Welcome to the discussion forum of Ða Engliscan Gesiðas for all matters relating to the history, language and culture of Anglo-Saxon England. I hope it will provide a useful source of information, stimulate research, and be of real help. Ða Engliscan Gesiðas (The English Companions) maintains a strictly neutral line on all modern and current political and religious matters and it does not follow any particular interpretation of history. Transgression of this Rule will not be tolerated. Any posts which are perceived as breaking this Rule will be deleted with immediate effect without explanation.

Author Topic: OTH 29th March 845: Viking attack on Paris  (Read 56 times)


  • Administrator
  • Hlaford
  • *****
  • Posts: 466
OTH 29th March 845: Viking attack on Paris
« on: April 03, 2021, 11:43:59 AM »
Continuing my series of posts from the Companions' Facebook page, here is the most popular post from the past week commemorating the Viking attack on Paris in 845 AD.

In March 845 AD Ragnar allegedly led a Viking fleet into France raiding up the Seine, attacking Rouen.

On 29th March, Easter Sunday that year, they arrived at Paris with a fleet of longships and plundered the city. It was early in the raiding season and the attack was not expected. However, the Franks drew up defences on both banks of the river. This was of little concern to Ragnar, who attacked the smaller of the two forces, defeated it and took 111 prisoners. These unfortunates he hanged on an island in the Seine in full view of the second force on the other bank.

Despite the Danes being miles from the sea, and therefore perhaps more than usually vulnerable, the Franks were unable to defend the city. Charles the Bald paid the Danish to leave, handing over more than 2,500 kg of gold and silver. This was the first of 13 payments by the French to the Danes. On their way back the Danes pillaged several coastal sites including the Abbey of St Bertin.

Charles was heavily criticised for this payment but in practice he was facing conflict with his brothers over control of the remains of the wider Carolingian Empire, along with rebellion in the provinces and disaffected nobles. Paying off the Danes gave him space to deal with his other challenges, and in fact the agreement held for 6 years.

During the siege of Paris many of the Danes had died of plague which only subsided following a fast which they undertook on the advice of a Christian prisoner. Prayers to the Norse gods had previously proved ineffective. 

In the same year, a fleet of longships sailed up the Elbe and ravaged Hamburg in an attack which destroyed the town, including its church, school and library. A Viking fleet was also present in Moorish Spain; 150 ships had been ravaging in the Garonne and then appeared in northern Spain off the coast of the kingdom of Asturias. They were driven off and after a couple of weeks enter the Guadalquivir and attacked and took Seville. However Abd al-Rahman II was a far more effective deterrent than Charles and the Vikings were soon overcome. It was said that the Moors took so many captives that the city gallows were not sufficient and the palm trees “bore strange fruit”. However, the Moors also wanted to redeem the captives taken by the Vikings so some diplomacy was called for and Abd al-Rahman sent an embassy to their king (it is unclear if this was the Danish or Norwegian king) and it appears trading links were established.