Peacemaking after Defeat in England in 991 and Northern Song China in 1005

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    This article uses a global history framework to compare peacemaking at the turn of the eleventh century between the English and the Vikings with that of the Northern Song and Kitan Liao dynasties in China. The article investigates the factors which shaped peacemaking after the English and the Northern Song dynasty suffered defeats, and the political influences which led to the decision to pay tribute to the Vikings and the Liao Empire respectively. The strategies of chief councillor Kou Zhun (1004-1006 CE) in advising Song Zhenzong (997- 1022) provide a point of reference to identify salient points for further investigation on the English side. The Chinese data highlights the importance of religiously sanctioned letters, the nature of political scapegoating, and the cultural and tactical advantages enjoyed by the Liao Empire in the negotiations. A more extensive discussion follows on the English side with detailed investigation of annals to show how the peace agreement after the Battle of Maldon was re-evaluated between c. 1000 and c. 1020, and how Sigeric, archbishop of Canterbury (990-94), became a political scapegoat for tribute payments to the Vikings during the reign of Æthelred II, king of the English (978-1016). Ecclesiastical letters and lists of authority are then used to understand the political stance and strategy of Sigeric, linked to discussion of diplomatic missions between the papacy, England and Normandy. The article adopts a com- parative approach to take fuller account of the influences upon advisers and domestic politics in explaining the issues at stake in peacemaking after the English and Northern Song were defeated by those they regarded as »barbarians«, and shows how global history can be used to deepen understanding of the factors at work in peacemaking in different regions of Asia and Europe.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)108-136
    Number of pages28
    JournalMedieval Worlds
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023


    • Chanyuan, Covenant of; China; England; Khou Zhun chief councillor; Kitans; Liao Empire; Maldon, Battle of; Sigeric, archbishop of Canterbury; tribute; Vikings

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