Consequences of a ninth century Viking conquest of Wessex?

Ok, so the scenario is that Wessex falls to one or more Viking conquerers some time during the 800s and the new lords of Wessex keep their old religion, at least for some time. What would be the consequences of this? How would it influence the situation in other parts of Europe, like Scandinavia and France? OTL the central power in West Francia weakened during the 800s. Would this still be the case in this scenario and if so, would a Pagan conquest of Wessex weaken Christianity in Western Europe in general? If West Francia was still weak, it would not be in a position to start a crusade. On the other hand, if Vikings conquered Wessex, one reason might be that many of those that OTL went to France in this timeline went to Britain instead, something which would be beneficial to France. England was important in the spread of Christianity to Scandinavia (at least to Norway, I am not sure about Sweden/Denmark), so Scandinavia might perhaps stay Pagan longer.

Any thoughts?
 
OK, I found out that this has been discussed earlier, but the threads are a couple of years old, so due to the rules on the forum, I make replies here. I also continue an earlier thread that I started, with a different, but related question, but as the focus of my interest has shifted to a conquest of Wessex, I continue here.

I wonder if the bigger problem with this isn't that you destroy Christianity, but you destroy England. There's no centralized Saxon state to reconquer the land in the 9th century, just bands of warring Norse.

How would this develop in the long run? Would developments be more similar to that in France (and later in Germany)? How would this affect the situation on the continent? Would the new Danish elite in Germanic Britain remain Pagan or would they eventually become Christians?

Perhaps at least some, if not most of what is, IOTL, today's England might well become an extension of Scandinavia. But what if a (mostly) Celtic remnant survives in the farther west of Britain afterwards, like in say, Wales, and Cornwall + Devon(and maybe a few places besides)? It would be interesting to see how these two very different civilizations might develop in the centuries to come. :cool:

The cultural influence would definitely be larger. Maybe the language of Germanic Britain would even be anglicised Norse rather than a huge Scandinavian influence on Anglosaxon.

Also, Christianity would spread more slowly if at all. Otl England was the source of most missionaries that were effective in Scandinavia. With the Churches in ruins and the priests slaughtered, England might do something like Iceland (to a lesser extent), where there were numerous Christians among the original settlers (mostly Irish) but no infrastructure to sustain the faith. As a result the faith died in a generation.

Biggest thing is a lot of Danish settlers settle in conquered Proto-England rather than going to Iceland or Normandy.

"England" returning to Paganism, while Iceland remains Christian, that´s an interesting scenario.

Not immediatly at least. Even defeated, Anglo-Saxons have still a better hold on Britain. Of course, the Danes would have been in better position TOTL and it may end to a lasting separation of England, with South still being AS for a while.
Having Danes being more present in England could maybe end in a Anglo-Dane society (instead of Anglo-Norman) if Scandinavian manage to maintain a cohesive rule on the island.

One of the reasons Danes managed to take York and southern Northumburia was its weak population and importance, relative to southern/eastern England.
If they manage to take all England, they would probably "anglicize" themselves eventually and prefer anyway to rule from richer, "better" aeras. Five Bouroughs would meet better chances to become an Anglo-Dane center.

And that's in the case of a better situation for Danes, that suffered from chronical division (the division of Great Pagan Army after conquest of Mercia shows that victory wasn't the sign of a more coherent army), while Wessex fighting alone at least had the big advantage of clearing competition amongst Anglo-Saxons. I doubt the Danes would have eventually enough forces to control all of England immediatly, and letting Wessex autonomous (even as client) would eventually turn badly for them.

What about a TL where Wessex lost against the Danes, but where they still kept a smaller part of the kingdom, but where they were so weakened that they were not able to conquer the areas controlled by the Danes? A lasting, but weaker kingdom of Wessex with the rest of Germanic Britain controlled by the Danes would also be an interesting scenario.

Well, a Norman invasion might actually be more likely, given the way Vikings feud and dynastic conflicts. However, new Daneland would provide an interesting dynamic- Danes ruling, while the lower classes would remain Saxon and Briton.

Rollo only became duke of Normandy in 911, so there were no Normans at this time.
 
I posted about this a long time ago and played with the scenario for a while. My goal was to make the British Isles have a unitary identity like France and I was going to do that by crushing the English kingdoms between Northmen and Welsh for a couple generations. I sort of lost steam because I couldn’t really figure out what to do with Europe. I had the idea that France should be weakened and that perhaps it would get more Viking raids if there already were Norse kingdoms in Britain, but that’s as far as I got.
 
