Alfred 'the Great' KING OF WESSEX

Male 849 - 899


Personal Information    |    Notes    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name  Alfred 'the Great' KING OF WESSEX 
    Born  849  Wantage, Berkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender  Male 
    Died  26 Oct 899  Winchester, Hampshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • also given as died in 901
    Buried  Hyde Abbey, Winchester, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID  I6021  adkinshorton
    Last Modified  2 Jan 2013 

    Father  Ethelwulf KING OF WESSEX,   b. Abt 795, Wessex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Jan 858 
    Mother  Osburga Oslad OF WESSEX,   b. Abt 810, Wessex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft 876 
    Family ID  F25203  Group Sheet

    Family  Lady Ealhswith OF MERCIA,   b. Abt 852, Mercia, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 5 Dec 904, St. Mary's Abbey, Winchester, Dorset, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  Abt 869  Winchester, Hampshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Ethelflaed OF ENGLAND,   b. Abt 869, Wessex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Jun 919
    >2. Edward I 'the Elder' KING OF ENGLAND,   b. Abt 870, Wessex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 17 Jul 924, Farndon-on-Dee, Oxfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location
     3. Edmund OF ENGLAND,   b. Abt 872,   d. CHILD
    >4. Elfrida OF ENGLAND,   b. Abt 873, Wessex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Jun 929, Flanders, France Find all individuals with events at this location
     5. Abbess Ethelgifu OF SHAFTSBURY,   b. Abt 878,   d. Abt 896, Shaftesbury Abbey, Dorset, England Find all individuals with events at this location
     6. Ethelweard OF ENGLAND,   b. Abt 880,   d. 16 Oct 922
    Family ID  F25202  Group Sheet

  • Notes 


    • Alfred the Great, son of Ethelwulf, succeeded his brother, Ethelred I., reigning from 871 to 900. Alfred began as second-in-command to his eldest brother, King Ethelred I. There were no jealousies between them, but a marked difference of temperament. Ethelred inclined toward a religious viewpoint that faith and prayer were the prime agencies by which the heathen would be overcome. Alfred, though also devout, laid the emphasis upon policy and arms. He was born in 849 and died in 900. At twenty-four he became King. He married Lady Alswitha (Ealhswith), daughter of Ethelan, the Earl of Mercia, lineally descended from Crioda, 1st Earl of Mercia, who died in 594. She died in 904. Alfred was regarded as one of the noblest monarchs in British history. No name in English history is so justly popular as his. That he taught his people to defend themselves and defeat their enemies, is the least of the many claims to our grateful admiration; he did much more than this; he launched his people upon a great advance in civilization, and showed a horde of untaught countrymen that there were other and worthier pursuits than war or the pleasure of the table. "He was indeed one of those highly gifted men that would seem to be especially raised up by Providence to protect and advance his people." (Wurts, Vol I, p. 171). Alfred was born at Wantage, in Berkshire, in the year 849, ascended the throne in 871 at the age of 23, and reigned for thirty years. Young Alfred, according to the historian Asser, Bishop of Sherborne, was a comely person and of a sweeter disposition than his older brothers and consequently became the favorite of both his parents and was sent by them to Rome, while still a child in order that he might be anointed king by the Pope. But though Ethelwulf showed this especial instance of regard for his son, he altogether neglected his education, and the young prince in his twelfth year had not learned to read or write. But if he could not read for himself, he nevertheless loved to listen to the rude but inspiring strains of Saxon poetry when recited by others, and had he not been a king and statesman, he might easily have been a poet. In 871, Alfred succeeded as king, at a period when the whole country was suffering under the ravages of the Danes, and the general misery was yet further increased by a raging pestilence, along with the general dissentions of the people. Alfred now for the first time took the field against these ruthless invaders with such skill and courage, that he was able to maintain the struggles till a truce was concluded between the combatants. Neither was this the worst of the evils that beset the Saxon prince. Any compact he might make with one party, had no influence whatever upon others of their countrymen, who had different leaders and different interests. No sooner had he made terms with one horde of pirates than England was invaded by a new force of them under Rollo; and when he had compelled these to abandon Wessex, he was attacked by fresh bands of Danes settled in other parts of England. So long, however, as they ventured to meet him on the open field, his skill secured him the victory; till, taught by repeated defeats, they had recourse to other tactics. That is, suddenly to land and ravage a apart of the country, and when a force opposed them, they retired to their ships, and passed to some other part, which in a like manner they ravaged, and then retired as before, until the country, completely harassed, pillaged and wasted by their incursions, was no longer able to resist them. Then they ventured safely to enter and to establish themselves. Therefore, Alfred, finding a navy necessary, built England's first fleet. After much fighting over the years he at last routed the Danes at Ethendune (Edington) in 878 with so much slaughter that they were glad to obtain peace on such terms as he chose to dictate. As merciful as he was good and brave, he then, instead of killing them, proposed peace on condition that they should altogether depart from the western part of England and that Guthrun, their leader, should become a Christian, in remembrance of the religion which taught Alfred, the conqueror, to forgive the enemy who had so injured him. Thereupon Guthrun embraced Christianity and became to adopted son of god-child of Alfred. Encouraging the arts and sciences, he founded Oxford University. He made London the capital of England, fortified it in 886, and carried on a defensive war with the Danes from 894 until they withdrew in 897. He organized judicial and educational reforms, compiled a code of laws, rebuilt the schools and invited learned monks from the continent and from Wales to his court to teach the young men there. He was himself a man of much learning; he translated from Latin into Anglo-Saxon parts of the ecclesiastical writings of Bede and others. He was the author of the famous Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the first history written in any modern language. He died October 28, 901, aged 52.


Home Page |  What's New |  Most Wanted |  Surnames |  Photos |  Histories |  Documents |  Cemeteries |  Places |  Dates |  Reports |  Sources