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849

Alfred is born; his name means "wise-counselor".

858

Ethelwulf, Alfred's father dies, in peace. His remains are laid in Winchester.

865

Danes begin to settle in East Anglia.

866

Alfred is named Secundarius after his brother, Ethelred, becomes king. East Anglia makes "peace" with money and horses when hordes of Danes pour in.

868

Alfred marries Ealhswith, a Mercian noblewoman, daughter of Ethelred chief of the Gaines (Gainsborough). The wedding takes place in Mercia. At his marriage feast, Alfred is seized with pain and lives with it off and on the rest of his life.

869

The Danes wreck double vengeance because of their slim pickings the year before. On August 26th, they sack Crowland monastery. The monks hid their treasures in a well. The elderly remained to meet the Vikings and continued mass on schedule. The younger were sent away. The Vikings, furious at not being able to find treasure killed all the old monks and burnt their bodies.

871

Alfred and king Ethelred advance against Danes with a large force, but are repulsed trying to take the Dane earthworks. Danes refuse to come out and fight. Alfred and Ethelred shadow the Danes, having drawn them out by pretending retreat. When Danes are far enough from Reading not to run back, Alfred and Ethelred expose their troops. Golden dragon pennant of Alfred, raven pennant of the Danes. King Ethelred dies, probably from wounds received at Maretun. Alfred becomes king.

875

Alfred builds a small navy. It engages seven Danish ships, captures one, drives the other six away. The monks of Lindisfarne take their relics and the Lindisfarne gospel and leave, wandering for seven years with all this in a coffin. Danes settle Northumbria as farmers.

876

Five years of hard-bought peace comes to an end. In the Autumn, the Vikings make a surprise attack. Alfred is virtually encircled on sea and land. Danes attack from Wareham. Alfred fights them to a standstill. They swear on their holy bracelets that they will keep peace. They say they've never taken such an oath before for anyone.

877

The Danes make peace, unable to escape Alfred's resistance. Most keep their word and move into Mercia.

878

Alfred has only the royal bodyguard to support him. Alfred gathers the men of Somerset, conducting guerrilla warfare from the moors and forests. Ethelnoth, ealdorman of Somerset joins Alfred, bringing his own band of a few loyal followers sworn to his defence. Alfred moves to Athelny with his bodyguard of probably a few hundred men. He builds a fort and begins to harass the Danes in earnest. From Athelny Alfred supposedly went into Danish camp as a harpist. Here, hiding incognito, he supposedly burnt the cakes. Alfred meets the Danes at Ethandun. Alfred's forces lock their shields in a shield wall. Alfred wins the battle of Ethandun.

879

Alfred begins construction of a great wall of burhs to act as local forts; he develops the system which gives him both a standing army and a local defence.

881

Alfred's navy engaged at sea. Captures two Danish ships. Two ships flee.

884

Alfred's ship crews are killed while resting. Danes break their treaty with Alfred. A new mass of Danes arrives.

885

Alfred's navy raids off the coast of Anglia captures sixteen Viking ships. Alfred coaxes Asser to join him. Asser says he will come back in six months. This is probably the year work began on the revised, updated Anglo Saxon Chronicle. In this year Alfred appointed Mercian scholars to the work of restoring learning.

886

Alfred recaptures London. This helps ease the threat of the East Anglian Danes.

887

Asser returns to Alfred. He learns of Alfred's Commonplace Book. Asser begins to teach the 38 year old Alfred how to translate Latin.

890

Alfred issues his own simplification and codification of the laws; his doombook. He requires his judges to either learn the law or leave their posts. Many old men begin learning to read and write, or at least to have the laws read to them so they may memorize them.

892

Alfred is now a competent Latin scholar. He orders copies of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to be made and sends them to several major religious houses. A large army of Danes from Boulogne arrives. 250 ships. Another army of 82 ships comes under Haesten. Alfred's new system of forts works beautifully. Alfred buys peace with the Danes who have landed in Kent.

899

King Alfred the Great died on October 26, 899, aged 50, at Chelsea, planning the rebuilding of London, and was buried in the Old Minister at Winchester, the burial place of the West Saxon royal family. He is the only English monarch to be known as "the Great".

 

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