How our filters work:

Our team sorts through all blog submissions to place them in the categories they fit the most - meaning it's never been simpler to gain advice and new knowledge for topics most important for you. This is why we have created this straight-forward guide to help you navigate our system.

Phase 1: Pick your School Phase

Phase 2: Select all topic areas of choice

Search and Browse

And there you have it! Now your collection of blogs are catered to your chosen topics and are ready for you to explore. Plus, if you frequently return to the same categories you can bookmark your current URL and we will save your choices on return. Happy Reading!

New to our blogs? Click Here >

Filter Blog

School Phase

School Management Solutions

Curriculum Solutions

Classroom Solutions

Extra-Curricular Solutions

IT Solutions

Close X

How Great was Alfred the Great?

It’s not uncommon for monarchs to be given a title after their name; a reflection of how they were viewed and/or remembered by people. Sometimes it’s pretty clear how they got it. For example, few people have to clarify how William the Conqueror got his name. They don’t have to be flattering titles, either. If you’re remembered as ‘Æthelred the Unready’, it paints a clear picture of how people viewed your capabilities as king.

But, if you’re remembered as ‘the Great’, it’s safe to assume that people were impressed by you. Alexander the Great, Catherine the Great and, of course, Alfred the Great. Alfred is an interesting king to examine, and not just for his immediate accomplishments. Many kings achieve impressive military victories and defend their throne from invaders. But few rulers set in motion such an impressive legacy, which still exists today. This is because Alfred’s reign can convincingly be called the ‘start’ of what would become the English (later British) monarchy. That isn’t bad considering, when he took to the throne, you couldn’t take two steps in the British Isles without tripping over a small kingdom and its king.

Born in either 848 or 849 AD, Alfred was the youngest son of King Æthelwulf and his wife Osburth. Realistically, no one would have expected Alfred to become king at all. He had three brothers ahead of him in the line of succession. However, each brother took the throne only to die and pass it on to their younger brother. By 871, it was Alfred’s turn.

One of the things which monarchs are remembered for are military victories they achieved; or were achieved on their behalf, but they got the credit because they were wearing the crown. And Alfred the Great certainly has impressive military victories to his name. In a time when the Vikings were making their presence known, you either defended your kingdom, or you swiftly wouldn’t have one any more.

But, to be perfectly honest, I’d argue that it was Alfred’s other accomplishments that were the most important. Firstly, he made changes which made it easier to defend his territory in the long term. He established a standing army, removing the need for a mad scramble to put together his forces in times of need. As part of this, he introduced a conscription and taxation system. He further strengthened his kingdom’s defences by establishing a series of fortified towns across it.

Alfred also championed education in a way that would strengthen the day-to-day infrastructure of his kingdom. He made it clear that judges were to be literate, well-educated and, above all, actually know the law. He also promoted the translation of important documents and texts from Latin to English, making them more accessible to people. Also, inspired by Charlemagne, he set up court schools, which gave a solid education to nobles, as well as others.

Beyond these things, Alfred also had a solid impact on promoting a more unified Anglo-Saxon identity. He worked to unify the various kingdoms more closely and produced the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, promoting unity. This shared cultural identity he worked to promote would be important in the later unification of the various kingdoms into what would become known as England.

In conclusion, some points in history are known as the start of something because there is a clear demarcation of before and after. But, quite often, beginnings are only obvious in hindsight. Alfred the Great had no idea he was starting something which would still exist (in one form or another), well over a thousand years later. And that may be why I find his reign such a compelling period of history. Because it’s an important example of the impact and importance that education can have. It was Alfred’s military victories which prevented the kingdom of Wessex from vanishing then and there. However, it was his social reforms and emphasis on education that secured such an impressive legacy.

Leave a Reply

The author

Joseph Morgan is a Content Executive for Twinkl; an educational resources company. Before joining Twinkl, he worked in the care sector as a support worker for St Cuthbert’s Care.

Subscribe to the monthly bloggers digest

Cookies and Privacy
Like many sites this site uses cookies. Privacy Policy » OK