Reign of King Alfred the Great

Historical Context Essay

David Robert Pratt (University of Cambridge)
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The reign of the West Saxon king, Alfred (871-99) was decisive in sealing the long-term survival, in the face of Viking attacks, of a kingdom under West Saxon rule; it also witnessed a wide range of political, economic and cultural changes, many of which left a lasting legacy. Alfred's reign is unusually well documented among Anglo-Saxon kings, owing to a flowering of literary culture centred on his household and patronage; central products include the

Life of King Alfred

by the king's Welsh assistant Asser and the

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

, ensuring that Alfred's rule must be reconstructed from narrative sources largely admiring of his achievements.

Alfred was born at Wantage in 849; as the fifth and youngest son of King Æthelwulf (839-58), his prospects of becoming king were limited. The

1593 words

Citation: Pratt, David Robert. "Reign of King Alfred the Great". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 April 2009 [, accessed 05 March 2024.]

1427 Reign of King Alfred the Great 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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