What Was The Danelaw?

AncientPages.com - In 865 a Great Viking Army left Scandinavia to conquer England.

The Great Viking Army (sometimes referred to as the Great Danish Army), known by the Anglo-Saxons as the Great Heathen Army was a coalition of Norse warriors, originating from Denmark and Norway (and possibly also from Sweden) who came together under a unified command to invade the four Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that constituted England.

A map of the routes taken by the Great Heathen Army from 865 to 878.

A map of the routes taken by the Great Heathen Army from 865 to 878.

According to a legend this might Viking force was led by the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok, the legendary fearless Sea King.

After many battles against English Kings, Vikings from Denmark captured York in 867. Both Nottingham and York became part of the Viking domination. York became the capital of a Viking kingdom that lasted almost without interruption up to 954.

In 880 the Viking leader Guthrum signed a treaty with King Alfred of the Anglo-Saxons

which granted Guthrum rule over a large area of East Anglia, called the Danelaw that was basically Danish territory in England.


In 886 King Alfred managed to recover London and was accepted as overlord by all the English not subject to the Danes. King Alfred reorganized his army. He built ships and fortresses, planning to ring Wessex with them. He also made the Welsh kings his allies.

See also:

Famous Viking Ragnar Lodbrok – Legendary Fearless Sea-King Of The North

Battle Of Assandun: One Of The Great Battles In English History

Norse Kingdom Of Dublin Was Founded By The Vikings In 839 A.D.

In the 10th century Wessex’s power continued to grow under King Alfred’s son, Edward, who put down renewed Danish incursions into Wessex in the Battle of Tettenhall in 910 and moved against Vikings from Ireland who were attempting to conquer Northumbria. Edward also completed his father’s planned ring of fortresses. In 912 Edward and his sister, Aethelflaed, conducted separate campaigns into Danelaw and regained some lands.

The Danelaw slowly became smaller over time. By 918 AD the southern Danelaw was back under Anglo-Saxon control. In the north, Viking power collapsed after the Battle of Brunanburh in 937 AD.

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