A History of Great Britain by Robert Balmain Mowat - CHAPTER V - The Last Century of the Anglo-Saxons

August 22 2018

CHAPTER V - The Last Century of the Anglo-Saxons

Since the year 978, Æthelred the Redeless/the Unready sites on the throne of England. In 991, he is earning his name (“Æthelred” means “noble council” and Redeless, the lack of good council) by instating the first parlamentaryy taxation in the form of ‘Danegeld’. Danegeld was a tax to finance the defense against the every-invading Danes, but was in reality a type of protection money Æthelred paid the Danes to keep away.

Naturally, Sweyn, King of Denmark decides to disregard this arrangement and invaded prosperous England anyway. In 1014, Sweyn dies a year after the invasion and his taking of the English throne (by exiling Æthelred), and his son Cnut ascends the throne.

Cnut is now King of England, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

Two years after Sweyn’s death, Æthelred comes back from his exile in Normandy and takes back the throne. A English-Danish noble however, betrays Æthelred and takes 40 English ships to Cnut’s side. When Æthelred dies, his son Edmund ‘Ironside’ continues his father’s fight.

Edmund manages to take back London and the questionable noble (Edric Streona) switches sides once more.

Fighting would not stop and after much back and forth, a treaty of partition is made, bestowing Wessex to Edmund and all the rest to Cnut.

One month later, Edmund is assassinated by an unknown hand.

Now king of all England, Cnut furthers trade, learning and just law and dies after a reign of 18 years in 1035.

After two more much less successful Danish kings, the Witan (the parliament) recalls, in 1042, the house of Alfred, in the person of Edward the Confessor.

Edward’s primary interest lies in church reform, modeled after the Norman church.

After Edward’s death, the Witan elects Harold, son of Earl Godwin to the throne. Earl Godwin was a statesman, neither priest nor king, who fought against Edward’s ‘Normanizing’ of England and its church.

Harold stood for a harsh, Saxon England - unclaimed forests and marshes, few towns and free man.

His rival was William the Norman, who stood for feudalism and a stricter code for everything.

William triumphed at the ‘Battle of Hastings’ due to the death of Harold in 1066, and an Anglo-Saxon England is no more.