Guthrum, also known as Æthelstan, was king of East Anglia as part of the Danelaw territory ruled by Danish Vikings. He first arrived in England during the great Viking invasion of 865. In 875 the Great Heathen Army army split in two. Part of it, led by Halfdan Ragnarsson, went north, while the other half, led by Guthrum, went into East Anglia quartering themselves at Cambridge for the year. By the year 876 Guthrum had consolidated his power and gained various parts of the kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria.
In 876 he turned his attention to the kingdom of Wessex of Alfred. Guthrum sailed with his army around Poole Harbour and met with another Viking force. They were skirmishing the area between the Frome and Trent rivers. Guthrum won his initial battle against Alfred and he captured the ancient square earthworks known as the Wareham.
A peace agreement was negotiated between the two leaders, which was broken by Guthrum in 877 when he led another raid on Wessex, forcing the beleaguered Alfred to confront him in a series of skirmishes in favor of Guthrum. Another peace treaty was signed at Exeter, after which the Vikings left Wessex to spend the winter in Gloucester.
On the 6th of january 878 Guthrum broke the treaty with a surprise attack while Alfred held his court at Chippenham. Alfred fled to the Somerset Levels an area of marshland. Alfred stayed there for four months while he rebuilt his armies back up to strength and after that led his fyrd to Edington to fight the Viking forces.
Guthrum's hopes of conquering all of Wessex came to an end with his defeat at the hands of Alfred at the Battle of Edington in 878. At Edington, Guthrum’s entire force was routed by Alfred's and fled to their encampment where they were besieged by his fyrd force for two weeks. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Guthrum’s force was able to negotiate another peace treaty known as the Treaty of Wedmore.
Guthrum's reign in East Anglia
Under the Treaty of Wedmore the borders dividing the lands of Alfred and Guthrum were established, and perhaps more importantly, Guthrum converted to Christianity and took on the Christian name Æthelstan with Alfred as his godfather. Guthrum’s conversion to Christianity served as an oath and sealed his place and the recognition of the Christian community. It gave him a stronger hold over the lands that he had already controlled. Also by taking the name of Alfred’s elder brother gave his Christian subjects the belief they were ruled now by a Christian king instead of a Pagan warlord.
Guthrum stuck to his side of the treaty and stayed away from Wessex from now on. Instead he looked to the east to consolidate his own kingdom.He lived the remainder of his life here until his death in 890. According to the annals of St Neots Guthrum was buried at Headleage in Suffolk.
Guthrum is a strong viking leader who is very capable in skirmishes. His primary skills are tactics and maneuvers, his secondary skills are searching and weather forecasting.
The starting assets of Guthrum are a town and five villages (pick five at random but one has to have a port, redraw if necessary), three drakkar ships (pick one medium and two small ones). A royal huskarl force of 20 warriors, 50 regular huskarls and 120 karl warriors. He also makes use of a seasonal leidang force of 200 karl warriors during the summer months. He owns 400 silver and has a yearly income of 35 silver.
* An estimate of his year of birth has been made according to sources and his story.
- Guthrum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- TimeRef - Medieval and Middle Ages History Timelines - Guthrum (King of the Danes -890)
|Weapons & Items|
Ships1 drakkar (m)
2 drakkars (s)