Five Boroughs of the Danelaw

Five Boroughs Of The Danelaw

Five Boroughs of the Danelaw

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The Five Boroughs or The Five Boroughs of the Danelaw were the five main towns of Danish Mercia (what is now the East Midlands). These were Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Nottingham and Stamford. The first four would later become county towns.

Establishment and rule

After harrying much of England, the Viking army under Ivarr the Boneless wintered at Repton in 874, where King Burgred of Mercia was unable to dislodge them and was then expelled. Ceolwulf II was installed as the Mercian king by the Vikings, who returned in 877 to partition Mercia. The west of the kingdom went to Coelwulf II, whilst in the east the Five Boroughs began as the fortified burhs of five Danish armies who settled the area and introduced their native law and customs (see Danelaw for more details).

Each of the Five Boroughs was ruled as a Danish Jarldom, controlling lands around a fortified burh, which served as the centre of political power. These rulers were probably initially subject to their overlords in the Viking Kingdom of Jorvik (or York)Walker, Ian W (2000). Mercia and the Making of England Sutton ISBN 0-7509-2131-5 and operated their armies sometimes independently but often in alliance with rulers of their neighbours. In addition to the Five Boroughs there were also a number of very large Danish settlements to the south, including Northampton and Bedford which existed in a similar fashion.


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