See also

Athelstan KING OF THE ENGLISH ( -939)

1. Athelstan KING OF THE ENGLISH, son of Edward the Elder KING OF WEST SAXONS ( -924), died in 0939.

 

reigned 924-939.

Second Generation

2. Edward the Elder KING OF WEST SAXONS, son of Alfred the Great KING OF WESSEX and Ealhswith, died in 0924.

 

reigned 899-924.

 

Edward the Elder KING OF WEST SAXONS had the following children:

 

Edmund I KING OF THE ENGLISH ( -946). Edmund died in 0946.

1

Athelstan KING OF THE ENGLISH ( -939)

Eadred KING OF THE ENGLISH ( - )

Third Generation

3. Alfred the Great KING OF WESSEX, son of Athelwulf KING OF WESSEX and Osburh, was born in 0849 in Wantage, Berks. He died in 0899. He was buried in Winchester. He married Ealhswith.

 

reigned 871-899.

Alfred the Great, King of Wessex from 871 to 899, is probably the most famous of the Saxon kings because a large amount of information was written about him. His life was documented by a Bishop called Asser, but this account may not be entirely true. Alfred was the sixth child of Athelwulf. He had four elder brothers (Athelstan, Athelbald, Athelbert and Athelred) and one elder sister Athelswith. Alfred visited Rome twice when he was child to spend time at the court of Pope Leo IV and he spent time at the Frankish court of Charles the Bald. The foreign courts he visited may have been the model on which he based his own court when king. Alfred's elder brothers became kings of Wessex in succession after the death of their father.

Viking Invasions

Athelred became king of Wessex in 865 and Alfred became his deputy. In 868 Alfred and Athelred were assisting the King of Mercia whose lands were being attacked by the Danes. The Danes accepted payment to leave. Athelred and Alfred held the Danes off until 871 when after Alfred defeated the Danes at Ashdown but lost subsequent battles. Athelred was wounded and died of his injuries. Although Athelred had sons they were too young to rule and so Alfred succeeded his elder brother as King of Wessex.

The Marshes

His control lasted until 878 when a Viking army led by Guthrum attacked Alfred's court at Chippenham in the middle of winter. The Saxons were dispersed into marshes around Athelney where they could hide and regroup. Alfred began a period of guerrilla warfare against the Danes from his base in the marshes. The story of Alfred and the burnt cakes probably took place while Alfred was in hiding from the Danes and while he was in disguise. Alfred built up an army including men from Somerset and Wiltshire and arranged for them to meet at Selwood. The large army was then able to overpower the Danes at the battle of Edington. After the battle Guthrum, the leader of the Danes, agreed to be baptised as a Christian by Alfred and agreed to a peace treaty.

Reorganisation

After the battle of Edington, although there were smaller raids by the Danes, Wessex moved into a period of relative peace that lasted for the remainder of his reign. Alfred set about creating a series of fortified villages known as burghs. He created a standing army and ensured there were smaller forces of men to provide support at a local level. He also created a small navy.

Learning

Alfred dedicated a lot of time to improving his own knowledge and the knowledge of his people. He organised the translation of many works of literature from Latin. He was involved with the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles (Click here to see the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle index page), ordering copies to be made and their distribution to major abbeys. When Alfred died his son Edward became King of Wessex.

 

4. Ealhswith has few details recorded about her. She and Alfred the Great KING OF WESSEX had the following children:

 

2

Edward the Elder KING OF WEST SAXONS ( -924)

Aelfthryth (Elfride) Lady of the Mercians ( - )