How an Anglo-Saxon King and his Family Defeated the Vikings and Created England
- W. B. Bartlett
15th September 2023
In 878, Alfred, king of Wessex was on the verge of oblivion. Trapped on a small island in the Somerset Levels, it seemed as if he and his kingdom were about to be destroyed. Yet within months he had defeated the Viking invaders and started to reverse the tide of conquest.
While Alfred was driven by the prospect of a land called England that did not yet exist, he was not the one who finally created it. Two of his children, Edward – king of Wessex after him – and his remarkable daughter Æthelflæd, the Lady of the Mercians, expanded his kingdom into Mercia in the Midlands. His grandson Æthelstan confirmed the conquest of the north at one of the great battles of the so-called Dark Ages at Brunanburh. The triumph of Alfred’s dynasty was cemented by the short but magnificent reign of Edgar ‘the Peaceable’, a man who could claim to be not just king of England but emperor of the whole of Britain.
The ultimate collapse of Anglo-Saxon England, first of all in the face of Cnut of Denmark’s campaigns in 1015/16 and later in the Norman Conquest of 1066, has unjustly obscured their achievements. This book tells the story of the Anglo-Saxons and reasserts their right to be regarded as one of the greatest royal dynasties that Britain has ever seen.