Birth of England: The Wessex Kings Map of Anglo-Saxon England son of Athelstan's brother Edmund (hence the great-grandson of Alfred). Alfred the Great was compelled to pay the Danes to leave Wessex, who spent Hardy re-created the ancient Kingdom of Wessex, producing a detailed map of. Wessex, one of the kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England, whose ruling dynasty eventually became in by Alfred's grandson Athelstan, the kings of Wessex became kings of England. Encyclopædia Britannica: first edition, map of Europe.
Birth of England: The Wessex Kings Map of Anglo-Saxon England son of Athelstan's brother Edmund (hence the great-grandson of Alfred). At the battle of Ashdown in , Alfred routed the Viking army in a fiercely fought uphill assault. However, further defeats followed for Wessex and Alfred's brother. Anglo-Saxon Britain map. Saxon Britain In the 's a series of victories by Egbert, king of Wessex, broke Mercian control in the south east. Alfred the Great.
Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from to c. and King of the Anglo-Saxons from c. .. In contrast the Danes preferred to choose easy targets, mapping cautious forays designed to avoid risking all their accumulated plunder with. Alfred the Great was compelled to pay the Danes to leave Wessex, who spent Hardy re-created the ancient Kingdom of Wessex, producing a detailed map of. Anglo-Saxon Britain map. Saxon Britain In the 's a series of victories by Egbert, king of Wessex, broke Mercian control in the south east. Alfred the Great.
Our independent walking holiday that stretches from Salisbury in Wiltshire to Shaftesbury in Dorset is called Wonders of Wessex. The kingdom of Wessex was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the West Saxons in South West England, from the 6th century until the wessex of a united English state under the Wessex dynasty in the 10th century.
During the 8th century Wessex was overshadowed by Mercia and the West Saxon kings may at times have acknowledged Mercian overlordship. During this period Wessex continued its gradual advance to the west, overwhelming the British kingdom of Dumnonia and absorbing Devon. As a result of the Mercian conquest of the northern portion of its early territories in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, the Thames and the Avon now probably formed the northern boundary of Wessex, while its heartland lay in HampshireWiltshireBerkshireDorset and Somerset.
The system of shires which was later to form the basis of local administration throughout England originated in Wessex, wessex had been established by the mid-eighth century.
Danish Viking raids on Wessex occurred frequently from onwards and overwhelmed the kingdoms of Northumbria and East Anglia. Alfred the Great was compelled to pay the Danes to leave Wessex, who spent the next few years subduing Mercia and some of them settled in Northumbria, but the rest returned to Wessex in Alfred was map to map about their withdrawal in see blog post on Wilton in Wiltshire and a portion of the Danish army settled in Mercia, but at the map of the remaining Danes mounted a winter invasion of Wessex, overrunning wessex of the kingdom.
Alfred took refuge with a small band of followers wessex the map of the Somerset Levels, but after a few months he was able to gather an army and defeated the Danes at the Battle of Edingtonbringing about their final withdrawal from Wessex to settle in Map Anglia.
Alfred carried out a reorganisation of the government and defenses of Wessex, building warships, and establishing a system of fortified burhs across the kingdom, thirty-three forts, whose positioning ensured that no one in Wessex was more than a long day's ride from a place of safety see blog post on Shaftesbury, Dorset as one of these burhs. Alfred also reformed the administration of justice, issued a new law code and championed a revival of scholarship and education.
As a result the West Saxon dialect of this period became the standard written form of Old English for the rest of the Anglo-Saxon period and beyond. The Kingdom of Wessex had become the Map of England. After alfred conquest of England by the Danish alfred Canute inhe alfred earldoms based on the former kingdoms of Northumbria, Mercia and East Anglia.
He created an alfred of Wessex, encompassing all of Alfred south of the Thames, for his English henchman Godwin. For almost fifty years the vastly wealthy holders of this earldom, first Godwin and then his son Harold, map the most powerful men in English politics after the king. Finally, on the death of Edward the Confessor inHarold became king, reuniting the earldom of Wessex with the crown.
