King Alfred was ruler of the West Saxons and the first regent to declare himself to be king of the Anglo-Saxons. He ruled Wessex, the area south of the River Thames, from 871 to 899.
He introduced wide-ranging reforms including defence measures, reform of the law and of coinage. He was born in 849 at the royal palace in Wantage. He was the fifth son of King Aethelwulf ruler of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex.
Quick Facts: –
- King Alfred received his education in military arts, normal for a young man of rank. He first appeared on active service in 868.
- During his reign he played a key role in making peace between the Anglo-Saxons and the invading Danes.
- He was extremely religious and at the age of four he even visited the pope in Rome, accompanying his father Aethelwulf on a pilgrimage.
- After the Danes’ invasion in Wessex in 871, Alfred fought several battles with his brother, Aethelred.
- After Aethelred’s death the crown should have passed to his young son but due to some other circumstances Alfred was made the king.
- In 886, King Alfred recaptured London and set about renovating the city.
- Around 890, he introduced new laws of the land, which was known as the Law Code.
- He defeated two attempted invasions from the Vikings at the battles in Ashdown in 871 and in Edington in 878.
- He died on October 26, 899. He was 50 years old at that time.