Sweyn Forkbeard, the "murderous" King of England

Sweyn Forkbeard, England's shortest-reigning monarch, is mostly forgotten today, due mainly to his short time as king (less than five years) and his "murderous character." Sweyn declared himself King of England on Christmas Day 1013 and established Gainsborough as his capital.

The Danish Sweyn Forkbeard, father of Canute the Great and son of Harold Bluetooth, was a pretty bad guy, known for burning women alive and suspending men "from their private parts." Yet some wish to delve deeper in his forgotten history.

Gainsborough historian Darron Childs says: "It is perhaps one of the reasons why Sweyn has been largely forgotten. It's hard to make a big thing of someone so bad - it would be a bit like celebrating Hitler. It's a difficult thing to try and overcome." However, he adds: "He was part of a dynasty that changed the course of this country. And he wasn't any different to many of his contemporaries. People like Ethelred, who were equally as bad - if not worse."