What happened to the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings?

Around the end of the 8th century, Anglo-Saxon history tells of many Viking raids. These marked the start of a long struggle between the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings for control of Britain.

In the 9th century, the English king Alfred the Great stopped the Vikings taking over all of England. He agreed to peace with them and some Vikings settled down to live in their own area of eastern England, called theDanelaw.

The Anglo-Saxons and Vikings became neighbours in Britain, but they didn’t always get along peacefully.

The Anglo-Saxons take control

After Alfred the Great, English kings gradually recaptured more and more land from the Vikings.

Alfred's son Edward fought for control of the Danelaw and Alfred's grandson, Athelstan, pushed English power north as far as Scotland.

In 954, the Anglo-Saxons drove out Eric Bloodaxe, the last Viking king of Jorvik. Later, when Eric was killed in battle, the Vikings agreed to be ruled by England's king.

The most powerful Anglo-Saxon king was Edgar. Welsh and Scottish rulers obeyed him as well as the English, and his court at Winchester was one of the most splendid in Europe. Anglo-Saxon England reached its peak during Edgar's reign.

Eric Bloodaxe was Jorvik's last king. He ruled the Viking Kingdom of Northumbria.

Who was King Cnut?

In Viking times, a king had to be strong to fight and keep his land. In the early 11th century, England had a weak king. His name was Ethelred the Unready.

Ethelred tried to stop the Vikings from invading by giving them gold and land. This money was called Danegeld. But it didn’t work – the Vikings took the gold and attacked anyway.

In 1002, Ethelred's soldiers killed many Viking families in the Danelaw. This made King Sweyn of Denmark angry. He invaded England and Ethelred had to flee to France.

In 1016 Sweyn's son Cnut became king of England. Cnut (also known as Canute) was a Christian and a strong ruler. For the next few years England was part of his Viking empire, along with Denmark and Norway.

He ruled well, but left much of the government in England to noblemen, now called earls (from the Danish word "jarl").

One story tells how King Cnut stood on the shore and commanded the sea to turn back. By getting his feet wet, he was showing people he had less power than God.

In 1042 there was a new king of England. He was Edward, son of Ethelred the Unready. Find out about his life by clicking below

What happened when the Normans came?

When Edward died in 1066, the English Witan chose Harold (son of Godwin, the Earl of Wessex) as the next king.

Duke William of Normandy and Harald Hardrada, the King of Norway, were not happy with the decision. They believed they had a claim to the throne.

In 1066, England was invaded twice. First, a Norwegian army led by Harald Hardrada landed in the north. Harold killed Hardrada in a battle at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire.

Three days later William's Norman army landed in Sussex. Harold hurried south and the two armies fought at the Battle of Hastings (14 October 1066). The Normans won, Harold was killed, and William became king.

This brought an end to Anglo-Saxon and Viking rule. A new age of Norman rule in England had started.

The Normans took over all of England, including the Danelaw
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