Who’s Alfred?

Some of you might be wondering, who’s Alfred?  Alfred is Alfred the Great, King of Wessex from r.871-899.  Alfred is one of only two Kings to receive the epithet of “Great”, along with Cnut, the Scandinavian .   He successfully defeated the Vikings at Edington to preserve his Kingdom, the only Kingdom in England that the Vikings hadn’t taken up to that point.  After the Vikings were defeated at Edington, one of the terms of the cease-fire was that Guthrum – the Viking King – had to convert to Christianity.  So weeks later after the victory, Guthrum and twenty-nine of his men were baptised into the Faith.

Alfred was baptised in Rome by Pope Leo IV.  He was more known for his intellect than having a warrior character.  He wasn’t particularly strong physically, and was thought to have suffered from Crohn’s disease from a young age.  Alfred had a reputation as a gracious and learned man who encouraged education, reformed his military and legal system, and improved the quality of life for his people.

King Alfred the Great is probably most famous for a legend that’s often told about how when he was on the run from the Vikings, he took refuge in the home of a peasant woman (who likely didn’t know who he was), and was asked to watch the cakes that she was baking by the fire.  Consumed by his own troubles and thoughts, he mistakenly allowed them to burn, which brought scorn down on him from the woman.