Alfred The Great

Statue d'Alfred le Grand à Winchester

Alfred the Great Facts

Title: “King of the Anglo-Saxons”
Reign: 23 April 871 – 26 October 899
Born: 849
Died: 26 October 899 (est. 50)
House: Wessex
Spouse: Ealhswith

Alfred the Great Summary

Alfred was born in the village of Wannating (now modern day Wantage, Oxford). He was sent to Rome in 853 where he was anointed as king by Pope Leo IV. He was only four at the time. Not much of his younger life was mentioned during the short reigns of his brothers, Æthelbald of Wessex and Æthelberht of Wessex.

Alfred was known for effectively safeguarding his kingdom against the Vikings, who have attempted on taking over his kingdom, and he became England’s ruler by the time of his death. He is the first English king to be given  the designation of “the Great”. Among the West Saxons, Alfred was also the first English King to proclaim himself as the “King of the Anglo-Saxons”.

Subtle elements of Alfred’s life are depicted in a work by the tenth century Welsh researcher and religious administrator Asser. A faithful Christian, Alfred had a notoriety for being a scholarly and lenient man of a generous and reasonable nature who energized training and enhanced his kingdom’s lawful framework, military structure and his kin’s personal satisfaction.

In 866 Bishop Asser gave Alfred the extraordinary title of “secundarius”, which may demonstrate a position similar to that of the Celtic tanist, a successor closely linked with the monarch currently ruling at the time. It is conceivable that this course of action was authorized by Alfred’s father, or by the Witan, to prepare for the risk of a conflict between the successors in the event Æthelred is killed in battle. The plan of delegating a successor as as the next monarch and military leader is extraordinary even among the other Germanic tribes like the Swedes and the Franks.

After his father’s death In April 871, Alfred eventually succeeded to the throne of Wessex and the responsibility of protecting it, regardless of the fact that Æthelred left behind two children, Æthelhelm and Æthelwold. This was as per the assention that Æthelred and Alfred had made a year earlier during  a gathering at Swinbeorg. The siblings had concurred that whichever of them outlasted the other, as according to their father’s will, he would acquire the individual property that King Æthelwulf had left behind for his children.

The children of the recently departed would get just whatever property and wealth their parent had settled upon them and whatever territory their uncle had obtained. The main reason was that the surviving sibling would become the next heir to the throne. Given that the Danish are determined in their attacks and the young inexperience of his nephews, Alfred’s progression to the throne likely went uncontested.