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Anglo-Saxon England Terms - Final
Final Exam Athelbald-Battle of Hastings
Undergraduate 1

Additional History Flashcards





Aethelbald (d. 860)

v  Was the second of the five sons of Athelwulf

Ø  He was left in charge of the West Saxon kingdom when Athelwulf went to Rome with Alfred in 855. Athelwulf married Judith during the trip, the daughter of the Frankish king, Charles the Bald.

§  He was part of a plot designed to prevent the King’s return (King returned in 856)

·         He was probably worried that his father’s new bride would produce heirs more throne worthy then himself

v  Athelwulf avoided civil war by dividing the country between himself and his son

Ø  After Athelwulfs death in 858 Athelbald became the sole ruler of the West Saxons

§  He married Judith, a move Asser reports with horror as being against the church, however there were political precedents for such a move

Ø  He died in 860


Offa (d. 796)

v  Became ruler of Mercia in 757 after driving out another claimant to the crown (civil war had broken out after the death of the previous king, Athelbald (diff. Athelbald than the one above)

v  Previous kings did not really interfere in the internal affairs of the kingdoms, they were content to let their subordinate kings run their own kingdoms

Ø  Offa was of a different nature, he either removed or demoted subordinate kings and he merged their polities with that of Merica

§  Wessex was probably not in Offa’s control when it was ruled by Cynewulf, but it probably was under his control when Beorhtric was king (he was also Offa’s son-in-law)

Ø      There are some charters which list Offa as Rex Anglorum (King of the English), but the originals have been lost and the later copies may be fraudulent

v  Offa’s dyke

Ø  Between the welsh and the Mercian kingdom

§  May have been a symbol of military prowess

§  Shows he was able to raise large amounts of capital and a huge labor force

·         This shows he had a lot of resources at his disposal

v  Charlemagne

Ø  Charlemagne saw Offa on almost equal footing

§  They tried to arrange a marriage relationship between their children

·         Offa’s daughter would marry Charlemagne’s son

·         Offa wanted one of Charlemagne’s daughters to marry his son

¨       C did not like this

Ø  This almost ruined relations between the two kingdoms

Ø  However years later commercial relations were restored  

v  Last years

Ø  Had his son Ecgfrith consecrated as king

Ø  Divided the archbishop of Canterbury in two

Ø  Died July 29, 796



v  Charters are the largest  surviving source of evidence we have for the activities of the royal government

v  They were used for propaganda purposes

Ø  Kings would have wanted lots of control over this medium of information

Ø  Most charters followed a specific stylistic formula

§  Three sections

·         Section One: usually in Latin; records the transaction as well as invokes the wrath of God on anyone who fails to observe the charter

·         Section Two: Often in Old English; describes the boundaries of the land (in land grants)

·         Section Three: List of witnesses and ecclesiastical members of the kings court

v  Form

Ø  Lease, will, agreement, writ, and, most commonly, a grant of land

§  The largest number of surviving charters are land grants





v  Son of King Offa of the Mercians

Ø  He was consecrated king in 787

§  At this point Offa was still alive; he wanted to ensure the boy’s legitimacy

§  It is thought that Offa may have used extremely brutal methods to secure the kingship for his son. Alcuin mentions the blood lost in the king’s attempts to bring his son to the throne

Ø  He succeeded his father at his death in July, 796

§  However Ecgfrith died that same year and the crown passed to a distant relative

·         It is posited that Offa got rid of everyone else who had a closer claim to the throne



v  (ca 740-804)

Ø  Many say he was born in 735 (DNB gives the above date)

v  He was a major component of the revival of learning the court of the Frankish Emperor Charlemagne. He was also a scholar, poet, and mathematician.

