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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

While many factors played a role in the eventual fall of the Saxons, one of the pivotal pieces in the evolution of Anglo-Saxon England was the conflict between Aethelred II (978-1016), called the Unready, and Cnut (1016-1035), the son of Aethelred’s Viking rival. The failure of Aethelred to repel the Vikings provided an atmosphere in which an emboldened Cnut was able to successfully conquer and consolidate Anglo-Saxon England as well as much of Scandinavia. Cnut strengthened the central authority of the crown and increased the stability of the kingdom while opening a door for the rise of earls to play a larger part in England. In the process of Cnut’s conquest, Anglo-Saxon relations with Normandy grew and planted the seeds of future conquest.

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