samuel woodforde

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Endless List of Historical Figures: ALFRED THE GREAT

Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to 899. The youngest son of King Æthelwulf, he succeeded to the throne of Wessex after the death of his brother King Æthelred. He is one of only two English monarchs to be given the epithet “the Great”.

After the kingdoms of Northumbria, East Anglia and Mercia had fallen to the Vikings, Wessex under Alfred was the only surviving Anglo-Saxon province. He successfully defended his kingdom against the Viking threat and began the liberation of neighbouring areas from Viking control, thus paving the way for the future unity of England.

Alfred had a reputation as a learned and merciful man of a gracious and level-headed nature who encouraged education and improved his kingdom’s legal system, military structure and his people’s quality of life.

In his translation of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, Alfred wrote:

I desired to live worthily as long as I lived, and to leave after my life, to the men who should come after me, the memory of me in good works.