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By What Means And With What Success Did The Kings Of Wessex Become Kings Of England In The Tenth Century?

2048 words - 8 pages

By What means, and with what success, did the kings of Wessex become kings of England in the Tenth Century?In 973 Edgar 'the Peaceable' took part in a second coronation. This process was a sequence by which Edgar's superiority was recognised by the Celtic and Scandinavian rulers in the British Isles . But what events lead to this declaration of power? And if as the evidence states, Edgar was recognised as 'King of the English', then to what extent was his power secure?The existences of Mercian and Northumbrian kingdoms were a constant threat, due to the aggressive policies pursued by rulers during the tenth century. Especially when one considers that Northumbria was an area of Viking power, who would willing give harbour to Viking raiders. Viking raids had plagued the island for centuries, and influenced the policies and style of kingship Edgar's forbearers developed. The role of Alfred the Great in instituting several policies laid the ground work for a growing West Saxon kingdom, such as the eventual annexation of Mercia by the Edward the Elder in 918. From 899 to 1016, seven direct descendants of Alfred ruled, this continuity of succession meant that the reigns of Alfred's sons could continue the work started by their father.The starting point for any historian covering this period is to analyse the impact of the Viking invaders on the West Saxons during the reign of Alfred the Great, and his responses to this threat. The Great Heathen army that landed in England in 866 was the largest seen, several thousand strong . It swiftly made inroads into Britain: In 867 the Northumbrian kingdom was conquered as two rival kings fought for power. Three years later, it was the turn of King Edmund and the East Angles to feel the army's wrath . Mercia soon followed in 874, leaving Wessex as the only Anglo-Saxon bulwark in Britain. It too nearly mimicked the fate of its northern counterparts, in 878 Alfred was nearly captured at Chippenham when his army was caught lacking, celebrating the New Year. However, by the end of the year Alfred was able to rally enough troops and defeat Guthrum at Edington. The result of this battle was a period of uneasy peace between the Vikings and Wessex. Alfred made use of this period, and reorganised the fleet creating new ships of 60 oars in length 'Built neither on the Frisian nor the Danish pattern, but as it seemed to him they could be most useful' . His most important contribution to the rise of the West Saxons though, was the Document known as the Burghal Hidage. This document laid down the amount of men to cover a certain amount of 'Hides' of land. This enabled Alfred to mobilise large quantities of troops, confident that he would be able to be provision them. He could also stock quantities of riches, making them safe from pillaging Viking hands.Alfred's reign laid much of the framework for his son's and grandson's. His defeat of the Vikings and the introduction of the Burhs meant that whilst he was not the King of...

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