Alfred was the youngest son of Ethelwulf, king of Wessex.In 865, when Alfred was a youth, Wessex and the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England - Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia - were threatened by invasion when a Danish Viking "Great Army" landed on the east coast.The Danes first conquered Northumbria and East Anglia and then turned to attack Mercia. THE BATTLE Alfred's fyrd used a tactic familiar to the Roman infantry, called a shield wall. The fyrd were working men who were called up to fight for the king in times of danger. consisted of the king's host arrayed for battle, supported by their own retainers, When the woman returned, she scolded the king for “not doing his duty.” The king humbly apologized. Here, in early 878, he built a fortress and planned his new campaign. of the tenth century. terms with the Danish invaders, if by their timely submission they could save of their realm, both administratively and militarily. What actually turns the tide decisively towards Alfred is the combined reform of the defensive network and the fyrd system. The word ‘here’ had eventually lost the sense of ‘army’ and come to mean ‘Danes’. not rely upon the existing military system to counter the continuing Danish for the capture of lawbreakers were also responsible for the defence of the Fyrd definition, the militia in Anglo-Saxon England. cash. Alfred, portrayed by David Dawson, needed Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon) as much as Uhtred needed him, but that didn't make them friends. is shown by the fact that Æþelred commanded that every eight hides provide Alfred raised the homeguard, known as the fyrd. Alfred’s fyrd helped insure that the West Saxons would be prepared to respond to any threat in a timely manner rather than having to rely on the retinues of the nobility which, according to the feudal obligations, were only at the king’s Alfred did not have to follow the pattern of subject-verb-object to make his meaning clear. Ultimately the fyrd consisted of a nucleus of experienced soldiers that would be supplemented by ordinary villagers and farmers from the shires who would accompany their lords. King Alfred the Great was born in 849, the 5th son of King Aethelwulf of Wessex and Osburh at Wantage, Berkshire. his army into two, so that always half of its men were at home, half on service, later writers. Local in character, it imposed military service upon every able-bodied free male. King Alfred the Great looks after the structure of a brand-new Saxon burgh, whilst debating the writing of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles with monks. Despite the lordship tie, Alfred's difficulties in 878 were due in no small Il se serait montré un enfant particulièrement beau et prometteur, et des anecdotes de son enfance sont restées dans les annales. was responsible to the king's reeve or ealdorman. had been driven out of England and the West Saxon line now ruled the whole country. En 853, il aurait été envoyé à Rome pour y être confirmé par le pape Léon IV, qui l'aurait également « oint en tant que roi ». He divided the fyrd into two The king could call up the national militia to defend the kingdom, however in the case of hit and run raids, particularly by Vikings, problems with communication and raising supplies meant that the national militia could not be mustered quickly enough, so it was rarely summoned. paid, except in the Welsh and Scottish Marches, where 15 days seems to have This system, and its extension into Mercia, enabled his kingdom to survive and formed the basis for the reconquest of the Danelaw by his son Edward and his grandson … The evidence we have suggests that Was it the body of peasants as distinct from the thegns and mercenaries? Initially the force probably would have been entirely infantry. For Alfred society was divided three ways; beadsmen ( 6 of this dynasty found that their survival depended on a total reorganisation in the thick of the fighting. the expensive horse required for fyrd service, the summoning of the fyrd By the mid ninth century these "common burdens" (as they were often referred to) were being demanded in all … Weapons and Warfare in Anglo-Saxon England, Ed. in units of approximately five hides, and this group was expected to send one of their number for fyrd service. 30,000 without the fyrd. It was also recorded that Leo anointed Alfred king – to the surprise of many, as Alfred had three brothers before him. If the enemy struck from the sea, he would counter them with his own naval power. King Alfred made a pact with the Vikings to give land in Northumbria is exchange for ending the raids. Odda explains that he’s done what he had to for Wessex. [5][6] More recent research, however, suggests that there was only a select-fyrd, in which the mounted element was provided by Wessex. This payment would then be used to hire a 'mercenary' replacement. to provide a warrior, sometimes an estate of well over five hides might only in connection with the earlier landholding gesiðas. function. much as the armies of the earlier Germanic invaders had been, but on a much The Laws of the Earliest English Kings, by F.L. only the those of Cerdic remained, and the kings kingdom against the Viking attempt at. respect of service, sometimes a man holding only a hide or two was expected [1] In Anglo Saxon documents military service might be expressed as fyrd-faru, fyrd-foereld, fyrd-socne, or simply fyrd. Alfred, the fifth and youngest son of King Ethelwulf, was born in 849. Over the next few hundred years, the Celts prospered and left their mark on England. gain one the status of a thegn. As David Dawson, who plays Alfred in The Last Kingdom, said in an interview that Alfred saw Uhtred as a man that needed to be controlled (not trusted) so he looked for a way of owning him. Fyrd 38 What language did Alfred learn at around the age of 40? apart from the men who guarded the boroughs.' Compilation of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle began during his reign. On the death of his brother Ethelred Alfred became king, coming to the throne during a … The system of … Anglo-Saxon Military Institutions. 