Battle of Helgeå
The Battle of Helgeå (Norwegian: Slaget ved Helgeå, Swedish: Slaget vid Helgeå), or Battle of the Holy River, was a naval engagement which took place in 1026 between joint Danish and English forces and a combined Norwegian and Swedish force, at the estuary of a river called Helge (Holy River) in Sweden.
|Battle of the Helgeå|
Olav den helliges saga GM15
|Commanders and leaders|
Cnut the Great|
Ulf the Earl
|~600 ships||~480 ships|
|Casualties and losses|
King Olaf II of Norway and King Anund Jacob of Sweden took advantage of the commitment of Danish King Cnut in England and began to launch attacks on the Danish in the Baltic Sea. The Swedish and Norwegian navies led by kings Anund Jacob and Olaf II lay in wait up the river for the navy of King Cnut, which was commanded by Danish earl Ulf Jarl. 
Cnut's navy was massive; his own ship is said to have been 80 metres long. The Swedish and the Norwegian kings ordered a large dam be made of peat and lumber on the river. When the Danish navy sailed in, the water was released and a great many Danes and Englishmen drowned in the deluge. However, the main strength of Cnut's fleet lay outside the river harbour. After the ships in the harbour were destroyed, the rest of the fleet gathered together from all quarters. The kings Olaf and Anund Jacob, seeing they had got all the victory that fate permitted them to gain for the moment, let their ships retreat. If the battle had been renewed, they would have suffered a great loss of men, because Cnut had more ships. King Cnut did not pursue them.
The battle is retold in skaldic poetry and in sources such as the Danish Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus and the Icelandic Saga of Olaf the Holy by Snorri Sturluson. Opinions are divided as to whether the location was at Helgeå in Uppland or the Helge River of eastern Scania.
- A.D. 1025. This year King Cnut went to Denmark with a fleet to the holm by the holy river; where against him there came Ulf and Eglaf, with a very large force both by land and sea, from Sweden. There were very many men lost on the side of King Cnut, both of Danish and English; and the Swedes had possession of the field of battle.
- Laurence M. Larson, Canute the Great, G. P. Putman's sons, 1912, p.218.
- Ulf Jarl (Nordisk familjebok)
- Snorre Sturlason, The Heimskringla: A History of the Norse Kings, Vol.II, trans. by Samuel Laing, Norrœna Society, 1907, pp.528-529.
- Sigtuna (Nordisk familjebok)
- The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Part 4: A.D. 1015 - 1051), at the Medieval and Classical Literature Library
- Rosborn, Sven Den skånska historien (Vikingarna. Malmö: 2004)
- The Battle of Helgå, as told in the Saga of Olaf Haraldsson, by Snorri Sturluson.