Guthorm's Invasion of Wessex:
"My camp's at Gloucester!"

The year 877 had been a great one for Guthorm, Oskytel, and Amund, the three Danish war leaders. They had captured and occupied Exeter, a town in the kingdom of Wessex, for eight months. After launching skirmishes and collecting booty, they finally left the town in 878. But they had been paid well with English gold in exchange for their promise to go away and leave Wessex in peace.

In Mercia, just north of Wessex, Oskytel and Amund were not thinking about fighting the English anymore. They had something else in mind that they figured Guthorm would not like.

"Guthorm, now that our purses are full of Danegeld, we don't want to fight anymore. Oskytel and I will take our share of land here in Mercia. Now we will make homes for ourselves and raise families," Amund announced for all to hear. "And many of the warriors want to do the same," he added.

"Ja!" Oskytel nodded. "We are wealthy enough to do this now. We don't need Wessex land when we can settle comfortably in Danish Mercia."

It was true. The English had paid the Vikings a very generous bribe to leave Wessex. Now they were in Danish territory with winter coming and, soon after that, the seed-sowing time of spring. Many men in the army felt that the fall of 878 was a good time to settle down, divide up the land, and start a new life. Many had come to England for the chance to do just that.

But history tells us that Guthorm had no intentions of settling down just yet. Perhaps he replied something like this: "My camp's at Gloucester! All you men who are not satisfied with purchased peace can come with me. I have a plan to crush the kingdom of Wessex and gain rich land and seacoast together."


- 14. august 2004 -