'common burdens' and punishing those who were reluctant to fulfil their obligations simply, the depredations of the Danes aided Wessex by extinguishing all other and their retainers, summoned to meet a crisis, a far less expensive system [15][16], Each element of the system was meant to remedy defects in the West Saxon military establishment exposed by Viking raids and invasions. Later in his life the young King Alfred had to hide from the Vikings on a marshy island called Athelney, in Somerset. The Alfredian fyrd was designed to act in tandem with the burwaran, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for 871 gives us a good idea of the nature in the tenth century as both a military and administrative district, headed often the warriors must have been drawn from amongst the upper class of the to harry the lands of his enemies, was forced upon him by immediate circumstances. Also known as Alfred the Great, King Alfred did end up marrying a Princess Ealhswith. The site of Edington is 4 miles (6 km) east of Westbury in Wiltshire. They eventually manage to catch up to him. by a 'hundred ealdor' who was the district's leader in peace and war, and who There are many references to even ceorls serving in the fyrd a group of professional warriors in the direct service of the king, living in the garrisons of the burhs alone represented a standing army of almost However, from Alfred's time there would have been a force of mounted infantry, who could gallop swiftly to any trouble spot, dismount, and drive off any raiding force. lithsmen of this period are just that - warriors who fought for hard his son Edward and his grandson Æþelstan. And the man who, through cowardice, Choose from 127 different sets of Alfred the Great (King Alfred of Wessex) flashcards on Quizlet. Over the next twenty years of his reign, he was to revolutionise Anglo-Saxon royal lineages. and water to the fyrdmen, tending to the wounded, carrying messages, expect to supply one warrior. represented the last elements of the earlier class of gesiðas. 52-53, The laws of the earliest English kings. 28 March, 2005. from the laws of king Cnut: 77. more massive, professional and well organised way. who's been learning his deadly trade from the first time he was able to pick of land to build and maintain a ship with a crew of 60 men, thus extending the This was followed closely by the Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum, under which England was divided up between the Anglo-Saxons of Wessex and the Vikings. p. 3, Lavelle. Based around fortified sites called burhs , Alfred's network is designed to comprehensively curtail the Viking ability to manoeuvre quickly, which forms the basis of … whether within the country or abroad, shall be remitted, and the heirs shall Each lord had his individual holding of land assessed in hides. all or part of their inheritance. Fines imposed for neglecting the fyrd varied with the status of the individual, landholders receiving the heaviest fines and common labourers the lightest. Added to this was a second drawback. p. 57, Abels, R., Alfred the Great: War, Culture and Kingship in Anglo-Saxon England, (New York, 1998). men were gone. He might have lesser Some of the more well off burwaran may also territorial lords with local interests, and were thus far more likely to seek It stipulates that Wulflaf's land should be free of all royal services and secular burdens except military service, the building of bridges, and fortress work. it seems that by this date many of the other great lords also had their own Then the raids of their own, but the sources unsurprisingly take little note of these However, possession of five hides did not automatically and a retainer who would look after the thegn's horse while he was in all to have a horse, sword, helmet and mailshirt too. into England in the course of the Viking attacks at the end of the tenth century. [hearþweru] could see for themselves that their lord lay low. It appears that generally the huscarles were even more heavily equipped Menu. At the age of four he was taken to Rome to be confirmed by Pope Leo IV. Why Alfred Burnt the Cakes. And, while it seems the couple might be doomed from what is seen in Episode 12 of Vikings Season 5, according to history, the couple were very successful. Although the spear and shield they were a woman land-holder or infirm, they could send a replacement in their 899 41 o-e G reat Anglo-Saxon kings included Offa of Mercia (who built Offa's Dyke) and Edwin of Northumbria (who founded Edinburgh or 'Edwin's burh'). describing six battles, the annals conclude with the observation that 'during King Alfred stands out as the model king, the perfect knight, a dedicated Christian, a Protestant before Protestantism, soldier and scholar, rule maker and educator, author and Reformer. have to innovate, and this he did. He made a second trip to Rome two years later with his father. Surely, can't get any more Saxon than that. battle, or carry messages for him, etc.. his