Tuesday, May 6

Alfred the Great

it was on this day in 878 that the young, inexperienced Christian king of Wessex, Alfred the Great, defeated the pagan Viking warlord Guthrum at the Battle of Ethandun. The unlikely victory not only ensured that Christianity would survive in England, it made the unification of that land possible for the first time since the departure of Roman legions in the fifth century.

4 comments:

David said...

I have just finished the three books so far that Bernard Cornwell has written about this era. How much information is there about this time period. The books were engaging (and at times rather gruesome), but I am curious how much we actually know.

George Grant said...

David: Cornwell has four books in the series now! He's done good work in providing solid historical precedent for most of the details in the book. We do have a surprising amount of information from the era. Alfred had a good royal chronicler and most historians regard him as quite reliable. Cornwell's version may be a bit more coarse than necessary when dealing with Wessex and if possible, a bit less coarse than necessary when dealing with the Northmen!

DP Cassidy said...

And Kenneth Hylsen-Smith's three volume 'Christianity in England from Roman Times to the Reformation" is very helpful too.

Austin Bob said...

Allow me to chime in with a recommendation for Henry of Huntingdon's excellent "History of the English People" (or Historia Anglorum). Written in 1135, he does a wonderful job of extracting from previous works (Bede, Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, Gildas and others, not all of which have survived) and weaving the whole into a captivating narrative and a thoroughly Christian worldview and optimistic eschatology.

[I posted some excerpts here: here]