Ø  He was also an abbot at St. Martins of Tours and a royal advisor to the King

Ø  Made archbishop of York in 767, and with it he became headmaster of the school at York

Ø  781: invited to become head of Charlemagne’s school in Aachen

v  He developed the Carolingian minuscule script



v  Monastery founded by Aiden in 635

Ø  Chosen because of its relative isolation and proximity to the Northumbrian capital of Bamburgh

§  The Island can only be reached by means of a causeway which only appears at low tide

v  Aidan was the first Bishop of Lindisfarne, and he was followed by Cuthburt who was the fifth bishop

Ø  Aidan tried to evangelize the Pagan Northumbrians

Ø  Cuthburt (the patron Saint of Lindisfarne) is known for his miracles (esp. of healing)

v  Viking Raids

Ø  793 was the first raid on the wealthy monastery

§  This is regarded as the beginning of the Viking age

Ø  Others followed throughout the century

Ø  In 875 the monks fled from Lindisfarne with the body of Cuthburt

v  Lindisfarne Gospels

Ø  Illuminated manuscript created at Lindisfarne in either the 7th or 8th centuries

§  Great example of the Hiberno-Saxon style

·         Thought to be the work of the monk Eadfrith (who later became bishop of Lindisfarne)

¨       The cover was lost in the Viking raids and was remade in the 19th century

§  Thought to have been made in honor of Cuthburt


Peter Sawyer

Peter Sawyer

v  Modern British historian who has greatly added to our body of knowledge and understanding of the Viking invasions and Anglo-Saxon history. He has also extensively contributed to our knowledge of Cnut

Ø  In one of his earlier books he took the typical stance against the Vikings; that they were evil mean people

§  But he later said that the Viking activity was just an extension of common dark age activity\

§  Our knowledge of the activities of the Vikings is greatly biased by our sources. We only have sources from the Anglo-Saxons who were being raided, and nothing from the Vikings themselves       .



v  Scandinavian people who began raiding England and Mainland Europe in the late 8th century

Ø  In 793 they sacked Lindisfarne; this is regarded as the beginning of the Viking age

Ø  There was a  second Viking age lasting form 990 to 1010

v  They were extremely successful because of their superior navel technology and fast moving band of elite warriors

Ø  The people believed that the Vikings were attacking because they were sinful and God was punishing them

v  Alfred the Great was finally able to repel them (first Viking age) and he made a treaty with the Viking King Guthrum under which the Pagan leader had to convert to Christianity

v  They also helped to connect the world through trade



v  He was sub-King of Kent while his father was alive and King of Wessex; some charters even say that Ecgberht acted in Kent only with his son’s permission

v  Crowned King of Wessex in 839

Ø  He is remembered fondly by Asser

Ø  He dealt with the Vikings better than did previous kings and some Viking defeats are mentioned in the primary sources

Ø  He had an alliance with Mercia in which he was the dominate partner

§  He had his daughter marry the King of Merica; this may  have been a declaration of authority

v  Father of Alfred

Ø  Asser relates that Aethelwulf loved Alfred above all his other sons. He sent Alfred to Rome in 853 and then followed his young son there in 855. During Alfred’s time in Rome he was consecrated king by Pope Leo.

Ø  He probably has a profound effect on Alfred; when his son Aethelbald tried to forcibly take the kingdom. Athelwulf let him have part of it in order to avoid civil war and danger for the kingdom

§  This may show that he cared about his people, just as Alfred did (His people loved him  and would have expelled the usurper)

v  Rome and Judith

Ø  Judith was the daughter of Frankish King, Charles the Bald. She was one of the first women to be conferred the title of Queen in Anglo-Saxon England. After the death of Aethelwulf she was married to Aethelbald, but she soon left AS England to go back to Frankia.

v  Died January 13, 858

Charles the Bald

Charles the Bald

v  Born 823. Died 877

Ø  He was crowned king of the Western part of the Frankish Kingdom in 843

Ø  His father, Louis the Pious, had a consolidated kingdom, but he split it between his three other brothers and Charles

§  Charles was born much later than his brothers, when they were adults. And this created problems in the kingdom because his brothers did not want to give up any part of the sub-kingdoms given to them by their father

v  Vikings

Ø  He had contiunual problems with the Vikings

§  He clashed with them many time and many time he had to pay them off

§  He finally built fortifications at the mouth of the rivers leading into the country

·         By the 860’s this stayed the Viking attacks but lead to them turning their abilities on AS England

v  Alliances w/ AS England

Ø  Daughter Judith married Aethelwulf (father to Alfred)

§  This marriage led to the rebellion by Aethelbald

§  Judith married Aethelbald after Aethelwulf’s death



v  Died 890

v  King of the Danish Vikings of the Danelaw

Ø  Consolidated rule over the other Danish Chieftains of the Danelaw (Danish ruled territory of England)

