Timelines to Visualize History

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

Overview for "Vikings"

Begin End Event Description Keywords
793 -


The first Viking attack was the raid on Lindisfarne monastery in the north of England. It was an easy target because the monks had no defenses, believing God would protect them. There were many similar raids in the following decades, and they were often directed against monasteries and churches.
Old English Period, Political, Vikings, History
793 900

The First Viking Age

The sacking on the monastry of Lindisfarne marked only the beginning of the Viking Age. In the second half of the 9th century the threat became even more serious, as the Danes started regular raids and only eventually the kingdom of Wessex, under the reign of King Alfred, offered resistance.
History, Old English Period, Political, Vikings, Language Contact
793 1042

Old Norse

From Viking invasions up until the end of the reign of the Danish Kings, Old English was influenced by Old Norse. This influence began several decades after the first Viking attack on Lindisfarne, when the Vikings returned for new raids and eventually decided to settle in England. Eventually, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings were in such close contact that the Old Norse language had a significant impact on Old English.
Linguistics, Language Contact, Vikings, Old English Period
871 899

Alfred the Great

Alfred was the so-called first King of England, accepted by all the English that had not submitted to the Vikings. He defeated the Vikings multiple times and made a treaty with them to establish the Danelaw. Alfred's kingship extended beyond mere military leadership; his non-military achievements include his initiative to restore Latin learning and education in England.
Old English Period, Political, Religious, Standardisation, Vikings, Danelaw, Kings + Rulers, History
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.
History, Danelaw, Old English Period, Political, Vikings
900 980

Unification under Wessex

At the end of the 9th century, England was divided: the north was under the Danelaw, the south and south-west were under English rule. The decades which followed after the end of King 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. There were multiple times of conflict and struggle, but at the end of Eadred's reign, in 955, the north was under English control.
History, Danelaw, Old English Period, Political, Vikings
937 -

Battle of Brunanburh

Though the place where Edward the Elder and his brother Edmund stopped a combined Scottish-Viking army has not been identified as yet, the battle has become well known. The West-Saxon victory was praised in a poem which was written into the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle under the year 937.
Danelaw, Old English Period, Political, Vikings, Poetry, Literature
978 1016

Æthelred and the Return of the Vikings

Æthelred's long reign is usually regarded as an unlucky one. He struggled with massive Viking raids, paying large amounts of tribute, as well as with treachery and desertion due to his 'bad rule'. His nickname the Unræd (un-counsel) suggests that he was ill-advised by his counsellors. He fled to exile in 1013, when the Danish King Swein invaded the country, only to be asked to return and rule the English in 1014 after Swein died.
History, Old English Period, Political, Vikings, Kings + Rulers
980 1042

The Second Viking Age

After Æthelred fled to Normandy into exile, the Danish king Swein was acknowledged as king of all England in 1014. He was succeeded by his son Cnut (1016-1035), whom the English preferred over Æthelred's son Edmund. Both of his sons, Harold (1035-1040) and Harthacnut (1040-1042) became king after him, but with Harthacnut the male line of the Danish dynasty ended and Edward the Confessor, son of Æthelred the Unread and Emma of Normandy, became the last Anglo-Saxon king.
History, Language Contact, Old English Period, Political, Vikings
991 -

Battle of Maldon

The heroic poem The Battle of Maldon praises the resolute, loyal, but futile resistance of ealdorman Byrhtnoth and his men against a larger Danish army, which systematically ravaged along the south-west coast from Essex to Hampshire in 991. Loyalty, courage, and treasure are recurrent themes in secular heroic poetry; they are reflected in poems such as Beowulf and The Battle of Brunanburh.
Literature, Old English Period, Poetry, Political, Vikings
1002 -

St. Brice's Day Massacre

After multiple struggles with Viking raids, Æthelred gave the order to kill all Danes living in his kingdom. This massacre was only one of the many poor political decisions which made King Æthelred's rule a 'bad one' – many Danes had been living peacefully in England for generations and inter-married with the Anglo-Saxons. The fact that it is believed that Swein's sister and brother-in-law were also killed in this massacre, would furthermore explain Swein's decision to conquer England in 1003.
History, Old English Period, Political, Vikings
1016 1035


Cnut (also known as Canute or Knútr) was the son of Swein, who briefly ruled England during Æthelred's exile. During most of his reign, Cnut also more or less controlled Denmark and, less effectively, Norway, but he was fully accepted as king of England and did not suppress the conquered country. He married Æthelred's widow Emma and also continued a policy of supporting the church. When Cnut died in 1035, his son Harold inherited the throne. When Harold died in 1040, his brother Harthacnut became king, but then died in 1042.
History, Old English Period, Vikings, Kings + Rulers, Political
1035 1042

Harold and Harthacnut

When Cnut died in 1035, he left behind two sons by two different wives, each one favored for the throne by a party with an eye on their own interests. One claimant was Harthacnut, by then king of Denmark, the other was Harold. Since Harthacnut was engaged in conflicts in Norway, Harold was acknowledged as king by 1037. However, when he died in 1041, Harthacnut succeeded to the throne and reigned until his death in 1042.
History, Old English Period, Political, Kings + Rulers, Vikings