No new earl was appointed before the ensuing Norman Conquest and the Norman kings did away with the great earldoms of the late Anglo-Saxon period. If marked the extinction of Wessex as a political unit, alfred do we see the term Wessex commonly used today?
On his wedding day, the Queen conferred on Prince Edward the title of wessex Earl of Wessex and there are numerous businesses and organisations using the name Wessex, such as Wessex Water.
Hardy's conception of Wessex as a separate, cohesive geographical and political identity has proved powerful, despite the wessex it was originally created purely as an artistic conceit. Hardy wessex the alfred Kingdom of Wessex, producing a detailed map wessex his territory with his fictional place names supplanting the real ones. The bulk of his fictional works were set in the semi-fictional county of Wessex based on the Dorchester region where he grew up and explored tragic characters struggling against their passions and social circumstances.
We have a walking holiday that explores the countryside map which his novels are set: In the Footsteps of Thomas Hardy: Heart wessex Hardy's Dorset.
Walking alfred Dorset alfred Wiltshire - Walking in England. Map Independent Walking Holidays. Guided Walks. Independent Walks. Self Catering. Cycling Holidays. Tailor-Made Holidays. Essential Information. BA4 6LL.
About a fifth of the law code is taken up by Alfred's introduction which includes translations into English of the Ten Commandments , a few chapters from the Book of Exodus , and the Apostolic Letter from the Acts of the Apostles — The Introduction may best be understood as Alfred's meditation upon the meaning of Christian law.
By doing so, it linked the holy past to the historical present and represented Alfred's law-giving as a type of divine legislation. Similarly Alfred divided his code into chapters because was the age at which Moses died and, in the number-symbolism of early medieval biblical exegetes, stood for law. Intro, The only crime that could not be compensated with a payment of money was treachery to a lord, "since Almighty God adjudged none for those who despised Him, nor did Christ, the Son of God, adjudge any for the one who betrayed Him to death; and He commanded everyone to love his lord as Himself".
When one turns from the domboc 's introduction to the laws themselves, it is difficult to uncover any logical arrangement. The impression is of a hodgepodge of miscellaneous laws. The law code, as it has been preserved, is singularly unsuitable for use in lawsuits.
In fact, several of Alfred's laws contradicted the laws of Ine that form an integral part of the code. Patrick Wormald's explanation is that Alfred's law code should be understood not as a legal manual but as an ideological manifesto of kingship "designed more for symbolic impact than for practical direction". Alfred devoted considerable attention and thought to judicial matters. Asser underscores his concern for judicial fairness. Alfred, according to Asser, insisted upon reviewing contested judgments made by his ealdormen and reeves and "would carefully look into nearly all the judgements which were passed [issued] in his absence anywhere in the realm to see whether they were just or unjust".
Asser represents Alfred as a Solomonic judge, painstaking in his own judicial investigations and critical of royal officials who rendered unjust or unwise judgments. Although Asser never mentions Alfred's law code he does say that Alfred insisted that his judges be literate so that they could apply themselves "to the pursuit of wisdom".
The failure to comply with this royal order was to be punished by loss of office. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle , commissioned at the time of Alfred, was probably written to promote unification of England,  whereas Asser's The Life of King Alfred promoted Alfred's achievements and personal qualities.
It was possible that the document was designed this way so that it could be disseminated in Wales, as Alfred had recently acquired overlordship of that country. Asser speaks grandiosely of Alfred's relations with foreign powers but little definite information is available. Alfred personally collected details of this trip. Alfred's relations with the Celtic princes in the western half of Britain are clearer.
Comparatively early in his reign, according to Asser, the southern Welsh princes, owing to the pressure on them from North Wales and Mercia , commended themselves to Alfred. Later in his reign, the North Welsh followed their example and the latter cooperated with the English in the campaign of or That Alfred sent alms to Irish and Continental monasteries may be taken on Asser's authority. The visit of three pilgrim " Scots " i.
Irish to Alfred in is undoubtedly authentic. The story that he himself in his childhood was sent to Ireland to be healed by Saint Modwenna may show Alfred's interest in that island.