-- Alfred and Guthrum were involved in many skirmishes and battles. Some peace treatys were made and then broken

v  Ending Peace

Ø  Defeat at the Battle of Edington

§  Treaty of Wedmore (878)

·         Converted to Christianity; Alfred is godfather

·         Made the dividing line between the two kingdoms

¨       This peace was a lasting one. The religious implications of Guthrum’s conversion were more political than religious and they served as a binder to the treaty

¨       Though Guthrums conversion had a lot to do with his own political aspirations because it reassured his new subjects that they would be ruled by a Christian King and it legitimized his power (also because he took the Christian name Aethelstan)

-- He became the King of East Anglia and issued coin in his baptismal name



v  Literary assistant to Alfred the Great who translated Gregory’s Dialogs

Ø  This important document helped to form the medieval notions of purgatory

Ø  Alfred provided a prose preface to the work

v  Shows up in the charters as the Bishop of Worchester in 872

Ø  He tried to increase the material wealth of the monastery

v  Was probably brought into Alfred’s fold in the early 880’s

v  Died between 907 and 915



v  Archbishop of Canterbury of Mercian decent

Ø  Was integral to the reform movement that both brought Canterbury back to its former prominence and established a see in each shire of Wessex

Ø  He took on the see in 890, most likely after Grimbald had refused it

§  This was an onerous job because the see was at its nadir (opposite of zenith)

v  One of the four scholars in the Court of Alfred the Great

Ø  Helped to translate Gregory’s Pastoral Care

v  His most prominent achievement was the establishment of sees at Crediton, Ramsbury, Sherborne, and Wells between 909 and 918

Ø  After the death of Pope Formosus, Pope Sergius III annulled all of his actions, the new approval for Plegmund’s bishoprics being one of them

Ø  Plegmund traveled to Rome in 908 in order to obtain approval for the sees. He got it.

v  Died 914

John the Old Saxon

John the Old Saxon

v  Scholar and abbot who was invited to England by King Alfred in the 880’s and contributed to Alfred’s revival of learning

Ø  He was from Saxony (what is basically Germany today)

§  He may have had a secular upbringing because Asser mentions some experience in the martial arts

Ø  When Alfred built his monastery of Athelney, John was made the abbot

§  However some of his monks plotted to kill him, but he escaped; the story is related in Asser’s Life of Alfred

§  It is thought that John may have later relinquished his abbot position, but we are unsure

v  John is also given credit for a small group of acrostic poems; a style that was very rare at that time, it also had other stylistic embellishments which became dominate in the 10th century

v  The dates of his birth and death are unknown, the dates given are for when he flourished 885-904



v  Benedictine monk in the court of King Alfred

Ø  Assisted the King in his literary program

Ø  Helped to found a Benedictine monastery at Winchester (New Minister, later Hyde)

Ø  Was sent to Alfred by Archbishop of Rheims Fulco, with the seeming understanding that Grimbald would become a bishop (he got to England by 887)

§  However this never happened

v  He may have brought continental manuscripts to England, and therefore was a major part of brining Carolingian culture into England

v  Died 901 (?)

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

v  Collection of annals in Old English which record the events of AS England

Ø  Compiled under the orders of King Alfred in 890

§  They detail historical events going back to 60 BC

§  The contemporary entries continue until the middle of the 12th century

v  They are the most important collection of historical documents we have from this time period

Ø  However they are biased in some areas

§  Some events are omitted

§  Others are very one-sided

Ø  Language

§  Changes from Old to Middle English near the end of the chronicle, this is important for seeing how the language changed over time



v  Asser (d.909)

Ø  Monk from the Monastery of St. David’s in Wales

Ø  was a teacher in the royal court of Alfred the Great

§  He helped to teach Alfred and he also helped him translate some past works which Alfred thought ‘important for all men to know’ (including the Pastoral Care)

Ø  The only information we have about Asser is that which he provides in his Life

v  His Life of Alfred is one of the only and best sources we have for King Alfred the Great

Ø  Manuscript (ca. 1000) was destroyed in Cotton Library fire

§  Semi-hagiographical; portrays Alfred in an extremely positive light. He tries to connect Alfred back to the great kings of the past (esp. Solomon)