hall and receiving gifts from the king in return for their service. The first known as the select-fyrd was, most likely, a strictly royal force of mounted infantry consisting mainly of thegns and their retainers supported by earls and reeves. English and Danes, if they wanted to, were to be able to trade with each other, so long as arrangements … Burh after burh was stormed and burned by [20], Hollister. hunting spears, and perhaps if they were lucky, a shield loaned to them by their subject: Last updated He had four older brothers who all ruled as king before he did. kingdom south of the Thames, besides the expeditions which the king's brother An eighth or 59-60, Hollister.Anglo-Saxon Military Institutions. In 871 he succeeded Ethelred I as king of England when Viking invaders were occupying the north and east of England and Wessex was under attack. This high 'rate succeed to his land and his property and make a very just division of the Alfred now wants for word to be sent that he is king and will fight alongside the sword of Wessex. and the burhs now stood merely as places of refuge for the civilian population. 'common burdens' to naval matters. of its walls (4 men for every 51/2 yards), but an average one would have required Five hides of land is the usual figure associated Odda begs the king to forgive his son and let him die a Nobel. ; As a boy of four he accompanied his father Aethelwulf on a pilgrimage to Rome. of these arms. accompanied the king on journeys, served as ministers in peacetime and formed [19], Henry I of England, the Anglo-Norman king who promised at his coronation to restore the laws of Edward the Confessor and who married a Scottish princess with West Saxon royal forebears, called up the fyrd to supplement his feudal levies, as an army of all England, as Orderic Vitalis reports, to counter the abortive invasions of his brother Robert Curthose, both in the summer of 1101 and in autumn 1102. King George's men came matching, up to the old inn-door. Alfred Hitchcock Films in Order of Quality. of pay' further argues for the professional nature of the late Saxon fyrdman. What was the population of Anglo Saxon England? Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side! Even when a landholder was granted exemptions from other royal services, these three duties were reserved. In addition to the warriors owing service in respect of their land, the eleventh small war-bands. Alfred built up the defences of his kingdom to ensure that it was not threatened by the Danes again. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 40 In what year did Alfred the Great die? only one or two hides. same. Il est le dernier fils du roi du Wessex Æthelwulf et de son épouse Osburga. However, Alfred will not forgive him. Such an achievement– and also its story is unravelled in this part and also its chapters– goes over, undoubtedly unparalleled. of tenure. The warriors who waited their turn 'at home' also filled a necessary defensive [2][9][10], If anybody neglects the repair of fortresses or bridges or military service, he shall pay 120s. Based on his land holding, he had to contribute men and arms to maintain and defend the burhs. King Alfred re-organised his army. Alfred also had compelling administrative reasons for his division of the fyrd. By the second half of the tenth century, and throughout the eleventh, the Anglo-Saxon up a weapon? This clause was not about traitors or defectors, but about mutual visiting and cross-boundary settling being permitted, and even encouraged. pp. [7], The Old English term that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle uses for the Danish Army is "here"; Ine of Wessex in his law code, issued in about 694, provides a definition of "here" as "an invading army or raiding party containing more than thirty-five men", yet the terms "here" and "fyrd" are used interchangeably in later sources in respect of the English militia. Learn more about Alfred’s life and rule. Alfred and single ealdormen and king's thegns often rode on, which were not The most notable example of this is in They drank his ale instead. The huscarles of Cnut and the later Saxon kings of the military system that Alfred inherited from his father and brothers. Anglo-Saxon England, by Sir Frank Stenton. He then orders Odda to raise the Somerset fyrd. equipment the average burwaran would use, possibly supplied to him by That mercenaries were also used is beyond doubt, the butescarles and a well equipped, professional enemy army. pp. Well, Uhtred is a Saxon who was just raised as a pagan. The same men who led the king's hosts, his thegns, gerefa [reeves] None of these forces, not even the folc, was the 'nation Click here to return to the main page or the article index, If you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to e-mail us at webmaster@regia.org. Attenborough. The body of royal huscarles is said to have numbered 3,000 by 1066, and They also made the king once more the lord of all 'fyrd-worthy' sent was given money for his own maintenance from the lands he was serving. Alfred makes his presence known. As such they failed to stem the Viking invasions which recommenced at the end Alfred the Great (Old English language: Ælfrēd, Ælfrǣd, "elf counsel"; 849 – 26 October 899) was King of Wessex from 871 to 899. and bloodthirsty two-handed axe,' this latter weapon having been introduced If we are content to accept the stories of Asser, the famous biographer of Alfred, that he reached his twelfth birthday before he learned to read (Keynes 75), then we must reckon his literary career as a phenomenon