SCANDINAVIA AND DENMARK IN VIKING TIMES
THE rest of the story of these three northern kingdoms, their fortunes during the Viking Period and in the centuries following upon this, can very easily be summarized in the course of a recital of their rulers; for among the viking peoples, perhaps to a larger degree than in any other society of their time, the history of the three nations tends to be a mere record of the policies and achievements of their great men.
Setting aside, then, as of no immediate concern here a study of the social life and altering conditions of the various classes, it will be sufficient to recount the chief activities of the famous rulers who helped their country to prosperity and whose names are likely to be found in viking history abroad, or, alternatively, to record those periods of decline and depression when no such strong man was there to govern and direct. The territorial expansion of the vikings and the establishment of their colonies abroad will be described in subsequent chapters, so that here there is no need to do more than indicate the course of home affairs in the three countries; yet it will be as well, for the sake of completeness, to continue the outline of their history down to the time of the union of the three nations at the end of the fourteenth century, because thus far at least it will be necessary in later chapters to follow the history of such viking colonies as Iceland and Greenland.
Harald Gormsson, or Bluetooth, who died in the viking stronghold of Jomsborg by the Oder mouth, was succeeded by his rebel son, Svein I ( 9 86)- 1014), commonly known as Svein Tjuguskegg that is Forkbeard; the new king of Denmark was a redoubtable warrior, far-famed as the organizer and leader of viking expeditions; but above all he is known as the stern and implacable foe of England, and it was at the head of his armies in England, in the very year of his