(About): Our Tribute to the Legendary Norse King Sweyn Forkbeard
Before William the Conqueror was even born, a different King conquered England, forging a North Sea Empire uniting the crowns of Denmark and Norway with his new prize. His name was Sweyn Forkbeard, a Danish noble whom history has tragically overlooked – but we at Medieval Ware can do our part to rescue him from obscurity! We have named our Forkbeard Leather Armor after King Sweyn (but you may also know this piece as “Ragur”), and it is a fitting tribute to the expansionist Viking warlord.
Rugged Armor for a Rough Viking
Our Forkbeard Leather Armor is deceptively simple. Made from strips of upper leather, woven together into a flexible, robust sleeveless tunic, it is stitched and hemmed with tough suede, meaning it won’t catch or snag on other armor or weaponry in the heat of the action. The sides of this Viking leather torso armor secure under the armpit with ten (!) secure straps – these are fully independently adjustable, so it will fit a wide range of body types snugly. A deep slash in the front of the armor keeps you wholly mobile whilst retaining protection for your thighs; its length extends roughly to mid-thigh on most. It is available in either brown or black, allowing for a perfect match with the colour-scheme of your outfit. The designers at Mytholon are always conscious of the needs of roleplayers and re-enactors, and so our Forkbeard L
eather Armor has been designed to be worn either over cloth as a standalone piece of armor, or over chainmail for added protection.
This leather armor torso is a fantastic piece of LARP equipment or stage wear. It is an instantly recognisable design, similar overlapping woven designs having been made popular by the fantastical portrayals of Vikings in modern TV series like the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok in History Channel’s Vikings. Frustratingly, there is little evidence that Vikings ever wore Viking armor, so many sticklers for historical accuracy tend to frown a little at the prevalence of leather torso armor when portraying Vikings – but they remain universally popular and an excellent go-to for LARP costumes and fantasy outfits which are more interested in speculation than slavish replication of the past.
(History): The Life and Times of Bluetooth’s Heir
Germanic and Viking histories only begin to be written almost a century after his death, but we are fairly confident that Sweyn Forkbeard was born into the court of his father, King Harald Bluetooth, some time around 960 CE. He was born around the time that his father had united all of the separate tribes of Denmark into a unified kingdom beneath his personal rule, and this unifying mission of Harald’s doubtless rubbed off on the young Sweyn (it is also why the ‘unifying’ wireless technology is named ‘Bluetooth’!). The young Sweyn clearly had a rebellious streak, revolting against his father and driving him into exile, assuming the unified Danish throne in 986 CE, a seat he would hold for 38 years.
It is unknown whether Sweyn Forkbeard, our leather torso armor’s namesake, had always plotted to forge a thalassocracy spanning the North Sea, or whether he merely exploited opportunities as they arose – but in 999 or 1000 CE, he allied himself with the King of Sweden to invade and conquer Norway, lost by his father a generation before. Now, Sweyn wore two crowns simultaneously. It was around 1002 CE that Sweyn fixed his attentions upon England – it is possible that his sister and brother might have been killed in a massacre of Danes ordered by Aethelred Unraed in that year. Regardless, Sweyn launched at least three separate invasions of England between 1002 and 1012 CE. His fourth and final massive invasion in 1013 CE faced stiff resistance from Aethelred, buttressed by a Norwegian turncoat called Thorkell the Tall – but he finally forced Aethelred’s abdication on Christmas Day 1013. But, having united three Kingdoms in one crown, Sweyn Forkbeard died after a mere five weeks as king of England. Yet his fight was not in vain – his sons Harald II and Cnut became co-Kings of the North Sea Kingdom, and Cnut’s line would rule England for 26 years. By any measure of justice, we should rename him: Sweyn the Conqueror!
Your costume needs an aggressive look? Then check out the Viking Arm Protection!
- Material: 7-8 oz. Leather
- Color: Black / brown
Small/Medium: Chest – 38 to 40.5 Inches, Waist – 38 to 44 Inches, Hip – 39.5 to 45.5 Inches
Large/X-Large: Chest – 40 to 43 Inches, Waist – 43.5 to 48.5 Inches, Hip – 44 to 49 Inches