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HISTORICAL CHRONOLOGY of the
EARLY SAXON KINGDOMS
PART 6: AD 849-898

849 - Birth of Prince (later King) Alfred of Wessex at Wantage.

850 - The Saxons inflict a major naval defeat on Viking raiders off the Sandwich Coast.

850-858 - King Kenneth mac Alpin of Alba (Scotland) invades Northern Northumbria six times, burning Dunbar and Melrose.

851 - Death of sub-King Aethelstan of Kent, Essex, Surrey and Sussex. He is succeeded by his nephew, Aethelbert.

852 - Death of King Bertwulf of Mercia. He is succeeded by his kinsman, Burghred.

853 - Mercia and Wessex attack Powys.

855 - Death of King Aethelweard of East Anglia. He is the last of the Royal House of East Anglia and a successor from their homeland in Angeln is sent for. A distant cousin, Edmund, arrives and takes the throne.

858 - Death of King Aethelwulf of Wessex. He is succeeded by his son, Aethelbald.

860 - Death of King Aethelbald of Wessex. He is succeeded by his brother, sub-King Aethelbert of Kent, Essex, Surrey and Sussex. These latter kingdoms are formally merged with Wessex. The Viking Chief Weland, based in the Somme, sails to England and attacks Winchester. He is defeated and returns home. First written record of the county of Berkshire.

863 - King Osbert of Northumbria engages in a major dispute for Royal Power with a rival claimant named Aelle. He is variously described as Osbert's brother or specifically not of Royal descent. Osbert is badly defeated, though not expelled from his kingdom. King Aelle II wields power in Northumbria, but the Civil War continues.

865 - Death of King Aethelbert of Wessex. He is succeeded by his third son, Aethelred I. The 'Great Heathen Army' of Vikings, led by Princes Ivarr the Boneless and Halfdan Wide-Embrace of Sjaelland & Uppsala (Scandinavia), invades East Anglia (supposedly in revenge for the execution of their father, King Ragnar Lothbrok). King Edmund of East Anglia buys peace with a supply of horses.

866 - 'The Great Heathen Army' of the Vikings ride north to Northumbria and mount a surprise attack on the City of York which they quickly capture.

867 - The rival monarchs of Northumbria, Aelle II and Osbert, join forces to expel the Vikings, but are thoroughly defeated at the Battle of York by Princes Ivarr the Boneless and Halfdan Wide-Embrace of Sjaelland & Uppsala (Scandinavia). Osbert is killed, while Aelle II is supposedly captured and 'Spread-Eagled', for complicity in the murder of the invaders' father, King Ragnarr Lothbrok. Deira passes into Viking hands and what is left of the Northumbrian Royal Court flees north into Bernicia. Egbert I is established as a puppet King of Northumbria. The Viking armies make forays into Mercia. They are besieged at Nottingham by a joint Saxon force under Kings Aethelred I of Wessex and Burghred of Mercia. The Vikings withdraw to York.

869 - While Prince Halfdan Wide-Embrace of Sjaelland & Uppsala (Scandinavia) remains in York, his brothers, Ivarr the Boneless and Ubbe Ragnarrson, turn their 'The Great Heathen Army' on East Anglia once more. They are resisted by King Edmund.

870 - King Edmund of East Anglia is captured by Princes Ivarr the Boneless and Ubbe Ragnarson of Sjaelland & Uppsala (Scandinavia) who give him to their archers for use as target practice at Hellesdon. His head is then chopped off. He is buried in a small chapel near the place of his death and later revered as a saint. His brother, St. Edwold, flees to Cerne Abbas and becomes a hermit. The Vikings allow native sub-kings to rule in East Anglia for a while, starting with King Oswald. The Fens are ravaged by the invaders. The local people take refuge in Peterborough (Medshamstead) Abbey (Cathedral), but they are all slaughtered and the Abbey destroyed. Prince Ivarr the Boneless leaves for Northumbria and then Dublin where he becomes King. Coldingham Priory is destroyed by his Viking raiders. Ivarr's brother, Halfdan Wide-Embrace moves the Viking army to Wessex via the Thames and takes Reading which he makes his headquarters. The Vikings clash with Ealdorman Aethelwulf of Berkshire at the Battle of Englefield. The invaders are driven back to Reading and besieged by King Aethelred I and his brother, Alfred. Ealdorman Aethelwulf is killed in the fighting. The Danes are victorious and drive the English into the marshes.

