In 793, Viking raiders from Scandinavia arrived off the coast of Northumbria in their longships. Britain came face to face with these barbaric pirates, as they invaded our shores in search of booty and slaves. What they will be remembered for: their attack upon the men of God, at the Lindisfarne Monastery. By 794, they had taken their attack against the lands of the north; Scotland. In 795 attacked the island of Rothlin off Ireland’s north-east coast.
The coasts of mainland Britain, with its monasteries would attract these Viking marauders, expecting to find riches.
In 838, Dublin was captured, becoming the Norse Kingdom of Ireland.
In 865 Danes settle in the eastern parts of England. York is captured in 866 and becomes known as Yorvik, the Danish capital in England. Nottingham falls to these invaders in 867, followed by Thetford in 869 and Reading in 870.
In 871, opposition by King Ethelred, the West Saxon King and his brother Alfred, take on and defeat the Viking army at the “Battle of Ashdown” in Berkshire.
In 871, Alfred’s elder brother dies in battle at Merton and Alfred becomes King of Wessex, on the 23rd April. One of his first acts, was to oversee the construction of an English fleet, to take on these Viking invaders on land and sea. In 875 Alfred claimed a sea victory, holding his own against seasoned Viking mariners, and even managed to capture a Viking ship.
In 878, Danish forces push Alfred to the west and into the Somerset marshes. From Athelney Fort, he gathered local assistance, to come out fighting and defeat the Danes at Edington in Wiltshire. King Guthrum, the Danish Viking, captured by Alfred, goes on to secure his freedom by promising to leave Wessex.
As the Danes invade Kent in 885, Alfred goes on the offensive, driving back invaders and occupying London in 886.
Alfred proposes a treaty with Guthrum of co-existence: Anglo-Saxons in the south and west, with Danes in the north and east, which both parties agreed to.
The last Viking King of Northumbria was Eric Bloodaxe, who had previously been King of Norway in the 930’s. He was expelled for extreme cruelty, having murdered his seven brothers’.
In 947 Eric received the position as King until being expelled in 949 by Eadred, King of England, returned in 952 and killed by Eadred’s army in 954 at Stainmore.
In 950, Wales comes under attack from Viking’s in their longships, from Ireland, Isle of Man and the Hebrides. They showed much interest in coastal monasteries, looking for riches.
Aethelred II came to the throne in 978; his long reign in a battle scarred England took its toll on his health and his country. No longer fit to command his army in battle, he bribed attacking armies. In 994 Sven Forkbeard led a Danish army against London. The attack was a failure; it was doomed from the start, for Forkbeard had been bought off. Yet, his army went forward and ravaged the south-east.
In 1013, the Saxon King Aethelred, flees to Normandy as King Sven of Denmark and his son Cnut sail up the Humber and Trent, to become King of England. In 1014 Sven dies and is succeeded by his son Cnut, who becomes King of the Danes and England.
In 1016, Aethelred dies, and his son Edmund Ironside, takes on Cnut, believing he should be King of England.
At the “Battle of Ashingdon” in Essex, the two armies do battle, and Edmund is defeated. Even though Edmund was defeated, the control of England was split in two. Canute controlled the lands in the north, whilst Edmund controlled those in the south.
Later that year Edmund dies and Canute is chosen to rule England as its new King.
In 1035, Canute dies and Harold Harefoot, snatches the throne from his half-brother Harthacanute, the rightful heir. In 1040 Harthacanute ascends to the English throne upon the death of Harold Harefoot. In 1042 Edward the Confessor, son of Aethelred II becomes King of England upon the death of Harthacanute.
In 1051, William, Duke of Normandy, met with Edmund at his court, where it was agreed William would succeed Edward the Confessor as the next King of England.
In 1064, Harold Godwineson, Earl of Wessex and close adviser to the King, swore an oath of support to William in his claim to the English throne.
In 1066, Edward the Confessor dies and Harold Godwineson becomes the last Anglo-Saxon King of England. William, the Duke of Normandy had been promised the English throne, yet Harold became King, backed by his nobles… William had been betrayed.
King Harald of Norway invaded northern England, laying siege and capturing York. King Harold is forced to march north and meet Harald at Stamford Bridge, whereupon the King of Norway is killed in battle.
As the news reached King Harold of William’s landing in the south, his tired army had to march south… no time for rest and take on William’s forces.
On the 14th October 1066, William the Duke of Normandy and King Harold of England met on the battle field, the prize on offer to the victor; King of England.
The “Battle of Hastings” was won by William, the Duke of Normandy, and from that day forth, life in England changed.