Danegeld: Victims' Tribute to Vikings For Peace

Posted by Ms Elly on

Danegeld: Victims' Tribute to Vikings For Peace

When the Vikings carried out continuous raids on the lands of their victims, they could have received an amount of money from the victims to leave for peace. It was known as the Danegeld. Money couldn't buy everything but almost anything. 

The Danegeld "Danish tax" as its name indicated refers to the amount of money to pay tribute to the Viking warriors invading. It was a royal policy not only in England but also in Francia. The kings would pay the North invaders a sum of money to buy off them and ask them to leave their country in peace. 

So instead of fighting off the newcomers from the north, many Anglo-Saxon kings were ready to buy them off with gold and silver. In Ireland, the Vikings imposed a Nose tax: counting the nose and collecting tax. If anyone was unwilling and unable to pay their tax, they would have to bid farewell to their nose. That's the origin of English idiom "paying through one's nose". 

Viking runestone

Viking runestone in Orkesta, Uppland, Sweden, raised in the memory of Viking Ulf of Borresta. The warrior claimed that he had three times taken the danegeld when invading England. 

The first amount of Danegeld as the historians believed was made in 911 following the defeat of Anglo-Saxon in the Battle of Maldon with the Vikings. 3,300 kgs of silver were paid to ward the Vikings off Anglo-Saxon. 

In 994, the Danes came back to Anglo-Saxon and this time they got paid with an impressive amount of gold and silver. The amount was so significant that they thought even if they won the war, they wouldn't get so much treasure. 

In 1002, the Danes once more time were bought off with 13,400 kg of silver. A decade later, the amount of Danegeld paid reached 17,900 kg. 

Anglo-Saxon coins found in Scandinavia

Anglo-Saxon coins found in Scandinavia

The Vikings received the most Danegeld from King Aethelred the Unready of England. This King was famous for being so stubborn that he gained the nickname "Unready". Originally, "Unready" meant "no advice" but as time progressed, the meaning we have now isn't the same. For almost 40 years of his reign, King Aethelred the Unready paid the Vikings 40 million pennies. 

This policy didn't last long because the kings had to pay more and more every time the Vikings returned. Aethelred then ordered a massacre of the Danes in England and used his money which only cost him a war by Danish King Sweyn Forkbeard

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