar Lodbrok, the conquest of Paris. He also sailed out in 859 and was one of the first vikings in the Mediterranean. According to the story, Björn received his nickname Ironside (Järnsida) because he was never injured in battle. He thought to rob the mighty Rome but instead took over the city of Luna in Italy.


6. Sven Tveskägg Sven Haraldsson [960-1014]

Son of Harald Blåtand. King of Denmark 985-992 and 993-1014, King of England 1013-1014. In a short period of 992-993, Sven lost the Danish crown to the Swedish king Erik Segersäll that initiated a conquest of Denmark as revenge for Svens’s support for his rival Styrbjörn Starke in the battle of Fyrisvallarna. However, he regained the Danish crown 993 when Erik became ill.

Sven was the first viking who conquered England. The Danish Vikings won in a bloody civil war and then conquered large parts of England and scared away Anglo-Saxon king Ethelred II. In February 1014, Sven Tveskägg suddenly died, probably poisoned.

7. Erik Röde Thorvaldsson [950-1007

Erik Röde (the Red) was born in Norway. His father, Torvald Åsvaldsson, was sentenced outcast and emigrated to the West Fjords in Iceland along with his son. Erik Röde discovered Greenland in 982, after a three year long journey west from Iceland and later became king there. He reside on the farm Brattahlíð in Österbygden in Greenland. He would have accompany Leif Eriksson’s (se #3 above) trip to America but dropped off the horse and stayed at home.

8. Harald Hårfager, Haraldr Hárfagri [850-932]

Son of Halvdan Svarte was the first king to rule all over Norway. He won many battles and also included Värmland and Dalsland, and the island of Orkney and current Shetland to his kingdom.

He was known to steer the land with hard hand, which caused many Norwegian nobility / clan leaders to flee or move to Jämtland and Hälsingland in Sweden, as well as across the sea to the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Scotland and Ireland. Harald with his ruling then hurried on the colonization of those areas.

The name Hårfagri (hår = Hair, fagri = fair) he got because he did not cut his hair in 10 years. He was challenged by his fiancée Gyda Eiriksdotter who wondered why he was not king over the whole of Norway. He promised not to cut his hair until he had conquered all parts of the country. It took 10 years. When he had passed the task (in872) they got married.

9. Gorm the Old Gorm Hardeknutsson [910-958]

Son of Knut I, Hardeknut. According to the runestone in Jelling, Gorm Denmark become the first king of a united Denmark.

10. Harald Blåtand Harald Gormsson [930 – 986]

Son of Gorm the old. Introduced Christianity in Denmark and built four major Viking towns. Conquered Norway. Harald declared war 986 against his son Sven Tveskägg, who tried to take power. Harald lost and was forced to flee from his own kingdom. He died from wounds from the battle.

Among other things, he was known for his diplomatic negotiations, which made it possible for different parties to negotiate with each other. In addition, he had good communication skills

Harald Blåtand (=Blue tooth) has named the Bluetooth communication standard. The reason for choosing the name Bluetooth was that Jim Kardach from Intel had read a story book about just Harald Blåtand and thought it was a fitting name to tie up the work-group consisting of members from Intel, IBM, Ericsson and Nokia, all of blue LOGO. The symbols in the logo is the runes H and B

Rune H
Rune B
Rune H

More about Vikings and Monarchs