§  Does not really have an account of internal strife during Alfred’s reign

·         He does talk about the Vikings and Alfred’s defeat of them

v  He is thought to have written the Life around 893 (we do know that the biography was a contemporaneous account of Alfred’s life and the Great King would have had some say in what went into his biography)

v  He was Bishop of Shereborne and held that post at the time of his death

Gregory's Pasoral Care (Hierdboc)

Old English Pastoral Care (Hierdboc)

v  One of the most important translations made by King Alfred (and his helpers)

Ø  Original was written  by Pope Gregory I around 590 and it was brought to England by Augustine of Canterbury in 597

Ø  This was an important text for AS England because it told the clergy the right way to live their lives

v  The Viking raids were probably one of the reasons Alfred chose to translate Gregory’s Pastoral Care; the Anglo-Saxons believed that the Vikings were a punishment sent from God to reform their evil ways

Ø  The Clergy would need to know how to be good clergy in order to stop the Viking raids

v  King’s Prose Preface

Ø  Sets forth Alfred’s program of educational reform

§  He wants to translate works ‘all men should know’

Ø  He defends his use of the vernacular for his people saying that the great civilizations of the past had translated the Bible into their native tongues (there might be more, but I don’t have my book)



v  A defense system developed by King Alfred the Great

Ø  They were community built fortresses located strategically so that in case of Viking attack all subjects could to the burgh and be safe (everyone was supposed to be about a  day’s walk from the burgh)

Ø  These were integral to making the kingdom safe from Viking attack

§  Later the function of the burghs as fortresses was ended and many of them became towns; they were centers of trade and culture

v  Later Alfred’s children Edward the Elder and Aethelflead built burghs

Ø  These burghs also minted money

Burghal Hidage

Burghal Hidage

v  Document detailing the system that Alfred used to stop the Viking attacks on his kingdom in the 9th century

Ø  Includes a list of the burghs, many of which are from Alfred’s  reign (the document is thought to be from the reign of Edward the Elder)



v  Nephew of Alfred the Great who felt he had more of a right to the throne than did Alfred’s son, Edward the Elder

Ø  When the crown was passed to Edward in 899, Aethelwold went to the Danelaw and was installed King of the Northumbrians

Ø  He returned in 902 to attack Wessex and take the throne, however, he was killed in the Battle of the Holme and though Edward was defeated, he was allowed to keep the throne



v  Eldest daughter of Alfred the Great and wife of Aethelred, after her husband’s death in 911, she ruled the kingdom of Mercia

Ø  The connection between Merica and Wessex was sealed by the marriage of Aethelflaed and Aethelred

v  Lady of Mercia

Ø  The title she was given after her husband’s death

Ø  She built fortresses in western Merica to defend against Viking attacks, beat the Vikings at Derby and Leicester, and invaded Wales

Ø  She also jointly ruled Mericia with her daughter Aethelwyn

§  However after her death in 918, Aethelwyn tried to take over rule of the kingdom, but her uncle Edward invaded, captured her, and she spent the rest of her life in a nunnery


Aethelred, Ealdorman of Mercia

v  He was a ruler of Mercia, some sources call him King, but many other documents state that he was an ealdorman indicating that he was subordinate to the West Saxon King Alfred

Ø  He married Aethelflead, Alfred’s eldest daughter

Ø  And Alfred gave him London to rule in 866, a city that was traditionally in Merican territory

§  This may indicate that Alfred was concerned with keeping alliances strong in English territories not under Danish control

§  Either way, Aethelred had a degree of autonomy

v  Much of his reign was tied up fighting the Vikings who were increasingly problematic

Ø  His forces and some Welsh forces even joined up to fight against the Vikings

v  Death

Ø  Sometime in the decade after Alfred’s death in 899, Aethelred fell sick and leadership either fell to Edward or Aethelflead

Ø  He died at the Battle of Tettenhall in 911, after which time his wife Aethelflead succeeded him as Lady of Merica! 



v  Was the center of Scandinavian power in England. Located in the Kingdom of Northumbria which was under Norse rule (Danelaw) in the late 9th and early 10th centuries (ever since it had fallen to the Scandinavians in 866)

Ø  Today it’s name is York

v  It was an important trading center

Ø  And throughout its existence it remained a threat to the Anglo-Saxons until its conquest by Aethelstan in about 927, however the last Viking King was only expelled in 954 (Erik Bloodaxe)

