Alfred the Great – King of Wessex
Alfred the Great was the King of Wessex in 871-899. He saved part of England from falling under the control of Denmark. At the time, England was divided into several small kingdoms, and Wessex was one of those. He was one of England’s best-loved kings. He established the English monarchy and alone among all English rulers bears the title “the Great.”
Alfred was born in 849 at Wantage, Berkshire. He was the youngest, the fifth son of Ethelwulf, king of Wessex.
After his father’s death in 858, Ethelbald succeeded to the whole kingdom. After his death in 860 his brothers Ethelberht (860-65), then Ethelred (865-71), ruled in turn. During his older brother Ethelred’s reign, Alfred had helped fight off an initial invasion of the Great Army into Wessex. In 871 after the death of Ethelred Alfred became king.
Several English kingdoms fell to the Danes, who were also called Vikings. In 871 and again between 876 and 878 Alfred’s Wessex forces fought against the invaders.
Alfred’s son and grandsons eventually gained control over all of England.
Alfred the Great died on October 26, 899
Alfred read books in Latin and hired scholars to translate them into English. Sometimes he did the translating himself.
He was an innovator in law, military organization, and economic planning.
His posthumous reputation grew, helped by such legends as the 11th-century tale of how he allowed a peasant woman’s cakes to burn as he mused on the fate of Wessex and the apocryphal 13th-century Proverbs of Alfred. It reached an apogee in his Victorian representation as father of the navy and founder of liberties and national unity.
Alfred wrote the Pastoral Care, the Consolation of Philosophy, and the Soliloquies. He is sometimes described as father of English prose.
In 1969 the movie Alfred the Great was filmed by British director Clive Donnell. David Hemmings played the role of Alfred.
In the series The Last Kingdom (2015) we can hear the story of the ruler of Wessex, who was able to bring back the British territory, once captured by the Danish Vikings, who suddenly attacked from the sea.