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Alfred the Great (AD 849—899)alfred the great

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BBC History

King of the southern Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex and one of the outstanding figures of English history, as much for his social and educational reforms as for his military successes against the Danes. He is the only English monarch known as 'the Great'.


In your own words: what does this paragraph say?
Alfred was born at Wantage in Oxfordshire in 849, fourth or fifth son of Aethelwulf, king of the West Saxons. Following the wishes of their father, the sons succeeded to the kingship in turn. At a time when the country was under threat from Danish raids, this was aimed at preventing a child inheriting the throne with the related weaknesses in leadership. In 870 AD the Danes attacked the only remaining independent Anglo-Saxon kingdom, Wessex, whose forces were commanded by Alfred's older brother, King Aethelred, and Alfred. himself.


In your own words: what did Alfred accomplish according to this paragraph?
In 871 AD, Alfred defeated the Danes at the Battle of Ashdown in Berkshire. The following year, he succeeded his brother as king. Despite his success at Ashdown, the Danes continued to devastate Wessex and Alfred was forced to withdraw to the Somerset marshes, where he continued guerrilla warfare against his enemies. In 878 AD, he again defeated the Danes in the Battle of Edington. They made peace and Guthrum, their king, was baptised with Alfred as his sponsor. In 886 AD, Alfred negotiated a treaty with the Danes. England was divided, with the north and the east (between the Rivers Thames and Tees) declared to be Danish territory - later known as the 'Danelaw'. Alfred therefore gained control of areas of West Mercia and Kent which had been beyond the boundaries of Wessex.


In your own word: how did Alfred strengthen England?
Alfred built up the defences of his kingdom to ensure that it was not threatened by the Danes again. He reorganised his army and built a series of well-defended settlements across southern England. He also established a navy for use against the Danish raiders who continued to harass the coast.


In your own words: what can you infer Alfred’s values were based on the information in this paragraph?



In your own words: what is your reaction to this paragraph?
As an administrator Alfred advocated justice and order and established a code of laws and a reformed coinage. Alfred split his kingdom into shires that were run by loyal shire reeves who reported everything from their shire back to Alfred. He had a strong belief in the importance of education and learnt Latin in his late thirties. Alfred hired new scholars and encouraged more people to become educated. He then arranged, and himself took part in, the translation of books from Latin to Anglo-Saxon. His emphasis on the greatness of England as a nation led to the English history being written down in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
By the 890s, Alfred's charters and coinage were referring to him as 'king of the English'. Alfred the Great is the only English king to be called “The Great.” He died in October 899 AD and was buried at his capital city of Winchester.


Draw a Venn Diagram. Compare and contrast Alfred the Great and Charlemagne using your book, this document, and your notes on Charlemagne. (You should have at least 15 items total in your Venn diagram for full credit)

In at least 150 words (15 lines) write which one of the kings deserves the title of great more. You have to choose one, even if you think both deserve it. Use facts from your chart to support your answer. Practice being specific (remember, in history writing the more specific you are, the more believable you seem).


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