Wessex was one of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in what is now England. With the reign of
Alfred (871-99) and the halting of the Danes, the King of Wessex became
the King of England. In the 10th century Alfred's descendents gradually acquired firm control over all England,
including the Danelaw (parts of north and east England).
However, in 1016 the Danish Canute (Knut) took over as ruler (partly due to military strength and partly by invitation). After he died in 1042 the Wessex line was re-established by Edward 'The Confessor' (most famous for building parts of Westminster Cathedral). He died in 1066 and was succeeded by the unfortunate Harold, the last Anglo-Saxon ruler of England, who was killed later the same year by William 'The Conqueror', from Normandy in France.
This article was originally published in March 2005, and has been updated for the
January 2006 paperback release.
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