Haesten, (Hastein) may have been born around this date. His lineage is unknown but he became a Danish Viking Chief sometime before 859. Some sources suggest that Haesten was involved in a raid on the French island of Noirmoutier in this year. Even if he were 12 years old, this would have made him about 85 years old when he died which for a Viking warrior seems unlikely.
Haesten and Bjorn continued to the Mediterranean where they besieged and then sacked the town of Algeçiras.
Bjorn and Haesten, began raiding the south coast of France and northern Italy. They captured Pisa and then marched inland as far as Luni, which they believed to be Rome. They lay siege to the city and then Bjorn sent a message to the bishop of the city stating that Bjorn had died but had converted to Christianity and wanted to be buried in consecrated ground. He put himself into a coffin and was carried inside the city. He then jumped out of the coffin, opened the city gates and let him men enter the city. He was disappointed to find that the city was not Rome.
Bjorn and Haesten raided Sicily before making a series of raids along the North African coast.
Haesten and Bjorn were defeated by a Muslim fleet in the Straits of Gibraltar. Although they suffered heavy losses both men survived and sailed to the Loire in France.
Bjorn Ironside returned home to Denmark but Haesten decided to remain in France.
Haesten formed an alliance with the King of Brittany against the Franks.
866 (2nd July)
Battle of Brissarthe
This battle between the Breton/Viking
army and the Franks saw the Franks forced to retreat.
King Charles the Bald of the Franks made peace with Salomon of Brittany.
Haesten attacked the city of Bourges.
Haesten lay waste to the city of Orleans.
The Viking force occupied the town of Angers. Charles the Bald lay siege to the city.
Unable to withstand the siege of Angers, Haesten agreed peace with Charles the Bald.
Haesten settled in the Loire region of France.
877 (6th October)
Charles the Bald of France died. He was succeeded by his son, Louis, known as the Stammerer.
879 (10th April)
Louis the Stammerer died. He was succeeded by his son, Louis III.
882 (5th August)
Louis III died. He was succeeded by his brother, Carloman II.
Carloman II turned his attention to removing the Vikings from France. Haesten was forced to move north of the River Seine.
884 (12th December)
Carloman II died. He was succeeded by his cousin, Charles III known as the Fat.
885 (25th November)
A very large force of Vikings led by Rollo sailed up the River Seine and lay siege to Paris. Odo of Paris took control and successfully defended Paris.
887 (11th November)
Charles III was deposed and Odo of Paris was elected King.
Odo resolved to remove Vikings from French soil.
With France in the hands of a strong king, Haesten resolved to move to England in the hopes of finding richer pickings.
Haesten led a large Viking contingent from Boulogne in France to England. A fleet of around 250 ships landed at Appledore, Kent, while Haesten and 80 ships laned in Northern Kent and made camp at Milton.
When King Alfred
learned of the landing, he sent his troops to Kent with instructions to form a barrier to prevent the two groups uniting. There were a number of skirmishes between the Anglo Saxons and the Vikings.
Alfred entered into negotiations with Haesten. A settlement was reached whereby Alfred gave him money and treasures while Haesten gave Alfred hostages and swore an oath of peace. Haesten agreed that his sons could be baptised. King Alfred was godfather to one son while Aethelred of Mercia
was godfather to the other. Soon afterwards Haesten left Kent for Essex.
Haesten settled in Benfleet, Essex. However, instead of living peacefully as he had promised Alfred, he began raiding the surrounding area. This annoyed Aethelred of Mercia as his land was subject to successive raids.
While the Vikings were out raiding the surrounding area, a force of Saxons entered Benfleet and took Haesten’s wife and two sons prisoner.
Haesten and Alfred met for talks and Alfred’s family were released.
Haesten and a force of Vikings made a series of raids through the Thames Valley. They then raided settlements along the River Severn. After being alerted to Haesten’s movements Aethelred of Mercia set out in pursuit.
Battle of Buttington
Aethelred of Mercia led an army of Mercians, West Saxons and Welshmen to victory in this battle against Haesten and his force of Vikings. Many Vikings were killed but Haesten managed to escape.
893 (late Summer)
Haesten took control of an abandoned Roman fort at Chester. He intended to use it as a base to raid north Mercia.
893 (late Summer)
Aethelred of Mercia raised a force and lay siege to the fort at Chester.
The besieged Vikings managed to escape Chester. They turned their attention to south Wales and made numerous raids.
Haesten’s Vikings returned to Essex to a fort on Mersea Island.
The Viking force left Essex and sailed up the River Thames to the River Lea where they built a new fort.
King Alfred built forts by the side of the River Lea effectively barricading the Vikings in. Haesten ordered the women and children back to East Anglia. The men then marched back to the River Severn.
The Viking force began to disband. Some returned to East Anglia while others returned to France.
Haesten disappeared from the records and it is thought that he died around this time.