Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes


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The Dark Ages (450 - 1066) - Introduction & Summary

But this evidence should be set alongside examples of co-operation between the English and Danes. Wulfstan was himself responsible for drafting the law-code issued by Cnut around , while Cnut made active efforts to cultivate the English Church. In , for instance, he confirmed the lands held by Christ Church, Canterbury, as recorded in the Cnut Gospels.

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Usage terms Public Domain in most countries other than the UK. For the next years at least, the people of England were governed by an elite accustomed to speaking a different language from their own: Danish before , then French after But it would be a mistake to assume that economic, cultural or political power was monopolised by one linguistic community. In 11th- and 12th-century England, three main written languages Latin, English and French coexisted with spoken English, Danish and French.


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In certain segments of the population, especially in towns, several other languages Welsh, Irish, Flemish and German were also spoken. Continuity with the Anglo-Saxon regime was also transmitted through the dynastic line of Emma of Normandy d. She was the great-aunt of William the Conqueror and the mother of two kings, Harthacnut r.

Emma and Cnut are shown together in the New Minster Liber Vitae , placing a golden cross on the high altar. Danish armies had attacked the English coast each year from the s until the conquest of , and then resuming in and only standing down in The Anglo-Saxon kings of England famously collected hundreds of thousands of pounds of silver in tribute to pay off the Danes.

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This attracted the scorn of one author of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, who recorded the futility of attempts to head off attacks. From until , an annual tax was levied to support mercenaries. Kings were not the only members of society sufficiently rich to hire mercenary forces. They used Flemish and Irish fleets, financed either by their own revenue or by the prospect of the spoils of war.

After , the kingdom of England became one component in a larger empire, ruled together with Denmark from and Norway from Power at the centre was reorganised to allow delegation, a necessity for kings who were frequently absent from England for months on end.

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In time these earldoms mutated into dominant power blocs ruled by dynasties bold and powerful enough to challenge the king. Later that year, Harold would become the last Anglo-Saxon king of England. William was in fact a blood relative of the Anglo-Saxons being the cousin of Edward the Confessor r. The new Norman regime therefore projected itself not as a conquest but as the proper succession. In the years that immediately followed, the Normans consolidated their power by forcibly taking over the property of nobles and churches, and by brutally suppressing any uprisings.

It is only after the Norman Conquest that we can fully appreciate the extent of Anglo-Saxon government, as attested in Domesday Book. The commissioners collected data at three audit points:. According to William of Malmesbury [] , King Ealrich reigned for thirty four years but this seems unlikely given the likely birth dates of the sons of King Wihtred. It has been suggested that Oswine was related to the previous royal Kentish house, descended from Eormenred, son of Eadbald King of Kent [].

Oswine does not appear in the regnal lists of Kent.

He was deposed in by King Wihtred. No indication has been found of his subsequent fate. The fact that " Oswynus rex " subscribed the latter charter suggests that the division of power between the two Kentish kings was amicable. The documentary evidence suggests that they ruled in parallel over different parts of Kent. As there are only isolated references to these kings in charters, it is not possible to give accurate dates for their reigns or guess about any relationships between them.

Although nothing is known with certainty about the origins of Sigered, his name suggests a connection with the royal house of Essex. Offa King of Mercia appears to have taken control of Kent in when he re-granted in his own name land which King Sigered and King Eanmund had previously granted to the church of Rochester. Silver coins were minted in the name of King Heahberht []. The latter two references suggest that Kent was under Mercian control at the time, although It is uncertain how long this state of affairs may have lasted.


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Ecgberht was still king in and , the dates of two charters under which " Ecgberhtus rex Cantie " granted land at Bromhey, Kent to " Dioran Hrofensis " [] , although the absence of subscriptions to either charter make it impossible to draw definite conclusions about the relative independence of Kent from Mercia at that time. In , Mercians and Kentishmen fought at Otford []. Although the outcome is not known, Stenton suggests a Mercian defeat is indicated by the subsequent grant of land in Kent in in the name of King Ealhmund see below [].

