Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Danegeld

A term commonly used by modern historians to describe paid tribute to the Danes by the English during the reign of Aethelred II (r.978-1016) in return for peace. It is often also used more generally to describe all such payments to the Vikings, such as tribute paid by the Franks in the 9th century. In fact, the term Danegeld did not appear until after the Norman Conquest (1066), when it was used to describe the heregeld (army tax), which was actually an annual land tax introduced by Aethelred in 1012 to pay for the hire of the mercenary army of Thorkell the Tall. Prior to this Aethelread had imposed general taxes - in 991, 994, 1002, 1007 and 1008 to raise tribute (known at the time as gafol) to buy off the Danes. Enormous sums were raised with apparent ease, a testament to Aethelred's abilities as an administrator and a sign of the wealth of late Anglo-Saxon England. After the Danish conquest of England, Cnut continued to levy the heregeld to pay his housecarls and Fleet, and after the Norman Conquest it developed into a tax to finance military campaigns. Dandgeld was last levied in 1162.

Notes from Encyclopaedia of the Viking Age by John Haywood. Thames & Hudson 2000. p51.

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