Mr. Sedivy's History
Historical Figures Architecture



US Flag

Mr. Sedivy's
History Classes:

More Features:

Site Search
History QuotesHumor
Submit Links/Info
LinksWhat's New?
Shop for Stuff



Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, ColoradoRise of Nation State England

Rise of Nation State England
The Return of the Vikings -

The Return of the Vikings
This is how the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle described the early raids:

980 - Southampton was ransacked by a naval force, and most of the citizens killed or taken captive; and in that same year Thane was ravaged.

981 - Great damage was done everywhere by the coast both in Devon and Cornwall.

982 - Three ships of Vikings arrived in dorset and ravaged in Portland. That same year London was burnt down. The English were no match for them. Things might have been different, if there had been another Alfred to defend England.

Eric Bloodaxe penny
Silver penny of Eric Bloodaxe (947 - 954), Viking king of York

Vikings in the Time of Alfred the Great
In their language, a "viking" was a pirate. To go "a-viking" meant an adventure overseas. (Some of their victims called them "Northmen.") Undefended monastery churches, with gold candlesticks, cups and other valuable ornaments, were obvious targets for these heathen pirates. For more than 200 years, no part of the coasts of Western Europe was safe from the merciless Vikings.

Viking Ships
Viking ships were a great improvement on the rowing galleys that carried the English settlers to Britain. Each had a proper "keel" or "backbone" made of a single length of oak. This was strong enough to stand the strain of a mast and a large square sail. The "steer-board" or rudder, was shaped like the blade of an oar and fixed on the right-hand side of the hull, near the stern. This side of a ship is still called the starboard (from steer-board). It had a sail, but its main power came from sixteen oars on each side. The crossing only took 28 days. They set their course by the position on the sun, to the pole-star after dark. If they met storms or fog they drifted aimlessly, but when the sky cleared they could correct their course.

Voyages of the Norsemen
There were three main Viking races, the Norwegians of Norway, the Danes of the Netherlands, and the Swedes of Sweden.

Early Raids on Britain - Norsemen
The earliest raids on Britain were carried out by Norwegians, the "Norsemen." Plunder wasn't their only aim. They were also searching for new places to live. They were looking for good farming land. Norsemen began to settle on Shetlands. The Shetlands were ideal bases for attacks on Ireland.

Lonely Iceland was the next place to be settled by Norsemen. Too cold for growing grain crops, it had grassy regions suitable for cattle and sheep.

Eric the Red
In 982, a tough Norseman called "Eric the Red" (he had red hair) killed a man and was banished from Iceland for three years. So, he set off exploring the land to the west. After much searching, he found a few areas of grassland along the coast. Eric returned to Iceland. He thought that people would want to go there if it had an attractive name! Sure enough, when Eric went back to "Greenland" he was followed. In 1000, Leif Ericson, son of Eric the Red, went to explore this new country. He ended up in Newfoundland.

Danish Attacks
Then the Vikings headed for France, Germany, and eastern England. They grew bolder and sailed up great rivers. They bring destruction deep into the heart, 200 miles up the river Seine to ransack Paris.

Alfred vs Danish Guthrum
King Ethelred and his brother, Alfred, led men of Wessex. Ethelred died suddenly in April 871, leaving the kingdom and all English hopes in hands of his brother, Alfred. Alfred bribed the Danes with money to leave his kingdom. They rode off toward London, and five years went by before they returned to Wessex. To make a long story short, the Danes returned after three battles. Alfred wins, peace was made, and the Danes promised to leave Wessex for good.

Guthrum was baptized a Christian, with Alfred as his godfather. Then the Viking chief led his men across the country to East Anglia, where they settled peacefully to "plough" the land and sow crops. Alfred was now the real ruler of all the English living outside of Danish settlements. In 886, he made another pact with Guthrum, which fixed a frontier between the English lands.

King Alfred's and Guthrum's pact also forbade cattle-stealing across the frontier. "If a man be killed, whether an Englishman or a Dane, we shall all place the same value on his life." Although the threat of the Great Army was over, Alfred decided to strengthen his defenses in case of future attack. He built "burhs." This is where the word "borough" comes from. He was soon put to the test In 892, when a large force of Danes crossed the Channel from France and landed on the Kent coast. Most of Alfred's burhs held firm. The invaders were finally defeated.

England now enjoyed a long period of peace. But, Viking raids against the weak Frankish Kingdom went on unchecked. The French king, Charles "the Simple" invited a Viking chieftain named Rollo to become the lawful ruler of the lands. He controlled at the mouth of the River Seine. In return, Rollo had to promise to protect Charles against further raids. They mixed with the Franks, converted them to Christianity, and taught them to speak French. The "Duchy of the Northmen" became known as Normandy.

Back to top of page

Mr. Sedivy's Lecture Notes & Historical Info

The Celts
| Gallic He-Men | Celtic Culture, Trade, Religion, Women |
| Threat of the Celts - Celtic Battles and Conquests |

- Rise of Nation State England -
| Roman Conquest of Britain | Christianity in Britain |
| Customs: Thanes, Churls, Thralls, Wergeld, Folk-Moot |
| Dark Ages: Alfred the Great, Edward the Elder, Athelstan |
| The Return of the Vikings |
| Kings of Britain: Aethelred, Cnut, Edward the Confessor |
| Bayeaux Tapestry, William the Conqueror,
Edward the Confessor, Harold Godwinson, Harold II
| The Crusades: Richard Lion Heart, Pope Urban |
| King John, Innocent III, Archbishop Stephen Langton |
| Magna Carta / First Parliament |

Wales and Scotland
| Wales: Edward I, Llewellyn, Snowdonia |
| Scotland: Alexander III, John Balliol,
William Wallace, Robert Bruce, King Edward II

The 100 Years War
| Edward III, Longbows at Crecy, Edward IV, Black Prince |
| Henry V, King Charles VI, Battle at Calais, Treaty of Troyes |

More Information
| Other Kings of the Dark and Middle Ages:
William II, Henry I, Henry II
| The British Monarchy's Peerage: Dukes, Viscounts,
Marquess, Earls, Baronets, and Barons

Class Activities
Roman Conquest Comparison
Battle of Agincourt

Related Information
Mr. Sedivy's World History - The Middle Ages
The Complete Bayeux Tapestry
Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages / Crusades
The Hundred Years War
King Henry VIII
The Interesting Life of Elizabeth I
The Stuarts - James I, Charles I, Charles II, James II
Oliver Cromwell



Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000

Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Advanced Placement Modern European History | Rise of Nation State England | World History |
| Home | Back to top of page | Site Contents |