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Tenth Century (Ethelred the Pious)

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Englebrog
Ethelred the Pious

Category
Off-site discussion
-Benkarnell-


Overview

England

During the Tenth Century, England changed from an Anglo-Saxon country under Viking occupation into a Scandinavian country with a downtrodden Saxon minority. Much of this transformation came from the waves of immigrants from Denmark and Norway. They formed a new class of peasant freeholders, independent-minded and pagan. A hybrid culture developed combining the native with the Viking. The Beowulfssaga, thought to originate in Mercia, is considered a prime example of this cultural blending. The old inhabitants of the island influenced the invaders' language as well, and by the end of the century both peoples were speaking various dialects of what can be called Old Englesk.

Jorvik and Østangeln continued as separate kingdoms until the very end of the century. Østangeln's history was in general more turbulent than Jorvik's. Whereas Jorvik adopted a consistent Saxon-inspired legal system and a fairly regular system for electing its kings, Østangeln was a constant battlefield for nobles and invaders seeking influence and power. The kingdom fell to Erik Bloodaxe, former King of Norway and then king of Dublin, in mid-century.

The dispute between Erik Bloodaxe's sons led to the Bloodaxe War of 964-974. The two factions appealed to outside allies, and one by one Orkney, Jorvik, Alba, and finally Denmark were brought into the conflict. By the end of the war, Harald Bluetooth of Denmark was the ruler of Østangeln. His successor Sweyn Forkbeard proceeded to conquer Jorvik and become King of Dublin in the 990s. In 998 Sweyn became the first ruler of a united Kingdom of England.

Scotland

The Vikings' focus on England in the earlier part of the century led to more raids on the European continent, but it actually provided a respite for the nascent Scottish state, Alba, during the reign of Constantine II. Of all of Alba's kings, Constantine did the most to establish the Scottish kingdom. He put Scotland on the path toward unification a century earlier than in OTL.

By the end of Constantine's reign, Alba was probably the strongest kingdom in the British Isles. His successors maintained its position, and during the Bloodaxe War the Isle of Man and some of the Hebrides were added to its territory. The first real threat to Alba emerged at the end of the century with the rise of the Danish Empire.

Welsh states

Throughout this period, the principalities of Wales frequently were caught up in the rivalries between their larger, Scandinavian neighbors.

Kernow, called Cornwall and West Wales by the Saxons, was conquered in 904 by Hrolfr the Northman, a Dane who had become a jarl in the Kingdom of Jorvik. His descendants ruled the kingdom throughout the tenth century, gradually losing power and interest in their English jarldom and becoming more Cornish.

Scandinavia

Two Norwegian kings, Haakon I and Olaf I, spent formative years in England. They did not convert to Christianity in this pagan country, and therefore did not bring the new religion back to Norway. The eleventh-century King Olaf II was the first Christian monarch of Norway. He too had spent some time in England, as well as Ireland and the Norse Spanish kingdom of Galisja.

Many Danes left for England during the early 10th century. The conquest did not affect Denmark's religious history, since it was already in the process of converting, mainly due to the efforts of German missionaries. Harald Bluetooth fought in the Bloodaxe War and received Østangeln as a result, and by the 990s all of England was part of a new Danish empire.

The Western Empire

In the early tenth century, the Viking raids Viking raids in Gaul and Germany resumed and lasted a long time. English Vikings began attacking the coasts of the Western Roman Empire in force in the 920s. Charles the Simple, emperor since 915, proved unable to repulse them and eventually allowed some English attackers to settle near the mouth of the Seine as his vassals (the Creation of Angelania, or Anguèlènie).

The emperor's failure to defend the coasts led to a series of rebellions by the nobility. The first was led by Count Robert of Paris, who became King of Neustria in 930. The German magnates followed, refusing to elect a Carolingian when the King of East Francia died. New Muslim attacks in Aquitaine and Italy led those two regions to also choose local kings. The Carolingians only kept a hold on the rump Kingdom of Lotharingia in the north-central part of the old empire.

Spain and Andalusia

In northern Spain, the struggling Christian kingdoms found themselves caught between the Vikings and the expanding Cordoba Caliphate. They were unable to resist two such powerful enemies at once. By the end of the century, Cordoban rule extended northward to the Pyrenees and Leon. Vikings established their own petty states along the coast. The most important of these by far was Galisja, centered on Santiago de Compostela. Galisja attracted immigrants from England and took on a decidedly Nordic flavor. By 1000 Castile was the only major Christian state left in Spain; it ruled the Castilian plain as well as the rugged land of Asturias. However, the Galisjan Vikings were gradually converting to Christianity themselves, led for example by its second king, Hrut. Hrut began referring to his kingdom as Sant Jakob.

