The Vikings are Coming……
“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
• His successes forced the Vikings into
a treaty which saw the establishment
• 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
• 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
• 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
• Edward was more interested in religion
than kingship (hence the term
• By end of his reign nearly a church in
every village and Westminster
Cathedral had been built at his
• 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
• 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
• 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………..