BThe concern that children educated in state schools are taught an anti-British propaganda that makes them ashamed of themselves and their history is something that needs countering. This potted history of Alfred the Great (1)is a small attempt to correct this great evil and it also draws some parallels with our contemporary plight. A significant difference is that we have been conquered by our own elected representatives and pacified to submit to the encouraged invasion by Race Laws and the ideological use of terms like “Racism” which is stop us defending our women, children and territory from colonisation. (2)
Alfred was born into chaotic and dangerous times as we are today. Invaders from Denmark and Norway called Vikings, had sailed from their homelands in longships and were plundering England. Although these invaders were racially similar they had developed separately and were not Christians but Odinists. Like today the invaders coveted our territory and they also won repeated battles against the indigenous people. The three kingdoms of Mercia, Northumbria and Wessex were under sustained attack from Viking raids. The Viking incursions culminated with a "Great Army" landing in East Anglia in 865 AD. This army made widespread territorial gains, and by 875 the kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria had succumbed with only Wessex remaining Anglo Saxon. Wessex was attacked in 878 and Alfred fled to the Somerset marshes were he regrouped to counter attack.
The Viking invasion of England began by raids in 793. They attacked London in 842 and colonised East Anglia in 865 followed by the colonisation of Northumberland in 870 and Mercia in 874.
When Alfred was born in 849 fifty years into the colonisation. England comprised the four kingdoms of East Anglia, Mercia, Northumberland and Wessex.
In Alfred's 21st year his brother King Aethelred led the Saxon army to Ashdown to engage the invaders in battle. However, when the Vikings sallied at them Aethelred was too busy praying to fight so Alfred took command. He led the charge. This surprised the Vikings and Alfred won. This was unusual as he Vikings won all the other many battles of the time. Then, fortuitously, Aethelred fell ill and died and Alfred became King in 871.
Alfred led his men at the Battle of Wilton but they lost. They had to make peace and buy the Vikings off with gold. They won a promise from the Vikings of no more raids. In 877, his 28th year, Alfred went to his fort at Chippenham to celebrate Christmas. Then, twelve days later, a large Viking army arrived to take them while they were feasting and not prepared for battle. The Vikings slaughtered many, burnt their homes and captured the fort. However, Alfred had fled with some of his men. They were indigent and had to wander begging food and billeting from his people. After much suffering they arrived at Athelney an island in the Somerset marshes. There was a building there that they used as a redoubt or stronghold. They hid there from the Vikings to recoup their strength and make plans.
A legend grew up at this time. It is said that he sheltered for a while with a farmer and his wife. She apparently went out to milk the cows leaving him to watch some oat cakes she was baking. Alfred being engrossed in planning his tactics to overcome the invaders, let them burn.
That spring Alfred contacted the English Earls telling them of his whereabouts. Then came the turning point – the Earl of Devon beat a Viking army in battle. Alfred knew the time had come to emerge from hiding and rally his forces. They mustered at Egbert's Stone. Alfred's Saxons cheered when they saw him as they thought he was dead and hope replaced despair in their hearts.
The Viking army, led by Guthrum, was camped at Edington. Alfred and his Earls decided their tactics, prayed all night to God and the next morning marched on Edington. The Saxon army stood close together forming the famous “Shieldwall”. The battle was fought all day with arrows falling like hail and at last the Vikings turned and fled the battlefield. Alfred pursued the foe to the fort at Chippenham and camped around to besiege them. The Vikings surrendered after two weeks. Alfred made peace and gave them North and East England. This became known as the Danelaw because Danish law held sway there, with Wessex and the South belonging to the Saxons. This was not satisfactory as the Vikings were still hostile and now with a claim on the land and battles continued until 937!
Finally, they took the English throne. In the summer of 1015, Cnut's fleet set sail for England with a Danish army of c 10,000 in 200 longships. Cnut was the head of Vikings from all over Scandanavia. The invasion force was to be in close and brutal combat with the English for fourteen months until the invaders took the country and Cnut was crowned.(3)
Alfred did not make many mistakes, though. He turned the towns into fortified communities with large, strong walls around them. He built a fine navy that later became the base of English power. This defeated the Vikings at sea in 875. People had previously thought the Vikings were invincible at sea. In 892 Alfred again beat the Vikings at sea. Then after four years of war Alfred drives the Danes out. Like most “Clashes of Culture” the conflict is permanent and when a nation has weak leaders thy surrender to the stronger power as Ethelred the Unready (4)and like the traitors in power today. A feature is trying to bribe those the weak rulers fear.
In 991, when Æthelred the Unready was about 24 years old after the Battle of Maldon, the English began paying money to the Vikings to leave them alone - a gafol of 10,000 pounds was paid for their peace. Yet the Danish fleet continued to ravage the English coast from 991 to 993. In 994, the Danish fleet sailed up the Thames towards London. The battle was not conclusive so Æthelred met with Olaf Tryggvason their leader, and signed a treaty with agreeing with the settled Danish companies and the English government to regulate settlement disputes and trade. The treaty stipulated that the pillaging and slaughter of the previous year would be forgotten, and stated that 22,000 pounds of gold and silver had been paid to the raiders as the price of peace. The parallel with decadent, spineless,contemporary elites like the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Phillips trying to introduce Sharia Law is striking. (5)
Alfred removed to London in 886 and built many new buildings setting it on course to become the Capitol city. Like today, the country faced colonisation and had to be brought out of chaos and decline. He made new laws and very importantly translated books out of the Latin into the vernacular English. This enabled more people to learn and also helped bind the communities with a common identity. Alfred encouraged writing, reading music and art among his people which originating in a national religious outlook give rise to civilisation. He died in 899 at fifty years of age. Alfred was the youngest son of the King of Wessex who took him to Rome where he met the Pope when he was four. He must have been impressed by the famous grandeur of Rome and seen the comparative barrenness of his homeland of the time.
His mother encouraged her children to learn and offered a beautiful book to her child who first learned to read. Wily Alfred could not yet read so he asked his teacher to read it to him till he had it by heart and won it as a prize from his mother!
I am very grateful to Peter Mullins for suggesting the idea for this educational piece to me