Origin of the Danegeld

Book 2, Chapter 9, Edward 975 AD to 1016 AD – Ethelred


The ordinary revenues of the crown were quite inadequate to the cost of these expedients, and therefore it was found necessary, with the consent of the witenagemot, to impose a tax first of one Saxon shilling, and afterwards of two or more shillings, on every hide of land in the kingdom. As there were two hundred and forty three thousand six hundred hides of land in England, this tax, at one shilling on each hide, raised twelve thousand one hundred and eighty Saxon pounds, equal in quantity of silver to about thirty six thousand five hundred and forty pounds sterling. This tax seems to have been first imposed A.D. 991, and was called Danegeld, or the Danish tax or payment.

 It was soon after raised to two, and at last to seven shillings on every hide of land, and continued to be levied long after the original occasion of imposing it had ceased. While the invasions by the Danes were almost annual, our kings derived little profit from this tax, which was all expended in bribing or fighting these invaders, but after the accession of the Danish princes to the throne of England, it became one of the chief branches of the royal revenue.

This tax was raised so high, and collected with so much severity, by King Canute, A.D. 1018, that it amounted to the prodigious sum of seventy one thousand Saxon pounds, besides eleven thousand of the same pounds paid by the city of London. It appears, however, from very good authority, that this was too great a sum for England in one year at that time. Those who had money to pay their proportion of this grievous tax, paid it, but those who had not money, irrecoverably lost their lands and possessions. The Danegeld was remitted in after years by Edward the Confessor, but it was reimposed by William the Conqueror, under another name, for his own purposes, and was, in reality, the precedent for the imposition of the more modern land tax.

Chapter 9, Edward the Martyr

Edward, Commonly Styled “the Martyr”

Elfrida’s Intrigues

Chapter 9, Ethelred

Reign of Ethelred

Dunstan’s Prophecy

Condition of the Country

Anglo-Saxons and Anglo-Danes

Fresh Attacks by the Northmen

They are Bribed to Depart

Origin of the Danegeld

Ethelred’s Marriage with Emma of Normandy

Massacre of the Danes

Chapter 9, Sweyn’s Revenge

Sweyn’s Vengeance

Murder of Archbishop Alphege

Levy for a Fleet

Chapter 9, Thurkill Ravages England

Its Failure

A Contemporary Picture

Sweyn prepares for the Conquest of England

Sweyn Dies and’ is Followed by Canute

Ethelred’s Flight and Return

Chapter 9, Edmund Ironside

Death of Ethelred

Divisions and Treachery among the English

Edmund Ironside Proclaimed King

Successive Battles with Canute

Partition of the Country

Brief Reign of Edmund


Categories: Book 2

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