§  After Athelstan takes York there are periodic attempts by the Scandinavians to take it back




v  Grandson of Alfred the Great, Son of Edward the Elder

Ø  He was consecrated King at age four, in the manner of his grandfather and of Great King Solomon

Ø  He ascended to the throne in 924 making his birth date 893-4

§  He was educated in the court of his auntie and uncle Aethelflead and Aethelred

§  However he had problems in Wessex

·         His half-brother Aethelweard was supposed to have ruled Wessex and Aethelstan Mercia, however Aethelweard died 16 days after his father

¨       There were also questions about Aethelstan’s legitimacy

v  He is known for his prowess in War

Ø  Esp. the victory at Brunanburh in 937 over the kings of Dublin, Scots, and Strathclyde

§  This was the result of actions taken much earlier in his reign

v  Bureaucracy

Ø  Because of his large polity he had to develop a sophisticated bureaucracy

§  Issued royal diplomas and charters (beginning in 925)

§  royal councils – local interests were represented 

·         Helped to build cultural unity (regular gatherings)

§  He tended to call himself by names which represented him as the King of all of England etc. in a style started by his grandfather

Ø  Law codes

§  A total of six survive

·         Concerned with governing his people effectively

Ø  Coins

§  Only had one type of coin

·         This helped to cut out local leaders power

§  The coin showed him with a crown on his head

Ø  Foreign policy

§  First King thought to have actively pursued a foreign policy

·         This was important, and he was viewed positively by the continental Europeans

v  Religion and Learning

Ø  Noted for his piety

§  Never married

§  Donated to monasteries and churches extensively

Ø  He is concerned with promoting learning, just as his grandfather was

§  Bought in scholars from abroad as well as natives

Ø  Also important to the revival

§  Many of the revival movement monks learned a lot at the court of Aethelstan and brought the reform to its zenith during the reign of Edgar

§  Had contact with the new manuscripts in Aethelstan’s court

v  Death

Ø  October 23, 939

William of Malmesbury

William of Malmesbury

v  12th century historian, man of letters, Benedictine monk

Ø  He is an important source for modern historians

Ø  Heavily influenced by Bede

§  Wrote Deeds of the English Kings (1120)

·         History of the English from the death of Bede until his own day

·         Mainly concerned with the secular history

§  People and Deeds of the English Bishops(1125)

·         Concerned with the church history

Ø  Refused to become the abbot of Malmesbury, he liked his scholarly activities

v  Used many sources which are still avalible today, though some not. Like those used for the reign of Aethelstan

v  Died 1143 (?)

Battle of Brunanburh

Battle of Brunanburh

v  Battle between the West Saxon King Aethelstan and his brother Edmund over the Kings of the Scots, Dublin, and Strathclyde in 937

Ø  This was one of the most important events in the reign of Aethelstan

v  This battle was memoralized in a poem found in the AS Chronicle

v  This battle helped to form a unified England



v  Crowned 939, died 946 (he was 18 when he came to power and 25 when he died

Ø  Son of Edward the Elder and half-brother of Athelstan

v  He had to deal with attempts by the Scandinavians to take back territory that they had lost during the reign of Aethelstan

v  Revival of monasteries began during his reign




v  King of England and son of Edward the Elder

Ø  Reigned from 946 until he died in 955

v  His authority over the kingdom of York was challenged by the King of Dublin and Erik Bloodaxe

Ø  Complicated by rival factions in York, one lead by Wulfstan, Archbishop of York

v  When the people of Northumbria accepted Bloodaxe as their King Eadred sent in his troops and forced the people to disown the foreign king







v  King of England from 955-959

Ø  His reign was marked by conflicts with family, thegns, and the Church, especially with Dunstan

Ø  Described as a king who could never make a right decision

v  Dunstan feud

Ø  Dunstan chastised the King

§  King chased Dunstan out

§  Dunstan only came back after Eadwig was dead

v  Civil War

Ø  Eadwig and Edgar divide the kingdom

§  Eadwig gets south of the Thames

§  Edgar gets the North

Ø  After Eadwigs death the kingdom reunites under Edgar


o  r. 955-957 = King of Anglo Saxon England

o  r. 957-959 = King of England, south of Thames


Benedictine Reform

Benedictine Reform

v  Reform movement during the 10the century lead by Dunstan

Ø  Tried to standardized the practices of monks and clergy in the Benedictine form