It is not known when or how King Ecgberht ceased ruling in Kent. However, Ealhmund's predecessor as king of Kent, and Ealhmund's own son, were both named Ecgberht, a name which was not particularly common in any of the Anglo-Saxon royal families. In view of the general practice of name inheritance within the ruling families, and the absence of the name "Ecgberht" from the house of Wessex as recorded in the traditional genealogies, it is not impossible that Ealhmund's origins lay in Kent and not in Wessex.

This would of course mean that the usually represented ancestry of Ecgberht King of Wessex would require reconsideration. Mercian involvement in Kentish affairs appears to have increased again in []. Presumably King Ealhmund was deposed as king of Kent by Offa King of Mercia as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that " the Kentishmen … formerly … had been wrongly forced away from their allegiance to [Ecgberht King of Wessex's] kinsmen " [].

This event may have taken place in , the date when King Ealhmund's son Ecgberht is later described as having been expelled from England by Beorhtric King of Wessex and Offa King of Mercia []. Probably the same person as " Odberht ", a priest living in exile at the court of Charles I King of the Franks later Emperor Charlemagne.

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He minted his own coins at Canterbury []. All three charters were subscribed by " Coenulfi regis Merciorum ", suggesting that Kent had once more fallen under Mercian control. Roger of Wendover records the death in of " Cuthredus rex Cantuarensis " []. After the death of King Cuthred, Kent became a province of Mercia. Roger of Wendover records that " Baldredus " succeeded in after the death of " Cuthredus rex Cantuarensis " []. If this is correct, Bealdred's appointment occurred between and , when Beornwulf ruled Mercia.

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However, William of Malmesbury [] says that Bealdred " possessed " the kingdom of Kent for eighteen years, indicating an accession from the death of King Cuthred. William of Malmesbury describes King Bealdred as " the abortion of royal dignity " []. According to Stenton, the name Mercia derives from the tribal name "Mierce", meaning "boundary folk" []. He also suggests that the boundary in question may have been the belt of high land connecting Cannock Chase with the forest of Arden.

Lichfield was the seat of the bishop of Mercia and Tamworth that of the Mercian kings. In common with the founder kings of the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, Creoda, first king of Mercia, claimed descent from Woden. The kings of Mercia were known collectively as Icelingas , after one of these mythical ancestors. The kingdom of Mercia is only mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle from , when it records the accession of Penda.

Mercia was probably only a province of the kingdom of Northumbria before the accession of King Penda, and he continued to rule under Northumbrian overlordship. However, Penda rebelled and defeated the Northumbrians in Although he appears to have been the most powerful of the Anglo-Saxon kings in England at the time, there appears to be no evidence that he asserted his supremacy over his fellow rulers. King Penda was killed in in an invasion of Northumbria, when the Northumbrians effectively annexed that part of Mercia north of the river Trent after the battle.

Mercian autonomy was revived by King Wulfhere, who also imposed his overlordship on Essex and parts of Wessex around the Chilterns. Civil war broke out in Mercia after his death in , although his successor King Offa restored the fortunes of the kingdom. The Danes appropriated the northern part of Mercia in , and no further Mercian kings are recorded after King Ceolwulf II in that year.

The alleged descents of the later kings of Mercia after the early 8th century are suspect, for the reasons explained in the Introduction to the present document. Henry of Huntingdon names " Crida " as first king in " regnum Merce " but does not date his reign []. Roger of Wendover records that " Credda " became king of Mercia in []. Roger of Wendover records the death of " Credda Merciorum rege " in []. No corroboration has been found in any earlier sources for any of this information. Roger of Wendover records that " Wibba filius eius " succeeded on the death of " Credda Merciorum rege " in and ruled for three years [].

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records, under , that " Penda ruled for thirty years " and was " fifty when he succeeded to the kingdom ", adding that he was son of " Pybba, son of Creoda, son of Cynewald… " []. Bearing in mind the likely birth dates estimated for some of his sons see below , his age must be exaggerated in this source.

Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes
Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes
Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes
Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes
Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes
Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes
Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes
Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes
Royal Dynasties: The Saxons and The Danes

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