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(800 - 899)
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Norse conquests and expansion is underway, and has led to the establishment of a number of kingdoms across Northern Europe, embedding Norse culture in local politics and struggles.
Eirik Bloodaxe succeeded Harald Fairhair as King of Norway around the year 930, as the culmination of the struggles among Harald's sons for power. Previously Eirik had brutally killed his half brothers Ragnvald (Rögnvaldr), ruler of Hadeland, and Bjørn Farmann, ruler of Vestfold, before his appointment as king alongside Harald. Upon his succession Eirik consolidated his rule by defeating the combined forces of his half-brothers Olaf and Sigrød, solidifying his rule over all of Norway. Despite this, Eirik's younger and more famous half-brother Haakon, also known by his nickname Aðalsteinsfóstri, still remained as a possible threat tho Eirik's rule, and was living in England at the time of Eirik's succession.
Rule in Norway under Eirik was harsh and despotic, causing Eirik to fall out of favor among the nobility of Norway. When Haakon returned to Norway some time after, he found that the nobles would readily accept him as king over his brother's harsh rule, and pledged to support him. With the nobles of Norway in resistance to his rule, Eirik fled to England
Haakon I now ruled as King of Norway, but faced resistance from the sons of the now deposed Eirik. In 953 Haakon led his army against the sons of Eirik Bloodaxe at Avaldsnes. The battle proved to be a decisive victory for Haakon, with Guttorm Eirikssen being slain in battle, and the other sons of Eirik fleeing. Led by Harald Greycloak, the sons of Eirik fled, until Harald and his brothers resurfaced during a renewed attack in 955. In alliance with Gorm the Old of Denmark, the brothers engaged Haakon at the Battle of Rastarkalv, on the southern part of the island of Frei. Haakon was alerted of the upcoming attack by a warning system he had prepared, with cairns being lit to tell of any approaching fleets, and Haakon was alerted by messengers in Nordmøre from Stadlandet.
Haakon gathered an army and marched against the sons of Eirik, and upon arriving on the field of battle, positioned ten standards far apart along a low ridge. This gave the impression that his army was much larger than it actually was, and Haakon was able to successfully trick Eirik's sons into believing they were heavily outnumbered. The sons of Eirik and their Danish allies fled, but discovered that their ships had been pushed out to see when they attempted to retreat. Haakon was able to surround the retreating army and slaughter most of the invaders. In the ensuing fight Gamle Eirikssen was killed in the battle, as was Egil Ullserk, Haakon's leading man. Egil Ullserk was buried in a ship along with the others who had died fighting, while the remaining sons of Eirik fled to regather strength.
The final battle in the war between Haakon I and the sons of Eirik would occur at the Battle of Fitjar (Slaget ved Fitjar på Stord), which took place in Fitjar at Stord in the county of Hordaland, Norway. The largest battle in the conflict, the fighting saw the culmination of years of conflict in Norway. Harald Greycloak and the other surviving sons of Eric Bloodaxe (Eirikssønnene) landed unnoticed on Hordaland in 961 and surprised the king at Fitjar. Haakon's superior military organization allowed him to defeat the sons in battle, but Haakon would be wounded and die later. The sons of Eirik Bloodaxe were accepted as king, thus ending the conflict over the throne of Norway.
Harald Greycloak, as oldest surviving son of Eirik Bloodaxe, was appointed as the most powerful king, ruling alongside his brothers. In reality the brothers had very little control outside of western Norway, and their authority was low. Harald Greycloak eventually succeeded to the throne of Norway as Harald II, ending the succession issue, and placing Norway under one king.
Initially Harald Bluetooth of Denmark, successor to Gorm the Old, traveled to Norway and declared Harald Greycloak to be his vassal king in Norway. This relationship helped Norway recover, but ultimately Norway would begin to break away. Harald sought to strengthen his grasp over Norway by eliminating the various local rulers who had managed to secure power in parts of the nation, killing such lords as Sigurd Haakonsson, Tryggve Olafsson and Gudrød Bjørnsson. Harald's domain now stretched as far as Hålogaland in the north, connected through various trade routes along the Norwegian coast under Harald's control. During this time Harald also sent expeditions north into Bjarmaland, making contact with tribes in the area.
Eventually Harald became less dependent on Danish support, and acted increasingly independent. In 970 Harald was invited to travel to Denmark, but was tricked by Harald Bluetooth and killed in a plot organized by Sigurd Haakonsson's son Haakon Sigurdsson, an ally of Bluetooth's, in Hals in the Limfjord. Haakon Sigurdsson's vendetta against Harald Greycloak dated back to from before he became Jarl of Lade, when Greycloak's men caused the death of his father in 961. With Harald Greycloak dead, King Harald Bluetooth won back power over Norway and supported Haakon Sigurdsson as his vassal king in the north.
After the death of Harald Greycloak on the orders of Harald Bluetooth, Haakon Sigurdsson was appointed King of Norway, ruling as a vassal of Harald Bluetooth of Denmark, but in reality ruled almost entirely independently of Harald. After a short war with the remaining brothers of Harald Greycloak, all of Norway was secured under Haakon. While in Denmark, Haakon was forced to accept baptism by Harald Bluetooth, and was assigned clergymen to take back to Norway to assistance in the conversion of the nation. Upon leaving, however, Haakon ordered the clergymen to return back to shore.
Haakon supported Harald Bluetooth in his war with Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, after Harald rebelled from the Germans. The young ruler was no longer willing to accept German supremacy over his kingdom, which now included all of Denmark and Norway. Harald was able to cross the Danish border into Germany, utilizing Danish and Norwegian forces to defeat the German army stationed in the north. In retaliation Otto II ordered an army to counterattack into Denmark, and was defeated by the joint Norse army. After the conclusion of the war Haakon no longer paid taxes to Harald. A strong believer in the Norse faith, when Harald Bluetooth tried once again to force Christianity upon Haakon, he officially broke his alliance with Denmark in 975.
A dispute broke out between Haakon and the rulers of the Trøndelag region in 995, around the time that Olaf Tryggvason, a descendant of the first Norwegian king Harald Fairhair, and he quickly lost support from the Norwegians in favor of the Fairhair dynasty. Haakon would be assassinated, with his sons and family fleeing to asylum in Sweden.
With Haakon Sigurdsson dead, Olaf Tryggvason succeeded to the throne as King of Norway. As king Olaf founded the city of Trondheim as his seat of government, and assembled a thing with the revolters against Haakon to form his council. Located on a peninsula surrounded by the River Nid and its accompanying fjord, the city of Trondheim was a highly defensible location as capital, as it could be defended from land attacks with one short wall where the peninsula connected to the mainland. A Christian convert, Olaf promoted Christianity in his new kingdom, converting a number of famous nobles and Norwegians, as well as spreading Christianity to Orkneyjar, which was under the control of Norway at the time of his ascension as king.
Olaf desired to rule over a unified Christian Scandinavia, and attempted to secure control in many surrounding kingdoms. Olaf would attempt to marry Sigrid the Haughty, queen of Sweden, but Sigrid's steadfast pagan beliefs caused negotiations to break down between the two parties. Instead Olaf and Sigrid became enemies, and married her husband Sweyn Forkbeard's sister Thyre, who had fled from her heathen husband Burislav, in defiance of her brother's authority as King of Denmark. Sweyn Forkbeard refused to pay Thyre dowry, angering Olaf greatly. Finally upon hearing of an alliance between Sweyn Forkbeard and Olaf the Swede, he arranged for an invasion of Denmark. Too impatient for all of Norway's forces to assemble, Olaf departed with only eleven ships at his command, expecting the rest of Norway's army to join him later. When these ships failed to arrive, Olaf instead headed east to wrest control of Burislav's lands, and was met by a combined expedition of Danish, Swedish, and Wendish fleets, including forces under the command of Earl Haakon's sons.
Sweyn, Olaf the Swede, and Eirik had planned their attack on Olaf Tryggvason well, all of whom after different goals. Sweyn sought to capture Viken, a region long under the control of Denmark before it was seized by Olaf Tryggvason. Olaf and Sweyn had also campaigned together in England in the past, before Olaf made peace and left Sweyn, causing heavy resentment between the two. Olaf the Swede was on good terms with Sweyn and was bound by marriage to aid his ally. Lastly, Jarl Eirik sought to reclaim Norway, which had been usurped by Olaf from Eirik's father.
Olaf Tryggvason first encountered the allied fleet while passing in a long column, not expecting any attack. Both Sweyn and Olaf the Swede prepared to attack, having sighted what they believed was the 'Long Serpent, Olaf's personal flag ship, but Eirik cautioned them. Being familiar with the Norwegian navy, Eirik remarked that the ship was actually owned by Erlingr Skjálgsson from Jaðarr. Eirik also knew that it would be best to find a gap in Olaf's navy then attack directly. Finally the alliance attacked, and headed for Olaf. Knowing well that he could use sail and oar to outrun the ambush and escape, Olaf instead decided to stay and fight. Olaf at first is not phased, stating the Danish have never won a battle on ships. Similarly he remarks that the Swedes and their pagan customs will be no match for him. It is only upon seeing Eirik that he realizes the battle will be difficult for him to win, stating that Eirik's men were Norwegian like his.
Olaf Tryggvason placed his ships on the defense, lashing his few ships side by side with his own ship, to prepare for the enemy attack. The Long Serpent was placed in the middle of the line, the tallest and longest ship on the field of battle that day, projecting its bow further than the others, so that all hands were free to fight. This tactic also made it so that a barrier could be formed with the oars and yards, and limited the enemy's ability to make its superior numbers count against the defenders. Essentially this made Olaf's fleet into a floating fort, with his own ship able to rain down arrows and other projectiles upon the advancing navy, while his enemies would have to fire upward at him.
Initially the Danish and Swedish fleets charge against Olaf's front, but are repulsed by Olaf, suffering heavy casualties and losing a number of ships. This distracts Olaf's forces however, as Eirik Hákonarson attacked the flank and forced his vessel, the Iron Ram, up against the last ship of Olaf's line. Eirik fiercely cleared the ship and then proceeded to attack and board the next ship, proceeding until only the Long Serpent remained.
The episode of Einarr Þambarskelfir (116 (126). Frá Einari Þambarskelfi.) within the Saga Ólafs Tryggvasonar, from the Heimskringla:
Finally the Long Serpent was overpowered, and reportedly Olaf Tryggvason threw himself into the sea to take his own life, perhaps preferring suicide over seeing his enemies victorious. With the Battle of Svolder won by the alliance, Norway was divided among the conquerors. Four districts in Trondheim as well as Møre, Romsdal and Ranrike were granted to Olaf the Swede, which were given to Jarl Svein Hákonarson, his son in law, to hold as a vassal. The Viken district was returned to Denmark under Sweyn Forkbeard, while the rest of Norway was ruled by Eirik Hákonarson as Sweyn's vassal.
The region of Brittany during this time was under the rule of the Kingdom of Brittany, a feudal monarchy established in the year 818. Brittany was first unified from three earlier kingdoms of Armorica; Vannetais, Domnonee and Broerec, under rule of the Carolingian Empire, who conquered the region from around 748 to 799. The Carolingians would attempt to establish administrative centers in the cities of Rennes, Nantes, and Vannes, but ultimately the local rulers of Brittany would retain power in the region.
A general rebellion engulfed the entirety of the Carolingian Empire that would be put down in 831, and would result in a general assembly by nobles of the empire in Ingelheim in May of that year. Nominoe, Count of Vannes would be appointed as ruler of the Bretons at the conference by Louis the Pious, effectively placing Brittany under his leadership. As a result Nominoe would be a major supporter of Louis throughout his reign, supporting the emperor in a number of civil wars. Despite governing over all of Brittany, Nominoe's actual administrative capabilities did not extend far past the city of Vannes itself, and little to no revenue would be generated from the Breton territories in the region.
