England during the Middle Ages was one of the most prosperous nations in Europe. English merchants could be found in many major European cities selling a range of goods, especially wool. England’s prosperity made it a target for the Vikings.
The Vikings were, however, more than just raiders.
The Vikings had been raiding England as far back as 793 when they looted a monastery in Lindisfarne, Northumbria. In 865 a large group of Norwegians, Swedes and Danes invaded England with the aim of conquering the whole country. This ‘Great Heathen Army’ did not succeed in conquering all of England but did gain large territories, with York as their capital. Key territories captured included the Orkneys and other small isles off Scotland, the north-east coast of England and Dublin in Ireland.
Many migrated from Scandinavia to these territories and turned York into the major trading centre in the north of England. Goods from all over the world were traded in Viking York (Jorvik) and the success of these Viking settlements encouraged increased migration from Scandinavia, especially Denmark.
In 1016 the Danish King Cnut managed to conquer all of England. This had a major impact on the country: