DANELAW, also Danelagh, Danelaga. The system of law in the part of England ceded to Danish invaders in 878, and the area itself, roughly north and east of a line from London to Chester. In the mid-10c, Scandinavian kings maintained a Norse-speaking court at York, but the ordinary population, English and Danish, seems to have developed a simplified language for use in their daily contact. In the later 10c, the kings of Wessex established overlordship over the Danish settlers, who however retained control of local affairs. William of Malmesbury declared (c.1130) that the language north of the Humber and especially at York ‘sounds so harsh and grating that we southerners cannot understand a word of it’ and blamed this on the presence of ‘rough foreigners’ (De Gestis Pontificum Anglorum, Book 3, Prologue). See DANISH, NORSE.
Danelaw. When during the 10th cent. the Viking settlers of eastern England recognized the authority of the English kings, they were allowed to follow their traditional laws. By the 11th cent. the term ‘Danelaw’ was being used to indicate the area in which customary law was influenced by Danish practice, defined in 12th-cent. documents as all of eastern England between the Thames and the Tees.
Danelaw Large region of ne England, occupied by Danes in the late 9th century. In 886, Alfred and Guthrum's Pact formally confirmed its independence. Alfred's son, Edward the Elder, and grandson, Athelstan, restored it to English control in the early 10th century.
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