-- This reform movment was one of the leading causes behind the break up in unity of the country



v  A monk, scribe, abbot, and then bishop, and then archbishop of Canterbury during the Monastic reform movement of the 10th century

------Had a role in the expulsion of secular clerics from Old Minster in 964

Ø  He was devoted to reforming the church and is known as leader of the movement even though much that has been ascribed to him is known to be work of others

v  Controversy with King Eadwig

-----marched king to coronation feast

-----went into exile because of this; probably in Ghent about 956

-----He was recalled in 957 after the political climate had changed

-----He held the AB of Canterbury before 959

v  Died in 988

Ø  Canonized as a Saint



v  Born about 909

v  Bishop of Winchester in the 10th century (consecrated 963)

Ø  A Leader of the Benedictine monastic reform in England

-----with the blessing of King Edgar he was able to carry out his reforms (i.e. expelling secular clerics)

-----wrote the regulus concordia which was decreed by the Wincester Synod in about 973

Regularus Concordia

Regularus Concordia

v  Tells the clergy how they should properly live in the Benedictine style

---Written by Aethelwold (bishop of Wincester)

---Created by a decree of of the Synod of Wincester in about 973



v  Began rule North of the Thames in 957, and after his brother, Eadwig, died he became King of England (959) but was only coroneted over a decade later (973) he died in 975

Ø  The annals during his reign are quiet. Peace seems to have fallen over the land

§  He mostly inherited successes from his ancestors

·         He was very well connected on the continent

¨       Five of his aunties were married to European royalty

§  This is the high point of Anglo-Saxon England; there would not be an uncontested accent to the throne until the Norman invasion of 1066

Edward the Martyr

Edward the Martyr

v  Son of Edgar; ruled from 975 to 978 when he was murdered

Ø  His role as King was divided with Aethelred the Unready who was his half brother

§  The half-brother is suspected in the murder

·         Half-brother was not illegitimate but he was unready to become King

Ø  His assent to the throne was not smooth because Edward was illegitimate

§  His brother Edmund would have taken the throne had he not died in 970

v  His reign can be seen as the beginning of the end

Ø  Reform movement dismantled

Unity of the country began to falter

Cotton Vittelius A.xv

Cotton Vittelius A.xv

v  Manuscript made up of two codices most famous for the epic poem Beowulf, contained within its pages

Ø  Also has other works including Judith, Marvels of the East, and Alexander’s letter to Aristotle

§  Basically it was a codex of the weird and scary; of monsters and things that go bump in the night

§  The pieces had a semi-similarity and this was probably why they were placed together

v  The name comes from the Cotton library where the codex was placed under the bust of the Roman Emperor Vittelius, on the first shelf, 15th manuscript

Ø  This library burned while being housed in the Ashburn house

§  the manuscript was damaged by the 18th century fire, and the edges were badly burned

§  however no attempt at restoration was made until the 19th century resulting in crumbled and illegible edges

-- also known as the Nowell Codex

-- generally dated to around 1000

Aethelred the Unready

Aethelred ‘Unraed’

v  Co-ruled with his half-brother Edward the Martyr until his mysterious death in 978. He is consecrated king in 979

Ø  This cast shadows of doubt on Aethelred because it is believed that he may have played some part in the murder, though he was only a little boy

§  He threw his weight behind the cults forming around his dead brother

v  980’s: Viking attacks begin again and his mentor, Bishop Aethelwold dies.

Ø  Aethelred, still a teenager (14), falls prey to greedy supporters

v  990’s: gains more personal power and tries to shake off the people who have been controlling him

Ø  Viking attacks increase

Ø  Battle of Maldon occurs in 991

§  He does not lead his troops into battle, and an ealdorman leads the troops (he is an outsider)

·         This will be a reoccurring theme and man of the, probably court sponsored, writings at the time tried to convince the populace that a king who does not personally lead his troops into battle is cool beans

