English History 870 – 879

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Alfred the GreatThis timeline gives a chronological listing of the main events in English History for the years 870 – 879

The kings of Wessex for this period were:
Aethelred I to 871
Alfred the Great from 871



870 (during)
A daughter, Aethelflaed, was born to Alfred and his wife Ealhswith.
870 (Autumn)
A Viking force led by Halfdan attacked Wessex.
870 (28th December)
The Viking force took Reading in Wessex.
870 (31st December)
Battle of Englefield
A group of Vikings left Reading and approached Englefield where a number of Saxons had mustered under King Aethelred. The Saxons succeeded in killing a number of Vikings and the rest retreated to Reading.
871 (4th January)
Battle of Reading
Aethelred and his brother Alfred attacked the gateway to the town of Reading but were beaten back by the Vikings.
871 (8th January)
Battle of Ashdown
Aethelred and Alfred regrouped their forces and split into two sections. Seeing the Vikings approach Alfred ordered his men to attack and they successfully repulsed the Vikings.
871 (22nd January)
Battle of Basing
The Saxons, led by Aethelred and Alfred, clashed again with the Vikings but were forced to retreat.
871 (22nd March)
Battle of Meretum
The Saxons led by Aethelred and Alfred were beaten by the Viking force in this fierce battle that lasted several hours.
871 (15th April)
King Aethelred I died. He was succeeded by his younger brother Alfred because his sons were considered too young to rule.
871 (early Summer)
Battle of Wilton
The Saxons, led by King Alfred, were beaten by the Viking force.
872 (during)
Alfred was unable to resist the Viking force and so paid them a sum of money for an agreement that they would not attack Wessex for five years.
872 (late)
The puppet King Egbert of Northumbria was overthrown forcing the Vikings to leave. The Vikings re-grouped at Lindsey and then mounted an attack on Northumbria and re-captured the county.
873 (during)
The Vikings turned their attention to Mercia and captured Repton.
874 (during)
The Vikings continued to attack Mercia and King Burgred was forced to leave the county. This allowed the Vikings to take control of Mercia and install Ceowulf as a puppet King.
74 (during)
A son, Edward, later known as the Elder, was born to Alfred and his wife Aelhswith.
875 (late)
The Vikings took the Wessex town of Wareham. Alfred immediately rallied his forces and put the town to siege, however a Viking fleet of around 120 ships was seen approaching. Alfred realised that success against the Vikings was unlikely.
876 (during)
The Vikings has split their forces into two groups. One group led by Halfdan marched north and secured control of Northumbria while the other, led by Guthrum remained in the south.
876 (during)
Alfred, King of Wessex, made a deal with Guthrum to leave Wessex but the Viking did not keep to the terms and attacked Exeter.
876 (during)
A large number of Guthrum’s ships were destroyed in a bad storm. Alfred left Wareham and marched to Exeter.
877 (during)
The Vikings were beginning to settle in Mercia.
877 (during)
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Aethelred, was very critical of Alfred’s practice of buying off the Vikings and complained to the Pope that this was not a good use of church money. The Pope wrote to Alfred warning him not to misuse church money.
877 (during)
The Vikings continued to attack Wessex taking more and more land.
877 (August)
Guthrum left Wessex.
878 (January)
Guthrum returned to Wessex with a large force and marched on Chippenham. Alfred, who had likely lost the support of the Witan, was forced to go into hiding in the Somerset marshes at Athelney.
878 (Spring)
A large Viking force led by Ubba marched on Contisbury Hill in Devon. Earldorman Odda was inside the fort on top of the hill. Odda decided to attack the Vikings and during the fighting Ubba was killed.
878 (Easter)
Alfred, who was still in hiding, used guerrilla tactics to stop Guthrum from making further progress in Wessex. He also sent out secret messages to the Saxons requesting that they muster at Egbert’s stone on 4th May.
878 (4th May)
Around 4,000 Wessex forces had mustered at Egbert’s stone.
878 (4th or 5th May)
Battle of Eddington (Ethandun) Alfred and his forces defeated the Vikings and Guthrum was forced to accept peace terms.
878 (after 5th May)
Treaty of Wedmore
this was a peace treaty between Alfred and Guthrum. The Vikings agreed that they would retreat to the north where they would have their own independent kingdom. Guthrum agreed to be baptised and be King of the region which would be subject to his laws known as Danelaw.
878 (Autumn)
Guthrum, who had been baptised Aethelstan, moved his people out of Wessex to Mercia.
879 (during)
Alfred was no longer in hiding and was King of Wessex again. He began building a number of burghs, fortified towns, to stop the Vikings from making further attacks. The burghs were placed at the crossroads of popular trade routes which, he hoped, would encourage traders to settle. Winchester, Chichester and Wareham are all examples of burghs built by Alfred.
879 (during)
Guthrum moved to East Anglia where he and his people settled and he ruled as King Aethelstan of East Anglia.

860 – 869 <<   >> 880 – 889


Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2016). English History 870 – 879. Available: https://www.totallytimelines.com/english-history-870-879. Last accessed March 31st, 2019


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