When England Lived Under Danish Rule

viking danes angl-saxons

By Mercedes Rochelle

Almost without exception, we regret the sudden end of the Anglo-Saxon era in 1066. Nonetheless, I think it’s interesting that the Danes ruled all of England for more than a generation. Between Canute and his sons, the Danes were kings from 1016 through 1042, yet we still think of England as Anglo-Saxon during that era.

Of course, the Vikings were no strangers to England. During the reign of Alfred the Great, the Danes overran the country and would have conquered but for the dogged resistance of the King of Wessex. In the end, Alfred divided the country in half, ceding the territory north of Watling Street to Danish rule; the Northmen settled and ruled the Danelaw for the next 200 years. By the time Canute’s father, Swegn Forkbeard took the crown in 1013, England’s Aethelred the Unready had made a mess of things and the country was beginning to think that Danish rule might be preferable after all. Not that they had much choice.

Swegn Forkbeard died suddenly, having ruled for only a few months. Aethelred’s son Edmund Ironside had a brief tenure as king, constantly harassed by the Danes under Canute, who was the second son of Swegn (his older brother Harald ruled Denmark until 1018). Ultimately, they agreed to divide the country so that Edmund would rule Wessex and Canute the rest of England; if one died, the crown would devolve to the survivor. Alas, the end result was all too predictable.

It was conjectured that Edmund Ironside may have been murdered by the villanous Eadric Streona who seemed to change sides like most people change their clothes. But whether by foul means or natural causes, he did not survive his first winter as King. Canute took over in 1016 and at first things didn’t look good for the Anglo-Saxons. Some key english Thanes were assassinated (including Eadric Streona) and Viking Jarls installed in their places. Canute proceeded to raise the largest Danegeld tax yet (£82,500) to pay off the Viking ships, but luckily it was to be the last. From then on, England was not considered fair game (except for the occasional raid) until the unhappy events of 1066.

Historians often voice their surprise that Canute decided to settle down and adopt the ways of his conquered people, in direct contrast to William the Norman. It could fairly be said that the Vikings were absorbed by the Anglo-Saxons through intermarriage and common economic concerns. Although Canute had difficulty juggling his Empire of Denmark, England, Norway and part of Sweden, he made England his home. He presided over 20 years of peace and prosperity, and by the end of his reign, Canute was known as a good and just king. Had he not died young – only about 40 years old – England might have stayed Danish considerably longer.

Mercedes Rochelle writes Historical Fiction mainly about 11th Century Britain. Her novel THOU SHALT ‘GET KINGS hearkens back to the tale of Macbeth, and continues the story of Fleance as he flees the ill-fated ambush. However, Fleance’s flight was only the beginning of a series of events that take you through the battle of Dunsinane, William the Conqueror’s Normandy, the Battle of Hastings, and ultimately to Malcolm III’s Scotland, where Fleance’s descendant Walter became the first Steward of Scotland. Her HISTORICAL BRITAIN BLOG at http://mercedesrochelle.com/wordpress/ explores the History Behind the Story.


List of items on:

UK On eBay UK:
ANGLO-SAXON, Secondary Sceattas. Circa 710-725. AR Sceat (12mm, 1.01 g). Series
ANGLO-SAXON, Secondary Sceattas. Circa 710-725. AR Sceat (12mm, 1.01 g). Series
£ 350.00
ANGLO-SAXON, East Saxon Kingdom, Lundenwic (London mint), (c. A.D. 680 - 710)
ANGLO-SAXON, East Saxon Kingdom, Lundenwic (London mint), (c. A.D. 680 - 710)
£ 350.00
Northumbrian Anglo Saxon Sceat Sceatta Reproduction coins Struck in Pewter
Northumbrian Anglo Saxon Sceat Sceatta Reproduction coins Struck in Pewter
£ 35.00
CNUT SAXON PENNY QUARTERFOIL TYPE (MUSEUM SPECIMEN COIN) AN 250  1016- 1035 AD
CNUT SAXON PENNY QUARTERFOIL TYPE (MUSEUM SPECIMEN COIN) AN 250 1016- 1035 AD
£ 4.99
VIKING AT YORK ST PETER PENNY (MUSEUM SPECIMEN COIN) AN 249   921-927AD
VIKING AT YORK ST PETER PENNY (MUSEUM SPECIMEN COIN) AN 249 921-927AD
£ 4.99
SITHRIC HIBERNO NORSE VIKING PENNY (MUSEUM SPECIMEN COIN) AN 250   999-1005 AD
SITHRIC HIBERNO NORSE VIKING PENNY (MUSEUM SPECIMEN COIN) AN 250 999-1005 AD
£ 4.99
Rare circa.600 - 800 A.D England - Anglo Saxon Longbow Socketed Iron Arrow Head
Rare circa.600 - 800 A.D England - Anglo Saxon Longbow Socketed Iron Arrow Head
£ 165.00
Anglo Saxon Period Coins Slate 6 Coaster Set
Anglo Saxon Period Coins Slate 6 Coaster Set
£ 24.00

List of items on: