The Fall of Britain - DISCONTINUED, REMADE AS IF ONLY ALCUIN KNEW
The surprise attack on Chippenham in January by King Guthrum of East Anglia resulted in the destruction of the town but the getaway of King Alfred in OTL. But in this timeline, a soldier was able to get a hold of the King and killed him before his escape, and as a result a radically changed Britain and radically changed world. Soon the last Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England was gone.
The Death of King Alfred the Frail (POD)
On January 6th, 878 King Guthrum of East Anglia had been able to come up with the information that his target, King Alfred of Wessex was currently stationed in the town of Chippenham, enjoying a feast with much of his court. But what Alfred didn't know is that the last days of Wessex were to come. At the night, Guthrum and a small army of viking warriors attacked the settlement of Chippenham. Guthrum's army ravaged through the city while small detachments blocked exits to prevent escapes. When Guthrum arrived to the royal hall, many of Alfred's court had either been killed, or tried to escape. After many hours, the attack was technically over with no one to fight. And soon a soldier stumbled on the dead body of King Alfred. Alfred's corpse was burned that night and Guthrum had claimed the throne of Wessex for him self.
Subjugation of Wessex
With Alfred dead. the kingdom went into chaos. Alfred's nephew, ,Æthelhelm, was crowned king of Wessex at the age of 15. Guthrum continued his advance to River Severn, forcing the local town's on the way to pledge allegiance to him. As Guthrum split Wessex in half, Æthelhelm went through out the country gathering forces to fend off Guthrum's advancing army. By March 3rd, Guthrum had been able to fully capture Wessex's holdings in Mercia. But in return, Æthelhelm had been able to gather a force of around 1,500 men. As Guthrum grew in confidence, Guthrum's spies had gathered info that Æthelhelm's army was stationed in Edington. His next plan was to obliterate Æthelhelm's forces at Edington and then go throughout Wessex, subjugating the lords. Guthrum had met Æthelhelm's troops at the morning of March 17th. Æthelhelm was situated on a small hill in a shield wall formation that contained mostly swords and some spears. Guthrum, though he outnumbered the Saxons, saw their tactical dominance and created a plan to flank around and destroy the firm shield wall. Guthrum took 1,000 men to advance towards the main center flank of the Saxons and whittle them out using spears, while two groups of 500 sneakily went around the army. Soon, the Danes flanked Æthelhelm's men and started to encircle the now demoralized army. Though Æthelhelm was able to escape, this seemed like the end of English resistance in the British Isles. By the next two months, Guthrum had successfully captured all of Wessex, except of Cornwall and Kent (and the Isle of Wight that was captured by the Franks), two kingdoms that were formed by vassals who declared independence from Æthelhelm.
Unification of Danelaw & Guthrum's Reforms
Although conquering Wessex officially ended English resistance, the Danelaw wasn't an established realm. Rather a region in which Danish law held power. The Danelaw consisted of two kingdoms, the Kingdom of Guthrum (East Anglia/Wessex) and the Kingdom of Halfdan (Jorvik). Guthrum's plans were to unite these two Kingdoms together to create an organized state that would be able to defeat any opposition to the Danes. Soon, Guthrum struck up multiple deals with Halfdan including a military alliance. As the months passed by, the Danelaw was becoming more closely knit than ever before. But somewhere in August King Halfdan died in Ireland trying to capture the city of Dublinn. Before a new king could be found, Guthrum brought an army of 4,000 to Jorvik, claiming it as a ceremony for the dead Halfdan, but rather invaded the Palace and proclaimed himself ruler of Jorvik. Though there was some resistance Guthrum finished them off quickly and soon he was acclaimed as one of the best rulers in British history. Guthrum was crowned King of Bretland on October 3rd, 878 in Lundinir. Years passed and Bretland prospered, though Guthrum isolated Britain from the mainland politics of Europe, he passed sweeping reforms such as the Kristinngjalda (the double tax on Christains), the replacement of Anglo-Saxon lords to Danish, and the Mál Lægh. The Mál Lægh instituted the royal obligation to record the nation's history. This marked a new age in the Viking Era. As a result of the Mál Lægh, Danish and Anglo culture started to mix, Christianity started to expand influence, and Viking culture became more sophisticated. And after expansion into Scotland, Cornwall, and Kent, Guthrum the Great died at the age of 71 on June 2nd, 893.
The Pagan Kings Age (893 - 954)
Guthrum's son Thorvald took the throne the next year with little opposition but the Jarl of Mercia. Thorvald followed the steps of his dad in which he expanded more into Britain. His campaigns in Wales and the Lowlands were highly successful in which he was able to subjugate the divided tribes in both regions. Thorvald even tried to invade the Highlands in which he was able to place his son as King but was quickly kicked out of because of the aggressive soldiers and mountainous terrain.
