British Dynastic Wars (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: At issue: Control of England’s monarchy. Result: Norman conquest of England.
Anglo-Saxon King Alfred the Great of Wessex (south and west England) unified his kingdom by major political, military, and cultural reforms. These reforms enabled his successors to overwhelm the less numerous Danes (former Vikings) in the north and east of England by the mid-900’s. Peace existed in a united England from the mid-900’s to 980. Danish attacks then resumed at a time when England was led by a weak king, Æthelred II the Unready. What followed were intermittent conflict and contested claims to the throne of England.
As the Danish attacks increased, Æthelred II brought peace by buying off the Danes, paying them through funds collected from the “Danegeld,” a tax imposed on the English. In 1013, Sweyn I Forkbeard, king of Denmark, renewed the conquest. Sweyn died in 1014 and Æthelred II in 1016, but the battle continued between Sweyn’s son Canute I and Edmund Ironside, the son of Æthelred II. At Ashington (1016) in Essex, when half of his army deserted, Edmund was routed and fled, dying at the end of the year.
Æthelred II had a second son, the future Edward the Confessor. Although the throne usually passed from father to son within the House of Wessex, each new king was in theory elected by the witan, a group of Anglo-Saxon nobles and...
(The entire section is 691 words.)
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