Further Consolidation of the Anglo-Saxon Monarchy in the 10th CenturyCategory: 10th century
THE KINGDOM OF ENGLAND IN THE 10th-11th CENTURIES
In the 10th century the united Anglo-Saxon feudal monarchy was consolidated. A much larger territory including the Danelaw was now under the power of the kings of England.
From the end of the 10th century the Danes began to devastate the country again.
And for some period in the 11th century England came under the power of the Danish kings.
Under both Anglo-Saxon and Danish kings feudal society continued to develop in England.
More and more peasants lost their land and freedom and the class of feudal lords grew in number.
Here we shall read about:
- the further consolidation of the Anglo-Saxon monarchy in the 10th century;
- a new attacks of the Danes;
- some peculiarities of feudal development in England.
Further Consolidation of the Anglo-Saxon Monarchy in the 10th Century
In the second half of the 10th century under the rule of Alfred’s descendants the Saxon monarchy was further consolidated. The Anglo-Saxons won several victories over the Danes, took away the Danelaw and ruled over the whole of England.
The Danes were not driven out of the country but they were made subjects of Wessex. They submitted to the power of the Anglo-Saxon kings and never tried to make the Danelaw into a separate kingdom. These descendants of the Danish conquerors gave up piracy and in the course of time became peaceful peasants and traders. They were now not very much different from the Anglo-Saxons among whom they lived because they were also of Germanic origin. They were far fewer in number and they soon became Christians like their neighbours, adopted their language and assimilated gradually with them.
The Danes influenced the development of the country greatly. They were good sailors and traders and they favoured the growth of towns and the development of trade in England. They were skilful shipbuilders and many grave-goods found in their ship-burials show their great craftsmanship. The Danes used a large iron axe to clean the forests and to plough the large stretches of virgin land. The majority of the Danes in England were free peasants. Feudal relations began to develop among them only in the 9th century and on the territory of the former Danelaw these free peasants remained free throughout the Middle Ages.
Many Scandinavian words came into the English language at that time and are even used today. Such adjectives as happy, low, loose, ill, ugly, weak, such verbs as to take, to die, to call, nouns like sister, husband, sky, fellow, law, window, leg, wing, harbour are examples of Scandinavian borrowings. The Danes gave their own names to many of the towns they built. In the region where they used to live many town-names end in “by” or “toft”, for these were the words meaning Danish settlements. For example, Derby, Grimsby, Whitby, Lowestoft and others.
The whole country formed a united kingdom. The newly conquered Danelaw was divided into shires, like the Anglo-Saxon part of the kingdom. Each of these shires had for its centre one of the market towns which the Danes had established, and that is the reason why to this day the midland counties (unlike those of Southern England) are nearly all named after their county towns. (For example, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and others.)
The general moots did not assemble in the united kingdom and the king ruled the country with the help of the Witenagemot, a council of the most powerful landlords. The power of the Church increased greatly during this period and the archbishop and bishops began to play an important role in the government.