Ch 02 The Growth of Feudalism

Ch.2-The Growth of Feudalism-Sect.4-The Northmen

Hits: 1938

CHAPTER II: THE GROWTH OF FEUDALISM

SECTION 4: THE NORTHMEN

 IN 793 ON JUNE 18TH, ACCORDING TO THE ‘CHRONICLE’, “GOD’S CHURCH AT LINDISFARNE WAS DESTROYED WITH RAPINE AND SLAUGHTER.”

HALF OF ENGLAND WAS OVERRUN BY IRON AXE WIELDING SCANDINAVIAN PEOPLE FROM NORWAY AND DENMARK.

IN REALITY, NORWEGIANS ATTACKED IRELAND AND THE DANES ENGLAND.

THEY CLEARED FORESTS, WHICH HELPED THEM BUILD LARGER AND MORE SEAWORTHY SHIPS, AND THEY USED THE SCOTTISH ISLANDS AS A BASE FOR THEIR PIRACY ON THE ALMOST DEFENCELESS ENGLISH.

IRELAND WAS OCCUPIED AND THEN FRANCE, WITH PARIS SACKED. THE NORWEGIANS WERE EVEN MORE ADVENTUROUS WHEN THEY LAY SEIGE TO ROME IN 846.

THE ENGLISH RESPONDED, AND IN 836 EGBERT ROUTED THE DANES AT SEA, BUT IT DIDN’T STOP MORE FROM INVADING. IN 862, LONDON WAS BURNED.

THESE NORTHMEN STAYED AND BECAME BOLDER, UNTIL 866 WHEN A GREAT WAR DEVELOPED.

FROM A MILITARY STANDPOINT, THE NORTHMEN HAD EVERTHING IN THEIR FAVOUR: IRON FROM SWEDEN FOR AXES AND SHIELDS, LONG SWORDS AND CHAIN ARMOUR WITH HELMETS.

NEW METHODS OF WAR WERE INTRODUCED.

FAST MOVING SHIPS WITH 100 OARSMEN AND THE ROUNDING UP OF HORSES PRODUCED MOUNTED INFANTRY.

THE ENGLISH WERE POORLY ARMED, BUT ALFRED, WITH HIS CAPACITY FOR LEARNING AND THEN GOING ONE BETTER THAN THE ENEMY, EXPLOITED THE DANES WEAKNESSES.

THE DANES BROKE UP INTO SMALL BANDS WHEN THREATENED, AND THEIR UNDEVELOPED SOCIAL STRUCTURE MADE THEM VULNERABLE TO A PROLONGED CAMPAIGN.

THE DANES ATTACKED ENGLAND THROUGH THE HUMBER, LINCOLNSHIRE AND THE THAMES, THEN HEADED NORTH TO NORTHUMBRIA AND THE SOUTH WEST INTO WESSEX.

YORK WAS SACKED, BUT THEY WERE BEATEN BACK AT ASHDOWN IN WESSEX IN 876.

ALFRED WAS SURPRISED AT CHIPPENHAM AND TOOK REFUGE IN THE SOMERSET MARSHES. EMERGING SUDDENLY, HE WON A GREAT VICTORY AT ETHANDUNE, AND THE DANES WERE FORCED TO MAKE PEACE.

HOWEVER, ENGLAND WAS CULTURALLY AND MATERIALLY DAMAGED. “SO GREAT WAS THE DECAY OF LEARNING AMONG THE ENGLISH,” NOTED ALFRED, THAT HE HAD TO SECURE HIS KINGDOM AGAINST FUTURE INVADERS.

HE BUILT SHIPS FAR SUPERIOR TO THE DANES, BUILT FORTIFIED ‘BURGS” AND HAD GARRISONS STATIONED EVERYWHERE, TRANSFORMING THE ENGLISH FROM A PURELY RURAL FOLK.

ALFRED LEARNED FROM AND BROUGHT EUROPEANS AND WELSH TO HELP, AND HE ALWAYS SOUGHT THE BEST KNOWLEDGE HE COULD FIND.

THIS WAS THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE TO CHARLAMAGNE, WHO COULD HARDLY READ OR WRITE LATIN.

THOUGH ALFRED WAS CONSTANTLY IN BAD HEALTH, HIS WORK IS REMARKABLE, AND A LONG PERIOD OF PEACE FOLLOWED AFTER HIS DEATH. HIS SUCCESSORS, EDWARD, ATHELSTAN, EDMUND AND EDGAR, WERE ALL COMPETENT SOLDIERS AND ADMINISTRATORS.

IN SOME RESPECTS, THE DANES HAD A SUPERIOR CULTURE TO THAT OF THE ENGLISH, AND THEY DEVELOPED THE EARLY ENGLISH SETTLEMENTS.

BY ‘DOMESDAY’, A COMPLETE PICTURE OF ENGLISH RURAL LIFE EMERGED WITH THE WHOLE COUNTRY DOTTED WITH TOWNSHIPS. MOST VILLAGES CAN BE TRACED BACK TO THIS TIME.

THE DANISH AXE WAS SUPREME, AND THE DANES AS TRADERS AND PRIRATES WERE AHEAD OF THE STAY AT HOME SAXONS, RIGHT UP TO THE NORMAN CONQUEST.

We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of the site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our Privacy Policy.

I accept cookies from this site