History of War

MALDON

“RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL OF ESSEX, IF BYRHTNOTH DID NOT FACE THE VIKING THREAT AT MALDON HE WOULD NEED TO SHADOW THEM AND CONFRONT THEM ELSEWHERE”

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for the year 991, that summer, Olaf Tryggvason (later king of Norway) sailed with a fleet of 93 ships and raided the English coast. He began in Kent, raiding Folkestone and then Sandwich, and then moved on to Ipswich in Suffolk. After overrunning Ipswich, the fleet moved onwards to Maldon in Essex, sailing up the River Blackwater and establishing a base at the island of Northey in early August.

Northey was only accessible to the mainland via a tidal causeway and so was a safe harbour for the Vikings. Not that they needed to be overly wary: no one had opposed their raids so far. At Maldon, however, they faced opposition in the form of the Ealdorman of Essex, Byrhtnoth, who gathered there with his retinue of huscarls (his heorthwerod or hearth-warriors) and the fyrd, the muster of able-bodied men of Essex required to serve in the army when called. Byrhtnoth brought this force together on the shore opposite the tidal causeway to Northey.

The Battle of Maldon is remarkable in the history of Anglo-Saxon and Viking warfare,

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