Louis died in the year 840 and was succeeded by Charles the Bald. At first relations between Nominoe and Charles were amicable, with Nominoe supporting Charles with soldiers following a revolt of his men in Neustria, and later against Lothar I in his war into the region. Disgruntled, however, by frequent Viking raids despite promises of Frankish protection, Nominoe challenged the rule of the new emperor, causing years of conflict between Brittany and West Francia. Nominoe was possibly pressured by Lothair, or by his support Lambert II of Nantes, and ultimately Nominoe would end all support to Charles, acting alongside Lothair, Lambert, and Pepin II of Aquitaine. During Charles' siege of Toulouse in June 844, Breton soldiers fought under Lambert, with Nominoe raiding Maine and plundering Charles' territories.
Charles had previously marched as far north as Rennes in an effort to compel the Bretons to submit to his rule, to no avail. During this time Charles would create a number of defenses in northwest France, creating the Marches of Neustria as a defensive frontier against Breton and Viking attack. With little tax revenue in Brittany, Nominoe would succeed through frequent raids into Frankish territory, plundering and causing the despoliation of churches in the north.
Harthacanute succeeded Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye as King, and following his death, was succeeded by his son Gorm the Old in the year 936. Gorm married Thyra, daughter of Harald 'Klak' Halfdansson, and upon Harald's death inherited the Kingdom of Jylland. During his reign Gorm founded the Kingdom of Denmark, and moved his court to the city of Jelling on the Jutland peninsula.
A great burial mound at Jelling was created for Thyra when she died, as well as one of the oldest Jelling Stones, commemorating her life, which called her tanmarkar but (Denmark's Salvation or Denmark's Adornment). It is also during this time that the Danevirke would be completed as a wall along Denmark's southern border. The large defensive structure would protect the kingdom from the Saxons to the south, and was expanded with a ditch and earthen foundation, topped with a timber stockade. The defensive structure ran from the Schlei to the Treene River, serving as a defensible position during an invasion.
Gorm the Old died c. 958 and was succeeded by his son Harald Bluetooth. During Harald's reign several more of the Jelling stones, massive carved runstones, were erected to honor his parents Gorm and Thyra, and to celebrate his own conquests and accomplishments. Several infrastructural and public works projects were also taken up by Harald, as a way to consolidate economic and military control over his realm. Ring forts were constructed at Trelleborg on Sjælland, Nonnebakken on Fyn, Fyrkat in central Jylland, Aggersborg near Limfjord, and a second Trelleborg in Scania. Harald constructed the Ravinge Bridge, one of the oldest surviving bridges in southern Scandinavia, which was over 760 meters long.
Harald Bluethooth is regarded as the first King of Denmark to convert to Christianity. Harald would undoubtedly contribute to the growth of Christianity in the north, but during his reign and for years to come, the Norse faith would continue to remain popular across Scandinavia.
Harald Bluetooth died around the year 986, and was succeeded by his son Sweyn Forkbeard (Old Norse: Sveinn Tjúguskegg) as King of Denmark. Sweyn was the son of Harald by his first wife Þyra Guðfriðsdottir, two-greats-granddaughter of Halfdan Hvitserk. Sweyn inherited a nation bordering the Holy Roman Empire to the south, formed through the conquests of Charlemagne some two hundred years before Sweyn's ascension to the throne. As a result of their close proximity, Denmark obtained a number of practices from the Germans, including the minting of coins with Latin inscriptions; Sweyn minted coins with the inscription "ZVEN REX DÆNOR[UM]", meaning "Sven, king of the Danes". Sweyn was also a christian, taking after his father Harald Bluetooth, who was the first christian king of Denmark.
- Main article: English Brother War (The Old Boar Suffered)
Around the year 898 King Halfdan Hvitserk of Jórvík died, leaving his eldest son Sigfrið as king. Guðfrið, Halfdan's second son, continued to rule as king in the south, subordinate to his older brother. This arrangement originally worked well, however, Guðfrið desired to install his son Halfdan as heir to the throne, over Sigfrið 's own son Sigbjörn. Guðfrið raised his banner in rebellion against his brother, and sent an army to corner Sigbjörn, heir to the kingdom, at the time only sixteen years of age. This action sparked war between the brothers, causing members of the Hvitserk dynasty to pick sides in the conflict.
Known as the English Brothers War, the conflict began in 900 with the Battle of Bedford, in which Guðfrið's army managed to ambush the unsuspecting Sigbjörn. Guðfrið surrounded the city and laid siege, managing to take the city after only a few days. In the carnage Sigbjörn led the defense, and was killed by Guðfrið's forces. When news of this deed reached Sigfrið he raised his army in retaliation, infuriated at his brother's attempts to take control. Sigfrið's army outnumbered the southern army slightly, but as the conflict erupted, an Anglo Saxon revolt broke out in the west, causing Sigfrið's army to be preoccupied. In the meantime Guðfrið raided along the border, before attacking Northampton.
A moderate portion of Sigfrið's army awaited the invaders at Northampton, and Guðfrið set in for a drawn out siege, surrounding the city and cutting off all supply lines within. After two months Guðfrið assaulted the city and managed to break through the city's defenses, capturing the city after a decisive battle. Guðfrið suffered a large number of casualties however, and elected to spend time in the city recovering supplies and defending against a possible counterattack.
In the north Jórvík was in crisis. The death of Sigbjörn left no male heir to inherit after the death of Sigfrið, meaning that he may be forced to recognize Guðfrið's claims. Things changed in August 900 when Sigfrið's first daughter Gerðr gave birth to a grandson named Rögnvaldr, who could inherit the throne following Sigfrið's death. At the time of Rögnvaldr's birth Sigfrið had begun campaigning in the west of the nation, hoping to put down the Anglo-Saxon rebellion that was diverting his forces. Sigfrið managed to secure two victories at Chester and Derby, driving back the rebels, and allowing him to attend to the invasion in the south.
In early 901 Sigfrið caught up to his brother Guðfrið at the Battle of Trent, the two armies meeting south of the River Trent, east of Nottingham. Both sides consisted of a number of experienced fighters, veterans of conflicts across England, and led by formidable commanders. Sigfrið managed to surround Guðfrið on his left flank, pushing a portion of Guðfrið's forces against the river bank. Eventually Sigfrið would be victorious, and the remaining forces under Guðfrið's command fled back south.
Frequent skirmishes and raids would break out across the southern reaches of Sigfrið's domain over the course of the next year, with neither side able to secure a decisive victory. Later that year a major detachment of Sigfrið's army would be defeated by Guðfrið at the Battle of Huiccewudu, in which he ambushed the northern army and managed to inflict heavy casualties. Sigfrið's main army, however, would catch up to Guðfrið, and in late 901 they would meet at the Battle of St. Albans. The battle would prove a major victory for Sigfrið, and Guðfrið would be captured and killed. In the ensuing peace, Guðfrið's son Halfdan lost control over southern Jórvík, forced to abdicate and flee into exile. Instead, Ormar Guðfriðsson would be placed in control of Guðfrið's domain, who acted a figurehead, only twelve years of age.
The conflict, however, still raged on in the west. Guðfrið's second eldest son Hjalmar still waged war, with what little forces he could retain, harassing Sigfrið's armies west of where he father once ruled. Similarly, Sigfrið's other brother Ragnarr, king in Cornwall, still reigned as an ally of the rebellious family members. Sigfrið pursued Hjalmar, who was quickly gaining support in the Wessex region. meeting him at the Battle of Enedford in April 902. Despite facing a large army nearly on par with his own, Sigfrið managed to secure victory, and Hjalmar would be killed. Unable to dedicate enough forces to ousting Ragnarr, that year they signed a white peace, officially ending the conflict. Ragnarr was allowed to rule as a subking under Sigfrið, although with a great deal of autonomy.
- Main article: Æthelwold's War (The Old Boar Suffered)
Following the death of Alfred, King of Wessex, and later his young son Edward, following the Norse conquest of Wessex at the conclusion of the War of the Great Heathen Army, one of the next heir to the House of Wessex was Æthelhelm, Alfred's cousin. After Alfred's death, Æthelhelm remained in a position of power in the south, controlling Wiltshire and other possessions, but altogether submitted to Norse rule. In 901 Æthelhelm was killed by the forces of Guðfrið Halfdansson, after he supported King Sigfríð of Jórvík in the English Brother War, a deal probably concluded in exchange for future autonomy or even momentary independence. Æthelhelm's younger brother, Æthelwold, survived the war and submitted to the kings of Jórvík, ruling over much of his brother's former territory.
Conflict arose when it was discovered that Alfred had fathered another son, named Æthelweard, who had amassed a large portion of southern Jórvík over the course of the last few decades. Æthelweard's land and estates made him very wealthy and respected, as a chieftain under the Norse rulers. In 903 Æthelwold requested a partition of the lands formally held by the House of Wessex, which Æthelweard denied. Æthelwold attempted to usurp his family's estates in the south still held by Anglo-Saxon allies or relatives of his rival, prompting Æthelweard to raise his forces against his cousin. Æthelweard marched to the fort at Badon, forcing Æthelwold to flee north. Æthelweard's success continued, and his march prompted rebellion in the south. Using his large fortune and influence, Æthelweard began an open rebellion against Norse rule which sought to establish rule by the House of Wessex once more, as well as oust all Norse rulers on the island.
Æthelwold appealed to his Norse liege, King Sigfríð of Jórvík, who gathered an army in the north and marched to crush the rebellion. By accepting Æthelwold's assistance the Norse gained additional manpower, likely at the cost of increased autonomy for Anglo-Saxon rulers such as Æthelwold, at the expense of the rebellious party. Æthelwold was caught by the rebel faction in Dorset, and fled after a brief engagement. That left the entirety of the house's southern possessions in Æthelweard's hands, and later that year he was crowned king in Kingston upon Thames. Ormar Guðfriðsson, who had proclaimed himself petty king of Wessex following his appointment at the conclusion of the English Brother War, initially marched against Æthelwold. In early 904 the two instead signed a treaty which would make Æthelwold subordinate to Ormar, in exchange for support against the king of Jórvík. Soon after Ormar also secured the assistance of Cornwall from his kinsman Ragnarr.
Sigfríð of Jórvík called upon his ally in Suðreyjar to aid him, and together the pair amassed a large force in the north. In 904 Sigfroþ Ivarsson, chief of Norfolk, the brother of King Sigtrygg, would be killed by Eohric of East Anglia, Guthrum's successor. The act would be the culmination of a generation of separation between Suðreyjar and its vassal East Anglia, which was only nominally under Ivar the Boneless and Sigtrygg's control under Guthrum the Old. Guthrum's successor Eohric sought to establish an independent kingdom in the south once and for all, and marched alongside Æthelwold. While his southern allies mobilized, Æthelwold marched into Essex and met up with Eohric. Essex was captured soon after, and the two marched into Mercia.
The invaders pillaged as far north as Stafford, before encountering the combined force of Jórvík and a detachment of its northern allies. In the ensuing battle the overly confident Æthelwold charged against the defensive position laid out by Sigfríð, and was subsequently surrounded on three sides. With a large portion of his army dead, Æthelwold retreated. The Battle of Stafford would end the rebels' attempts to capture Mercia, and would set back Æthelwold's efforts tremendously. Sigfríð pursued the fleeing army, which fell back as far as East Anglia. This was possibly an attemppt by Æthelwold to draw Sigfríð between himself and Ormar, but instead the forces of Wessex and Cornwall focused on capturing territory in the west, pushing Æthelweard out of his own territory. Decisive sieges at Gloucester and Worcester would move the border up to Mercia in the west once more.
The forces of Jórvík next encountered the East Anglians at the Battle of Holme in autumn of 904. Suffering high losses, Eohric attempted one last attempt to break through the enemy lines, but would be killed in the attempt. The death of their king largely dispersed the East Anglian forces, and Sigfríð was able to march through the kingdom and capture the last defensive position at Ipswich by the end of the year. Despite the kingdom's previous allegiance to the Kingdom of Suðreyjar, Sigfríð decided to keep the territory for himself, causing a large strain between the two kingdom's relations. Rule of East Anglia was granted to Sigfríð's son Rögnvaldr, however, his young age meant he ruled in name only. That year Suðreyjar recalled its forces to the north, while Sigfríð ordered an immediate retaliation against Ormar, as well as the capture of Æthelwold.
