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The breakdown of Roman law and civilization was fairly swift after the Roman army departed in 410 AD To counter the raids from continental pirates Vikings Picts and Scots towns would bring in mercenaries from Europe to defend them from attack These mercenary soldiers were Angles and Saxons from northern Germany The deal was that the mercenaries brought their families with them and got paid with land which they could farm Eventually the Anglo Saxon mercenaries realized that they were stronger than their employers and appear to have taken over the running of areas themselves The new Anglo Saxon invaders were not organized centrally as the Romans had been or as the Normans would be They slowly colonized northwards and westwards pushing the native Celts to the fringes of Britain Roman Britain was replaced by Anglo Saxon Britain with the Celtic peoples remaining in Cornwall Wales and Scotland The Anglo Saxon areas eventually combined into kingdoms and by 850 AD the country had three competing kingdoms as shown on the map on the left The three kingdoms of Mercia Northumbria and Wessex not only were competing between themselves but they were also under sustained attack from Viking raids The Viking incursions culminated with a Great Army landing in East Anglia in 865 AD It made wide territorial gains and by 875 the kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria had succumbed Only Wessex remained as Anglo Saxon The Vikings attack Wessex in 878 and the Saxon king Alfred of burning the cakes fame had to flee to the Somerset marshes However he was able to regroup and counter attack His efforts and those later of his son and grandsons gradually pushed the Vikings remember Eric Bloodaxe northwards and eventually into the sea By 955 Alfred the Greats grandson Eadred ruled over a united England Government became centralized and the king had the infrastructure to rule the whole country Next came another wave of
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