Sussex Castles




The Second Viking Invasion


927 The End of Danelaw

After Alfred’s successful defensive strategy of burgh building, the viking expansion was halted, but half the country, known as Danelaw, was still ruled by the vikings. King Alfred’s offspring, Edmund and Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians reclaimed Mercia and East Anglia. In 927, Sihtric the Viking King of York died. Alfred’s grandson Æthelstan used this as an opportunity to expel the final Viking presence from York, incorporating the Viking Kingdom of York into the country of England.

994 The Vikings Return 

After a period of relative stability, a new generation of vikings sensed weakness in the English government and started raiding England again. The vikings ravaged the Sussex coast from 994 onwards. While King Æthelred II nominally raised armies and built ships for defense, he appeared wholly lacking in the leadership qualities needed to rally the country and use these resources effectively. England paid a huge price in Danegeld during the remainder of Æthelred’s reign.

1008 Ealdorman Wulfnoth Escapes

Ealdorman Edric Streon falsely accused Wulfnoth, an ealdorman of Sussex, to the King. Wulfnoth didn’t wait for the Kings response, but escaped to sea with a fleet of twenty ships. Ealdorman Beorhric, thinking to make a name for himself pursued Wulfnoth with a fleet of 80 ships. Before he could reach Wulfnoth, a storm arose driving Beorhric’s ships ashore. Wulfnoth seized the opportunity to burn Beorhric’s beached ships. When news of Beorhric’s loss reached the fleet at Sandwich there was much confusion. Æthelred and his chief ealdorman and counselors simply abandoned their ships and returned home in disarray  leaving England without effective

naval defense. Wulfnoth is thought by some to be Earl Godwin’s father.

1013 Æthelred Deposed

Æthelred was eventually driven into exile in Normandy by Danish King Svyen Forkbeard. Like a bad penny however, Æthelred popped back up in 1014 after Svyen Forkbeard died. In 1016, despite strong resistance from Edmund Ironside, Cnut finally claimed England for the Danes. England was ruled by the Danes until the return of Æthelred’s son, Edward the Confessor, from Normandy in 1043.

Sussex Timeline