Alfred The Great Essay Research Paper King

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Alfred The Great Essay, Research Paper King Alfred the Great King Alfred the Great was born at Wantage, in 849, on a royal manor of his father’s holding, a family estate which long afterward he himself would leave in legacy to his wife. Alfred was the youngest of five children, four sons and a daughter, born to Ethelwulf by his wife Osburh. When Alfred was four years old, his father, the king, who by now had long despaired of getting to Rome in the present state of things, decided to send Alfred there, to at least receive the blessing of the Holy Father. The pope at the time, Leo the IV, gave Alfred the blessing to become king. Alfred’s time came in the year mid-April 871, when King ?thelred died. Only a king of full age could defend the land, and although ?thelred left

children, Alfred, his constant companion in the war, was immediately recognized as his successor (Duckett 20). King Alfred was now in charge of stopping the Danes from occupying Wessex. Alfred was already an experienced military leader, as he had participated in several campaigns against the invading Danes (Bruce 3). The West Saxons had now made an alliance with Mercia. Yet in 868, the Danes met both Mercians and West Saxons; the two nations had formed an alliance, which had been strengthened that year by the marriage of Alfred and Ealhswith, daughter of a Mercian ealdorman (Bruce 4). Alfred and his elder brother King ?thelred personally led the Wessex contingent, yet not even the combined forces of the Mercians and the West Saxons could handle the strength of the Danes. Alfred

felt constantly threatened, and had to fight skirmishes with the Danes for many years. In order for Alfred to be successful he had to establish an organized army. Alfred began by developing stronger defensive measures for his land. In the southern part of Britain he established several new fortified cities, better than the smaller forts, where great groups of people could gather for protection. However, Alfred was not content with being on the defensive. He also attacked the Danish-held City of London in an attempt to diminish the lands ruled under Dane law (Bruce 4). No Anglo-Saxon king was ever strong enough to coerce a recalcitrant peasantry. Except Alfred who decided to allow half the men liable for service to remain at home while the other half was out against the Danes

(Stenton 261). In order for Alfred to keep peace and defeat the Danes, he had to win many major battles. On Easter Sunday 878, when King Alfred withdrew into the Isle of Athelney, there was every likelihood that before the end of the year Wessex would have been divided out among the members of the Danish army. King Alfred made sure that Wessex would escape that fate. Although Alfred did lose a major battle against the Danes only four years ago, he overcame them in 878 when he won the Battle of Edington. Alfred showed strong resistance by constantly engaging Danish raiding parties from his base in Athelney. After nearly seven weeks of strong battles, Alfred was able to begin defeating the Danes (Stenton 253). Along with Alfred’s idea of coercing a recalcitrant peasantry, he had

other ways of defeating the Danes as well. Alfred began building warships in order to develop a navy. The ships in which Alfred built were twice as long as those which they were intended to meet (Stenton 253). These warships enabled Alfred to match the power of the sea, in which the Danes had, and in the end, gained peace for his people and the country. After bringing peace to his land, he then began implementing his reforms. Alfred started by signing a peace treaty with King Guthrum. Alfred drew up this treaty by himself. Although fighting continued between the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons, this treaty marks the end to a major war (Seyfried 2). Along with signing this peace treaty, Alfred also devised a law for his land. This new law was referred to as the “home sitting”