63 New Kingdoms and a Revived Byzantium

Efforts by local kings to fight back the invaders led to the formation of new political entities. In Anglo-Saxon England, King Alfred the Great (r. 871–899) in the late 9th century came to a settlement with the Viking invaders, with Danish settlements in Northumbria, Mercia, and parts of East Anglia. By the middle of the 10th century, Alfred’s successors had conquered Northumbria, and restored English control over most of the southern part of the island of Great Britain. In northern Britain, Kenneth mac Alpin (d. c. 860) united the Picts and the Scots into the Kingdom of Alba. In the early 10th century, the Ottonian dynasty had established itself in Germany, and the Ottonians were engaged in driving back the Magyar. Their efforts culminated in the coronation in 962 of Otto I (r. 936–973) as emperor.

In 972, Otto secured the recognition of his title by the Byzantine Empire, and sealed the recognition with the marriage of his son Otto II to Theophanu, a daughter of an earlier Byzantine Emperor Romanos II (r. 959–963). Italy was drawn into the Ottonian sphere by the late 10th century, after a period of instability, with Otto III spending much of his later reign in Italy. The western Frankish kingdom was more fragmented, and although a nominal king remained theoretically in charge, much of the political power had devolved to the local lords.

Artist's illustration of the brothers Cyril and Methodius bringing Christianity to the Slavic peoples.
Illustration of the brothers Cyril and Methodius bringing Christianity to the Slavic peoples uploaded by Jedudedek to Wikimedia Commons | Public Domain

Missionary efforts to Scandinavia during the 9th and 10th centuries helped strengthen the growth of kingdoms there. Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian kingdoms gained power and territory in the course of the 9th and 10th centuries, and some of the kings converted to Christianity, although the process was not complete by 1000. Scandinavians also expanded and colonized throughout Europe. Besides the settlements in Ireland, England, and Normandy, further settlement took place in what became Russia as well as in Iceland. Swedish traders and raiders ranged down the rivers of the Russian steppe, and even attempted to seize Constantinople in 860 and in 907. Christian Spain, initially driven into a small section of the peninsula in the north, expanded slowly south during the 9th and 10th centuries, establishing the kingdoms of Asturias and León in the process.[1]


  1. "The Middle Ages or Medieval Period" by Wikipedia for Schools is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0


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