Danish Invasion of England
Date 1015 - 1016
Location England
Result Danish Victory
England Denmark
Commanders and leaders
Edmund II Ironside Cnut Sweynsson

The Danish Invasion of England, also referred to as "Cnut's War", was a conflict in the early eleventh century. It saw the de facto end of a unified England, and the establishment of the rival kingdoms of Wessex and Jórvík.


The 1016 Invasion could be considered a continuation of the war started by Cnut's father, Sweyn Forkbeard, who invaded England in 1013. Sweyn successfully conquered the nation, and overthrew the Anglo-Saxon King Æthelred II. Upon Sweyns death however, Æthelred returned from his exile in Normandy with and army, and expelled Cnut who had been made King of England by his father's death. Cnut almost immediately began making plans to return, aided by his brother, the king of Denmark.

The War

Cnut landed in Wessex in September of 1015, advancing into Dorset and Somerset. In early 1016, The Danish army crossed the Thames River, heading north and marching on London. The heir to Æthelred, Edmund, made several attempts to resist, but plagued by defections, he was eventually forced behind Londons walls. It was there where Edmund would be elected King upon the death of Æthelred on April 23, 1016.

Edmund would break out of London sometime later, before the Danish army could complete their encirclement. From this Cnut moved south, inviting battle. Cnut's army would be engaged by the English force under Edmund at the Battle of Assandun on October 18, 1016. The battle would prove a disaster for Edmund, and was defeated by the Danish army.

Realizing he could no longer win with his depleted army, Edmund brokered a peace with Cnut. It was agreed that they would divide England between them with one to inherit the other half upon the death. Edmund would keep Wessex, while Cnut would take the old Danelaw, extending south and including London.


It's believed that Edmund would have honored the peace, and left Wessex for Cnut upon his death, had an assassination attempt on his life, made less than a month after the agreement, occurred. It's often believed that Cnut was behind the attempt, though no concrete evidence has been found. Nevertheless, Edmund and his nobles believe the Danes were behind it, and infuriated by the insult, began preparing for war with the Danes. Edmund would train his son, Edward, how to command armies during Wessex's expansions into the Welsh petty kingdoms, and putting down Cornish revolts.

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