Alfred the Great: War, Kingship and Culture in Anglo-Saxon England

By Richard Philip Abels

This biography of Alfred the nice, king of the West Saxons (871-899), combines a delicate interpreting of the first assets with a cautious review of the newest scholarly study at the historical past and archaeology of ninth-century England. Alfred emerges from the pages of this biography as a superb warlord, an efficient and creative ruler, and a passionate pupil whose piety and highbrow interest led him to sponsor a cultural and religious renaissance. Alfred's victories at the battlefield and his sweeping administrative suggestions not just preserved his local Wessex from viking conquest, yet begun the method of political consolidation that might culminate within the construction of the dominion of britain.

Alfred the good: conflict, Kingship and tradition in Anglo-Saxon England strips away the varnish of later interpretations to recuperate the ancient Alfredpragmatic, beneficiant, brutal, pious, scholarly in the context of his personal age.

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Alfred used to be despatched to Rome, not less than partially, to p repare the best way for the grand pilgrimage his father deliberate to take. forty three In 853 ¿Ethelwulf was once on the top o f his strength an d pres­ tige. It was once a propitious time for the West Saxon king to assert a spot o f h o n o u r am ong the kings and em perors of Christendom . At Aclea years sooner than, /Ethelwulf had inflicted, within the phrases of the Chronicler, ‘the maximum slaugh­ ter on a heathen military that we ever heard of until eventually the current day’. forty four information o f the battie unfold a long way.

R. H. M. Dolley (London, 1961) pp. 80-1. o f A lfred’s earliest surviving ‘Cross-and-Lozenge’ pennies, b o th struck through the M ercian m oneyer, Liafwald, b ear th e identify rex sm, particularly in all likelihood an abbreviation for rex Saxonum et Merciorum, king o f the Saxons an d Mercians. A lfred’s ‘Two E m perors’ sort penny awards him the identify rex Anglo, status eith er for ‘king o f th e Angles’ or, potentially, for ‘king o f th e Anglo-Saxons’. T h e m oneyer who struck it, like Liafwald, had additionally labored for Burgred.

Medieval canonists looked twelve to be the appropri­ ate m inim um age for a lady to marry. P. L’H erm ite-Leclercq, ‘T he Feudal O rd e r’, A heritage of girls within the West, II. Silences of the center a long time, ed. C. Klapisch-Zuber (Cam bridge, MA, an d L ondon, 1992) p. 217. seventy eight MEMORIES OF adolescence, 848-858 as political unrest inside D enm ark despatched am bitious leader­ tains in another country in seek o f loot to fu rth er their family polit­ ical objectives. but, notwithstanding churchm en comparable to Lupus and Erm entarius o f St-Philibert spoke within the darkest phrases of the devastation the raiders w rought,93 the raiding used to be nonetheless neighborhood, restricted, and sporadic.

E. g. , EHD I, nos sixty nine (S 255), 70 (S 262), 104 (S 407). 28 ALFRED’S WESSEX at C arham pton by the hands o f a viking strength of thirty-five ships, until eventually 851 whilst Alfred’s father, King ^Ethelwulf, and his eldest brothers, /Ethelbald and /Ethels tan, defeated the vikings on land at Aclea and at sea off Sandwich, the West Saxons have been preoccupied with battling off the increas­ ingly virulent raiders. Mercia used to be additionally ravaged mercilessly via the pagan raiders. confronted with a com m on international enemy, /Ethelwulf and the M ercian King Berhtwulf cast an enduring alliance among th eir kingdoms.

O ’D onovan (Lon­ don, 1988), no. three. See dialogue through Keynes, ‘West Saxon ch arters’, pp. 1112-13, 1122. sixty nine ALFRED the nice The context o f the ‘D ecim ation’ is essential to u n d er­ status its function. ¿Ethelwulf in 854-855 was once getting ready for his pilgrimage to Rome. in contrast to the royal pilgrims who preceded him, ¿Ethelwulf in tended to retu rn an d resum e his kingship. it sounds as if, the king had divided a 10 th of his deepest dom ain among his ecclesiastic and lay fol­ lowers, hoping thereby to safe either the favour of God for his journ ey and the loyalty o f his the Aristocracy in the course of his absence, a sensible precaution, if inadequate in mild o f sub­ sequent occasions.

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