King Alfred of Wessex (871-901) is the only king in British history to have been honoured with the epithet 'great', yet he is usually remembered only for the story of the burnt cakes, his finer achievements being forgotten. These accomplishments, however, make the title well deserved. Afflicted by poor health for most of his life, Alfred nevertheless showed unflagging energy as a warrior, administrator, scholar and educator. He was remarkable for both his extraordinary range of interests and his wisdom. In battle he was faced by the Danish invaders and the real threat of Viking supremacy in England. With the help of the first Royal Navy, which he founded with minimal resources, the invaders were eventually repelled. Anglo-Saxon hegemony was preserved - for a while - and Alfred survived to found an English monarchy which, under his son and grandson, saw most of modern England united under one crown. It is, above all, Alfred's success in battle that has earned him his place in legend, but was he truly a warrior king - or was it his nature to achieve his aims by less aggressive, more thoughtful means?
John Peddie expertly examines the scale and intent of the relentless threat of conquest by the Viking sea-raiders, the military and logistical problems that beset both sides, and the strategies devised by the king which led to the reconquest of his Wessex homeland and the creation of England itself.
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