Erik Bloodaxe, last king of York (?947-8, ?952-4)

Erik Bloodaxe (Eiríkr blóðøx) (d. 954) was the last independent king of York (947-948 and 952-954); the byname "Bloodaxe" survives only in Norse tales, e.g. Heimskringla and Egils Saga. A Norwegian prince, Erik became king of the Northumbrians in 947. Eadred, to whom the northerners had already sworn allegiance, invaded in 948 and resumed control. When Erik returned in 952, Eadred retaliated by imprisoning Archbishop Wulfstan of York. In 954 the Northumbrians finally concluded that their interests lay with the southern English, not the Scandinavians: Erik was driven out and killed. Eiríksmál describes his entry into Valhalla. Another surviving praise-poem is Höfuðlausn, the Head-Ransom, composed (as an alternative to being beheaded) by the Icelander Egill Skallagrímsson when he met Erik at York. Two types of silver penny for Erik survive, perhaps corresponding with his two reigns.