Sigfríð invaded Wessex from the east, capturing or pillaging a number of cities in the south. They ended the year by marching east and capturing Kent, where they wintered into the year 905. At the same time Æthelwold had marched north, passing into southern Mercia. Æthelweard's inability to fight back, and the absence of the Norse, caused an Anglo-Saxon rebellion to break out, which threatened the heart of Jórvík territory. The conflict grew worse when in early 905 Constantine II of Scotland declared war on the Norse, and marched into Suðreyjar's southern possessions. The Scottish had secured alliances with some of the tribes of Ireland as well, who in the beginning of that year besieged the Norse settlement of Dublin. Under the command of Barid Ivarsson, the Norse marched against Constantine, but were defeated at Hawick. This prompted Barid to retreat to the western coast and await reinforcements.
In the south Sigfríð was forced to return to Mercia and put a stop to the rebellion, before it overtook the region entirely. While on route he won a brief skirmish near Oxford. Æthelwold, who was in Warwick at the time, marched his force to intercept, meeting the Norse at Coventry. Æthelweard also marched from the north with a small force still loyal to him, as well as Norse reinforcements. Although slightly outnumbered, Sigfríð managed to obtain the upper hand in the battle, and Æthelwold would be killed. This caused his army to rout entirely, leaving Æthelweard and Sigfríð victorious. A few months later, seeking to end the conflict and focus on the war in the north, Sigfríð signed a treaty with Æthelweard and Ormar. The treaty reaffirmed the southern possessions as vassals or subkingdoms of the Kingdom of Jórvík. The treaty granted large portions of the lands formally owned by Æthelwold and other Anglo-Saxons to Æthelweard, while Ormar was granted an extended domain in the south. The treaty also recognized the rule of Rögnvaldr in East Anglia.
With peace finally achieved in the south, Sigfríð's army, bolstered by others who still wished to fight, marched into Scotland in early 906. Sigfríð successfully repulsed the Scottish from northern Northumbria, but was unable to secure a decisive victory in Scotland itself. The introduction of Norse forces in the south managed to divert Scottish attention from Suðreyjar's possessions in the north, sparing the isles themselves and other neighboring territories from occupation. Finally the Norse and Scottish agreed to peace, with Suðreyjar ceding its possessions on the Jórvík border. Minor possessions in Strathclyde were granted to both Suðreyjar and Scotland, with the remainder of the kingdom becoming a nominal vassal of the Scottish crown from there on.
During the late tenth century Norse settlers would first settle the land of Greenland. One of the first Norsemen to sight Greenland would be Gunnbjörn Ulfsson, who was blown off course while sailing from Norway to Iceland. Later in the year 978 an explorer named Snæbjörn Galti would sail to land described by Ulfsson, landing on the eastern coast of Greenland. Galti would attempt to settle the region, but his attempt ended in disaster and he would be killed from internal strife.
The next attempted settlement would be led by Erik the Red. Erik's father was exiled from Norway for the crime of manslaughter, and as a result Erik moved from Norway to Hornstandir in northwestern Iceland. Erik married and built a house in Iceland, but was exiled for three years by a Thing after a series of killings he had committed, forcing him to leave the island. Around the year 982 Erik departed for Greenland, rounding the southern tip of the island and finding a location suitable for settlement, with similar conditions to Iceland. Over the next three years Erik would spend his banishment exploring Greenland, spending the first winter on the island of Eiriksey, the second winter in Eiriksholmar, and the final summer exploring as far north as Snaefell and into Hrafnsfjord.
When his banishment expired Erik returned to Iceland, bringing stories of this newly explored land. Dubbed "Greenland" by Erik, this name convinced many Icelanders that the land to the west was highly desirable and fertile. Erik's persuasion was successful, as many people in Iceland at the time lived on poor land, which had been weakened by a recent famine, convincing many to join Erik. After spending the winter of 984 into 985 in Iceland, Erik and his followers traveled to Greenland, establishing the settlements of Eystribyggð and Vestribyggð, along the eastern and western coasts of the island respectively.
Erik's settlements in Greenland grew steadily, growing crops and farming the land in the south of the island, which proved to be one of the only places on the landmass capable of sustaining crops. In the summer the settlers would also organize into hunting parties to hunt above the Arctic Circle for valuable commodities such as seals, used for rope, walrus, for ivory, and beached whales.
Erik established himself as paramount chieftain of Greenland, establishing his estate of Brattahlíð in Eystribyggð, becoming a greatly wealthy and respected individual. Erik's settlement in Greenland eventually reached five thousand inhabitants, as Icelanders fled overcrowded and poor conditions in search of open and fertile land. These settlers spread around Eriksfjord, the water where Brattahlíð stood, and other nearby fjords in the south of the island.
- Main article: Sigtrygg Iron-Knee (The Old Boar Suffered)
Suðreyjar's involvement in Æthelwold's War had left the nation vulnerable and weakened, coming under threat from many of its neighbors. An invasion of Dublin by Cerball mac Muirecáin, King of Leinster, together with Máel Finnia mac Flannacain of Brega, was launched in 905, which threw the Norse out of the city. That same year a Scottish invasion was launched by Constantine II, which resulted in the loss of Suðreyjar's southern possessions to Scotland, and also established Strathclyde under Scottish protection. Sigtrygg spent much of his remaining reign replenishing his forces and defenses, while at the same time maintaining a presence in northern Ireland. Norse possessions in Ulaid, which had been conquered by Sigtrygg and his father, were under threat from raids, culminating in a war between Suðreyjar and Bárid mac Oitir and allies from the Uí Néill.
Suðreyjar momentarily lost its possessions in northern Ireland with this invasion in 912, but crushed the Irish in a naval battle near the coast of Man, after the Irish had seemingly attempted to capture the isle. With the Irish crushed at sea, losing a large portion of their forces, Sigtrygg led an invasion of Ulaid, which conquered the majority of the region for Suðreyjar by the following year. Several years later in 920 Sigtrygg also led a successful war against Leinster, which regained Dublin for Suðreyjar. Accompanied by his son Ragnall, Sigtrygg sailed a fleet to Cenn Fuait, while Ragnall landed in Waterford. Niall Glúndub, over-king of the Northern Uí Néill saw these landings as a direct threat to his rule, and marched to repel Sigtrygg. Niall Glúndub and the men of the Uí Néill first encountered the Norse at Mag Femen and were defeated, thanks to reinforcements from Ragnall aiding Sigtrygg. The Norse achieved another victory at Cenn Fuait, where Sigytrgg defeated Augaire mac Ailella, over-king of Leinster. Augaire was killed in the battle, effectively ending the campaign to repulse the Norse. Ragnall served as Jarl of Man, as well as Jarl of Waterford, which he had acquired after the death of the family's ally Ottir the Black in 921.
- Main article: Ragnall the Conqueror (The Old Boar Suffered)
In 920 Sigtrygg Ivarsson died and was succeeded by Ragnall, his second son. Several months earlier King Sigfrið of Jórvík had died, and his rival, the Scottish king Constantine II, had attempted to stop the ascension of Sigfrið's grandson Rögnvaldr, replacing the Hvitserks with a more Scottish friendly dynasty. Ealdred, Hold of Bamburgh received Scottish support, and led a rebellion across Northumbria. Ealdred attempted to siege the city of Jórvík itself, but was repulsed by a reinforcing army from the south. Ealdred next fled into Scotland, where he received support from Constantine, who had raised his forces and marched south against Rögnvaldr.
This sparked rebellion in the south of Jórvík, as Ormar Guðfriðsson broke the previous treaty with the king of Jórvík and refused to recognize Rögnvaldr. In 921 Ragnall launched an invasion of Scotland, where he met Constantine at the Battle of Corbridge. Ragnall split his forces into four columns, including a column commanded by Ottir the Black. The Norse were almost defeated, with Ottir being killed, however, Ragnall emerged with the fourth column and managed to push back the Scottish army. Although the Norse had failed to decisively defeat him, Constantine retreated. Ragnall marched on Jórvík, where he managed to capture the city and have himself crowned king. This largely turned his former enemies and allies alike against him, and he failed to receive homage from any of the Norse lords south of Northumbria.
Æthelweard, one of the few Anglo-Saxon rulers in the Kingdom of Jórvík, supported Ealdred's claim to the throne, and marched against Ragnall. Æthelweard's forces were largely cut off from Ealdred in the north, and before they could reach the front, they were intercepted by Ormar, who demanded they support his own claim as king. At the Battle of Leicester Ormar narrowly defeated the Anglo-Saxons, forcing them to retreat south and away from Ealdred. Ormar invaded the remainder of Mercia, hoping to reach Jórvík. When he learned of Ragnall's coronation, he agreed to recognize Ragnall as king in Northumbria, and turned his attention toward Rögnvaldr. During this time, into the following year, Rögnvaldr had managed to achieve victory in the south over Æthelweard. The subjugation of the south once more raised Rögnvaldr's claim, and also increased his manpower and ability. With this advantage, Rögnvaldr launched an invasion of Merica in late 921. Rögnvaldr managed to secure victories at Bedford and Derby, driving Ormar back to the south.
Confident in Ormar to secure the south, something he would not fully achieve, Ragnall turned north and invaded Bamburgh. By late 921 the area had been secured by Ragnall's forces, and he now advanced into Scottish territory formally owned by the Norse. Ragnall turned west and ravaged through Strathclyde, but was unable to defeat Constantine of Scotland on the battlefield. In 922 Ragnall agreed to peace with Constantine, in which Constantine was forced to recognize Ragnall as King of Jórvík. Scotland also ceded a number of lands, including parts of Strathclyde, to Suðreyjar. Later that year Ragnall died and was succeeded by his brother Gofraid, who did not share the same ambition to rule over England. Gofraid withdrew to Ireland, where he would face numerous conflicts with the Irish. With Ragnall gone, in 922 a conference was held at Eamont Bridge, where Rögnvaldr was recognized as King of Jórvík. Those present included Ormar Guðfriðsson, Ealdred, Constantine II, and others. Rögnvaldr's rule over his realm was weak, and Ormar was granted massive amounts of autonomy and concessions of land in Mercia.
- Main article: Gofraid Sigtryggsson (The Old Boar Suffered)
While Ragnall was engaged in Britain, Niall Glúndub began amassing forces to once more attempt to oust the Norse from Ireland. In 923 he led a coalition of Irish warriors, which included forces from the Northern Uí Néill, Áed mac Eochocáin of Ulster, Máel Mithig mac Flannacain of Brega, Mael Craibe mac Duibsinig of Airgíalla, Conchobar mac Flainn of Mide, and Cellach mac Fogartaig of South Brega against Dublin. The Norse and Irish met near Islandbridge, which proved an overwhelming victory for Gofraid Sigtryggsson. Niall Glúndub of the Northern Uí Néill, Áed mac Eochocáin of Ulster, Máel Mithig mac Flannacain of Brega, Mael Craibe mac Duibsinig of Airgíalla, Conchobar mac Flainn of Mide, and Cellach mac Fogartaig of South Brega were all killed in the battle, as were a member of the ruling dynasty of the Southern Uí Néill, and Eiremón mac Cennétig, Chief of the Cenél Maine.
With the coalition repulsed, Gofraid returned to ruling over Dublin. In 923 Gofraid led a raid on Davenport, Cheshire, an act of hostility against Rögnvaldr of Jórvík. This attack was allegedly to prove that Suðreyjar had not submitted to Jórvík. Two years later Rögnvaldr and Gofraid met and ended their feud, although from then on the alliance between the two kingdoms would be largely fractured. Gofraid focused his kingdom’s efforts on securing his position in Ireland, that year seizing Armagh, the home of the cult of Saint Patrick and one of the chief church centers of Ireland. Although initially successful, Gofraid would be defeated by Muirchertach mac Néill, forcing Gofraid to return to Dublin. In 924 Gofraid launched an attack on Limerick, where he took a number of Irish captives. In 927 Gofraid’s son Halfdan would be killed by Muirchertach mac Néill at Linn Duachaill, with his remaining army being surrounded and besieged by the Irish. An army led by Gofraid from Dublin would rescue this force. Later in life Gofraid would also raid Osraige and Leinster. as well as pillaging Derc Ferna.
