(also known as the Danelagh
; Old English: Dena lagunema
; Danish: Danelagen
), as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
, is a historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the Danes held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. Danelaw contrasts West Saxon law and Mercian law.
Modern historians have extended the term to a geographical designation. The areas that constituted the Danelaw lie
in northern and eastern England.
The Danelaw originated from the Viking expansion of the 9th century AD, although the term was not used to describe a geographic area until the 11th century AD. With the increase in population and productivity
in Scandinavia, Viking warriors, having sought treasure
and glory in the nearby British Isles, "proceeded to plough and support themselves", in the words of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
for the year 876.
can describe the set of legal terms and definitions created in the treaties between the West-Saxon king, Alfred the Great, and the Danish warlord, Guthrum, written following Guthrum's defeat
at the Battle of Edington in 878. In 886, the Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum was formalised, defining the boundaries of their kingdoms, with provisions for peaceful relations between the English and the Vikings. The language spoken in England was also affected by this clash of cultures with the emergence
of Anglo-Norse dialects.
The Danelaw roughly comprised 14 shires: York, Nottingham, Derby, Lincoln, Essex, Cambridge, Suffolk, Norfolk, Northampton, Huntingdon, Bedford, Hertford, Middlesex and Buckingham.