Alfred the Great (AD 849 ”“ AD 899) is one of the famous historical figures known for his contributions to England and its people. He became the King of the southern Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex. King Alfred is well known for his social, political and educational reforms, his great military successes, and unique personal characteristics. According to Jacob Abbott, “Alfred the Great figures in the history as the founder of the British monarchy”ť (2005, p. 15).Â He is the only English monarch who was given the title “the Great”ť. The main sources that describe Alfred’s life and his successful military activity include the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and the works of Asserius Menevensis, Alfred’s main biographer.
The major goal of this paper is to discuss the major contributions of King Alfred to England and its people, paying special attention to his biography, military success, and personal skills.
SOME IMPORTANT FACTS FROM THE BIOGRAPHY OF ALFRED THE GREAT
Alfred was born in AD 849 in the village of Wanating (today it is the city of Wantage). He was the fourth and youngest son of King Ethelwulf , the King of Wessex, and his first wife Queen Osburh. In 853, Alfred was sent to Rome where Pope Leo IV confirmed him as a king, although nobody knew that he would become the king in the nearest future (Alfred the Great, 2012, para.1). King Ethelwulf wanted his sons to succeed to the kingship in turn because it was very important to have a good military leader, when the country was under the threat of enemies. In 870, the army of the Danes attacked Wessex, which was the only independent country at that time. Alfred and his older brother commanded the forces. In 871, Alfred successfully defeated the army of Danes at the Battle of Ashdown in Berkshire. In 872, he succeeded his older brother as king. The Danes continued to attack Wessex and King Alfred used his military skills to defend his country. In 878, Alfred’s army defeated Danish army in the Battle of Edington. In 886 AD, King Alfred negotiated a treaty with Danish King. England was divided into several parts: Danish territory occupied the north and the east, while King Alfred expanded his territory gaining control of Kent and West Mercia areas which had been beyond Wessex’s boundaries. According to Mark Grossman, Guthrum, the King of the Danes, and his 29 chiefs decided to accept “Christian baptism as well as Alfred’s rule in what has been called the peace of Wedmore (878), establishing theoretical English authority over an area called Danelaw and placing Wessex and Mercia under Alfred’s control”ť (2007, p. 13).
In 868, Alfred married the daughter of some Mercian nobleman. Her mother was from a royal family too. King Alfred had six children. His son Edward the Elder succeeded him as king. King Alfred’s daughter Ă†thelflĂ¦d became Queen of Mercia in her own right, and his another daughter Ă†lfthryth married the Count of Flanders, Baldwin II.
Alfred the Great died in October 899 and was buried at Winchester, the capital city of Wessex. He was buried in the Old Minster at Winchester. Several years later, his body was translated to the New Minster, which was named Hyde Abbey (Alfred the Great, 871-899, 2012, para.7).