Help! The Vikings are Coming…… 800-1066AD “In this year Beothric [King of Wessex] took to wife Edburgh, daughter of King Offa. And in his days came first three ships of Norwegians from Horthaland: and then the reeve rode thither and tried to compel them to go to the royal manor, for he did not know what they were: and they slew him. These were the first ships of the Danes to come to England” From The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (for the year 789) Pattern Of Viking Invasion • Vikings were from Scandinavian countries. Due to population growth and scarce resources they began to look elsewhere for land. Britain seemed an obvious target. • They only raided at first, but in 865 they began to settle permanently. • The Vikings (meaning ‘pirate’) quickly accepted Christianity and soon controlled much of the country. • Only in Wessex did one Anglo-Saxon king hold out and that was Alfred the Great. (Legend of the Burning cakes) Soon he had retaken much of the land conquered by the Vikings. • Alfred won a decisive battle in 878 AD (Ethandun) and eight years later he captured London. • His successes forced the Vikings into a treaty which saw the establishment of Danelaw The Danelaw • In short, Danelaw was where the Vikings ruled and the rest of the country was under Anglo-Saxon control, more precisely King Alfred's control. Can this be said to be the emergence of a single English identity under one ruler? • Interesting to note: 1. that the Viking name for settlements was byr. Today there are over 600 towns and villages in England (most in the Danelaw area) with the suffix -by which derived from the Viking term. 2. The Anglo-Saxon name for settlements was Burgh. this word (now borough) is a common suffix for town names in England (mostly outside the Danelaw area). It is also name of an administrative unit in local government. • By 950 AD, England seemed rich and peaceful, but it didn’t last long. • Danish Vikings started to attack the west. • Ethelred, the Anglo-Saxon king introduced Danegeld (Danish money) to pay off the Vikings. • Cnut or Canute (a Danish Viking) then became king of all England as the Witan decided it was better to have a single king than face disorder. (Canute and the Tide) • On his son’s death, the Witan chose Edward (later to be Edward The Confessor) , an Anglo-Saxon, to be King The Seeds Are Sown For 1066 (part 1) • Edward was more interested in religion than kingship (hence the term ‘confessor’) • By end of his reign nearly a church in every village and Westminster Cathedral had been built at his command. • Edward had been brought up in Normandy, his mother was daughter of the Duke of Normandy. • When Edward died in 1066, the Witan chose Harold Godwinson (Anglo- Saxon) to be King. • The Norman nobles who Edward had bought into the royal court were sidelined, they believed William, Duke of Normandy was the rightful heir. The Seeds Are Sown For 1066 (Part 2) • William had two claims to the throne. 1. King Edward had promised him. 2. Harold, when he had visited William in 1064 had said he Harold would not accept the throne if it were offered to him. • The stage was set for an invasion. • Unfortunately, for Harold, he had too face two invasions, because while he was waiting for William to invade the Danish Vikings, who still hadn’t given up their claim to the throne, invaded from the North. • Harold marched up to Yorkshire to defeat them and then had to march back down to Hastings to fight William. He was, however, defeated. Harold himself was killed by an arrow in the eye. • William became King William II of England on New Years Day 1066. Crowned in the church built by Harold's fellow Anglo-Saxon, Edward the Confessor. • A new era had begun………..
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