Narrative

Hogni and Constantine

Britain900(EtP)

Britain in 900

Britain930(EtP)

Britain in 930

Britain between 900 and 930 was dominated by two powerful kings: Hogni the Wise of Jorvik and Constantine the Great of Alba. Both men successfully consolidated their rule over their respective kingdoms and expanded their territory. Hogni used the sound Anglo-Saxon administrative and legal structures that existed before his father had conquered England. He also successfully took advantage of the weakness of his neighboring kingdom, Østangeln. Constantine consolidated his power during a time when the Viking kingdoms were busy fighting one another rather than invading Scotland. He cooperated with the Church and extended his rule over neighboring Northumbria and Strathclyde.

In 903, the Østanglian nobles overthrew the joint kings, Sigfrid and Sigtrygg. They fled to the court of their uncle and former enemy, Hogni of Jorvik. Hogni sought to use them to further destabilize Østangeln, so in 905 he equipped them with an army to retake their old kingdom.

The brothers' attack failed. The army was defeated, Sigfrid was killed, and Sigtrygg captured. Hogni recognized that he had bet on the wrong horse. He refused to ransom Sigtrygg, abandoning him to the new king, Halfdan, who soon had him executed. Hogni instead sought to establish ties with Halfdan. Halfdan's son Eirik married Hogni's daughter Raghild in 910.

While the English were occupied with fighting one another, a new power was rising in the north. Constantine II became King of Scots and Picts in 900 and soon began strengthening his kingdom through buildings and reforms. In 906, the last Anglo-Saxon king, Eadulf of Northumbria, appealed to Constantine for protection. Constantine become Northumbria's feudal overlord.

In 914, the two kings clashed. Hogni sought to conquer the last of the Saxons and invaded Northumbria with an army. Constantine met him, and the battle was bloody but indecisive. Hogni and Constantine settled upon a border and agreed never to fight over Northumbria: in the so-called Treaty of Bramburgh they essentially acknowledged one another as equals and became loyal friends. Constantine began building castles and monasteries in Northumbria, cementing his rule and helping the spread of Scots-Gaelic culture there.

Hogni's marital diplomacy seemed to pay off in 922, when his son-in-law Eirik seized the Østanglian throne. When Hogni died in 924, he ruled over a secure kingdom in Jorvik, was the acknowledged overlord of Dublin and several other Irish fiefs conquered by loyal jarls, maintained a secure and peaceful northern border, and had a great deal of influence in Østangeln. Nevertheless, the jarls elected Bjørn, leader of a different family, to succeed him.

In 932 Constantine's influence was extended still farther. His ally King Dyfnwal of Strathclyde, the Welsh-speaking kingdom to the southwest of Alba, had designated Constantine's nephew Máel Coluim as his tanist, or heir. When Dyfnwal died in 932, Constantine was firmly established as northern Britain's great power. Constantine designated Máel Coluim, also known as Malcolm, as his tanist. When Constantine retired to a monastery in 943, Malcolm became King of the Picts, Scots, Strathclyde, and Northumbria. Alba's rise to power was complete.

Frankish lands

See also: Viking Raids

After around 920, English Vikings began expanding to other countries. The sons of many Norwegian nobles came to England to prove themselves by raiding neighboring lands, while many English Vikings continued to attack their neighbors for profit and glory.

The Descendants of Ragnar, the family of England's first Viking conquerors, led many of the most successful conquests abroad. After Sigtrygg Ivarsson was captured trying to reconquer Østangeln, his son Sigtrygg the Squinty went back to Jorvik. In 920 he assembled a large number of followers and sailed to France.

Sigtrygg landed at the mouth of the Seine and attacked the important city of Rouen. The city fell to him, and he began attacking towns farther upriver, including Paris. Count Robert of Paris fought back. He appealed in vain for help from his feudal overlord, King and Emperor Charles the Simple.

Charles put a stop to the fighting in 925. Sigtrygg was granted a sizeable domain named the March of Angelania, or Anguèlènie. In return, he acknowledged Charles as Emperor and consent to be baptized. Though a lifelong pagan, Sigtrygg agreed, resulting in the Creation of Angelania. As Margrave of Angelania, he became one of the West's most powerful magnates. He died soon afterwards and was succeeded by his cousin Góröðr, who was already using his French name, Godefroy. Soon after becoming Duke, Godefroy secured a politically savvy marriage to Emengard, daughter of the Duke of Burgundy. He inherited Burgundy through his wife in 950.

Robert saw the creation of Angelania as a betrayal and a final sign of the Empire's ineffectiveness. He waited for the right moment to break free. He assembled the magnates of Neustria in 930 to repudiate Charles' rule and seize the Angelanian lands. Robert captured some land west of the Seine, but failed to conquer all of Angelania. He did defeat Charles in battle, and the Emperor died in prison in Paris in 932.