I posted about this a long time ago and played with the scenario for a while. My goal was to make the British Isles have a unitary identity like France and I was going to do that by crushing the English kingdoms between Northmen and Welsh for a couple generations. I sort of lost steam because I couldn’t really figure out what to do with Europe. I had the idea that France should be weakened and that perhaps it would get more Viking raids if there already were Norse kingdoms in Britain, but that’s as far as I got.

How would this lead to a unitary identity? West Francia (France) itself was gradually weakened after the disvision of the Carolinigian Empire. Weere you thinking of a scenario where it was even more weakened?

By the way, I have read elsewhere that an English identity was only gradually starting to emerge under Alfred, but Bede finished his Ecclesiastical History of the English People around 730, more than a century before Alfred. Does this mean that an English identity was older or is he only refering to the angles? I haven´t read his work myself, I have only read about it.
 
How would this lead to a unitary identity? West Francia (France) itself was gradually weakened after the disvision of the Carolinigian Empire. Weere you thinking of a scenario where it was even more weakened?

By the way, I have read elsewhere that an English identity was only gradually starting to emerge under Alfred, but Bede finished his Ecclesiastical History of the English People around 730, more than a century before Alfred. Does this mean that an English identity was older or is he only refering to the angles? I haven´t read his work myself, I have only read about it.

With no Hundred Years’ War, French identity as we know it is probably gone. I was thinking of France as being dominated by a few large duchies without much thought of how to get there.

And English identity isn’t something that emerged overnight. Certainly in Alfred’s time there was an idea that men of Northumbria and men of Wessex had something in common that distinguished them from Britons or Danes, but it probably wasn’t as concrete as it was in Bede’s day.
 
With no Hundred Years’ War, French identity as we know it is probably gone. I was thinking of France as being dominated by a few large duchies without much thought of how to get there.

And English identity isn’t something that emerged overnight. Certainly in Alfred’s time there was an idea that men of Northumbria and men of Wessex had something in common that distinguished them from Britons or Danes, but it probably wasn’t as concrete as it was in Bede’s day.
The Anglecynn identity often comes across to me as akin to that of the Germans during the HRE: recognised as related and sharing cultural traits but with a strong regionalism.
A lot of political work went into establishing a wider nationalism as part of centralisation efforts.
 
The Anglecynn identity often comes across to me as akin to that of the Germans during the HRE: recognised as related and sharing cultural traits but with a strong regionalism.
A lot of political work went into establishing a wider nationalism as part of centralisation efforts.

That’s basically my impression. My goal in “The Danelaw of Britain” was to create a circumstance where all British and Irish people share a common identity and Englishness is just a minor ethnic fact.
 
And English identity isn’t something that emerged overnight. Certainly in Alfred’s time there was an idea that men of Northumbria and men of Wessex had something in common that distinguished them from Britons or Danes, but it probably wasn’t as concrete as it was in Bede’s day.

So a common identity among Angles and Saxons was actually more developed at Bede´s time than at Alfred´s time? I would have thought that it was the other way around, and that a separate identity among the various groups arriving after the fall of Roman Britain was gradually weakened.

Actually, the question of identity itself is interesting. I am primarily thinking of identity at elite level, as ordinary people probably did not have a sense of identity apart from local and religious identity.
 
So a common identity among Angles and Saxons was actually more developed at Bede´s time than at Alfred´s time? I would have thought that it was the other way around, and that a separate identity among the various groups arriving after the fall of Roman Britain was gradually weakened.

Actually, the question of identity itself is interesting. I am primarily thinking of identity at elite level, as ordinary people probably did not have a sense of identity apart from local and religious identity.

I'm actually not really sure. I read what there is to read on the period, which is pretty vague prior to Bede. I'm just saying that I assume a sense of Englishness in opposition to non-Englishness would seem likely to grow over time, and of course I'm only referring to Elites.
 
I'm actually not really sure. I read what there is to read on the period, which is pretty vague prior to Bede. I'm just saying that I assume a sense of Englishness in opposition to non-Englishness would seem likely to grow over time, and of course I'm only referring to Elites.