- Main article: Olaf Guthfrithson (The Old Boar Suffered)
In 934 Gofraid died and was succeeded by his son Olaf Guthfrithson. Olaf continued his father’s practice of raiding in Ireland, culminating in a successful battle against Dublin’s rival, Amlaíb Cenncairech of Limerick in 937. In 937 raids in Scotland by Rögnvaldr of Jórvík prompted an unlikely alliance between Olaf Guthfrithsson, the Scottish King Constantine II, and Owen of Strathclyde, who decided to put aside their differences against a mutual threat to the south. That year Olaf traveled to Northumbria where his army met up with the Scottish. The coalition forces chased those loyal to the Jórvík king further inland, until they encountered Rögnvaldr at Brunanburh. The battle would be a victory for Rögnvaldr of Jórvík, the defeat causing heavy damage to the forces of Constantine II.
The Battle of Brunanburh would be remembered as "the Great Battle" soon after the Jórvík victory, having involved many of the major powers of the British Isles in one definitive battle. Despite these pretenses, the battle did little to settle the growing feuds across the Isles. The unsuccessful attempt by the Ivaring Dynasty to retake Northumbria from the Hvitserk cemented the fall of relations between Jórvík and Suðreyjar, serving as the last major attempt to usurp the throne of Jórvík until Cnut the Great's Invasion more than half a century later. Rögnvaldr's victory made him vastly more popular in his own kingdom, and by defeating threats to his rule on the battlefield, he would be able to spend much of his remaining reign strengthening his kingdom.
After his defeat at Brunanburh, the alliance against Jórvík broke down, and Olaf Guthfrithson instead turned his attention toward Scotland. Olaf exploited Constantine II’s weakened defenses to raid southern Strathclyde, finding mild success. This continued until about 941, when Olaf Guthfrithson died and was succeeded by his brother Blácaire. Rule in Suðreyjar was largely split in half, with Blácaire ruling over the kingdom’s Irish possessions, and his cousin Olaf Sigtryggsson ruling over the kingdom’s eastern possessions.
- Main article: Blácaire Guthfrithson (The Old Boar Suffered)
After the death of Olaf Guthfrithson, his brother Blácaire remained in Ireland, serving as King of Dublin. In 943 Blácaire began his reign by raiding into northern Ireland. Under his command the forces from Dublin defeated and killed Muirchertach mac Néill near Armagh, raiding Armagh the next day. The following year the Irish launched a successful raid on Dublin, led by Congalach mac Máel Mithig, King of Knowth, and the King of Leinster. Congalach Cnogba take much of the city’s treasure to his power base in Brega, north of Dublin on the lower reaches of the River Boyne. The sack of Dublin left Blácaire Guthfrithson unpopular and his power weaning. In 945 Blácaire Guthfrithson was driven out from Dublin and replaced by his cousin Olaf Sigtryggsson.
Olaf allied with Congalach Cnogba and fought against Ruaidrí ua Canannáin, a rival for the High Kingship who belonged to the Cenél Conaill, based in modern County Donegal. A portion of Ruaidri’s army was defeated in Conaille Muirtheimne, and Olaf followed up this victory with a raid against Kilcullen the following year in Leinster. This success continued until 947, when Congalach Cnogba and Olaf Sigtryggsson were defeated at Slane. The defeat left a large portion of Dublin’s army dead, with many drowning while fleeing the battle. Olaf left Ireland, and Blácaire usurped the kingship once more, ruling for about a year after. In 948 Blácaire Guthfrithson was killed in battle against Congalach mac Máel Mithig, the High King of Ireland, with the men of Dublin suffering heavy losses in this battle.
- Main article: Gofraid II of Dublin (The Old Boar Suffered)
After the death of Blácaire Guthfrithson in 948, Gofraid Sigtryggsson became ruler of the Kingdom of Dublin. Under Gofraid the forces of Dublin were still unable to secure a decisive victory. In 950 Dublin against allied with Congalach Cnogba against High King Ruaidrí ua Canannáin. Ruaidrí and Gofraid met between the RIver Boyne and the River Liffey, and in the subsequent battle Gofraid would be heavily defeated and forced to flee. Despite the defeat Ruaidrí and one of his sons would be killed. The following year Gofraid targeted the Abbey of Kells and several other churches in the Irish midlands, taking a great amount of livestock, treasure, and prisoners captive. Gofraid used these resources to feed Dublin as it rebuilt, as well as strengthen the city’s defenses against future raids. It is reported that in 951 plague struck against the city of Dublin, and Gofraid was among those killed. He would be succeeded by Olaf Sigtryggsson.
- Main article: Olaf Sigtryggsson (The Old Boar Suffered)
Olaf Sigtryggsson became king of Suðreyjar upon the death of Olaf Guthfrithson, while Dublin met to his cousin Blácaire. Olaf was reportedly a veteran of the Battle of Brunanburh and earlier raids into Britain, making him an experienced viking and leader. After securing an alliance with Eirik Bloodaxe, deposed king of Norway, the Jarl of Orkney, and other lords in Britain, Olaf and his cousin Ragnall Guthfrithson began the Strathclyde War, a series of invasions of the Kingdom of Scotland. Olaf Sigtryggsson would spend the next several years at war or governing in Scotland, and by 945 had secured the de facto vassalage of Strathclyde, as well as the acquisition of numerous towns in the surrounding area from Scotland. Olaf’s assistance led to the creation of the Jarldom of Suðrland under Eirik Bloodaxe in northern Scotland, which would remain an ally of Suðreyjar for years to come.
With the death of Olaf’s brother Gofraid from disease in 951, and the death of Congalach's rival Ruaidr, leaving Amlaíb's former ally as undisputed High King, Dublin was now under serious threat. Congalach was also perceived as a threat to Leinster, and in 956 an ambush in Leinster near Dún Ailinne or at Tech Guigenn in the region of the River Liffey, resulting in Congalach’s death while collecting tribute in Leinster. Olaf’s wife Dúnflaith’s father, Domnall ua Néill, became the next High King of Ireland, linking Olaf to the northern Uí Néill kindred of Cenél nEógain, and also to the southern Clann Cholmáin, as he was now stepfather to Dúnflaith's young son Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill.
In the early 960s Olaf Sigtryggsson came into conflict with the son of his predecessor Olaf Guthfrithson; Cammán mac Amlaíb. In 960 Olaf defeated Cammán, and again two years later, aided by warriors from Leinster while raiding in the region. Olaf would be wounded in the battle, while his opponent fled. Cammán would go on to raid Munster along with his brothers, before allegedly leaving Ireland. During this time Olaf’s activity was limited, consisting of occasional raids into Leinster. This included a raid on Kildare in 93, and again in 967, when Muiredach mac Faeláin, abbot of Kildare, a member of Uí Dúnlainge kindred which ruled Leinster, was killed by Olaf and his ally Cerball mac Lorcáin, a kinsman of Muiredach. In 964 targeted Kildare once more and was defeated near Inistogue by the Osraige.
During this time Congalach’s successor, High King Domnall ua Néill, was largely preoccupied in Connacht and Munster, and did not intervene in Leinster against the forces of Dublin. This ended when in 968 he marched south into Leinster and plundered the region, before laying siege to Dublin itself. Domnall later withdrew, but not before seizing a large number of cattle and other commodities. Olaf formed an alliance with Murchad mac Finn, King of Leinster, against the High King, and in 969 retaliated by attacking the abbey of kells. The allies of ua Néill pursued the vikings, but were defeated near Ardmulchan. In 970 Olaf found a new ally in Congalach’s son Domnall, King of Brega, and the High King and their allies targeted Brega that year. Churches in Brega guarded by Olaf’s soldiers, including Monasterboice and Dunleer, were targeted in these attacks. The forces of Brega and Dublin fought back against Domnall ua Néill's northern army at Kilmona.
In the ensuing battle Domnall's army, which included allies from Ulaid, was defeated. Among those killed were Ardgal mac Matudáin, king of Ulaid, and Cináed mac Crongilla, king of Conaille Muirtheimne. Monasterboice and Dunleer were burned soon after the battle, and fighting soon engulfed the lands of Clann Cholmáin the following year. Domnall ua Néill's enemies there drove him out, but he returned the following year and laid waste to Meath and area around Dublin, before marching south into Leinster. This campaign effectively established Domnall ua Néill as overlord of the midlands and Leinster for several years to come.
In 977 Olaf was reportedly responsible for the death of Domnall ua Néill's sons Congalach and Muirchertach. Around that time Domnall ua Néill retired to the monastery at Armagh, where he died in 980, at a time when Olaf and his allies had renewed campaigns into Leinster. Úgaire mac Túathail, overking of Leinster, was captured in 976, and died two years later along with Muiredach mac Riain of Uí Cheinnselaig of south Leinste in 978 near Belan. Úgaire's successor, Domnall Claen, was also captured by the forces of Dublin the following year.
The high kingship was claimed by Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill, Olaf’s stepson, following the death of Domnall ua Néill. One potential claimant to the throne, Olaf’s former ally Domnall son of Congalach, had died in 976, whereas Domnall ua Néill's two sons had been killed the following year. This allowed Máel Sechnaill to ascend to the throne unchallenged. In 975 Máel Sechnaill had also become king of Meath, as well as head of the Clann Cholmáin, and he began his rule with an attack against his stepfather outside Dublin. Máel Sechnaill next met Olaf’s son on the battlefield near the hill of Tara in 980, where he was decisively defeated. Ragnall Olafsson was among the dead, as were several Irish kings allied to Máel Sechnaill. The high king occupied the city of Dublin, imposing a heavy tribute on its citizens. Olaf would be deposed, living his days at the monastery of Iona.
- Main articles: Glúniairn (The Old Boar Suffered), Maccus Haraldsson (The Old Boar Suffered), and Gofraid Haraldsson (The Old Boar Suffered)
In 980 the city of Dublin was captured by Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill of Clann Cholmáin, the High King of Ireland, who defeated Olaf Sigtryggsson at the Battle of Tara, forcing him into abdication in Iona. Glúniairn was appointed a client king in Dublin by Máel Sechnaill, as Glúniairn was a son of Dúnlaith, sister of the previous High King, Domnall ua Néill of Cenél nEógain, making him Máel Sechnaill's half brother. Máel Sechnaill enacted a heavy tax upon his half brother, and also removed many of the former king Olaf's hostages, such as Domnall Clóen, King of Leinster, but at the same time also supported his half brother against the claims of his many relatives.
In Suðreyjar Maccus Haraldsson ascended to the throne. Maccus was the son of Harald Sigtryggsson, a king of Limerick who had been placed on the throne by Olaf Sigtryggsson after a naval battle in Lough Ree between Dublin and Limerick. In 940 Harald was killed in Connacht, leaving Maccus king. During this time Maccus, sometimes accompanied by his brother Gofraid, would launch a number of raids into Wales, including an attack on Penmon in 971, and an attack on Anglesey two years later. In the mid tenth century the viking warlord Ivar of Limerick arrived in Munster with a great fleet, seizing the city of Limerick and ravaging Munster. Maccus launched a series of raids against Ivar in retaliation, plundering Scattery Island and other territories. Ivar was captured in battle by Maccus and ransomed in 975.
In 963 Ivar formed an alliance with Mathgamain mac Cennétig of Munster, who had ascended to the throne following the death of his brother Latchna in 953, a target of raids from Limerick. The following year Mathgamain's younger brother Brian Boru left his brother and led a band of warriors against the Norse. Brian's forces were nearly destroyed, but he kept up hostilities for four years, until his brother agreed to join him, breaking his peace with Ivar. This forced Ivar into making haste alliances with the enemies of Munster, including king Molloy of Desmond and Donovan of Hy Carberry. Ivar's army ravaged much of Boru and Mathgamain's kingdom, before they marched north from Cashel to meet Ivar on the wooded plain of Sulcoit. Ivar was defeated, and the forces of Munster pursued him to Limerick. The city was pillaged, with the Irish killing many of the city's inhabitants.