Cut off from the Frankish core lands by Neustria, the Kingdom of Aquitaine gradually drifted apart from the Empire. The far south contained the County of Toulouse and the Kingdom of Provence, as in OTL. Anglo-Norse occupied Bordeaux at least twice, but were driven out.

Spain

Other Vikings sailed southwest and harassed the coasts of Spain. In 924, the chieftain Geirmund Roundhead captured Pamplona, a city weakened by a Muslim attack the year before. Over the following years, attacks from England intensified even as the Muslim state of Al-Andalus gained in strength. In 929 its ruler Abd ar-Rahman proclaimed himself Caliph, renouncing all outside authority. He led his empire to cultural sophistication and territorial growth. His capital Cordoba became the largest city in the world during this period. Leon, the most important center of Christian resistance, fell in 942.

In 949 Olaf the Hairy, a grandson of Hogni and cousin of Jorvik's new King Thorvald, sailed with the greatest Viking force ever to attack Spain. He conquered what remained of the Kingdom of Galicia. He made his capital at Santiago de Compostela, a city holy to Christians. He acknowledged his cousin as overlord, but ruled Galisja very independently.

Galisja became a Nordic outpost in the corner of Spain. Olaf actively encouraged Englanders to immigrate there. He was generous in granting jarldoms to loyal underlings. He failed in his bid to seize the throne of Jorvik (see below), but he defended his own kingdom against Moors and Vikings alike and passed his crown to his son Hrut.

Like many less powerful Anglo-Norse leaders in Spain, Hrut converted to the religion of his neighbors. While the Vikings in Pamplona and elsewhere adopted the dominant religion of Islam, Hrut became a devout Christian. Apparently after experiencing a vision, he restored Compostela's bishop and cut ties with England. Hoping to draw pilgrims to the holy city, he improved the port at Ferrol and the road connecting it to the capital. Soon his kingdom was known as Sant Jakob, the Englesk form of "Santiago".

The Conquests of the Bloodaxe Family

Britain950(EtP)

Erik Bloodaxe was a much-feared Viking leader. He had obtained the submission of all other kings of Norway. In 935, however, his brother Haakon returned to the country. Haakon had been raised in the Jorvikish court and spent his youth fighting in Ireland and Spain. With the support of the Norwegian kings and nobles, Haakon overthrew his brother.

Erik fled to England. When he arrived in Østangeln he lost no time in planning another conquest. He amassed an army of followers and sailed to the Orkney Islands to amass more. The fleet attacked Dublin, then a jarldom loyal to Beorn of Jorvik. Erik's conquest was swift. He not only established himself as King of Dublin, but within three years had emerged as Ireland's dominant ruler. The Gaelic lords proclaimed him High King at the ancient gathering place of Tara in 938. While this was a purely symbolic post, it was a sure sign that Erik was the most powerful ruler on the island.

Erik's son, Erik the Mariner, had ambitions of his own. In 946 he sailed on a mission of conquest from Dublin to Østangeln. Along the way he attacked and defeated the Norse kingdoms of Man and Anglesey, as well as the western part of Cornwall. Erik secured the submission of all the peoples he attacked, and his voyage was later immortalized in many sagas. By 947 he was sub-king of Østangeln; he continued to acknowledge his father in Dublin as king over him.

His position secured by conquest, Erik the Mariner took the traditional next step and secured it farther through marriage. He reached out to his new neighbor, King Thorvald of Jorvik. His daughter Halla was married to Thorvald's nephew Thorkell in 953.

Brit980(EtP)

The next year, Thorvald died unexpectedly. Erik hoped to put his son-in-law on the throne and thus increase his influence over Jorvik. Thorkell faced a challenge, however, from his uncle, Olaf the Hairy, then King of Galisja. Both Eriks lent their full support to Thorkell. In a battle near London, Thorkell and the Eriks defeated Olaf. Olaf went back to Spain, and Thorkell became King.

Erik Bloodaxe finally died in 964, having led a surprisingly long life for so warlike a king. Erik the Mariner immediately began to vie with his half-brother, Harald Greycloak, for control of Dublin, Man and Østangeln. Harald Greycloak's mother was Erik Bloodaxe's Consort, the powerful Queen Gunnhild. Erik had support from Jorvik, while Gunnhild had ties with the Jarls of Orkney and courted an alliance with Alba. The Bloodaxe War lasted a decade and involved every state in the British Isles.