·         Also in Beowulf, an outsider comes to the rescue

Ø  After this battle Aethelred begins to pay the Vikings to leave

§  Tried to end the Viking attacks through bureaucracy, however this fails

v  1002: St. Brice’s Day Massacre

Ø  Ethnic cleansing of the Danes in England

Ø  This will later come back to bite Aethelred in the ass because the Viking King Swein’s sister was among those killed

v  1013: Aethelred is pushed out of England and Cnut is called to rule

Ø  However Aethelred is called back in 1014

Ø  1015: Cnut and the Vikings ally with the West Saxons and attack Aethelred and his son. Aethelred dies as Cnut is about to attack Longdon

Emma of Normandy

Emma of Normandy

v  c. 985-1052

Ø  She was both wife to Aethelred the Unready and Cnut

§  She had two sons, one by each husband and two step-sons from each husband

Ø  She was mostly interested in maintaining her elevated status and she did so by promoting her sons to the kingship

§  She was also powerful during the rulership of her husbands, esp. Cnut who traveled back and forth between Denmark and England

·         When he was gone she ruled the kingdom

v  Sons

Ø  Harthacnut

§  He is in Denmark when his father dies, and he cannot leave to try to claim the throne

·         The crown goes to Harold Harefoot (rules until 1040)

·         After this happens Emma tries to get power back by inviting her son by Aethelred to come back

¨       Godwin tries to have Alfred blinded, but he is accidentally killed

Ø  Harthacnut (rules from 1040-42)

§  However he is not trusted during his reign and he uses the English state to further his own Scandinavian interests

Ø  Edward the Confessor

§  Son of Emma by Aethelred; she engineered his return

·         Rules from 1042-1066

¨       He is the last truly English King

v  However Emma does not have any power when her son Edward is in power (he didn’t like her) and she seems to have lost all power by 1043

Ø  She dies in 1052

Battle of Maldon

Battle of Maldon

v  991 on the shores of the Blackwater River in Essex

v  Ealdorman Byrhtnoth allows the Vikings (under Anlaf) to cross the causeway so that they can fight

Ø  King Aethelred (the unready) is not present at the Battle, he allows his noblemen to fight for him, disregarding the traditional beliefs about what a king should be

v  There is a poem chronicling the epic battle

Ø  Talks about what real men and warriors should be          

§  The courageous stay and fight to avenge their Lord’s death

§  There are some who flee after he dies and they are treated with contempt

§  They lose heroically

Ø  Part of the Cotton Library; original manuscript destroyed; beginning and end of poem lost

Swein Forkbeard

Swein Forkbeard

v  c. 960 – 1014

v  King of Denmark, England, and parts of Norway

Ø  King of Denmark: 1000

Ø  King of England: 1013

§  Seems to have swept easily across England with his invasion force, only having difficulties with London

§  However he died after having only ruled England unopposed for five weeks

v  Viking leader; son of Harold Bluetooth

v  Not much is known about Swein due to conflicting, unsubstantiated, bad sources

Ø  He was the Viking leader who lead raids against England during the reign of Aethelred the Unready

§  Possibly as revenge for the death of his sister and brother-in-law in the St.  Brice’s day massacre

§  Swein was also given large amounts of tribute money from the young king

·         This may have been needed by Forkbeard to raise capital after having to pay a hefty ransom  



v  Died 1023

v  Bishop of London (996) and Worchester(1002), and archbishop of York (1002)

Ø  Held both Worchester and York until 1016 when he gave up Worchester, but kept York

v  Sermon of the Wolf to the English

Ø  Written in 1014

v  Drafted law codes for both Aethelred the Unready and Cnut

Ø  Though before he began to draft law codes for Cnut he lamented the Viking raiders and hated them thoroughly



v  Died November 1035

v  Viking King of England, Denmark, and Norway

Ø  Was recognized as the successor to the army by the Danes when his father died, however the English invited Aethelred to return and Cnut was expelled

§  He at first tried to get his brother (ruling Denmark at that point) to divide the country and help him attack England. He would get the choice between the two. The brother declined and Cnut attacked England alone in September 1015 and became King by November

Ø  After winning he held a meeting in London which may have led directly to his coronation in London

§  This shows that conquering England was not enough he also needed to legitimize himself

Ø  Divided the country into four parts keeping Wessex for himself.

