When Alfred’s kingdom of Wessex was attacked the first time by the Vikings, he was not prepared.  He withdrew to the Stepney Marshes to train his fyrd.  In the end, he was the first king to have a year-round standing army.  He divided his army into two groups:  one group fought while the other group went home to plant crops and protect the families.  He built burghs along the Wessex-Dane Law border so every family could get to a fort in a day if they feared attack.  He built a fleet of sixty ships and defeated the Danes on sea as well by land which earns him the title of “Father of the British Navy.”  After defeating the Danes and converting their leader named Guthrum, the Peace of Wedmore brought peace to Wessex.

King Alfred also brought a renaissance to Wessex.  He encouraged the scriptoria and established a palace school that translated Latin works into Saxon.  This school was significant because Latin was no longer spoken and the great works would be lost.  He personally translated a few of the important works.  His title of “the Great” comes from these intellectual accomplishments as well as his military and political achievements.  He is considered the first and best true king of Wessex.

– Hannah S. Bowers