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Europe in 9th century

The 9th century is the period from 801 to 900 in accordance with the Julian calendar in the Christian/Common Era.

Western Europe


Britain experienced a great influx of Viking peoples in the ninth century as the Viking Age continued from the previous century. The kingdoms of the Heptarchy were gradually conquered and puppet rulers were given power over these. This invasion was achieved by a huge military force known as the Great Heathen Army which was supposedly led by Ivar the Boneless, Halfdan Ragnarsson and Guthrum. This Danish army first arrived in Britain in 865 in East Angliamarker. After taking the kingdom there the army proceeded to capture the city of Yorkmarker (Jorvik) and establish the kingdom of Jorvik. The Danes went on to subjugate the kingdom of Northumbriamarker and take all but the western portion of Merciamarker. The remaining kingdom of Wessexmarker was the only kingdom of the Heptarchy left. Alfred the Great managed to maintain his kingdom of Wessexmarker and push back the Viking incursions, relieving the neighbouring kingdoms from the Danes following his famous victory over them at the Battle of Ethandun in 878. Alfred re-established Anglo-Saxon rule over the western half of Merciamarker and the Danelawmarker was established which separated Merciamarker into halves, the eastern half remaining under the control of the Danes.

Irelandmarker was affected also by the Viking expansion across the North Seamarker. Extensive raids were carried out across the coastline and eventually permanent settlements were established, such as that of Dublinmarker in 841. Particular targets for these raids were the monasteries on the western coast of Ireland as they provided a rich source for loot. On such raids the Vikings set up impermanent camps, which were called longphorts by the Irish. This period of Viking raids on the coasts of Irelandmarker has been named the longphort phase after these particular types of settlements.Ireland in the ninth century was organised into an amalgam of small kingdoms, called tuatha. These kingdoms were sometimes grouped together and ruled by a single, provincial ruler. Providing such a ruler can establish and maintain authority over a portion of these tuatha they were sometimes granted the title of High King (see High King of Ireland).

Scotlandmarker experienced significant Viking incursions during the ninth century also. The Vikings established themselves in coastal regions, usually in northern Scotland, and in the northern isles such as the Orkneysmarker and Shetlandmarker. The Viking invasion and settlement in Scotland provided a contributing factor in the collapse of the kingdoms of the Picts, who inhabited most of Scotland at the time. Not only were the Pictish realms either destroyed or severely weakened, the Viking invasion and settlement may have been the reason for the movement of Kenneth MacAlpin, the present king of Dál Riata, which had also been devastated by the Viking incursions. The kingdom of Dál Riata, located on the western coast of Scotland, had been destroyed after the death of their previous king Áed mac Boanta in 839, according to the Annals of Ulster, which may have made the new king Kenneth MacAlpin move to the east, and conquer the remnants of the Pictish realms. Kenneth MacAlpin became king of the Picts in 843 and later kings would be titled as the King of Alba or King of Scots.

Art of the "Dark Ages"

First and foremost, art was dedicated to the Church. The basic tools of the Roman Catholic mass, thousands of golden art objects were made. Sacred cups, vessels, reliqueries, crucifixes, rosaries, altar pieces, and statues of the Virgin and Child or Saints all kept the flame of art from dying out in the period. Architecture began to revive to some extent by the 9th century. It took the form of Church facilities of all kinds, and the first castle fortifications since Roman times began to take form in simple "moat and baily" castles, or simple "strong point" tower structures, with little refinement.


Eastern Hemisphere at the beginning of the 9th century AD.
Eastern Hemisphere at the end of the 9th century AD.

Significant people

Saint Clement of Ohrid

Inventions, discoveries, introductions

See also

Timeline of 9th century Muslim history


  1. The Guinness Book Of Records, Published 1998, ISBN 0-5535-7895-2, P.242

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