In the s, at the same time that he was "cajoling and threatening" his nobles to build and man the burhs , Alfred, perhaps inspired by the example of Charlemagne almost a century before, undertook an equally ambitious effort to revive learning. This revival entailed the recruitment of clerical scholars from Mercia, Wales and abroad to enhance the tenor of the court and of the episcopacy ; the establishment of a court school to educate his own children, the sons of his nobles, and intellectually promising boys of lesser birth; an attempt to require literacy in those who held offices of authority; a series of translations into the vernacular of Latin works the king deemed "most necessary for all men to know";  the compilation of a chronicle detailing the rise of Alfred's kingdom and house, with a genealogy that stretched back to Adam , thus giving the West Saxon kings a biblical ancestry.
Very little is known of the church under Alfred. The Danish attacks had been particularly damaging to the monasteries. Although Alfred founded monasteries at Athelney and Shaftesbury, these were the first new monastic houses in Wessex since the beginning of the eighth century.
Alfred undertook no systematic reform of ecclesiastical institutions or religious practices in Wessex. For him the key to the kingdom's spiritual revival was to appoint pious, learned, and trustworthy bishops and abbots. As king he saw himself as responsible for both the temporal and spiritual welfare of his subjects. Secular and spiritual authority were not distinct categories for Alfred. He was equally comfortable distributing his translation of Gregory the Great 's Pastoral Care to his bishops so that they might better train and supervise priests and using those same bishops as royal officials and judges.
Nor did his piety prevent him from expropriating strategically sited church lands, especially estates along the border with the Danelaw, and transferring them to royal thegns and officials who could better defend them against Viking attacks.
The Danish raids had a devastating effect on learning in England. Alfred lamented in the preface to his translation of Gregory's Pastoral Care that "learning had declined so thoroughly in England that there were very few men on this side of the Humber who could understand their divine services in English or even translate a single letter from Latin into English: and I suppose that there were not many beyond the Humber either".
Manuscript production in England dropped off precipitously around the s when the Viking invasions began in earnest, not to be revived until the end of the century. A solemn diploma from Christ Church, Canterbury , dated , is so poorly constructed and written that historian Nicholas Brooks posited a scribe who was either so blind he could not read what he wrote, or who knew little or no Latin.
Following the example of Charlemagne , Alfred established a court school for the education of his own children, those of the nobility, and "a good many of lesser birth".
Alfred's educational ambitions seem to have extended beyond the establishment of a court school. Believing that without Christian wisdom there can be neither prosperity nor success in war, Alfred aimed "to set to learning as long as they are not useful for some other employment all the free-born young men now in England who have the means to apply themselves to it". There were few "books of wisdom" written in English.
Alfred sought to remedy this through an ambitious court-centred programme of translating into English the books he deemed "most necessary for all men to know". Alfred was, until recently, often considered to have been the author of many of the translations but this is now considered doubtful in almost all cases. Scholars more often refer to translations as "Alfredian" indicating that they probably had something to do with his patronage but are unlikely to be his own work.
Apart from the lost Handboc or Encheiridio , which seems to have been a commonplace book kept by the king, the earliest work to be translated was the Dialogues of Gregory the Great , a book greatly popular in the Middle Ages. The translation was undertaken at Alfred's command by Werferth , Bishop of Worcester , with the king merely furnishing a preface. Augustine 's Soliloquies and the first fifty psalms of the Psalter.
One might add to this list the translation, in Alfred's law code, of excerpts from the Vulgate Book of Exodus. The Old English versions of Orosius 's Histories against the Pagans and Bede 's Ecclesiastical History of the English People are no longer accepted by scholars as Alfred's own translations because of lexical and stylistic differences. The preface of Alfred's translation of Pope Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care explained why he thought it necessary to translate works such as this from Latin into English.
Although he described his method as translating "sometimes word for word, sometimes sense for sense", the translation actually keeps very close to the original although, through his choice of language, he blurred throughout the distinction between spiritual and secular authority. Alfred meant the translation to be used, and circulated it to all his bishops. Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy was the most popular philosophical handbook of the Middle Ages.
