Danelaw (dān´lô´), originally the body of law that prevailed in the part of England occupied by the Danes after the treaty of King Alfred with Guthrum in 886. It soon came to mean also the area in which Danish law obtained; according to the treaty, the boundary between England and Danelaw ran
"up the Thames, and then up the Lea … to its source, then straight to Bedford and then up the Ouse to Watling Street."
The Danelaw comprised four main regions: Northumbria; the areas around and including the boroughs of Lincoln, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, and Stamford; East Anglia; and the SE Midlands. Though the English kings soon brought the Danelaw back under their rule, they did not attempt to interfere with the laws and customs of the area, many of which survived until after the Norman Conquest.
See D. Whitelock, The Norman Conquest: its Setting and Impact (1968); F. M. Stenton, The Free Peasantry of the Northern Danelaw (1926, repr. 1969) and Anglo-Saxon England (3d ed. 1971).
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
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
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.
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.
•Danelaw • in-law • son-in-law
•sister-in-law • by-law • outlaw
•folklore • coleslaw • subfloor