By Richard P. Abels
This biography of Alfred the nice, king of the West Saxons (871-899), combines a delicate analyzing of the first resources with a cautious review of the newest scholarly learn at the heritage and archaeology of ninth-century England. Alfred emerges from the pages of this biography as a good warlord, a good and creative ruler, and a passionate student whose piety and highbrow interest led him to sponsor a cultural and non secular renaissance. Alfred's victories at the battlefield and his sweeping administrative strategies not just preserved his local Wessex from viking conquest, yet all started the method of political consolidation that will culminate within the production of the dominion of britain.
Alfred the nice: struggle, Kingship and tradition in Anglo-Saxon England strips away the varnish of later interpretations to recuperate the ancient Alfredpragmatic, beneficiant, brutal, pious, scholarly in the context of his personal age.
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Extra resources for Alfred the Great: War, Kingship and Culture in Anglo-Saxon England
Keynes an d Lapidge, pp. 40-1. 16 INTRODUCTION lists, genealogies, records of eclipses, the works of Bede, Isidore, and Jerom e, and various o th er materials, the Chron icle retells in secular terms and from a distinctly West Saxon viewpoint the story that Bede began about the growth of unity am ong the tribes and peoples of England. As com m entators have observed, the Chronicle begins with parallel histories of the m ajor kingdoms an d gradually focuses m ore and m ore upon Wessex, culm inating in Egbert’s defeat of the Mercians and Alfred’s holy war against the heathen vikings.
Plum m er, Life and Times of Alfred the Great, pp. C. Davis, ‘Alfred the Great: propaganda an d tru th ’, History 56 (1971) pp. 169 82, repr. in his From Alfred the Great to Stephen (London, 1991) pp. 33 46. Cf. Keynes an d Lapidge, pp. 40-1. 16 INTRODUCTION lists, genealogies, records of eclipses, the works of Bede, Isidore, and Jerom e, and various o th er materials, the Chron icle retells in secular terms and from a distinctly West Saxon viewpoint the story that Bede began about the growth of unity am ong the tribes and peoples of England.
The four-level transaction described in the H orton charter is unique am ong surviving diplomas. Nevertheless, the p ro cess it describes was probably com monplace. King /Ethelwulf and his sons enriched local supporters through generous grants o f land and by ‘booking’ properties they already pos sessed. By doing so, they created a solid core of supporters in the southeast u p o n whom the rule of Kent, Surrey, Sussex and Essex rested. Rather than impose West Saxon ealdorm en upon the eastern shires and settle West Saxon supporters upon royal lands there, iEthelwulf o pted to rule through the native nobility.