Unlike the translation of the Pastoral Care the Alfredian text deals very freely with the original and, though the late Dr. Schepss showed that many of the additions to the text are to be traced not to the translator himself  but to the glosses and commentaries which he used, still there is much in the work which is distinctive to the translation and has been taken to reflect philosophies of kingship in Alfred's milieu.
It is in the Boethius that the oft-quoted sentence occurs: "To speak briefly: I desired to live worthily as long as I lived, and after my life to leave to them that should come after, my memory in good works. In one of these  the writing is prose, in the other  a combination of prose and alliterating verse.
The latter manuscript was severely damaged in the 18th and 19th centuries. The last of the Alfredian works is one which bears the name Blostman 'Blooms' or Anthology.
The first half is based mainly on the Soliloquies of St Augustine of Hippo , the remainder is drawn from various sources. The material has traditionally been thought to contain much that is Alfred's own and highly characteristic of him. The last words of it may be quoted; they form a fitting epitaph for the noblest of English kings.
The Proverbs of Alfred , a thirteenth-century work, contains sayings that are not likely to have originated with Alfred but attest to his posthumous medieval reputation for wisdom. It was at one time attached to a thin rod or stick based on the hollow socket at its base. The jewel certainly dates from Alfred's reign. Historian Richard Abels sees Alfred's educational and military reforms as complementary.
Restoring religion and learning in Wessex, Abels contends, was to Alfred's mind as essential to the defence of his realm as the building of the burhs. The portrayal of the West-Saxon resistance to the Vikings by Asser and the chronicler as a Christian holy war was more than mere rhetoric or propaganda. It reflected Alfred's own belief in a doctrine of divine rewards and punishments rooted in a vision of a hierarchical Christian world order in which God is the Lord to whom kings owe obedience and through whom they derive their authority over their followers.
The need to persuade his nobles to undertake work for the 'common good' led Alfred and his court scholars to strengthen and deepen the conception of Christian kingship that he had inherited by building upon the legacy of earlier kings such as Offa as well as clerical writers such as Bede, Alcuin and the other luminaries of the Carolingian renaissance. This was not a cynical use of religion to manipulate his subjects into obedience but an intrinsic element in Alfred's worldview.
He believed, as did other kings in ninth-century England and Francia, that God had entrusted him with the spiritual as well as physical welfare of his people. If the Christian faith fell into ruin in his kingdom, if the clergy were too ignorant to understand the Latin words they butchered in their offices and liturgies, if the ancient monasteries and collegiate churches lay deserted out of indifference, he was answerable before God, as Josiah had been.
Alfred's ultimate responsibility was the pastoral care of his people. Asser wrote of Alfred in his Life of King Alfred ,. Now, he was greatly loved, more than all his brothers, by his father and mother—indeed, by everybody—with a universal and profound love, and he was always brought up in the royal court and nowhere else. It is also written by Asser that Alfred did not learn to read until he was twelve years old or later, which is described as "shameful negligence" of his parents and tutors.
Alfred was an excellent listener and had an incredible memory and he retained poetry and psalms very well. A story is told by Asser about how his mother held up a book of Saxon poetry to him and his brothers, and said; "I shall give this book to whichever one of you can learn it the fastest.
Alfred is also noted as carrying around a small book, probably a medieval version of a small pocket notebook, which contained psalms and many prayers that he often collected.
Asser writes: these "he collected in a single book, as I have seen for myself; amid all the affairs of the present life he took it around with him everywhere for the sake of prayer, and was inseparable from it.
Although he was the youngest of his brothers, he was probably the most open-minded. He was an early advocate for education. His desire for learning could have come from his early love of English poetry and inability to read or physically record it until later in life. Asser writes that Alfred "could not satisfy his craving for what he desired the most, namely the liberal arts; for, as he used to say, there were no good scholars in the entire kingdom of the West Saxons at that time".
The Gaini were probably one of the tribal groups of the Mercians. Ealhswith's mother, Eadburh, was a member of the Mercian royal family. Osferth was described as a relative in King Alfred's will and he attested charters in a high position until A charter of King Edward's reign described him as the king's brother — mistakenly according to Keynes and Lapidge, and in the view of Janet Nelson he probably was an illegitimate son of King Alfred.