Ivar formed an alliance with Donnubán mac Cathail, prince of Uí Fidgenti against Mathgamain mac Cennétig of Munster, and in 976 Donnubán captured Mathgamain. Mathgamain was handed over to Máel Muad mac Brain, who had the king killed. Possibly in retaliation for his brother's death, Brian Boru arranged for a surprise attack against Ivar on Scattery Island. Ivar and his sons Olaf Cuallaid ("Wild Dog") and Dubcenn ("Dark Head") were slain, ending the independent Norse kingdom in Limerick. Over the next several years Brian Boru would hunt down the remaining relatives of Ivar, eventually growing the conflict across Ireland.
In 969 Ivar of Waterford, another Norse warlord, would ally with Mathgamain mac Cennétig to defeat the Osraige and Murchad mac Finn, King of Leinster. After the defeat and abdication of Olaf Sigtryggsson, Ivar of Waterford assumed leadership over the Norse resistance against Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill, who now held Glúniairn's Dublin subordinate. In 982 Ivar would plunder Kildare, held by Máel Sechnaill. Ivar made an alliance with Domnall Claen of Leinster and invaded Dublin the following year. Máel Sechnaill and Glúniairn would rout the invaders, with Ivar's son Gilla Pátraic being killed in the attack. Máel Sechnaill pursued and ravaged Leinster. In 984 Ivar next made an alliance with Brian Boru, Mathgamain's successor, and the brothers Maccus and Gofraid of Suðreyjar, who all agreed to turn on Leinster and continue attacks on Dublin.
In 989 Glúniairn was assassinated and Máel Sechnaill reentered the city. Resistance was brushed aside, and the king demanded heavy payment. By this time the alliance of Ivar of Waterford, Brian Boru, and the rulers of Suðreyjar was making headway in Leinster, and the city of Dublin was now threatened. At the same time Glúniairn's brother Sigtrygg Silkbeard pressed his claim to Dublin, something that Máel Sechnaill hesitantly supported.
- Main article: War of the Alfar (The Old Boar Suffered)
Ormar Guðfriðsson, King of Wessex, one of the most influential subkings in the Kingdom of Jórvík, died in 948, leaving his young son Alfr to succeed him. Alfr was largely unproven as a leader at this time, and would be inheriting a large domain stretching from the English Channel into central Mercia. Concerns over the competence of this young ruler led to many nobles in the south supporting Ormar's brother, also called Alfr. Alfr Guðfriðsson had proven himself a warrior during previous wars, and already ruled over a sizable domain under Ormar, making him a likely choice. Alfr Guðfriðsson assembled a small army from those who supported him, and marched to Winchester to push his claim. He found that his nephew had already raised an army of his own and had left the city.
Alfr Guðfriðsson was declared king in Winchester, despite the protests of the younger ruler, who now fled north and attempted to raise support from those who had fought under his father. Both parties met for the first time near Swindon, where despite being outnumbered, the young Alfr was able to outflank his uncle, causing a large number of casualties to the defending force. Ultimately Alfr Ormarsson would be forced to retreat, however, his leadership in the battle would prove himself competent, and helped him gain additional support. This was in combination to a successful raiding campaign, in which Alfr Ormarsson raided towns loyal to his uncle, often Anglo-Saxon communities. Later that year Halfdan Ragnarrsson, son of Ormar's former ally, the King of Cornwall, swore to aid Alfr Ormarsson, and marched east into territory held by Alfr Guðfriðsson.
Alfr Guðfriðsson responded by marching west and chasing after Halfdan into 949. They finally met at Yeovil, where Alfr achieved a crushing victory against the Kingdom of Cornwall. Halfdan's kinsman Harthacnut was killed in the battle, as was a large portion of Halfdan's army. Although the battle would prove a crushing defeat for Halfdan, the battle did weaken Alfr Guðfriðsson's own forces, as well as distracting him from Alfr Ormarsson in the east. This allowed the young Alfr to raise his forces, as well as secure support from lords across Jórvík. King Rögnvaldr of Jórvík led a number of raiding parties into the south to take advantage of the situation, which although were indirectly beneficial to Alfr Ormarsson, were largely motivated by a separate goal for personal expansion.
Wessex would be permanently reduced in terms of territory in the east, as Jórvík captured a number of towns on the southern coast of Britain, trapping Alfr Guðfriðsson in central Wessex. After a successful siege Alfr Ormarsson would successfully capture Winchester, being properly crowned king. This would be a crushing blow to Alfr Guðfriðsson, who now fought defensively from multiple foes. At the Battle of Long Knoll both sides met once more commanded by Alfr Guðfriðsson and Alfr Ormarsson respectively. Alfr Guðfriðsson would put up a valiant defense, but would ultimately be killed, effectively ending the war. That year Alfr Ormarsson was officially recognized as king of Wessex, and later swore allegiance to Rögnvaldr, king of Jórvík.
The War of the Alfar would devastate much of southern Jórvík, weakening the once powerful kingdom established by Ormar. The war potentially prevented Wessex from further expanding into central Britain, something that Ormar had done against the earlier kings of Jórvík. Instead Wessex would largely turn to the Welsh kingdoms to the west, further weakening and distracting Wessex from greater ambitions over Britain. Jórvík itself would be able to benefit from the war, although Sigfrið Rögnvaldrsson, Rögnvaldr's oldest son, would be killed in the fighting, leaving Styrbjörn has his next logical heir.
- Main article: Strathclyde War (The Old Boar Suffered)
The former king of Norway, Eirik Bloodaxe, who had been deposed by Haakon the Good, had taken up residence in the Jarldom of Orkney several years after his war in Norway. An alliance was formed when Eirik gave his daughter Ragnhild to Jarl Thorfinn Turf-Einarsson’s son Arnfinn, helping to grow a loyal army, Eirik next secured an alliance with Olaf Sigtryggsson, who upon the death of Olaf Guthfrithson became king of Suðreyjar. Acting upon the advice of Olaf, Eirik sought to establish his own kingdom in the Kingdom of Scotland, and began amassing a force in the north. Ivar Halfdansson, Reeve of Cumberland, a warrior from the time of Ragnall’s invasion of Northumbria, also pledged support, and in 943 Olaf Sigtryggsson and Ragnall Guthfrithson, two of the most influential lords in Suðreyjar, led an army into Strathclyde.
Eirik Bloodaxe’s forces, and the forces of Orkney, landed in northern Northumbria, near the eastern coast of Scotland. Supported by an army of Jórvík warriors who joined his war effort, Eirik began raiding into southern Scotland. Olaf Sigtryggsson and Ragnall Guthfrithson landed in Strathclyde from the Isle of Man, conducting small scale raids before returning to their ships. The vikings traveled along the coast through the Firth of Clyde, into the River Clyde. Towns along the coast were raided sporadically, until the vikings came to Dumbarton. The city’s castle, Alt Clut, proved a difficult obstacle for the raiders from Suðreyjar, giving way to a four month siege. After an attempt to relieve the fortress failed, the vikings broke inside the castle. Dyfnwal III of Strathclyde was captured, as were most of his family, and those still remaining were either killed or enslaved.
The advances into Strathclyde were unchecked by the Scottish, who were distracted by Eirik Bloodaxe’s own advance into central Scotland. Eirik entered Lothian, where he met the forces of Malcom I of Scotland in battle. The Scottish army was largely unprepared in comparison to Eirik’s own force, and when they charged into battle, the vikings were able to partially surround the Scottish and rout them. This crushing defeat left Scotland heavily weakened, and Eirik was able to ravage much of Lothian. The Scottish nobility fled north to the royal court at Scone. Eirik Bloodaxe spent that winter in southern Scotland, while reinforcements from Orkney and Suðreyjar conducted raids in the region via the Firth of Forth. Olaf and Ragnall’s army continued as far east as Govan, before withdrawing.
Suðreyjar’s possessions in the Scottish Highlands had come under threat from local Scottish lords, and Olaf and Ragnall sailed north to combat this advance. At the Battle of Dunstaffnage the Scottish were effectively removed from Argyll, falling back inland to regroup their forces. In 944 they sailed up Loch Linnhe, before turning back and rounding the northern tip of Scotland. Eirik Bloodaxe sailed into the Firth of Tay, raiding the abbey at Dunkeld, and even threatening Scone itself. A battle outside the city pushed the vikings back to their ships, but not before much of the surrounding area had been raided. Raiding continued up the northern coast of Scotland, before both parties of vikings reached the city of Inverness in early 946.
By this time Malcom I of Scotland managed to defeat a third party in the south, possibly occupying party of Strathclyde and Northumbria. Raids by the Scottish are reported as far south as the River Tees, in retaliation for the region’s support of an invasion into his own land. In late 944 Aralt Gofrithsson, son of the king of Dublin, Gofraid Sigtryggsson, led a raid into southern Scotland. Aralt would reportedly be killed on this raid, ending Dublin’s small involvement in the conflict. After this victory, Malcom continued north, fortifying upon Craig Phadrig near Inverness. The subsequent Battle of Inverness saw the Scottish occupy the fort and the surrounding area, inflicting heavy casualties against the vikings. After the vikings appeared to flee, Scottish peasants pursued them frantically, against the orders of Malcom. The Scottish army, now exposed from their fort, was promptly surrounded by Norse reinforcements. Reportedly the entire force that chased after the vikings would be killed, ending the day as a decisive victory for the Norse. The victory would leave a large number of Scottish nobles dead on the battlefield, and convinced Malcom I to sue for peace.
Weakened by extensive warring, the Norse kings ended their raiding by late 947. Eirik Bloodaxe remained in the north and warred against the local lords and chieftains of Caithness and Sutherland, creating the so called Jarldom of Suðrland. In the south Scotland de facto ended its vassalge of Strathclyde, and also lost a number of neighboring towns to the Kingdom of Suðreyjar. The Strathclyde War would weaken Scotland significantly, but in many cases the Norse kingdoms around it suffered their own instability, allowing Scotland to retake a number of territories over the course of the next few generations.
Thorfinn had five sons; Arnfinn, Havard, Hlodvir, Ljot, and Skuli, with Grelad, daughter of a Norse warrior named Dunbad and his wife Groa, daughter of Thorstein the Red, a viking who led an army in Scotland alongside Sigurd Eysteinsson. Thorfinn also had two daughters, who gave birth to Einar kliningr ("Buttered-bread") and Einar harðkjotr ("Hard-mouth") respectively. Thorfinn died an old man around the year 963, and was buried on Rognvaldsey, being succeeded by his many sons. Eirik Bloodaxe's daughter Ragnhild had her husband Arnfinn killed, and she married his brother Havard, who ruled as Jarl. She conspired with the Jarl's nephew Einar kliningr, who killed Havard in a battle near Steinnes. Ragnhild left Einar and had his cousin Einar harðkjotr attack and kill his cousin. Still not assuaged, Raghnhild married Ljot Thorfinnson and had the second Einar killed. At this point Ragnhild had married three of Thorfinn's sons, before she possibly died. Ljot Thorfinnson became the new jarl, although dynastic conflict continued for some time.
Upon the death of Eirik Bloodaxe around the year 954, his sons launched an invasion of Norway to reclaim their father's kingdom from Haakon the Good. A Norwegian victory at Rastarkalv resulted in the death of Gamle Eiriksson in 955, where as Guttorm Eiriksson died two years earlier at Avaldsnes. The sons of Eirik returned to Norway in 957, with support from the Danish king Gorm the Old, but again were defeated by Haakon. It was not until 961 that they would successfully defeat the Norwegian king. Three of Eirik's remaining sons, led by Harald Greycloak, landed in Hordaland and managed to defeat Haakon at Fitjar. Harald Greycloak became king of Norway as Harald II, while the next oldest son, Ragnfrød, became Jarl in Suðrland.
