Alfred the Great - the first king of England

17425 April, 12:38 / Source:
On April 23rd 871, the Vikings defeated the Anglo-Saxons in the battle of Merton, and on the same day Alfred was crowned king of the kingdom of Wessex.

After several subsequent defeats, Alfred was forced to conclude a truce with the Vikings, during which he reorganized the army, created a fleet, and in 876 began military operations against the Danes. On May 6, 878, the Anglo-Saxon forces won a decisive victory over the Vikings in the Battle of Edington.

To avoid complete defeat, their commander Guthrum was forced to capitulate, along with 30 high dignitaries to be baptized, receiving the name of Edelstan, and withdraw the remnants of his troops to East Anglia, of which he was proclaimed king two years later. According to the agreement concluded with Guthrom, Wessex retired the western part of the kingdom of Mercia, the upper part of the valleys of the Thames and the Severn, Sussex and Kent.
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To protect against the raids on the south of England, which the Vikings carried out through the English Channel, Alfred erected many fortifications, introduced coast patrols in the sea, in 886 conquered Lundenburg (London), rebuilt it and placed his second residence in it.

Within a few years, he restored social order in the whole kingdom, created the first collection of national laws ("True King Alfred"), resumed the division of the country into counties, distributed lands that had become empty over the decades of war. As a devout man, Alfred built dozens of monasteries at the royal expense, founded schools with them, banning public office to illiterate people, and also initiated the creation of a chronicle known today as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

The last years of his life, Alfred the Great spent in unsuccessful attempts to unite the Christian countries to oppose the Vikings.
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