The earliest Anglo-Saxon presence in Britain is found on the eastern and southern coasts from the early 5th century. From the earlier diverse Germanic 'tribal' chiefdoms (Anglian, Saxon, Jutish and probably others, all drawn from southern Scandinavia and the North Sea continental coasts) by the later 6th century larger polities were formed - a process encouraged by the adoption of Christianity in the early to mid-7th century. Endemic competition among these kingdoms and with their British neighbours resulted in a handful of larger, powerful kingdoms in the 9th century: notably Northumbria in the north, Mercia in the Midlands, East Anglia in the east and Wessex in the south and west.
Renewed contact with Scandinavia in the 9th century, the Viking age, resulted in both warfare and settlement, with most of eastern Britain falling under Viking control. A firm policy of reconquest applied by the sole surviving Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex resulted in a unified kingdom of Englaland (Angles' land, England) in the early 10th c. By the 11th century, close ties between Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian monarchies led to the coronation of the Danish ruler, Cnut, as king of England; he later claimed the Norwegian crown. This short-lived 'North Sea Empire' brought England closer into the orbit of the north, up to Cnut's death in 1035. Political links with the emerging militarized dukedom of Normandy were exploited by Edward the Confessor, who spent his early years in exile at the Norman court. The last Anglo-Saxon king, Harold II Godwineson, was of Anglo-Danish descent.