“Alfred was not only a great warrior, but more importantly a nation builder”. Explain whether or not this quote is a true assesment of Alfred. King Alfred the Great was not only a great warrior, but more importantly a nation builder. I think this quote is a true assesment of Alfred and I will explain why in the pages that follow. Alfred was born into a royal family in 849 in Wantage (now in Oxfordshire). Alfred was the fourth child and it was therefore unlikely he would ever be considered as a king for the nation.
However, he was able to recite poems about his heritage at the age of four – yet we believe he may not have been able to write until late into his life. Alfred’s dad Ethelfwulf, arranged for Ethelswith to marry King Burger which improved relationships with the Mercians. Wessex was almost completly surrounded by sea but this turned out to be a large problem for Alfred because of the continuous attacks from the Vikings. Alfred seemed to be popular with his younger brothers and sisters’ as well as having many friends.
Over the course of his reign (23 April 871 to 26 October 889) he built many strong armies and reformed many things in his kingdom. Alfred was definetely a nation builder, changing and reforming laws and practices of Wessex. He fought many different people, most of which were the Vikings and most importantly, Alfred was an inspiration to many, many people. Alfred led his men in battle and didn’t give up. He made life fairer for all and even made a roster to schedule different people to fight at different times! Life was harsh during Saxon times.
They had little protective clothing and little medical knowledge. Many people had only a small amount of education and in general they didn’t know how to write and only knew one language. In Saxon times, the richest people were regarded as the highest in society (it hasn’t changed much) and therefore they were able to afford better armour and an education. Alfred was a nation builder, but should also be recognised as a great warrior. The quote above is a true assesment of Alfred. There are some great battles that illustrate his fantastic skills when acting as a warrior.
He defeated the Vikings, and he did not tolerate them bringing their families along in order to colonise England. Alfred did many things to classify himself as a nation builder. Alfred made treaties with the Viking leaders and he even converted Gunthrum and Gunthrum’s two sons to Catholicism. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle gives a detailed account of King Alfred the Great and the Vikings. Alfred reformed many of Wessex’s laws, adapting laws and adding to them. Alfred gave more people power but still the general public did not have much say in the running of the country.
However, if the men with power were treating others badly they were punished and sometimes had their power removed. The ealdormen were some of the most powerful people in the villiage. Alfred converted most of the people in the villiage to Catolicism. Alfred arranged marriages and relationships so that he could improve his territory as well as his defences. When it came to creating the Dane Law, Alfred truly showed off his nation building skills. He allowed the Vikings all the land they had conquered but kept Wessex, an old Roman town and half of Mercia. By taking half of Mercia he made it less likely for the Vikings to attack.
The Dane Law meant that no Viking man was allowed to travel into Alfred’s land and no Saxon may travel to Viking land. He also made an equal and fair way to decide punishments. He established compensation payments that offenders had to pay to the injured/damaged man/his family. There were different values on different parts of the body. The currency used was called the ‘wergeld’. Alfred reformed the army and created a navy. He used the ideas of the ‘longships’ from the Vikings in his own ships which his navy used to attack the Vikings before they reached land (another of Alfred’s brilliant ideas).
He made them longer and improved on the designs. He asked his men to create burghs to protect the city but this didn’t really work out because his men were too lazy and didn’t complete them so when the Viking’s attacked, the walls fell and they were no use. Alfred also developed the candle clock, when he discovered a length of wax melted for 4 hours. This was useful during training and war so the Saxon’s knew how long it had been and how long to go! Close to the end of his reign, Alfred reformed the education system.
He made it compulsory for everyone to know how to write and all children to be tutored. He wrote the Sheperd’s Book (with the help of some others) and copied from the Romans and used letters to write numbers. Alfred had translated many books into Latin and vice-versa. Alfred was not only a great warrior, but a nation builder. Alfred has given us many examples of both of these statements and these show that the statement is true and acurate. Alfred was a great man who truly reformed Wessex and other parts of England. He was a great inspiration to many and we still follow some of his reforms today.