• Alfred the Great

    Alfred the Great

    • Alfred the Great
      Statue d'Alfred le Grand à Winchester.jpg
      Statue of Alfred the Great by Hamo Thornycroft in Winchester, unveiled during the millenary commemoration of Alfred's death.
      King of Wessex
      Reign 23 April 871 – 26 October 899
      Predecessor Æthelred
      Successor Edward the Elder
      Born 849
      Wantage, then in Berkshire, now Oxfordshire
      Died 26 October 899 (around 50) Winchester
      Burial c. 1100
      Hyde Abbey, Winchester, Hampshire, now lost
      Spouse Ealhswith
      Issue Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians
      Edward, King of Wessex
      Æthelgifu, abbess of Shaftesbury
      Æthelweard of Wessex
      Ælfthryth, Countess of Flanders
      Full name
      Ælfred of Wessex
      House Wessex
      Father Æthelwulf, King of Wessex
      Mother Osburh
      Religion Roman Catholic
      Full name
      Ælfred of Wessex

      Alfred the Great (Old English: Ælfrēd, Ælfrǣd, "elf counsel" or "wise elf"; 849 – 26 October 899) was King of Wessex from 871 to 899.

      Alfred successfully defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest, and by the time of his death had become the dominant ruler in England. He is one of only two English monarchs to be given the epithet "the Great", the other being the Scandinavian Cnut the Great. He was also the first King of the West Saxons to style himself "King of the Anglo-Saxons". Details of Alfred's life are described in a work by the 10th-century Welsh scholar and bishop Asser.

      Alfred had a reputation as a learned and merciful man of a gracious and level-headed nature who encouraged education, proposing that primary education be taught in English, and improved his kingdom's legal system, military structure and his people's quality of life. In 2002, Alfred was ranked number 14 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.

      Alfred was born in the village of Wanating, now Wantage, Oxfordshire. He was the youngest son of King Æthelwulf of Wessex by his first wife, Osburh.

      In 853, at the age of four, Alfred is reported by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to have been sent to Rome, where he was confirmed by Pope Leo IV, who "anointed him as king".Victorian writers later interpreted this as an anticipatory coronation in preparation for his eventual succession to the throne of Wessex. This is unlikely; his succession could not have been foreseen at the time, as Alfred had three living elder brothers. A letter of Leo IV shows that Alfred was made a "consul"; a misinterpretation of this investiture, deliberate or accidental, could explain later confusion. It may also be based on Alfred's later having accompanied his father on a pilgrimage to Rome, where he spent some time at the court of Charles the Bald, King of the Franks, around 854–855.

      Name Birth Death Notes
      Æthelflæd 12 June 918 Married c 886, Æthelred, Lord of the Mercians d. 911; had children
      Edward c. 874 17 July 924 Married (1) Ecgwynn, (2) Ælfflæd, (3) 919 Eadgifu
      Æthelgifu Abbess of Shaftesbury
      Æthelweard 16 October 922(?) Married and had children
      Ælfthryth 929 Married Baldwin II d. 918; had children
      Alfred the Great
      Born: 849 Died: 26 October 899
      Regnal titles
      Preceded by
      Last holder
      King of Wessex
      Succeeded by
      Edward the Elder
      New title King of the Anglo-Saxons

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      • The whole works of King Alfred the Great, with preliminary essays, illustrative of the history, arts, and manners, of the ninth century. 1969. OCLC 28387. 
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