Alfred (Ælfræd) "the Great" DE WESSEX, King of Wessex & Mercia
- Born: 849, Wantage, Berkshire, England
- Married: 868, Winchester, Hampshire, England
- Died: 26 Oct 899, Winchester, Hampshire, England
- Buried: Winchester, England
Asser records the birth in 849 of Alfred, son of King Æthelwulf, at Wantage in Berkshire. "Ælfred filius regis" subscribed charters of Kings Æthelwulf, Æthelberht, Æthelred I in 855, 862 (anachronistic), 864 and 868. Asser records that in 853, his father sent him to Rome where Pope Leo IV baptised him.
He succeeded his brother in 871 as ALFRED King of Wessex. After the Danish victory at Wilton in May 871, King Alfred agreed to pay Danegeld for the first time as the price for ceasing further attacks. After a second invasion of Wessex in 875/77, during which Wareham in Dorset and Exeter were occupied, Alfred again bought peace in 877. He was forced to flee westwards in the face of a third invasion in 878 during which Chippenham was occupied, and took refuge at Athelney in Somerset. King Alfred's subsequent counter-offensive proved more effective, as he defeated the Danes under Guthrum at Edington in Wiltshire in May 878. After mixed successes against the Danes in East Anglia in 885, and his occupation of London in 886, Alfred made a peace treaty with Guthrum which lasted until 892.
"Ælfred rex" subscribed a charter of "Æthelred dux et patricius gentis Merciorum" dated 887. The Danish offensive of 892/96 was less successful and no further Danish attacks on Wessex are recorded after 896. King Alfred is famous for the fleet of ships built to his design in the hope of defeating the Danes while they were still at sea, considered as forming the basis for the modern English navy. Having learnt Latin late in life, Alfred was responsible for English translations of five Latin works between 892 and 899: Gregory the Great's Cura Pastoralis, Orosius's History of the Ancient World, Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica, Boethius's De Consolatione Philosophae, and a collection which starts with the Soliloquies of St Augustine. He was also responsible for a collection of laws, although these were largely refinements of the works of his predecessors Ine King of Wessex, Offa King of Mercia and Æthelberht King of Kent.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records the death of King Alfred on 26 Oct 899. King Alfred, under his will probably dated to [879/88], made bequests (in order) to "Edward my elder son", his unnamed younger son, his unnamed eldest, middle and youngest daughters, "my brother's son Æthelhelm…my brother's son Æthelwold…my kinsman Osferth" and Ealswith. 1
Alfred married Eahlwið of the Gaini, Princess of Mercia, daughter of Æthelred "Mucel" Ealdorman of the Gaini of Mercia and Princess Eadburh of Mercia, in 868 in Winchester, Hampshire, England. (Eahlwið of the Gaini, Princess of Mercia was born between 848 and 853 in Mercia, died on 5 Dec 905 in Winchester, Hampshire, England and was buried in St. Mary's Abbey, Winchester, England.)