Skuldi sought the jarldom of Orkney for himself, and allied with the Scottish king against Ljot. The jarl and Skuldi battled, with Ljot managing to kill his brother. MacBeth, the Mormaer of Moray, brought a large army north and invaded Suðrland, causing Ljot and Ragnfrød to ally and meet the Scottish army at Skitten Mire. The Norse were victorious, although Ljot later died of his wounds sustained at the battle. Hlodvir became jarl, marrying Eithne, daughter of Kjarvalr, King of Ireland. The succession of Hlodvir ended the period of dynastic conflict in Orkney, and upon his death he was succeeded by his son Sigurd.
By the early 960s the Kingdom of Wessex under Alfr Ormarsson had largely recovered from the War of the Alfar over a decade earlier, and now looked to other ways to expand its power in Britain. After the war Wessex had retained its Mercian territories in the west, forming a border with the kingdoms of Wales. At this time Wales was largely divided between Deheubarth in the west, created by Hywel Dda's joining of Seisyllwg and Dyfed into a single realm, Morgannwg in the south, created from the union of Gwent and Glywysing, and Gwynedd in the north, which held control over such kingdoms as Powys.
In 942 Idwal Foel, King of Gwynedd, and his brother Elisedd, had launched an invasion into Wessex, but were both killed, and their forces repulsed. This allowed Hywel Dda to intervene in his succession, exiling Idwal's two sons Iago and Ieuaf, and establishing himself as ruler over Gwynedd and Powys. Hywel spend much of his remaining reign codifying Welsh Law, something that would live on long after his reign. Upon Hwyel's death his extensive realm was divided between his three sons; Edwin, Rhodri, and Owain, who ruled jointly. Soon after Hywel's death however, the sons of Idwal Foel returned to Gwynedd and took back their father's kingdom. In 952 Iago and Ieuaf invaded Deheubarth, reaching as far as Dyfed. The sons of Hywel mounted an invasion of their own, and in 954 they had reached the Conwy Valley. Both sides met at Llanrwst, with the sons of Hywel being defeated and forced to withdraw.
Charles' death left behind a divided empire, and a succession crisis among various members of the Carolingian dynasty. Arnulf maintained Carinthia, Bavaria, Lorraine, and the remaining portions of East Francia. In West Francia, Count Odo of Paris would be elected king. Ranulf II became king in Aquitaine, Italy went to Count Berngar of Fruili, Upper Burgundy to Rudolph I, and Lower Burgundy to Louis the Blind, the son of Boso of Arles, King of Lower Burgundy and grandson of Emperor Louis II maternally. The remaining portions of Lotharingia became the Duchy of Burgundy.
Odo of Paris, crowned King of France following the death of Charles the Fat, was of the Robertian dynasty, descendants of Robert the Strong, Duke of the Franks and Marquis of Neustria. Odo had inherited the title of Marquis of Neustria from his father, before losing it in 868, when King Charles the Bald granted it to Hugh the Abbot. Hugh's death in 886 returned the title to Odo, who since 882 had ruled as Count of Paris. For his bravery against the vikings during the 885 to 886 Siege of Paris, the nobles of France later elected Odo king after the removal of Charles the Fat, and was crowned at Compiègne in February 888 by Walter, Archbishop of Sens.
A rival faction supporting Charles the Simple, posthumous son of Louis the Stammerer, against King Odo. Charles had been prevented from succeeding to the throne at the time of Louis' death by his half-brother Carloman, when the nobles instead elected Charles the Fat as king. Charles the Simple was likewise prevented from succeeding Charles the Fat by the election of Odo. By 893 however, support for the Carolingians was growing once more, and Charles was crowned at Reims Cathedral in opposition to Odo. Charles controlled relatively little power during Odo's rule, but upon Odo's death in 898, Charles succeeded to the role of king unopposed.
Charles ended the conflict with viking raiders, when in 911 they besieged Paris and Chartres. The Bishop of Chartres, Joseaume, appealed to the nobles of France for assistance against the vikings, and was joined by Robert, Marquis of Neustria; Richard, Duke of Burgundy; and Manasses, Count of Dijon. At the ensuing Battle of Chartres, the French army would defeat the forces of Rollo and the vikings, despite the absence of Charles the Simple and much of France's army. The victory allowed Charles to negotiate with the invaders, creating the Treaty of Saint-Claur-sur-Epte. Led by Hervé, the Archbishop of Reims in negotiations, the French granted the vikings all the land between the river Epte and the Atlantic, which included the independent country of Brittany, which had been unsuccessfully invaded by France previously. Rollo guaranteed the king his loyalty, agreed to be baptized, and married one of Charles' daughters.
That same year the King of Germany, Louis the Child, died, and the nobles of Lotharingia previously loyal to Germany, under the leadership of Reginar, Duke of Lorraine, declared Charles their king. In Germany Conrad of Franconia was elected, and Charles worked to win the Lotharingians favor over Conrad. Charles would marry several of his family members to Lotharingian nobles, and would defend the region from Conrad, King of the Germans. Charles' influence faded after Conrad's reign however, and as a result many supported Henry the Fowler, the next German king, over Charles. A revolt across his realm in 920 resulted in Charles' capture, but would be released after negotiations by Archbishop Herveus of Reims. A second revolt in 922 of the French nobles, led by Robert of Neustria, broke out. Robert was the brother of the previous king Odo, and was crowned king in opposition to Charles, who fled to Lotharingia. Charles returned to France with a Norman army, but was defeated in 923 near Soissons. Robert died in the battle however, while Charles was captured and imprisoned. Robert's son-in-law Rudolph of Burgundy was elected as Robert's successor, and in 925 Lotharingia became part of Germany. Four years later Charles died in captivity.
Upon his election as king, Rudolph passed the Duchy of Burgundy to his younger brother Hugh the Black. As king he led an army against the Henry the Fowler, the German king. Henry met Rudolph with a sizable army, and eventually peace was declared. In 925 Henry would break this peace when he attacked the Duchy of Lorraine, temporarily removing Lorraine from French possession. In 924 the vikings began another campaign of raids into West Francia. Rudolph did not react, and soon the vikings had reached Burgundy, where they were repulsed. The vikings threatened Rudolph at Melun, where he was joined only by his ecclesiastic vassals and a small army recruited from Burgundy. When the vikings left France proper, the Normans likewise began raiding, targeting much of northern France. Rudolph was joined by Herbert and Arnulf I of Flanders, managing to take Eu, but were ambushed near Fauquembergues where Rudolph would be wounded, the Count of Ponthieu killed, and many Normans left dead on the field.
That same year Rudolph joined Louis the Blind, King of Provence, against the Maygars, who had begun menacing the eastern regions of France. In 930 the Magyars invaded near Rheims but withdrew, returning five years later to Burgundy. Rudolph responded with an army, causing them to retreat. Herbert ransomed royal prisoners back to Rudolph in exchange for the archbishopric of Rheims being granted to his son Hugh, and the county of Laon to his other son Odo. Herbert managed to secure the allegiance of the Normans to Charles the Simple, who marched on Rheims to secure his claim to the French throne. Herbert managed to secure Laon, but Charles' death the following year removed Herbert's leverage. When Rudolph managed to repulse the vikings from France, he also received the support of the nobles of Aquitaine, as well as the allegiance of Normandy.
Rudolph sought to reduce the power of the Duke of Aquitaine, beginning by withdrawing him access to Berry. In 932 the title of Prince of Gothia was bestowed upon Raymond Pons, Count of Toulouse, and his brother Ermengol, Count of Rouergue. The County of Auvergne was also granted to Raymond, while the territory under the control of the lord of Charroux was transformed into an independent county. Despite his rivalry with the Duke of Aquitaine, Rudolph would later seek the duchy's aid in eradicating the last viking strongholds in the south of France. In 931 Rudolph campaigned against Herbert, marching into Rheims and replacing Herbert's son Hugh with Artald. Rudolph and his allies successfully cornered Herbert at Château-Thierry. In 935 the two would reach peace, with Rudolph dying the following year.
In 936 Louis IV, a Carolingian was elected as king. Upon the death of his father Charles the Simple, Louis was only two years old, and had been taken to England by his mother Eadgifu. In England Louis lived in exile, in the household of King Æthelstan, until the death of Rudolph, when he was summoned back to France. Louis was highly supported by the nobles of France, including Hugh the Great, who even organized to prevent Herbert II or Hugh the Black, the late king Rudolph's brother, from taking the throne for themselves. When Louis returned to France he was crowned Louis IV, by the Archbishop of Rheims in Laon. Louis' sovereignty was largely limited to a few towns in the north, his power challenged by numerous feuding nobles.
Hugh the Great, who had originally supported the king, began to quarrel with Louis. In 938 Louis began attacking fortresses and lands in France formally owned by his family, including those at the time ruled by Herbert II of Vermandois. The following year he attacked Hugh the Great and William I, Duke of Normandy, but a truce would be called later that year. As a result of Louis' aggression, numerous nobles of France, including Hugh, Herbert II of Vermandois, Arnulf I, Count of Flanders, and Duke William Longsword, aligned with Emperor Otto the Great of the Holy Roman Empire, who supported them against Louis. Louis would be captured in 945, and released the following year in exchange for the young Richard I, Duke of Normandy, and the surrender of the fortress of Laon. At church council was held in 948 at Ingelheim, featuring bishops almost exclusively from Germany, that excommunicated Hugh, and returned Reims to the archbishop. Hugh responded by attacking Soissons and Reims, receiving a second excommunication from a council held in Trier. Soon later Hugh would make peace with Louis IV, as well as the church, and his brother-in-law Otto the Great.
In 954 Louis IV fell from his horse and died at Rheims. He was succeeded by his son Lothair, and with the help of his mother Gerberga, would be recognized by Hugh the Great. In exchange Hugh was granted rule over Aquitaine and much of Burgundy. That same year Giselbert, duke of Burgundy, swore fealty to Hugh and betrothed his daughter to Hugh's son Otto-Henry. The following year Lothair and Hugh campaigned together and took the city of Poitiers by siege. Upon Hugh's death in 956, Lothair became educated by his uncle Bruno, Archbishop of Cologne. With his guardian's advice, Lothair successfully negotiated an agreement between Hugh's sons, granting Hugh Capet the city of Paris and the ducal title, and later Otto the Duchy of Burgundy.
In 962 Baldwin III of Flanders, the heir and co-ruler of Arnulf I died, and Arnulf instead granted Flanders to Lothair. Upon Arnulf's death in 965, Lothair invaded Flanders to press his claim to this inheritance, but was eventually repulsed by Arnulf's grandson, Arnulf II. Lothair would take several cities during his invasion however, temporarily ruling over Arras and Douai. Lothair also began attempts to increase his influence in Lorraine, which had been previously held by his family. In 978 Lothair and Hugh Capet launched an invasion into Lorraine, against Emperor Otto II. Upon French forces crossing over the Meuse river, Otto fled. The imperial palace at Aachen was sacked by Lothair, who reversed the bronze eagle of Charlemagne, previously turned to the west to symbolize that the German cavalry could beat the French whenever they wanted. The following autumn Otto took his revenge when he invaded France. He reached as far as the city if Paris, also stopping at Reims and Soissons. After three days of raiding in eastern France, Otto was driven back by Hugh Capet, and then decisively defeated by Lothair's own forces near the Aisne. Peace would finally be concluded between Otto and Lothair in 980.
In 983, when Otto II died, Henry II, Duke of Bavaria abducted his three year old son Otto, in the hopes of being proclaimed king himself. Lothair was asked to take charge of the situation by the archbishop of Rheims, but by 984 Otto had been rescued by his mother Theophanu and the Archbishop of Mainz. Two years later the caliph of Córdoba, Al-Mansur, invaded the Hispanic March and sacked Barcelona. Lothair received the envoys of Count Borrel II at Verdun, but was ill at the time and could not respond to the invasion. This caused a rift between Barcelona and the French crown, and by this point Lothair's power began to be eclipsed by that of Hugh Capet. The archbishop of Rheims began to press Hugh Capet to ally with Otto III, claiming that he was more an effective king than Lothair. In 986 the archbishop would be called to an assembly at Compiègne by Lothair, where he attempted to arrest the bishop for treason. Hugh Capet's army arriving caused the council to disperse before a verdict could be reached. Soon after Lothair died at Laon.
