In the year 900 the vikings lands based in Scandinavia were no more than a bunch of separate small kingdoms that were linguistically and physically related. Kingdoms were slowly expanding and nearby tribes began to unite. The vikings at this time infamous for their beliefs; to create glory for themselves in battle and with the law. Possibly overcrowded in their own land, and inner fighting within clans and tribes, they looked further afield to support themseles.
The vikings had spread to the east and west. Swedish vikings were known to head east to Finland and Russia, the Norwegians to the north and west and the Danish to the west.
Many vikings began to settle in the lands they loved to plunder and eventually began to assimilate into the local populations. In particular eastern England and Normandy in France, had large populations of northern settlers (Norsemen), and the dukes and other nobles had special powers attached to them so as to get along with the ruler of the particular country and the previous inhabitants.
During this time many countries would pay a ransom to keep the vikings from raiding their lands and destroying and stealing whatever was in their way, which was known in England as Danegeld (Danish money). England at the time was a series of recently united Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, which was becoming quite prosperous. In the end the Danegeld ransom was becoming more profitable to the vikings than their previous system of raids.
Back in Denmark, the Scandinavians were just starting to consolidate and become even more powerful than a group of un-united and fierce heathen warriors. Denmark’s kingdoms were growing bigger and in particular a king named Gorm the Old had all but conquered all the Danes.
Fighting with Norway led Gorm’s son with the bloodthirsty name of Harold Bluetooth to start attacks of the Norwegian lands. As his attacks became successful so did his control of the Norwegian people till they finally yielded and he also became King of Norway. This was the beginning of a Danish-Norwegian alliance that lasted many centuries.
No-one knows whether the death of Harold was effected by his son Sven Forkbeard or in battle. Upon Harold’s death Sven not exactly first in line to the throne became king of Harolds territories. Viking raids and Danegeld were still in effect in Sweyn’s time. Because of conflict with Sweden, Sweyn was drawn into battle against the Swedish, and in triumph had also become king of part of Sweden.
The Danish settlers had already settled in large numbers in England had brokered a deal whereby they had control over the eastern kingdoms and it was called Danelaw. Anglo-saxon had commonly taken to ethnic cleansing of the Danes and apparently Sven’s sister was killed in one such massacre. In revenge Sven started making successful raids into these English kingdom’s and due to his territorial gains had eventually became King of England.
Imagine a king that was so powerful that he thought he could part the sea. So was the poem from William Makepeace Thackeray about the King of England King Canute. Canute was the third generation of the Christian Danish kings. Harold Bluetooth having converted as a treaty from a loss in battle. Because of all of the kingdoms he ruled, he was the 2nd most powerful man in Europe at the time, and sat next to the Pope, whenever there was a meeting between European kings.
Canute reached the pinnacle of success of the Danish kings of England. Upon his father’s death, he was not the first in line for the throne. Nor did he step directly into the shoes of his father. Denmark was inherited by his older brother Harold II, but Norway, England and Sweden were lost. Canute first conquered England, 2 years into Harald II’s rule he died and Canute gained the Danish crown. A decade later he went to conquer the families previous interests in Norway and Sweden. The respective kings gave Canute the throne without much fuss.
Canute was successful during his life to make England a safer land thanks to his blood lines as king over the former Danish raiders. He was successful in building the economy and uniting the Danish and English people’s within Britain.
Within a generation the Danish king’s power had finished with the death of the childless heir Harthacnut, who died by surprise at a wedding. He was standing up completely drunk, and supposedly having a stroke, as he was known to be suffering from acute tuberculosis. What a way to end such a successful dynasty.
The effect that the settlement of Danes and other vikings had on English culture these day and more recent times is a markedly different dialect in the north whose capital was in York. This dialect has largely disappeared in favour of a more central dialect, although their pronunciation in the north is more Danish.
Also surnames with the ending son like Johnson and Watson, were originally of Danish origin and concentrated in the north as well as names like Thorpe and ones ending in -by (Busby) and -thwaite (Oldthwaite).