The romance of Havelok, often called The Lay of Havelok the Dane, is a historical legend the precise reference of which is still controversial. The matter does not occur in any other European romance, although we know of three other versions of the story. These are:
The identification of the hero is problematical as well. Most probably, he is Anlaf Curan, son of the Viking king Sihtric, who was defeated at the Battle of Brunanburh in 937.
The Middle English romance comprises 3,001 lines in octosyllabic couplets and was probably composed before 1300 in the North Midlands.
The story is based on the exile-and-return motive combined with that of the dispossessed heir. Havelok, heir to the Danish throne, is rescued from murder by Grim, the fisherman, who flees with him to Grimsby, England. There Havelok becomes a scullion in the household of Earl Godrich, who is the warden of the English heiress, Goldborough. In order to degrade the princess Godrich marries her to Havelok. His royal origin is revealed by magic, the couple regains the Danish and English crowns and the traitors are punished.