Alfred died on 26 October at the age of 50 or His biographer Asser gave a detailed description of Alfred's symptoms and this has allowed modern doctors to provide a possible diagnosis. It is thought that he had either Crohn's disease or haemorrhoids. Alfred was buried temporarily in the Old Minster in Winchester. Four years after his death, he was moved to the New Minster perhaps built especially to receive his body. The New Minster moved to Hyde in a little north of the city, and the monks were transferred to Hyde Abbey along with Alfred's body and those of his wife and children, which were presumably interred before the high altar.
The abbey was dissolved in during the reign of Henry VIII and the church was demolished, leaving the graves intact. The royal graves and many others were rediscovered by chance in when a prison was being constructed by convicts on the site. Prisoners dug across the width of the altar area in order to dispose of rubble left at the dissolution. Coffins were stripped of lead, and bones were scattered and lost. The prison was demolished between and These came into the possession of the vicar of nearby St Bartholomew's Church who reburied them in an unmarked grave in the church graveyard.
Excavations conducted by the Winchester Museums Service of the Hyde Abbey site in located a second pit dug in front of where the high altar would have been located, which was identified as probably dating to Mellor's excavation.
The diocese made no claim that they were the bones of Alfred, but intended to secure them for later analysis, and from the attentions of people whose interest may have been sparked by the recent identification of the remains of King Richard III. In January , a fragment of pelvis was radiocarbon-dated to the correct period. It was unearthed in the excavation of the Hyde site and had subsequently lain in a Winchester museum store room.
It has been suggested that this bone may belong to either Alfred or his son Edward , but this remains unproven. Alfred is venerated as a saint by some Christian traditions.
Alfred commissioned Bishop Asser to write his biography, which inevitably emphasised Alfred's positive aspects. Later medieval historians such as Geoffrey of Monmouth also reinforced Alfred's favourable image. By the time of the Reformation, Alfred was seen as a pious Christian ruler who promoted the use of English rather than Latin, and so the translations that he commissioned were viewed as untainted by the later Roman Catholic influences of the Normans.
Consequently, it was writers of the sixteenth century who gave Alfred his epithet as "the Great", not any of Alfred's contemporaries. One of the first items visible when entering the campus of Alfred University is a bronze statue of the king, created in by William Underhill. It features the king as a young man, holding a shield in his left hand and an open book in his right.
A prominent statue of King Alfred the Great stands in the middle of Pewsey. It was unveiled in June to commemorate the coronation of King George V. After the arm and axe were replaced the statue was again vandalised on Christmas Eve , losing its axe.
It was sculpted by Isidore Konti in From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Alfred the Great disambiguation and King Alfred disambiguation. King of the Anglo-Saxons. Statue of Alfred the Great by Hamo Thornycroft in Winchester, unveiled during the millennial commemoration of Alfred's death. Hyde Abbey , Winchester , Hampshire , now lost. Further information: House of Wessex family tree.
Further information: Londinium and Anglo-Saxon London. See also: Burghal Hidage. Main article: Doom book. See also: Cultural depictions of Alfred the Great. These sources imply that he was born between Easter and Easter Originally the purpose of the chrisom-cloth was to keep the chrism , a consecrated oil, from accidentally rubbing off. Abels , pp. See Case for and Case against.
Retrieved 24 November An example of a rare two emperor coin, hinting at a previously-unknown alliance between the kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia. BBC News. The Guardian. Local Histories.
Retrieved 5 September Simon Keynes. Dorset County Council, Codicology of the court school of Charlemagne: Gospel book production, illumination, and emphasised script European university studies.
Szarmach Leiden: Brill, , pp. British Library. Retrieved 13 January Retrieved 3 October Archived from the original on 17 October Retrieved 6 October Sculpture Center. The Viking Wars of Alfred the Great , p. Abels, Richard P.
British Museum Press. Abels, Richard Alfred In Giles, J. Memorials of King Alfred: being essays on the history and antiquities of England during the ninth century, the age of King Alfred, by various authors. New York: Burt Franklin. Arnold, Martin Thor: Myth to Marvel. Bloomsbury Publishing. Asser Asserius de Rebus Gestis Aelfredib in Latin. Attenborough, F. The laws of the earliest English kings. Cambridge University Press.