From what I understand the Christianization of Anglosaxon Britain started in Northumbria with Celtic missionaries (there was also some less successful continental misisonaries in the south), so that the Angles became Christian before the Saxon. The Church in Anglosaxon Britain was called the English church by Bede. May this be because the Angles first became Christians, and that the term were simply kept while the Saxons became Christians?
 
From what I understand the Christianization of Anglosaxon Britain started in Northumbria with Celtic missionaries (there was also some less successful continental misisonaries in the south), so that the Angles became Christian before the Saxon. The Church in Anglosaxon Britain was called the English church by Bede. May this be because the Angles first became Christians, and that the term were simply kept while the Saxons became Christians?

My impression is that there wasn't a clear dividing line between "Angles" and "Saxons" at any point that we're aware of. If there was a distinction other than vague tribal identity, it was mostly gone by the 800's.
 
My impression is that there wasn't a clear dividing line between "Angles" and "Saxons" at any point that we're aware of. If there was a distinction other than vague tribal identity, it was mostly gone by the 800's.

From what I understand from earlier discussions, the linguistic background for the term "English" was that "a" in some instances changed to "e", so that the West Saxon kingdom became known as Wessex. This also explain how Angles became English. Perhaps the term "English" was used for the entire Anglosaxon Church, and then later it was chosen as a common term for both Angles and Saxons, since it had already been used by the church? If so, there wouldn´t necessarily have been a common identity, even though the church used the term "English" for the entire proto-England.
 
Ok, so the scenario is that Wessex falls to one or more Viking conquerers some time during the 800s and the new lords of Wessex keep their old religion, at least for some time. What would be the consequences of this?

If Guðormur ("Guthrum") defeated Alfred, and, as a result, ruled Wessex as a pagan king, the effect may not have been decisive.

Guðormur would have defended his kingdom against all comers, whether Saxon, British, Irish, or Norse. As he did that, the sort of ethnic mixing that took place in other parts of Norse-ruled Britain would have been likely. At the same time, while we would not see the sort of royal land grants that aided in the growth of monasteries and cathedrals in our time line, the work of the Church would have continued. In other words, as Guðormur was neither a "Norse nationalist" or an "evangelical Pagan," he would neither have imported a sufficient number of Norse people to overwhelm the English nor created institutions that could compete with institutional Christianity.

Indeed, a powerful Norse kingdom in the center of the island of Great Britain may have had the paradoxical effect of convincing would-be Vikings to try their luck in other parts of the world. After all, the whole idea behind being a Viking was to find places that were (1) worth plundering and (2) poorly defended.
 
What if Wessex was not conquered, but was weakened to the point where it was not able to unite Anglo-Saxon England? In other word, Danelaw survives.
 

Brunaburh

Gone Fishin'
So a common identity among Angles and Saxons was actually more developed at Bede´s time than at Alfred´s time? I would have thought that it was the other way around, and that a separate identity among the various groups arriving after the fall of Roman Britain was gradually weakened.

Actually, the question of identity itself is interesting. I am primarily thinking of identity at elite level, as ordinary people probably did not have a sense of identity apart from local and religious identity.

It looks that way if you read Bede. Bede was very strongly in favour of an Anglo-Saxon identity, propagandistically so. He was, in many ways, still fighting the battles of his youth, when the conflict between the Britons' Celtic Christianity and the Roman missions to England was playing out.

Bede is clearly tacking the idea of "the English" to an orthodox Roman Christianity. The British are the bad'uns because they didn't try hard enough to convert the Anglo-Saxons, and when they do they are converting to the wrong Christianity. He uses the Britons as the "others" against which Anglo-Saxon identity is measured, rather than the Irish and Picts who he clearly respects despite their former Celtic Christianity, this is probably connected to the presence of Britons in Northumbria as an oppressed minority at the time. Another interesting fact about Bede, is that on 3 occasions when he mentions an Anglo-Saxon with a Celtic name (Caedmon, Coenwalh, Albinus) he afterwards says "whose native language was English". Echoes of this are found in the life of St Guthlac (whose dad was almost certainly British), an Anglo-Saxon saint of the Roman rite, who was tortured in the wilds by demons who came at night speaking Welsh (that bit always makes me think of "Old Indian burial grounds).

The period of conversion in England (600-700) coincides with the disappearance of Brittonic names in Anglo-Saxon elites and the coalescence of small tribal units into the heptarchy. You could argue that it was at this time that the idea of "Englishness" first appears, to describe a certain, religious, linguistic and political social-organisation. The reason Bede was more vehement about it is that he was living at the time of the creation of this identity, and writing just after it, rather than during a period where it was uncontroversial.
 

