This biography of Alfred the Great, king of the West Saxons (871-899), combines a sensitive reading of the primary sources with a careful evaluation of the most recent scholarly research on the history and archaeology of ninth-century England. Alfred emerges from the pages of this biography as a great warlord, an effective and inventive ruler, and a passionate scholar whose piety and intellectual curiosity led him to sponsor a cultural and spiritual renaissance. Alfred's victories on the battlefield and his sweeping administrative innovations not only preserved his native Wessex from viking conquest, but began the process of political consolidation that would culminate in the creation of the kingdom of England.
Alfred the Great: War, Kingship and Culture in Anglo-Saxon England strips away the varnish of later interpretations to recover the historical Alfredpragmatic, generous, brutal, pious, scholarly within the context of his own age.
RICHARD ABELS is Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis.
Introduction. Sources. 1. Alfred's Wessex. 2. Memories of Childhood, 848-858. 3. Scourges of God, 858-868. 4. A Very Great Warrior, 869-879. 5. King of the Anglo-Saxons, 880-891. 6. Defence of the Realm. 7. The reign of Solomon. 8. The Practice of Kingship. 9. Triumph and Death, 892-899. Conclusion: `My Memory in Good Works'. Appendix on the Authenticity of Asser's Life of King Alfred. Table: Alfred's Genealogy. Maps. Bibliography.