871 - The English retreat onto the Berkshire Downs. Prince Halfdan Wide-Embrace of Sjaelland & Uppsala (Scandinavia) is joined by a 'Great Summer Army' under Prince Bagseg and together they march out after the Saxons. Prince Alfred of Wessex leads the English against them in the Battle of Ashdown. His brother, King Aethelred I of Wessex, joins in after having been delayed at his prayers. The English are victorious and many Vikings, including Prince Bagseg, are killed. Further, less fortunate, clashes, however, occur at the Battle of Basing and the Battle of Martin. King Aethelred I is mortally wounded at the latter and dies soon afterward. He is buried at nearby Wimborne Minster. He is succeeded by his brother, Alfred. King Alfred fights the Danes at the Battle of Wilton and his severely defeated.

872 - King Alfred the Great of Wessex buys a peace with the Vikings and they remove the 'Great Heathen Army' from Reading to London. Death of King Egbert I of Northumbria. The Vikings install one Rigsige in his place.

873 - The 'Great Heathen Army' of Vikings returns to York from where they attack Mercia. They capture the Royal capital at Repton and spend the winter there.

874 - From their base at Repton the Vikings drive King Burgred of Mercia into exile, conquer his kingdom and install his political opponent, Ceolwulf, as sub-King there. He was probably a member of the House of Ceolwulf I.

875 - 'The Great Heathen Army' of Vikings is divided. Prince Halfdan Wide-Embrace Sjaelland & Uppsala (Scandinavia) takes a contingent back to York to consolidate his position there, while the 'Great Summer Army' moves on Cambridge under Guthrum, Oscetel and Anund. This latter force then returns to Wessex. King Alfred the Great fights them in a Naval engagement.

876 - The Vikings take Wareham under their leader, Guthrum, and King Alfred the Great of Wessex is forced to buy peace once more. The invaders retreat to Exeter. Death of sub-King Oswald of East Anglia. He is succeeded by one Aethelred. With the removal of the puppet King Rigsige of Northumbria, Prince Halfdan Wide-Embrace of Sjaelland & Uppsala (Scandinavia) formally establishes the Norse Kingdom of York with himself as its first monarch. The Viking settlement of the kingdom begins.

877 - King Alfred the Great of Wessex raises a large force of men and marches on the Viking Camp at Exeter. Although his navy is almost destroyed in a storm near Swanage, his army besieges Guthrum and forces the Vikings to flee north to Gloucester. The Northern Vikings take Eastern Mercia under direct rule. King Halfdan I Wide-Embrace of Norse York leaves for Ireland in an attempt to recover his brother's Dublin throne. He is killed and a probable interregnum follows in York.

c.877 - Edulf of Bamburgh establishes himself as King of Bernicia. Cut-off from the rest of Saxon England, he is only recognised outside his kingdom as High-Reeve or Ealdorman of Bamburgh. He may or may not have been related to previous Kings of Northumbria. Edulf allies himself with King Alfred the Great of Wessex.

878 - While spending the winter at Chippenham, King Alfred the Great of Wessex is surprised by the a Viking attack and he and his men flee into the Somerset Levels for safety. From his headquarters at Athelney, Alfred wages a guerrilla war against the Vikings. The supposed "Burning of the Cakes" episode occurs. The English gain a victory at Countisbury Hill and then Alfred decisively defeats the Vikings at Edington. Guthrum and his men are pushed back to Chippenham and besieged for three weeks. Eventually the Peace of Wedmore is agreed. England is divided between Wessex in the south and the Vikings in the Danelaw up north. Guthrum embraces Christianity, is baptised as Aethelstan and returns to East Anglia. The main Viking force winters in Fulham. King Ceolwulf II of Mercia clashes with the Welsh and kills King Rhodri Mawr of Gwynedd, Powys and Seisyllwg in battle.