Brunaburh

Gone Fishin'
Re, the actual question. England speaks a Scandinavian language in this scenario, but you get a lot of instability before an England emerges, which may never happen. Wales is bigger, Welsh princes pick off land in Shropshire, Gloucs, and Herefordshire from secure bases in the Welsh hills. A permanent and viable independent Wales is possible if they can get the cities of Gloucester, Chester and Hereford.
 
What if Wessex was not conquered, but was weakened to the point where it was not able to unite Anglo-Saxon England? In other word, Danelaw survives.
Now that leads to some fascinating possibilities. On Great Britain there would now be, roughly, five powerful areas (some kingdoms, some not).

Wessex
Since it's not been conquered, it's still the top A-S kingdom. It also has the benefit of being under one ruler. The ports of the south-west will still allow good trade, so its economy should be okay.
Danelaw area
Controls a lot of the ports and good agricultural land of OTL England. Powerful militarily, but (IIRC) more dis-united than the idea of 'the Danelaw' might imply.
Wales
Not united under one ruler, but that could change quite easily. Doesn't have the same strong trade links as Wessex, but as it managed to stay independent until the late 13th C OTL, I could see it being a 'power' in this scenario. Depending on how weakened Wessex is, it might even be possible for it to expand a bit to the east / north-east into what was Mercia.
Alba/Scotland
Recently united, from the kingdoms of Dalriada, Alba and Strathclyde. Probably the second power on Great Britain after the Danes (in this scenario where Wessex has been weakened). Could easily take advantage of infighting in the northern Danelaw to expand to the south. Northumbria could easily become part of TTL Scotland, though I think it would struggle to go any further than that - so maybe down to Westmorland in the west and the Humber in the east. However, with those lands it would be richer than OTL, with more good agricultural land and more ports for trade.
Kingdom of Mann and the Isles (or whatever we want to call it - the north-western Vikings)
If Scotland's focus goes south, then that gives the Norse in the north-west time to consolidate. If they can avoid infighting, then a more long-lasting kingdom might be possible here too. If those who control Dublin and other parts of Ireland could be united into this kingdom too, they'd be a power to be reckoned with.

Thoughts?
 
Thoughts?

If we assume that there still is a development of larger kingdoms in Scandinavia (with a POD at the battle of Ethandun in 878, Norway is already united if the battle of Hafrsfjord really was in 872 - even if it was later, a unification is not necessarily butterflied), maybe a Scandinavian king might be able to launch sufficient resources to unite the areas of Danelaw?
 
Re, the actual question. England speaks a Scandinavian language in this scenario, but you get a lot of instability before an England emerges, which may never happen. Wales is bigger, Welsh princes pick off land in Shropshire, Gloucs, and Herefordshire from secure bases in the Welsh hills. A permanent and viable independent Wales is possible if they can get the cities of Gloucester, Chester and Hereford.

Wales
Not united under one ruler, but that could change quite easily. Doesn't have the same strong trade links as Wessex, but as it managed to stay independent until the late 13th C OTL, I could see it being a 'power' in this scenario. Depending on how weakened Wessex is, it might even be possible for it to expand a bit to the east / north-east into what was Mercia.

The idea of Wales expanding, taking parts of Western Mercia (plus maybe Dumnonia) is very interesting. Could Wales even end up being the strongest kingdom in Southern Britain? Of course, first it must unite. Would it be easier to unite Wales than to unite Danelaw? Maybe one would end up with three or four kingdoms in OTL England?
 
Actually, perhaps Wales could expand, then unite. Someone powerful on the losing side of a struggle for power in Wales decides to take his army and try his luck to the east...the Wessex forces in what was Mercia aren't strong enough to stop them...the Danes are busy elsewhere (internally or fighting Wessex further south, etc)...he sets up his own Welsh-controlled kingdom...some time afterwards the two Waleses* are united somehow...personal union following a marriage, forced annexation of Mercian Wales by Wales proper, re-invasion from Mercia to take all of Wales - take your pick.

My knowledge of Wales at this point is very sketchy, so someone else will probably tell me why the above is a stupid idea, but I throw it out there anyway...

* I'm not sure what the plural of Wales should be! Maybe I should say Cymrus instead?
 
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