Upon Lothair's death he was succeeded by his son Louis V, by his wife Emma, daughter of Lothair II of Italy. Louis inherited a rivalry between his own family's line and the house of Holy Roman Emperor Otto I, who as defender of Rome had reserved to right to name clergy in Carolingian territory, often not supportive of the Carolingians. The archbishop of Rheims had been appointed by Otto I, and had tried to negotiate an alliance between the two houses during the reign of Lothair. This attempt failed however, and further made impossible when Lothair attempted to arrest the archbishop for treason in 986. After only a year as king, Louis died from a fall while hunting near the town of Senlis.
In West Francia the Carolingians would continue to rule until the late 900’s. The last Carolingian king, Louis V, died on 21 May 987 after he fell while hunting near the town of Senlis, Oise. Louis had no legitimate heirs, and as such it was expected that his uncle, Charles, Duke of Lower Lorraine, would be nominated as his successor. Instead the clergy, led by Louis’ enemy Adalberon, archbishop of Reims, who Louis had been investigating for treason, and Gerbert, who later became Pope Sylvester II, argued on behalf of Hugh Capet. Hugh Capet was son of Hugh the Great, Duke of the Franks, and Hedwige of Saxony, daughter of the German king Henry the Fowler. Through his mother, Hugh was also the nephew of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor; Henry I, Duke of Bavaria; Bruno the Great, Archbishop of Cologne; and Gerberga of Saxony, Queen of France, wife of Louis IV, King of France, and mother of Lothair of France and Charles, Duke of Lower Lorraine.
Since the late ninth century the nobility of West Francia had argued that the monarchy was elective, as they had previously elected two Robertians over Carolingians; Odo I and Robert I, who became indispensable in leading the nation. After the death of Rudolph of Burgundy, King of the Franks, and Hugh the Great’s brother-in-law, he had chosen not to claim the throne for himself, as that would risk an election against Herbert II, Count of Vermandois, father of Hugh, Archbishop of Reims, who was himself allied to Henry the Fowler, King of Germany; and with Hugh the Black, Duke of Burgundy, brother of the late king. Nevertheless Hugh had become one of the most powerful and influential people in West Francia, leading to Louis IV granting him the title of dux Francorum and declaring him "the second after us in all our kingdoms."
In 987 Hugh Capet was elected King of the Franks, and almost immediately after his coronation, began to push for the coronation of his son Robert. The archbishop of Reims however, wary of establishing hereditary kingship in the Capetian line, said that two kings cannot be created in the same year. Despite the king’s claims that he planned a campaign against the Moorish armies at odds with Borrel II, Count of Barcelona, a vassal of the French crown, these requests would be denied.
The Carolingian heir, Louis V’s uncle Charles of Lorraine, contested the results of the election. With support from the Count of Vermandois, a cadet of the Carolingian dynasty; and from the Count of Flanders, loyal to the Carolingian cause, Charles took Laon, the seat of the Carolingian royalty. In response Hugh Capet and his son Robert besieged the city twice, but would both times be repulsed.
After the death of Adalberon, Archbishop of Reims, his position was contested by Gerbert and Arnulf, illegitimate son of the Carolingian king Lothair of France. In an attempt to end hostilities between supporters of the Carolingians, Hugh chose Arnulf as archbishop, after having him swear an oath of loyalty. Despite his oath, Arnulf supported his family, and opened the city of Reims to Charles’ forces. An attempt to broker peace failed after Hugh unsuccessfully attempted to capture Charles during negotiations. As a result many of the southern cities of West Francia refused to recognize Hugh after his betrayal, allowing Charles to gain greater power.
Following his betrayal at Reims, Hugh called on Pope John XV to depose Arnulf, but was embroiled in a conflict with the Roman aristocracy. Hugh instead settled for a domestic council to be convened, which deposed the archbishop and chose Gerbert as his successor. The pope refused to recognize these results, and called for a new council in Aachen, but the French bishops chose to stand by their decision. Another attempt to call a council between German and French bishops at Mousson would fail, when Hugh prevented his bishops from attending. The deposition of Arnulf would later be pronounced illegal, contested by Gerbert. The bishops who had elected Gerbert were excommunicated, leading to them declaring Gerbert antipope Sylvester II, in order to counter the German dominated papacy.
Charles, Duke of Lower Lorraine, regrouped his forces and led an attack against Paris, forcing Hugh Capet to meet him on the field of battle. In the ensuing campaign that followed Hugh would be killed and Paris seized, leading to Charles being crowned king. Charles only ruled briefly, however, before his death, after which conflict would erupt between his eldest son Otto and Hugh Capet’s heir Robert. Robert faced additional problems when he was excommunicated for consanguinity, allowing Otto to secure his election as king. When Otto chose to be crowned by antipope Sylvester II, he too was likewise excommunicated by the pope in Rome. In 1012 Otto died with no legitimate heirs, leading the French nobility to elect a new king.
William V, Duke of Aquitaine was elected king, who ruled France from various cities throughout his rule. By the time of his ascension France was largely divided into a series of stem duchies, which ultimately held power within the kingdom. William sought to weaken the hold of individual dukes, first by repairing the schism between French clergy and the popes in Rome. William proposed the expansion of church lands, which in reality were in an effort to limit the power of the dukes. Bishops were granted imperial lands, and unlike their neighboring dukes, could not pass hereditary titles and lands to any descendants. Instead William was able to control the succession of bishops, despite the fact that this was against the canon law of the Catholic Church, which eventually weakened the emperor’s relations with the papacy.
In addition to his creation of church lands across France, William likewise attempted to promote church policies, such as the Peace and Truce of God movements initiated by the papacy. Mailezais Abbey and Bourgueil Abbey would be founded by William in Aquitaine, as would a number of cathedrals and other religious structures after a fire had damaged the city of Poitiers. In 1024 an embassy from Italy sent by Ulric Manfred II of Turin beseeched William to claim the Kingdom of Italy, which under Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor had been greatly neglected. The nobles of Italy had refused to recognize Conrad automatically after the death of emperor Henry II.
When news spread of Henry’s death the nobles in Italy revolted in an effort to separate the Kingdom of Italy from the empire. In Pavia the imperial palace was destroyed, after the city’s attempts to received greater autonomy had gone unheeded. When attempts to negotiate with the emperor failed, the nobles of Italy instead William's claims, who invaded Italy with a French army. Conrad marched a contingent of soldiers into Italy, where he was crowned king in Milan. After two years Italy would finally be quelled under Conrad, with a treaty between William and Conrad being brokered by Abbot Odilo of Cluny in 1027. When William returned home to France he would hold a king’s council in Clermont, which sought to finalize French laws, as part of an imperial constitution. This, however, only helped to diminish central power in favor of local dukes.
Beginning in the ninth century, Saracen raids from Sicily ravaged the region of Lazio in Italy, and the Saracens proceeded to found a colony near the ancient city of Minturnae, near the Garigliano River. The colony was initially successful, taking advantage of division and rivalries between various Christian powers in the peninsula, and even forging alliances with nearby Christian princes. In early 915 an alliance was formed between Pope John X, Berengar I of Italy, and various other Italian rulers in an effort to combat the Saracen threat emerging in Italy. The alliance included Guaimar II of Salerno, John I of Gaeta and his son Docibilis, Gregory IV of Naples and his son John, and Landulf I of Benevento and Capua. An army from Spoleto and the Marche was sent by the King of Italy, Berengar I, led by Alberic I, Duke of Spoleto and Camerino. A contingent from the Byzantine Empire participated in the alliance, sending men from Calabria and Aqulia under Nicholas Picingli, the strategos of Bari. The armies from Lazio, Tuscany, and Rome were led by John X himself.
The Christian alliance met a small band of Saracen raiders in northern Lazio and destroyed the small raiding party. Next the allies scored two additional victories at Campo Baccano, on the Via Cassia, and in the area of Tivoli and Vicovaro. When news reached the main Muslim contingent of these defeats, the Saracens abandoned their hold of Narni and other strongholds, and retreated to the Garigliano. The Christian alliance pursued and began a three month siege, which pushed the Muslims out of their camp to the nearby hills. Alberic and Landulf launched a number of attacks against the Muslims, but they resisted for much of August that year. Finally, with their food supply running low, and taking heavy casualties against the alliance, the Saracens attempted to fleet to the coast and escape to Sicily. The Muslim army was captured however, and all were executed.
Later that year Pope John X crowned Berengar Emperor in Rome for his assistance against the Saracens threatening Italy. Almost immediately after his coronation the king was tasked with defending the north of Italy, where the Magyars were raiding Fruili. Throughout his reign as emperor Berengar attempted to spread his influence outside the peninsula, interfering in an episcopal election in the diocese of Liège among others. Later in his life Berengar's wife Bertilla was charged with infidelity, and was subsequently found poisoned. He was married next to a noblewoman named Ana, a possible daughter of Louis of Provence, whose mother was possibly the daughter of Leo VI the Wise of the Byzantine Empire. This arrangement would have been an attempt by Louis of Provence to advance the cause of his children, while his own rule was being marginalized, and also helped to legitimize Berengar's own rule, by relating himself through marriage to the house of Lothair I, who had ruled Italy by hereditary right after the death of Charlemagne.
Berengar's eldest daughter, Bertha, followed in the footsteps of her aunt and became an abbess of San Salvatore in Brescia. As a result Berengar had the monastery given the ability to build and man fortifications. Berengar's younger daughter, Gisela, was wed to Adalbert I of Ivrea, in an ill fated attempt to create an alliance with the Anscarids. In 913 Gisela died, and Adalbert remarried, disregarding an alliance with Berengar's dynasty. Adalbert later became one of the king's primary rivals within the Kingdom of Italy following the defeat of Louis of Province. Adalbert was one of many nobles who supported Hugh of Arles as a claimant to the throne of Italy, and from 917 to 920 Hugh invaded and occupied parts of the kingdom. Alongside his brother Boso, Hugh advanced as far as Pavia, where he was eventually starved into submission by Berengar. In 920 Hugh was allowed to pass out of Italy freely and vacated the kingdom.
In 922 Berengar's throne was again threatened, when Rudolph II of Burgundy, from the Elder House of Welf, was asked by several Italian nobles to intervene in Italy against the Emperor.Rudolph entered Italy and reached Pavia, where he was crowned as the King of Italy. Adalbert and his allies were dissatisfied with the Emperor's policy of paying Magyar mercenaries over grants and family alliances, and Rudolph's invasion was readily invited. Furthermore, Berengar's own grandson, Berengar of Ivrea, rose up in revolt as well, incited by Rudolph's campaign. The Emperor withdrew to Verona, while at the same time the Magyars entered the peninsula from the northeast and raided freely during the chaos. Berengar eventually retaliated, but was defeated at the Battle of Fiorenzuola, near Piacenza, by the combined forces of Rudolph, Adalbert and Berengar of Ivrea.
The decisive defeat at Fiorenzuola left Berengar de facto deposed, and Rudolph was readily recognized as the new King of Italy. Soon after Berengar was assassinated by his own men in Verona, possibly on Rudolph's orders. Rudolph ruled both Burgundy and Italy together for a brief period, however, by 926 the Italian nobility had turned against him, and instead requested that Hugh of Arles, the ruler of Provence, return to Italy and take the throne from Rudolph. Rudolph withdrew from Italy and returned to Burgundy for his own protection, allowing Hugh of Arles to be crowned King of Italy with relatively little interference from the incumbent ruler and his supporters. Hugh relinquished his territory in Burgundy, known as Lower Burgundy, in exchange for Rudolph relinquishing his claims to the Italian throne. This allowed Hugh to ascend to the throne unopposed, and allowed Rudoplh to unite the Burgundian kingdoms into the Kingdom of Arles, also known as the Second Kingdom of Burgundy.
