King Alfred The Great As One Of The Greatest Rulers Of English History

2182 words - 9 pages

King Alfred the Great as One of the Greatest Rulers of English History

King Alfred the Great can, in many ways, be considered one of the
greatest rulers of England. His defeat of the Danes, unification of
England, many successful reforms and insistence upon the restoration
of ecclesiastical culture are the result of his superior leadership
and command. The epithet, "The Great," attached to his name by writers
of the sixteenth century and given to no other English king is another
reflection of the kind of ruler he was.1 A twelfth century writer
notes the prestige that was given to Alfred when he wrote, He reigned
for twenty and eight years; there are few such men living: for he was
wise and a good warrior; he knew well how to curb his enemies; there
was not a better scholar than he, for he had learned in his infancy.
He caused an English book to be written of deeds, and laws, of battles
in the land, and of the kings who made war; and he caused many books
to be written, which the learned men often went to read. May God and
the kind lady Saint Mary have mercy on his soul!2

Born the fourth son of King Ethelwulf and his wife, Osburgh in 849 AD
at Wantage in Berkshire, Alfred was brought up in a time of constant
war. The various kingdoms of England had been at war for a long time.
England had previously consisted of seven kingdoms: Northumbria,
Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Sussex and Wessex. At the time of
Alfred's birth, England was made up of four separate kingdoms,
Northumbria, East Anglia, Mercia and Wessex. Alfred's grandfather,
King Egbert, had conquered Kent, Sussex and Wessex, expanding the
territory of Wessex.3 Alfred's family was one who was involved in
politics and war for quite some time. King Alfred was involved in his
kingdom from a very early age. In 853 he played his first role in
politics and diplomacy. At the age of four, Alfred was sent to Rome by
his father to represent him at a papal court. Even at such a young
age, Alfred was taking part in the politics of his country. At four
years old Alfred took part in a legal ceremony at his father's court
and at age five he was a witness to a series of charters given to
churches by his father.4 Alfred took part in many of the political
activities in his father's court. Because of Alfred's active role in
the diplomacy of his father's kingdom, he had a different education
than one would expect a future king to have. He spent his youth taking
part in his father's court and hunting. Through his hunting, he
learned the land of his father's kingdom, which would become an
advantage against the Viking invaders during his reign.5 Alfred did
not have a literate education as a young boy. He remained illiterate
in Anglo-Saxon until his teen years and in Latin until much later in
his life.6 However, his literacy made no difference in...

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