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The Vikings were a Scandinavian people who had left their home lands in search of new lands starting in the 8th century. When the Vikings first arrived in England it was a heavily divided land which made it very easy for them to seize control of many cities and ports but as time went on the English kings and leaders of the surrounding areas started to form up to defend against the “heathens” who sought to destroy the holy sites and steal the land from them(Viking king 63). When it comes to the Vikings invasion of England many factors were used in order to achieve success for so long by the Vikings. First off the weapons and ships that they used in order to raid and pillage cities and monasteries were very useful and essential to the their victories in England. Second the military tactics that were used by the Vikings while they were raiding were crucial to the success of the Vikings. And finally the way the Vikings manipulated the politics of all the areas in Britain made it so that they could successful conquer an area and subsequently settle in the area after arrival. From the time of the first Scandinavian raids on England at the end of the eighth century. Until the Viking conquest in 1012, the political geography and culture of the Anglo-Saxons were transformed through the influence of the Vikings.
During the Vikings conquest of England the Vikings raided many places that were see as holy lands by the English there for the English branded them heathens and did everything in their power to stop them(Viking kings). One of the most notable place that the Vikings raided during their initial raids into England was the Lindisfarne Monastery “In the year 793 AD, on a January morning, the wealthy monastic settlement of Lindis-farne(or Holy island), off the Northumbrian coast, was suddenly attacked by a powerful fleet of Danish Vikings. They sacked the place, devoured the cattle, killed many of the monks, and sailed away with rich booty in gold, jewels, and sacred emblems.”(Web) The raiding of the Lindisfarne Monastery was such a huge blow to the church in England that not only did the message of the Vikings spread throughout England most of Europe also heard about the news. The next year the Vikings tried to invade again but this time they were being attacked heavily while also being battered by fierce weather(web) because of this combination of bad weather and overwhelming forces many of the Vikings were killed off and their king was captured and put to a cruel death, because of the slaughter of the Vikings, no raids were successful at gaining land in England until 865
“When resistance stiffened on the continent and the great Danish invasion of Northumbria and Eastern England began”(web) At this time was when England starts to see what is referred to as the “Great Army” lead by a man named Ivarr(Viking kings 63) During Ivarr’s campaign through England he captured many cities and regions throughout England starting with the city of York “The city of York was captured by the army of East Anglia in 866 and this inaugurated a string of Viking successes”(Viking kings 63). Because of the capture of the city of York it allowed for the Vikings to have a staging ground so that they could capture more cities throughout England. Of the cities that the Vikings took after their capture of York included East Anglia, Mercia, and Wessex(Viking king 63). With the capture of Wessex its king, King Alfred was forced to go into hiding so that he could rally his forces up again to fight the Vikings, When the Vikings fought King Alfred at Edington in May of 878(Viking Kings 63) . This marked the end of the string of successes that the Viking raiders had been accomplishing. “In King Alfreds days a large army of pagans came up from the sea, and attacked and destroyed the city of Winchester. As they were returning laden with booty to their ships Osric, earl of Hampshire, with his men, and earl Ethelwulf, with the men of Berkshire, confronted them bravely, a severe battle took place and the pagans were slain on everyside”(Life of King Alfred) In the next 50 years after the battle at Edington Ivarr’s heirs and the English kings that controlled the land were locked in a struggle over who would have control of the land (Viking Kings 63).
When it comes to the politics of the area that the Vikings raided, many of the Viking groups, towards the end of the 9th century, would still raid the areas that they went into but would often tend to only raid places that were more vibrant for settling(web) because after they would raid the area they would tend to stay there and start to settle the area. Many of the kings disapproved of this because when the vikings would settle an area. It often meant that the closest kingdoms to the areas that the vikings settled in would often get raided by the Vikings in order for them to get more valuables.(Hersir). But not every settlement in the area would actually get ready but instead they would pay the viknigs to leave their land peacefully with a currency known as Danegeld, Danegeld is a payment that was payed by the people of England to the vikings so that they would restrain from ravaging and raiding a kingdom or town.(Viking Kings 65).
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