Bately, Janet In Bernardo, Aldo S. The Classics in the Middle Ages. Realising that he could not drive the Danes out of the rest of England, Alfred concluded peace with them in the treaty of Wedmore. King Guthrum was converted to Christianity with Alfred as godfather and many of the Danes returned to East Anglia where they settled as farmers.
In , Alfred negotiated a partition treaty with the Danes, in which a frontier was demarcated along the Roman Watling Street and northern and eastern England came under the jurisdiction of the Danes - an area known as 'Danelaw'. Alfred therefore gained control of areas of West Mercia and Kent which had been beyond the boundaries of Wessex.
To consolidate alliances against the Danes, Alfred married one of his daughters, Aethelflaed, to the ealdorman of Mercia. Alfred himself had married Eahlswith, a Mercian noblewoman, and another daughter, Aelfthryth, to the Count of Flanders, a strong naval power at a time when the Vikings were settling in eastern England. The Danish threat remained, and Alfred reorganised the Wessex defences in recognition that efficient defence and economic prosperity were interdependent.
First, he organised his army the thegns, and the existing militia known as the fyrd on a rota basis, so he could raise a 'rapid reaction force' to deal with raiders whilst still enabling his thegns and peasants to tend their farms.
Second, Alfred started a building programme of well-defended settlements across southern England. These were fortified market places 'borough' comes from the Old English burh, meaning fortress ; by deliberate royal planning, settlers received plots and in return manned the defences in times of war.
Such plots in London under Alfred's rule in the s shaped the streetplan which still exists today between Cheapside and the Thames. This obligation required careful recording in what became known as 'the Burghal Hidage', which gave details of the building and manning of Wessex and Mercian burhs according to their size, the length of their ramparts and the number of men needed to garrison them. Centred round Alfred's royal palace in Winchester, this network of burhs with strongpoints on the main river routes was such that no part of Wessex was more than 20 miles from the refuge of one of these settlements.
Together with a navy of new fast ships built on Alfred's orders, southern England now had a defence in depth against Danish raiders. Alfred's concept of kingship extended beyond the administration of the tribal kingdom of Wessex into a broader context. A religiously devout and pragmatic man who learnt Latin in his late thirties, he recognised that the general deterioration in learning and religion caused by the Vikings' destruction of monasteries the centres of the rudimentary education network had serious implications for rulership.
For example, the poor standards in Latin had led to a decline in the use of the charter as an instrument of royal government to disseminate the king's instructions and legislation. In one of his prefaces, Alfred wrote 'so general was its [Latin] decay in England that there were very few on this side of the Humber who could understand their rituals in English or translate a letter from Latin into English To improve literacy, Alfred arranged, and took part in, the translation by scholars from Mercia from Latin into Anglo-Saxon of a handful of books he thought it 'most needful for men to know, and to bring it to pass Alfred was patron of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which was copied and supplemented up to , a patriotic history of the English from the Wessex viewpoint designed to inspire its readers and celebrate Alfred and his monarchy.
Like other West Saxon kings, Alfred established a legal code; he assembled the laws of Offa and other predecessors, and of the kingdoms of Mercia and Kent, adding his own administrative regulations to form a definitive body of Anglo-Saxon law.
For I dared not presume to set in writing at all many of my own, because it was unknown to me what would please those who should come after us Then I By the s, Alfred's charters and coinage which he had also reformed, extending its minting to the burhs he had founded referred to him as 'king of the English', and Welsh kings sought alliances with him.
Alfred died in , aged 50, and was buried in Winchester, the burial place of the West Saxon royal family. By stopping the Viking advance and consolidating his territorial gains, Alfred had started the process by which his successors eventually extended their power over the other Anglo-Saxon kings; the ultimate unification of Anglo-Saxon England was to be led by Wessex. It is for his valiant defence of his kingdom against a stronger enemy, for securing peace with the Vikings and for his farsighted reforms in the reconstruction of Wessex and beyond, that Alfred - alone of all the English kings and queens - is known as 'the Great'.
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