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People List




995 - 1035

When Britain gained independence from Rome in 410, Rome warned Britain to prepare for attacks by the warring tribes of Northern Europe. By the middle of the 5th Century, Britain had been invaded by the Saxons (a Germanic tribe that originated in Denmark). The country was soon divided into Kingdoms that were at war with each other, similar to what Britain was like before Roman rule.

While the Saxon tribes were fighting each other, the first Viking raids were made on Britain in 789. By 839, they had taken control of the Isle of Man and Ireland. The Danish Vikings began their quest to gain control of England by establishing the Kingdom of York in 866.

In 871, the Saxon, Alfred the Great, became King of Wessex. In 886, he managed to stop the advance of the Vikings.

The success of Alfred the Great led to the Danelaw Pact being signed. England then had a boundary drawn from London to the Mersey, the south was English law, the north, Scandinavian law.

Alfred the Great image

Alfred the Great

In the year 1000, the Saxon King, Aethelred, attacked the Isle of Man and the Scandinavian controlled lands on the mainland. In 1002, he ordered the massacre of all Danish men in England. This led to the Vikings, led by Svein Forkbeard, raiding the south and east of England between 1003 and 1005. Running short of supplies, the Vikings returned home to rebuild their forces for another attack on England.

King Aethelred took that opportunity to begin talks with the Vikings. He then agreed to pay the Vikings not to return.

Svein Forkbeard and his son, Canute, returned to England in 1013 with a mighty force built up with the aid of the English payments. After defeating Athelred, who fled to Normandy in France, Forkbeard became king of all England. Five weeks later, Forkbeard died, leaving his son Canute II to succeed him. With the news of Forkbeard’s death, Aethelred returned to England where he was successful in forcing Canute's army to return to Denmark.

After the death of Athelred in 1016, Canute returned to England. He met Athelred’s army, led by his eldest son, Edmund Ironsides, at Ashingdon. Victory at Ashington for Canute saw another treaty signed to divide England into Scandinavian and Saxon rule once more.

Edmund died shortly after signing the treaty, allowing Canute to become king of all England. To ensure his acceptance by all, Canute married Athelred’s widow Emma.

Canute image


Canute's brother, king Harold of Denmark, died in 1018. Canute then traveled to Denmark to claim that throne. He then defeated Olaf of Norway so his son Svein could govern Norway. He also took control of parts of Sweden and Scotland.

The Vikings originally from Denmark, Norway and Sweden, were also sweeping through Europe at that time, settling in parts of Russia. In 859, they made the first of their raids in the Mediterranean. In 941, they attacked Constantinople, and even raided parts of the Middle East and North Africa. By 984, they had settled on Greenland, and in 1000, had begun exploring north America.

Canute died 2nd November 1035 at Shaftsbury in Dorset / England. He was buried in Winchester, the former capital of the Saxon Kingdom of Wessex. After his death, Olaf’s son, Magnus, expelled the Danes from Norway, this seeing the Great Empire start to break up.

Canute's illegitimate son, Harold Harefoot, then became king of England. His son by Emma, Harthacanute, became king of Denmark. Harefoot died in bed of an illness October 1040. Harthacanute then became king of England and Denmark. He died in Lambeth /London 8th June 1042 while drinking heavily. Harthacanute's half brother, Edward the Confessor, succeeded to the throne of England where he reigned until he died of old age in 1066.

With Edward the Confessor leaving no heirs, William, Duke of Normandy, fought and defeated, Harold the Saxon in the battle of Hastings. The Duke of Normandy then became the first of the Norman French kings of England.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cnut_the_Great People List