Under Hugh I of Italy, the central administration of the kingdom was improved, in order to streamline a defense against the marauding Magyars in the north, who had now been pillaging Italy for decades. Hugh met with Rudolph of France and Herbert II of Vermandois in 928, where Hugh granted Herbert II's son Odo the County of Vienna, in opposition to Charles Constantine, son of Louis the Blind. This was in the hopes of establishing an alliance against Rudolph of Burgundy, however by 930, Charles had solidified his control over Vienne, while in the following year Rudolph of France had received Viennois and Lyonnais. Hugh turned his attention to the Italian peninsula, including securing his reign as king, and securing the imperial crown. Hugh had the nobles of Italy recognize his son Lothair as their next king, and had him crowned in April 931 to secure his dynasty after his death.
That same year Lambert of Tuscany, Hugh's brother, was accused of conspiring against the king to obtain the crown for himself, and Hugh had him deposed. This action was possibly to prevent Lambert from objecting to a marriage to Hugh's second wife Marozia. The March of Tuscany was bestowed on his brother Boso, while Lambert began rallying support for Rudolph of Burgundy's return to Italy. Hugh managed to keep Rudolph neutral by presenting him with Viennois and Lyonnais, which Rudolph had successfully occupied. By 933 Rudolph had officially relinquished any right to the throne of Italy. Three years later Hugh replaced Boso with his own son Humbert, and presented the nobleman Hugh Taillefer with Octavion in the Viennois. This helped to patch of the Italian monarch's relations with Charles Constantine in a last ditch effort to preserve his influence in Provence.
Hugh's second marriage to the bride Marozia, the effective ruler of Rome and widow of both Alberic I of Spoleto and Hugh's own half-brother Guy of Tuscany, was technically illegal under canon law. Hugh attempt to circumvent these rules by disowning the descendants of his mother's second marriage, and by granting Tuscany to a relative on his father's side, Boso. Marozia's teenage son, Alberic II, was alarmed by these actions, and launched a coup against Hugh and his forces in Rome during the king's wedding ceremony. The city of Rome rallied alongside Alberic II, and Hugh was forced to flee the ceremony by sliding down a rope to where his army was camped. Marozia remained imprisoned in Rome until her death a few years later.
The disaster in Rome had damaged Hugh's power in Italy, but he set out to repair his reputation. First Hugh had his illegitimate son Tebald groomed to ascend to the position of Archbishop of Milan, however, the previously installed Arderic lived for another twenty-two years, preventing Tebald from being appointed archbishop. Hugh spearheaded the war against the Magyar raiders, as well as the Andalusian pirated based at Fraxinet in Province. Diplomatically Hugh was largely successful, first orchestrating the treaty with Rudolph of Burgundy which solidified his own control over the Kingdom of Italy. Provence was handed to Rudolph over the descendants of Louis the Blind, and Rudolph's daughter Adelaide was wed to Hugh's son Lothair. Hugh eventually even came to terms with Alberic, who married one of Hugh's daughters in 942.
Any available lands or titles in Italy were granted by Hugh to close relatives, including his numerous descendants, both legitimate and illegitimate. The existing nobles of Italy outside Hugh's circle of well established friends and allies saw this move as threatening and a revolt eventually broke out. In 941 Berengar of Ivrea was expelled from Italy and the March of Ivrea was abolished as a result, Berengar returned to Italy from his exile in Germany in 945, and defeated Hugh in battle. A diet was held in Milan by Berengar, which officially deposed Hugh, but also came to a compromise with the king. The result of the diet had Hugh retain the title of king nominally, on the terms that he leave Italy for Provence. Lothair was left as the nominal king of Italy, but with all power in Berengar's hands. Hugh accepted the diet's outcome and retired to Provence, although retained the royal title until 947.
For the next five years Lothair was the nominal King of Italy, while all actual power was vested in Berengar of Ivrea. In 950 Lothair died in Turin, possibly poisoned by Berengar, who also forced Lothair's widow to marry his son Adalbert. Lothair's widow Adelaide was imprisoned at the Garda Castle, where she was allegedly mistreated by Berengar's wife Willa. Instead she fled Italy with the help of Count Adalbert Atto of Canossa to the court of Otto I of Germany, who she later married. Berengar became king following Lothair's death, and Adalbert was established as co-ruler. Otto I of Germany took the opportunity to marry Adelaide and intervene in Italy for his own gain. In 951 Otto launched an invasion and found Berengar entrenched at San Marino. Otto proceeded to Pavia and received the homage of the Italian nobility, before returning to Germany and appointing his son-in-law, Conrad the Red, as regent.
Conrad, Duke of Franconia, was elected King of East Francia by the rulers of Saxony, Swabia, and Bavaria in Forchheim, after the death of the last Carolingian king of Germany, Louis the Child, had left succession in the east uncertain. This placed the Germans in opposition to the West Francian and Carolingian claimant to the throne, Charles the Simple, who was purely supported in the east by Reginar of Lorraine, Conrad's personal rival. This conflict was partially resolved two years later with the marriage of Conrad to the Swabian count Erchanger's sister, Cunigunda, who was a granddaughter of the former king Louis the German, the widow of Liutpold, Margrave of Bavaria, and Duke Arnulf of Bavaria's mother.
Conrad I would spend much of his reign attempting to uphold the power of his kingship versus the growing power of the various German dukes. His power was additionally diminished after the failed attempts to conquer the Duchy of Lorraine and the Imperial City of Aachen from Charles the Simple. Constant raids from the Hungarians east of Conrad's kingdom also plagued East Francia, especially after the Bavarian defeat at the Battle of Pressburg in 907. At the 916 synod of Hohenaltheim Conrad attempted to mobilize the East Frankish episcopate under Archbishop Unni of Bremen, but by then revolt had broken out against his weak rule. After numerous skirmishes, Conrad I eventually came to terms with Duke Henry of Saxony, while the revolting Swabian dukes Erchanger and Burchard II remained a constant threat to the king's authority, as was the duke Arnulf the Bad of Bavaria. Conrad died in 918 after succumbing to wounds suffered in a battle against Arnulf the Bad, not before persuading his younger brother Eberhard to offer the crown to Henry the Fowler, Duke of Saxony, one of Conrad's principal rivals during his lifetime. Conrad considered his rival to be the only German nobleman capable of holding the kingdom together, especially in the face of internal rivalries and continuous Hungarian raids in the east.
At the Reichstag of Fritzlar in 919 Eberhard and the other Frankish nobles finally heeded Conrad's advice, and Henry was elected king as Henry I. Eberhard succeeded Conrad as Duke of Francia, but was killed at the Battle of Andernach during a rebellion against Emperor Otto I, whose dynasty inherited Franconia for themselves. Archbishop Heriger of Mainz offered to anoint Henry as per a traditional ceremony, but Henry refused citing his desire to be a king by the people's acclaim, not by the church. After his coronation Duke Burchard II of Swabia swore fealty to the new king, while Duke Arnulf of Bavaria refused to submit. In 921 Henry forced Arnulf's hand after he won two separate campaigns against the duke in Bavaria. The final straw being when Henry besieged the duke's residence at Ratisbon and forced Arnulf into submission personally.
Henry's reign was tested for the first time in 920, when the West Frankish king Charles the Simple invaded Germany. The West Frankish army reach as far east as Pfeddersheim near Worms, before retreating when Henry began preparing an army against him. The following year Henry negotiated a treaty of friendship with Charles. During the civil war following the coronation of King Robert I in 923, Henry saw a chance to wrest the Duchy of Lorraine from French control, and crossed the Rhine with an army. A large portion of the duchy was left in Henry's possession as a result. Unlike Charlemagne and his successors, who had attempted to administer the kingdom through counts and a feudal system, Henry regarded the German kingdom as a confederation of stem duchies, with his position being the first among equals. Henry attempted to administer his subjects as such, allowing Franconia, Swabia, and Bavaria to maintain complete control over their own internal affairs. Duke Gilbert of Lorraine took advantage of this weak centralization and attempted to revolt away from East Francia in 925.
Henry led a second army into Lorraine, besieging Duke Gilbert at Zülpich. After capturing the city, Henry forced a large portion of the duchy to accept his direct control, while subjugating the rest once more. Lorraine was accepted as a fifth stem duchy in the German kingdom, with Gilbert allowed to remain in power as duke. In 928 Henry had Gilbert wed to his daughter Gerberga, further strengthening his hold over the region. In 921 during a Hungarian invasion of Germany and Italy, Henry led a large German army against the invaders. Eberhard and the Count of Meran were victorious near Bleiburg in the March of Carinthia, while a second contingent under Liutfried, Count of Elsass successfully routed the Hungarians in a second engagement. These defeats did not deter the Magyars, who continued to raid Germany for years to come. Henry captured a Hungarian prince in battle soon after, forcing the Hungarians into a ten year truce in 926, on the condition that he pay tribute to the Magyars. Although a slight drain on the economy, this truce allowed the German dukes to fortify their holdings against attack, and also led to the development of an elite cavalry force capable of countering the Hungarian attacks.
During this time Henry subdued the Polabian Slavs, settling the eastern border of the kingdom. This was followed in 928 with an invasion of the Slavic Hevelli tribes, where Henry seized the capital of Brandenburg. This victory was followed by an invasion of the Glomacze lands on the middle Elbe river, where Henry captured the city of Gana after a brief siege. A fortress was constructed at Meissen to hold the territory. The following year Henry and Arnulf of Bavaria entered Bohemia and foced Duke Wenceslaus I to resume yearly payments of tribute to the king. When the Slavic Redarii captured the town of Walsleben and massacred its inhabitants, Count Bernard and Thietmar marched beyond the Elbe against the fortress of Lenzen. The Lusatians and the Ukrani of the Lower Oder were also subdued and foced to make tributary payments in 932 and 934, respectively. Although various territories had been conquered by Henry, he neglected to form a march administration, which would not be implemented until later.
The Hungarians turned against two supposed rulers of the basin, conquering Transylvania and the lands of Salan, ruler of the central territories. Following Arnulf's death, the Hungarians were released from their alliance with East Francia, and set out to expand their domain in Pannonia while leaving Italy. The Hungarians also claimed the lands of Moravia, which they had helped to subdue during Arnulf's lifetime. After defeating the Moravians once more, the two parties allied and invaded Bavaria, but they allegedly only reached as far as the river Enns. One contingent of the Hungarian army crossed the Danube and plundered along the river's north bank, prompting Luitpold, Margrave of Bavaria to raise his forces against them. In late 900 the Bavarian ruler routed the Hungarians, and had a strong fortress erected on the Enns soon after.
Nevertheless the Hungarians were successful in Pannonia, becoming the rulers of the entire Carpathian basis. Arnulf's successor, Louis the Child, held a meeting at Regensburg in 901, setting out to further combat the Hungarians in the east. Moravian envoys at the conference proposed a truce between the Moravians and East Francia, so that both sides could combat the invaders. That same year an invasion of Carinthia was launched, although the Hungarians were later repulsed. The Hungarians returned to Moravia in 902 instead, subduing the land for good. The region of Nyitra was also invaded, and the local Czech ruler Zodor was killed. Later that year the ruler of Bavaria supposedly invited the Magyars to a banquet to negotiate peace, but instead the Bavarians had the Hungarian leader Kurszán assassinated.
The Hungarians next invaded Italy in 904, arriving as allies of King Berengar I against his rival Louis of Provence. The territory occupied by Louis in the north along the river Po was heavily raided by the Hungarians, indirectly aiding Berengar in his victory over Louis. In exchange for this assistance, Berengar allowed the Hungarians to plunder any town that had supported Louis, and also agreed to pay tribute to the Hungarians for years to come. A later invasion in 907 caused the death of several Bavarian nobles, possibly near Pressburg, preventing any eastward expansion by the Kingdom of East Francia. Over the next several decades the Hungarians continued their raids into the eastern territories of the kingdom. The following year in 908 the Hungarians defeated an East Francian army at the Battle of Eisenach, where Burchard, Duke of Thuringia and Rudolf I, Bishop of Würzburg were killed in battle.