Client kings and new boundaries: The establishment of the ninth-century Viking kingdoms in England

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Between 866 and 874 the Vikings conquered three Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in what came to be known as the Danelaw in England, yet the first of these kingdoms was not settled by Scandinavians until 876, after which they were divided, with Scandinavians settling in roughly half of the former kingdoms. In the interim the conquered kingdoms were ruled by Anglo-Saxon client kings chosen by the Vikings. The role of these client kings is rarely examined in works dealing with this period, and this paper will suggest some reasons why the Vikings decided to use client kings, as well as the rationale behind dividing the conquered territory upon settlement. The written sources will be used to assess what the great army expected of its client kings, and also to examine in what areas the great army campaigned prior to settlement, while the archaeological record will be used to examine possible boundary markers used upon settlement. I argue that this particular group of Vikings arrived in England with clear objectives, including utilising the Anglo-Saxon administrations of the conquered kingdoms to its own ends, and the division of the conquered territory to create a Scandinavian settlement zone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-205
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Australian Early Medieval Association
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2007


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