By the time Thorvald reached the age of 40, Æthelhelm, now 53 years old and Seneschal of Francia, had declared war on a distracted Thorvald in Ireland to reclaim the throne of Britain. Æthelhelm was able to get a foothold on Lundinir but faced a major lost in the Battle of Wantage in which Thorvald was able to destroy Æthelhelm's army. Unfortunately, Thorvald fell in battle, leaving throne for his 18 year old son, Sveinbjorn to handle. Sveinbjorn was hated by many vassals who were vying for power and had barely any say when it came to administrating the realm.Sveinbjorn failed multiple campaigns into Ireland which seriously diminished his military power and prestige. As his vassals grew in power, Sveinbjorn worried for his realm. Soon Sveinbjorn looked outside his realm for military support. Danmark was going through a christening as the pagans slowly diminished, converting to Catholicism. So instead, Sveinbjorn looked to the still pagan Norway for support of his crown. King Harald Fairhair of Norway had interest of integrating Bretland into his realm, as the rich farmlands and towns would greatly increase his power. And quickly he signed an alliance pact with Sveinbjorn as long as he would give a monthly tribute to him (which he later make a swear of fealty) and marry Sveinbjorn's sister to his son Erik. Sveinbjorn agreed to the terms and began a "cleansing of unloyal subjects". These executions and removals of power were not taken lightly by his vassals and not even a year later in 913, Jarl of East Anglia and Sveinbjorn's cousin, Knut Earnwulfsson and several other Jarls/chiefs had started a civil war to install Knut as King of Bretland. The war went in Sveinbjorn's favor at first, but after a rebellion in Nidaros King Harald was forced to sail his troops back to Norway, leaving Sveinbjorn outnumbered. Sveinbjorn was captured and executed in 919, ending House Anglia's rule of Bretland. Knut was introduced to the Bretish throne in 919, giving his vassals much more leverage in ruling their realms. Knut implemented the Konungsgurtha, a council that voted on things such as war declarations and new legislation. The Konungsgurtha marked a new age in Bretish history, the institution of new feudal policies. Knut meddled into Scandinavian politics, including a period in which he armed and supported Swedish and Norwegian warriors against Christian missionaries. Knut died in 954 leaving the throne for his son Hæfnir. Hæfnir was a young bishop who was taught in the monastery of Lindisfarne, from Lindisfarne Hæfnir was taught the lessons of Christianity becoming extremely bias towards Catholic doctrines and subjects. Only by his third year in power Hæfnir converted to Catholicism bringing much of his subjects to do the same. By the next decade, the realm had seriously decreased in Christian rebellions and pagans found themselves being prosecuted. Though paganism had an influence on the culture and leaders, Christianity brought good to Bretland. Opening up better diplomacy in Western Europe, wider support for the Bretish Kings, and spread of western ideals. All of these were introduced to Bretland as the age of the pagan kings dawned on the Bretish Isles.
Pre-Norwegian Bretland (954 - 1067)
After the conversion of Hæfnir, Bretland went through a mini renaissance as Romance culture grew, and Bretish arts became increasingly influential throughout the Bretish culture. Bretland also saw a string of marriages and alliances from realms in Western Europe, including in 1003 when King Brodir assisted King Robert the II of France in his conquest of Burgundy. And though there were records of small rebellions and military assistance through the early years of Christian Bretland, the realm went through a peaceful golden age up to 1066. But in 1066 peace was broken when after a succession crisis, King Harald Hardrada of Norway invaded Bretland using claims from Sveinbjorn's reign as a casus belli to the throne. The King at this time, Guthrum II was taken back by this invasion and started to rally up troops to fight against Harald's massive force. Harald's army started the siege of
Jorvik in September, right before Guthrum heard of the invading Britons (led by Conan II) from the south, using a claim from a marriage back in 1032. Conan landed in Flatrvágr (Falmouth) in October with a force numbering up to 15,000 men. Guthrum II had two chances, attack the advancing Britons, or the walled in Norwegians. As his generals suggested, Guthrum split his 13,000 man army in half. One seeking refuge in Lundinir, waiting for the Britons, and the other starving out Haralds forces. Guthrum used guerrilla warfare most notably in the Battle of Vestún (Whitchurch) in which 300 Bretish soldiers were able to delay a scouting force of 2,000 Bretons. But eventually, the Bretons reached the city of Lundinir and started to siege. At the same time, Harald found himself trapped in Jorvik, as food supply ran out and the small Bretish fleet blockaded any supplies entering the city. In Spring 1067, Conan of Brittany finally assaulted the demoralized city of Lundinir. But after a long defense, Conan was found dead along with his ambitions to the Bretish throne. Harald on the other hand was successful in his attempts to end the blockade and defeat the small Bretish force. Harald consolidated his troops in Jorvik and soon marched to Lundinir to finish off Guthrum's weakened army. And in September 12, 1067, after defeating and killing Guthrum II in battle, Harald officially crowned himself King of both Bretland and Norway, unifying two beacons of Norse culture.