A bribe or tribute paid by the English to maintain peace. First paid in the reign of Aethelred II and was raised by taxation. Danegeld was paid on a number of occasions – usually in silver. The payment in 991 consisted of 20000 pounds of silver.
When Cnut became king of England the tax continued. It was used to maintain his housecarles or elite soldiers. This was known as heregeld and was very unpopular. Buying peace was not unusual. Alfred the Great paid a similar type of tribute to Guthrum the Dane to buy time – which eventually led to the latters defeat.
The first chronicled attack of Wessex predated the Lindisfarne attack and was thought to have been in 787 or 789, when three Viking vessels landed off the coast at a place now known as Portland. The Reeve of Dorchester journeyed to meet them. Considering the Vikings track record, it is surprising he did not take better precautions.
The situation got out of hand and resulted in the Reeve being killed. This is an interesting episode because if the Vikings had any intentions of creating mayhem, surely they would have arrived with a bigger force?
This indicates the possible trading nature of the people. In 835 A.D, a large Viking force of longboats entered the Thames estuary and devastated the Isle of Sheppey on the Kent coast. It was usual for these people to conduct the raids during the summer and return to their homes with their booty. In 850 however, this changed.
Another large force, instead of returning home for the winter, encamped on the Isle of Thanet in the Thames estuary. They set about fortifying their conquest ready for the following years plundering. To the residents of Kent, enough was enough. By 865 the people of Kent approached the Vikings with a lucrative offer on the understanding that they would leave them in peace. This has now been catalogued as the first payment of danegeld.
The Vikings began to realise that the fear of their threat was much better than having to carry it out physically, whilst being paid not to in the bargain. They were not adverse to carrying out their justice if their terms were not met.
To this end, the English used what is called danegeld to appease the Vikings on a regular basis. The payment of danegeld was usually accepted in precious metals such as gold but more usually silver.
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "Danegeld" https://englishhistory.net/vikings/danegeld/, February 7, 2022