Timelines to Visualize History

A Project by the Department of Medieval English Literature and Historical Linguistics, University of Düsseldorf

Begin End Event Description Keywords Related Events
890 -

Danelaw & The Treaty of Wedmore

After some fruitless attempts from the Danes to invade Wessex, King Alfred brought London under his control in 886. Around 890 a new treaty, the Treaty of Wedmore, was sealed between Alfred and the Danish leader Guthrum. It confirmed the separation of the northern and north-eastern part of England as an area under Danish control; this part came to be known as Danelagu (Danelaw), the area where Danish law prevailed.

Under King Alfred, Wessex took a successful stand against the Danish threat. Between 876 and 878, military conflicts continued between Wessex and a Viking army under Danish leader Guthrum. After some peace treaties had been broken by the Danes, Alfred won a decisive battle in 878 at Edington. The Danes surrendered and promised to leave Wessex; to ensure peace, hostages were taken, and Guthrum and 30 of his leading men were baptised.

After the treaty of 878, a few years of peace followed for Wessex. Alfred took advantage of this period by strengthening his naval force and building fortifications along Wessex borders by a series of byrig, fortified towns. These measures proved renewed Viking attacks in the 80's and 90's fruitless and Alfred could even extend his dominion when he brought London under his control in 886.

Eventually in 890 the Treaty of Wedmore was sealed between Alfred and Guthrum to establish the Danelaw. The Danelaw covered the area north of the Thames and Watling Street, an old trading road running roughly from London northwest to Chester.

Therefore, at the end of the 9th century England was divided: the north of the River Thames was under the Danelaw; the south and south-west were under English rule. The decades which followed Alfred's reign, the first half of the 10th century, are usually referred to by historians as the period of the re-conquest of the Danelaw by Alfred's successors; this is a misleading term, since this area hadn't been ruled by Wessexian England before. Rather, it describes the expansion of West-Saxon power to the area of the Danelaw. Thus, the first half of the 10th century saw the expansion and recurring of English control over the Danelaw.
History, Danelaw, Old English Period, Political, Vikings