Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms (9th – 12th c.)
The Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms were faced with the Danish invasions at the end of the 8th century. The Danes began to settle in England by the middle of the 9th century, while the Anglo-Saxon kings in northern and eastern England were unable to prevent their permanent settlement. King of Wessex, Alfred the Great (871-900) managed to defeat the Danes in the Battle of Edington in 878. He concluded an agreement on boundaries which divided England into two kingdoms with Alfred ruling the western part and Guthrum ruling the eastern part of England which came to be known as Danelaw.
Successors of Alfred the Great, Ethelred and Edmund continued his policy and won back the lost territories. Edmund took possession of Northumbria in 927 and became the first king to have direct rule over all England. His successor Edgar (959-975) managed to unify England and was also recognized overlord by the kings of Scotland and Wales. However, the Danish invasions were renewed at the end of the 10th century. Danish king Canute the Great conquered England and crowned himself King of England in 1016. The Saxon royal family lived in exile in Normandy during the period of Danish rule but returned to England in 1042. The sons of Canute the Great turned out to be incapable and the English throne was taken over by Edward the Confessor. He ruled England from 1042 until his death in 1066 but he was unable to assert his authority over the powerful earls and barons. The most powerful was Godwin, Earl of Wessex whose son Harold was chosen King of England after Edward’s death in 1066.