Alternate History

War of Wessexian Succession (The Once and Never Kings)

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War of Wessexian Succession
Date 1032 - 1035
Location England
Result Tactical Draw
Strategic Wessexian Victory
  • Division of England affirmed
Wessex Denmark
Commanders and leaders
Edward III Cnut Sweynsson
Harald Cnutsson

The War of Wessexian Succession, also know as the War of the Wessex Succession or Saxon Succession War, was a major conflict between the Kingdom of Wessex and the North Sea Empire. The war, while tactically a draw, held far reaching consequences, preventing the reunification of England and ushering the disintegration of the North Sea Empire.


After the previous invasion by Denmark, it was agreed to divide the former Kingdom of England into Anglo-Saxon Wessex, and Danish Jórvík, one or the other to be inherited by the other upon the death of one.

Wessex might've honored the agreement, but an assassination attempt on Edmund Ironside's life a mere month following the peace spoiled such thoughts. While it was never proven as such, Denmark was believed to have been behind it. Outraged, Wessex began preparing for war to defend its independence should Edmund die first. The, unofficial, heir Edward was trained in commanding armies during repeated expansions into Wales and Cornwall.


Edmund II would indeed die first in 1032. Much to Cnut's surprised, Edward was crowned King in Winchester soon after. Cnut returned to Jórvík with the Danish army, also raising the still-largely Anglo-Saxon of Jórvík. Outnumbering Edwards army 3:2, he marched south towards Winchester.

Edward was already well prepared by the time Cnut landed, as his first act as King was to raise the army. Drawing Cnut's main army east to Hampshire, he left a hugely outnumbered and inadequately equipped army in Hampshire to stall Cnut while Edwards main force circled back to the north, threatening to cut Cnut's supply lines, indeed several supply wagons bound for the Danish army were raided by Saxon forces.

After his minor victory in Hampshire, Cnut was forced to turn north to reopen has supply routes a brief skirmish between the forwards scouts of the Danish army and the rear guard elements of the Saxons was the only outcome, however, and Edward escaped with his army remaining intact. Both sides then withdrew for the winter and now action took place while their armies huddled in their camps.

When spring of 1033 arrived, Cnut was quick to march for Canterbury, believing the area to be to have been where Edward made his winter camp. Hit and run attacks by the still smaller Saxon army dwindled his numbers, and Cnut lost confidence that he could take Canterbury, turning back west for Winchester, now believing nothing standing between him and the Wessexian capital. He would be proved wrong as he encountered, and was defeated by, the well entrenched Saxon army commanded by Edward.

Cnut retreated north, intending to wheel back towards Winchester by way of Bristol. However, Edward slipped behind Cnut's army, heading for London. Forced again to divert his army to deal with a Saxon threat to his rear, Cnut marched to London, only to find that the Saxons abandoned their siege before his arrival.

Now in the winter of 1033-1034, action dwindled to raids as the armies made camp again. When spring came yet again in 1034, it was Edward who made the first move of the year. Drawing Cnut's army back towards London, he was successfully able to pin it against the Thames River, scoring a critical victory, and ensuring his vassal's continued support, which had begun to wane. After securing further reinforcements, Edward decided to march for Lincoln, within Jórvík.

Now beginning to face dissent from his own vassals, Cnut was forced to pursue, not being able to afford the loss of such a large city. His pursuit ended with the final major battle of the war, the Battle of Lincoln.

The battle such the near-total destruction of the Danish army, as well as the death of Cnut. His eldest son, Harald, now King Harald I of Jórvík, received word that Norway had rebelled, his brother Sweyn Cnutsson dead. Recognizing his precarious position, Harald called for peace.


Edward and Harald would agree to drop their claims to the other's land, and recognized the division of England. Harald would be forced to return to Norway to fight the revolt, only to lose and see Norway splinter as a result. Edward on the other hand lived several years longer, looking to return to Wessexian expansion into the Celtic lands.

The war essentially solidified the division of England, and created a deep rivalry between the two kingdoms that last to this day. The culture of their populations would also diverge, Wessex retaining its distinct Germanic, Anglo-Saxon identity, while Jórvík would acquire an identifiable Danish touch, and would eventually come to eclipse its former overlord.

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