By 971, the tide had turned against Harald and Gunnhild. They faced annihilation from an alliance of Jorvik and Østangeln with Alba, which had switched sides after King Dub was executed by his cousin Cuilen. Gunnhild in desperation turned to her distant kinsman, King Harald Bluetooth of Denmark. Harald lost no time in establishing his presence in England. When the war ended in 974, he possessed Østangeln, the city of Lundun, and several surrounding shires. Harald Greycloak was left almost where he had started; the only piece of his brother's kingdom that he actually held on to was the isle of Ongellsey. The Danish takeover of England had begun.

The Caliph's Triumph

After the city of Leon fell to the Caliph and Galicia was overrun by the English, Castile emerged as the strongest Christian state in Spain. Count Ferdinand Gonzalez united his armies with Asturias to fend off Abd ar-Rahman's invasion in 950 at the Battle of Lena. The soldiers named him king of Castile and Asturias, and Ferdinand led his kingdom to successfully resist conquest.

Abd ar-Rahman's successor al-Hakam did not enjoy the same success. He attacked the Anglo-Viking kingdom of Galisja; the time seemed right because Galisja was caught up in squabbles of its own. Thorkell of Jorvik had invaded in 963 and sacked the holy shrine at Santiago de Compostela. Thorkell was driven away, but he took much of the wealth of the kingdom with him. Even so, the Galisjans were able to rally to halt al-Hakam when he invaded in 966.

The year 976 saw a new power emerge in Cordoba: the caliph's vizier, Al-Mansur. Al-Mansur was nominally the mere adviser to the real caliph, Hisham. But he was the true power behind the throne, and he led Andalusia in a new phase of expansion at the expense of the Spanish Christians. He pushed into the Pyrennes in the 970s and built a new city to be the center of Andalusian power in the northeast: Al-Darra. He sacked Barcelona a few years later.

What al-Mansur could not conquer, he was content to control. In the 990s he supported Sancho, rebellious son of King Garcia of Castile. Sancho drove his father out of Burgos, confining him to his lands in Asturias. Garcia died soon afterward, leaving Sancho free to take over the entire kingdom. Upon doing so, however, he attempted to break free of al-Mansur's control. Al-Mansur attacked Burgos directly, and in 997 he again secured Sancho's loyalty as a Cordoban vassal. By the year 1000, al-Mansur was at the height of his power. All the land of Iberia had either been conquered or forced to submit to his overlordship. The Umayyad Caliphate seemed invincible - something that was to be disproved early in the following century.

After 980, the Caliphate began pushing northward over the Pyrenees into Aquitaine and Toulouse. Toulouse rejoined its former overlord, the Aquitainian King, out of fear of invasion. Moorish invaders besieged Toulouse many times. In order to secure the Spanish Marches (now located north of the Pyrenees, since the old Marches had all fallen to the Caliph), Aquitaine awarded fiefs to Vikings from England, who established themselves in Gascony and became fierce fighters against Cordoban expansion.

The Second Danish Invasion

Brit1000(EtP)

England after its unification under Sweyn of Denmark

In 994, Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark, a king who combined paganism and Christianity, came to his kingdom in Østangeln and began throwing the full strength of his empire against the Jorvikish border regions, and against his old vassal in Dublin. The jarls of southern England, seeing which way the wind was blowing, swore allegiance to Sweyn and helped him defeat Jorvik. In a great battle in 998, Sweyn defeated the allied forces of Jorvik and Dublin. He was acknowledged the first King of England. At the same time, the Viking sub-kings and jarls of Dublin and Ongellsey elected Sweyn King. During the Eleventh Century, Sweyn and his heir Cnut ruled an empire spanning the North and Irish Seas.

The Distant Isles

Iceland had begun the the 900s as a much emptier place than OTL. Scandinavians seeking farmland found it in England and didn't need to brave the cold of Iceland. Beginning in the 950s or 60s, however, some Anglo-Norse were making the trip northward. By the late 900s, Iceland was no longer a homogenous island of Norwegians living a tribal existence: it was a polyglot island that included Gaels, Saxons, and Anglo-Norse, whose language was largely a branch of Danish.

Conflicts between these many groups persisted despite efforts to create a governing council, an Althing, in the 970s. Meetings of the chieftains frequently collapsed into fighting or brawling, and after a particularly violent confrontation in 992, the council never met again. By 1000, Icelandic society still had no unifying structures.

During the 980s or 990s, some Icelanders fleeing the civil conflicts transplanted themselves in Greenland. This settlement would lead to the discovery of North America in the following century.

At the other end of the Viking world, the Scandinavian/Varangian settlement of Russia continued as in OTL. Largely Swedish, the Varangian settlers' opportunities in Russia had not been much affected by the POD. Some of the individuals involved might be different, but the Rurikid family was in power as in OTL.


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