§  Since he does not have any ties to the people himself, he had to rely on powerful local figures

§  However, Eadric, who was given one of the swaths, was later killed by Cnut (he was a flip-flopper)

Ø  Married Emma (former wife of Aethelred)

§  This was another way for him to cement his power

v  Bureaucracy

Ø  Law codes

§  Keeps the laws written by Edgar in an attempt to remind people of past glory

§  Written by Wulfstan

·         One Cnut

·         Two Cnut

v  Died 1035




v  1018-1042

v  King of Denmark 1035-1042

v  King of England 1040-42

v  Son of Cnut and Emma

Ø  Some sources say that Emma made Cnut promise that her male children would get the entire kingdom, over Cnut’s other children

Ø  He was ruling Denmark at the time of his father’s death in 1035 and his half-brother took control of England until his death in 1040

v  Rule of England

Ø  Harthacnut ruled England for his own personal gain and for the gain of Scandinavia

§  AS Chronicle states that he never did anything useful as a king

§  1041: Tax collectors were being killed in the streets because people were unhappy about the facts that their taxes were not going for the English state, but to Scandinavia

·         H was very angry about this and when Worchester killed the collectors he sent an army to ravage the town, however much of the population had already fled, having been warned in advance

v  Died 1042

Edward the Confessor

Edward the Confessor

v  Born btw. 1003 and 1005

Ø  Son of King Aethelred and Emma

Ø  Last King in the house of Wessex

v  Ruled 1042-1066

Ø  Though he was the last Anglo-Saxon king he grew up in the Norman court and had Norman ideas

§  He does not have any ties with the local elites, however Godwin took him under his wing

·         He marries the daughter of Godwin, Edith; but he never has children

Ø  1051

§  Edward rejects the man Godwin wants for Archbishop of Canterbury

·         When one of the King’s relations is attacked in a area under the rule of Godwin, the King orders G to punish the people. G refuses and he and family are exiled

·         One year later, G comes back and forces E to reinstate him

v  William the Conqueror (a Norman)

Ø  Said that E had given him the kingship

v  Themes

Ø  Continuously decreasing power of the monarchy and the increasing power of the earls



v  A very powerful Anglo-Saxon Earl,

Ø   Godwin secured the marriage of his daughter Edith (Eadgyth) to Edward in 1045.

§  His challenges to the authority of King Edward the Confessor led to his exile and subsequent attack on Edward and his supporters. He garnered support and after bringing down the kings,

§   he secured the throne for his son, Harold Godwinson, whose reign was catastrophic and led only to the Norman invasion in 1066. 


Battle of Stanford Bridge

Battle of Stamford Bridge

v  Took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, East Riding of Yorkshire in England on 25 September 1066.

Ø   This was shortly after an invading Norwegian army under King Harald Hardråde the army of the northern earls Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria at the Battle of Fulford two miles south of York.

Ø   After a lengthy forced march up to Stamford Bridge that took place in just four days, King Harold Godwinson of England caught Harald's force by surprise, which meant that the soldiers were unarmoured. After a stubborn battle, the majority of the Norwegians were killed along with Harald Hardråde and Earl Tostig, Harold's brother. Although Harold repelled the Norwegian invaders, his victory was short-lived: he was defeated and killed at Hastings less than three weeks later. The battle was a result of lowered defenses on behalf of the English, due to anticipation of a Norman attack that would eventually come to fruition shortly after.

Battle of Hastings

Battle of Hastings

v  (14 October 1066) was the decisive Norman victory in the Norman Conquest of England.

Ø  It was fought between the Norman army of William the Conqueror, and the English army led by Harold Godwinson.

Ø  The Norman army was composed of nobles, mercenaries, and troops from France and Europe, including some from southern Italy. The English army is usually thought to have numbered roughly 7,500 and consisted entirely of infantry.

§   It is most probable that all the members of the army rode to battle, but once at the appointed place they dismounted to fight on foot.

v  The battle was a decisive Norman victory.

Ø  Harold II was killed; traditionally, it is believed he was shot through the eye with an arrow. Although there was further English resistance, this battle is seen as the point at which William gained control of England. Taking Harold’s illegitimate crowning as a declaration of war, invalidating his own claims to the throne, William’s attack on Harold was not surprising. After achieving victory, he managed to undo and dismantle an Anglo-Saxon world that had existed for centuries, marking a turning point in English history. 

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