879 - Death of sub-King Aethelred of East Anglia. The Vikings impose their own monarch on the kingdom. Guthrum takes the throne. King Alfred the Great of Wessex begins to build a large mobile army and naval fleet in order to counter any future Viking invasions. He also establishes defensive burghs around the country. Death of King Ceolwulf II of Mercia. One Aethelred takes the throne as King Aethelred II of the Mercians.

880 - The Mercian armies are defeated on the River Conwy by King Anarawd of Gwynedd in revenge for the death of his father, King Rhodri Mawr.

883 - Abbot Edred of Carlisle travels across the Tyne (apparently at the request of the spirit of St. Cuthbert) and persuades the Viking Army there to elect a Christian slave named Guthfrith Hardicnutson as King of Norse York. The new king recognises the rights of the See of Chester-Le-Street.

884 - King Aethelred II of the Mercians marries Princess Aethelflaed, daughter of King Alfred the Great of Wessex, accepts Wessex overlordship and apparently demotes himself to become Lord of the Mercians.

885 - King Alfred the Great of Wessex summons Asser, a relative of Bishop Nobis of St. Davids, to the English Court. He agrees to spend six months of the year in the King's service. Asser helps to enhance the literary status of the English Court and also to negotiate the recognition of Alfred as overlord of the South Welsh Kings. The Vikings attack Rochester but are beaten back by King Alfred.

c.885 - Kings Hyfaidd of Dyfed, Elisedd of Brycheiniog and Hywel of Glywysing, being harassed by the armies of King Anarawd of Gwynedd, seek the protection of King Alfred the Great of Wessex and submit to his overlordship. King Anarawd of Gwynedd seeks an alliance with the Norse King Guthfrith I of York.

886 - King Alfred the Great of Wessex recaptures London from the Vikings. He moves the community from Aldwich to within the safety of the city walls and hands the place over to his son-in-law, Lord Aethelred II of the Mercians. Alfred becomes the supreme monarch in the country and "all the English submitted to him, except those who were under the power of the Vikings".

888 - Foundation of Shaftesbury Abbey. King Alfred the Great of England founds Athelney Abey in thanksgiving for his triumph over the Vikings.

c.888 - Lord Aethelred II of the Mercians is struck down with a debilitating illness. His wife, Princess Aethelflaed of Wessex joins him as joint ruler of Mercia.

889 - Lord Aethelred II and Lady Aethelflaed of the Mercians begin their policy of fortifying Mercian cities as defensive burghs, starting with Worcester.

c.890 - Lord Aethelred II and Lady Aethelflaed of the Mercians found the Priory of St. Oswald in Gloucester (probably originally dedicated to St. Peter).

893 - Battle of Buttington at which the English under King Alfred the Great, and the Welsh under King Merfyn of Powys, besiege and defeat the Danish army of Prince Hastein.

c.893 - Asser, the Welshman, is made Bishop of Sherborne.

894 - King Anarawd of Gwynedd is forced to ask for help from King Alfred the Great of England when his kingdom is ravaged by the Norsemen. He submits to Alfred's overlordship, but the latter imposes oppressive terms and forces Anarawd to confirmation in the Christian Church with Alfred as godfather. Bishop Asser of Sherborne, writes his "Life of King Alfred".

895 - King Alfred the Great of England supplies King Anarawd of Gwynedd with English troops to assist in his successful reconquest of Seisyllwg on behalf of his brother, King Cadell. Death of King Guthfrith I Hardicnutson as King of Norse York. He is buried in York Minster.

Part 7: AD 899-949

 

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