In 383 the Roman legions began to leave Britain to fight in Gaul (France) against the Barbarian tribes who were invading the Roman Empire. By 407 there were not enough Roman soldiers to defend the Britons from the Picts and Scots, fierce tribes from the North. The British chiefs asked Saxon soldiers to come from Germany to help them. The Saxons were strong and well trained, and they defeated the Picts and Scots, but, when afterwards, the Britons asked the Saxons to leave, they refused to do it and stayed.
After about one hundred and fifty years of fighting, the Britons had either been forced to Wales or had become slaves. The Saxons founded a lot of kingdoms: Kent, Essex, Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria. In 789 more than three hundred years after the Saxons had settled in Britain, the Vikings began to attack the British Isles. They came from Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The winters there were long and cold and soil was poor, so Britain was a rich prize for them. They made a big army.
The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms couldn’t resist the Vikings, and soon only the kingdom of Wessex remained free of them – the King of Wessex was Alfred the Great.
King Alfred the Great was one of the first kings of England. He was a great and kind king. He did so much that was good for the people of England that people called him Alfred the Good. In the time of Alfred the Great not many men or women could read or write. Alfred could read and write well. He wanted his people to have schools where they could learn to read and write. While he was king, many people went to school for the first time their lives. Alfred was a brave man as well as a good one.
While he was king, the Danes came in their boats to England and fought their way up the rivers. They wanted to live in England and make it their own country. Alfred and his people fought hard because they did not want to give up their country to the Danes. King Alfred and the Vikings made a treaty. They agreed that the Vikings would live in an area called the Danelaw, where they could follow their traditions and obey their law. So the Vikings settled in England and mixed with Anglo-Saxons. The process wasn’t very painful as these two nations were very much alike and had similar languages. But more and more Vikings were coming from the continent and by 1020 King Sweyn of Denmark become the first Danish King of England.