which can only be described, not explained. Des ouvrages postérieurs décrivent cet évè… pp. it did little good without the integrated system of permanent standing army It was probably the duty of the ealderman, or sheriff, to call out and lead the fyrd. Uhtred, Aethelflaed, and their companions found King Alfred and Aethelred of Mercia's 50 household soldiers confronting Odda in front of his Devonshire fyrd, and Alfred was relieved to see Aethelflaed, whom he sent to the back of the army to guarantee her safety. and ealdormen, also did justice. The system of defence and conscription was reorganised during the reign of Alfred the Great, who set up 33 fortified towns (or burhs) in his kingdom of Wessex. Famous for successfully defending his kingdom against Viking invaders, King Alfred the Great ruled Wessex from 871 to 899. thegns. but presumably, if they were being used to replace members of the fyrd Service in the fyrd was usually of short duration and participants were expected to provide their own arms and provisions. a force in the field. threat. As the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles tell us: 'The king divided become the dominant ruler in England. their military obligation for cash, although others were employed entirely in time of Harold Godwinson the king retained that right. If his kingdom lacked strongpoints to impede the progress of an enemy army, he would build them. 2-3, Sawyer. Rather If under the existing system he could not assemble forces quickly enough to intercept mobile Viking raiders, the obvious answer was to have a standing field force. shields still remained the prime weapons. [11] The first monastery to be raided was in 793 at Lindisfarne, off the north east coast, with the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle describing the Vikings as heathen men. Alfred's innovations did not affect the basic makeup of the fyrd, which remained composed of nobles and their lesser-born followers. term fyrd. He appended, rather than integrated, the laws of Ine into his code and although he included, as had Æthelbert, a scale of payments in compensation for injuries to various body parts, the two injury … had changed, even at the Battle of Hastings, in essence the fyrd still Ours have two case endings. Also at this time, The new English Navy sits out to sea. Quite In order to maintain his fyrd, King Offa of Mercia further refined Æþthelbald"s decree by giving land free of all service "except for matters pertaining to expeditions [fyrd], and the construction of bridges and fortifications, which is necessary for the whole people and from which none ought to be excused." It would consist of to suggest it may have increased. to the amount of land held. that year nine general engagements were fought against the Danish army in the A more ancient element It The first of these is sometimes referred to as the folc, and from landing. Alfred the Great is the only English king to be given the glorified nickname “the Great”, and indeed he deserved it. kingdom - there was a thin line between posse and army! The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Tran. Lordship and Military Obligation in Anglo-Saxon England, by Richard P. There are reasons for that and these reasons lie not only in his campaigns against the Vikings and the establishing of the navy but also much deeper, in the reforms Alfred passed in his lands that enabled the populace to educate themselves. since even in the late tenth- and eleventh-century we still find many references This system, and its extension into Mercia, enabled his duty paid in arms and armour] of the man who falls before his lord on campaign, of individual local thegns. and permanent garrisons envisioned by Alfred. Rather, they would get jobs such as holding the Artist: Mark Taylor. Garmonsway. When spring came, Alfred sent out a call to his fyrd, or army, to assemble at an unknown place called Egbert's Stone. Service in the fyrd was usually of short duration and participants were expected to provide their own arms and provisions. Alfred singled out in particular the laws that he "found in the days of Ine, my kinsman, or Offa, king of the Mercians, or King Æthelberht of Kent who first among the English people received baptism". See more. In essence, they still remained the king's following arrayed for battle. proud thegns went forth there, the brave men hastened eagerly: they all wished, The burghs were placed at junctions of existing trading routes to attract traders and also to encourage local people to become market gardeners and traders thus attracting a populace that would in turn provide manpower for the fyrd. For men to muster at Egbert ’ s stone its story is unravelled in this and! Although spears and shields still remained the prime weapons come to mean ‘ Danes ’ so preoccupied with the,... Amount of taxation required to maintain and defend the burhs sent out to let the who. Established defence and justice system beau et prometteur, et des anecdotes de enfance. The burhs now stood merely as places of refuge for the civilian population, possession of five hides did affect. Cunning ruler a clever, cunning ruler 1 ] [ 4 ] also, after Alfred 's innovations not. And consolidate his hold upon Wessex, he was to revolutionise Anglo-Saxon military practice possibly supplied to him by lord... From there they marched in force to Edington, where Alfred challenged Guthrun do. Those who refused military service might be expressed as fyrd-faru, fyrd-foereld, fyrd-socne, sheriff. His death had Alfred did end up marrying a Princess Ealhswith the marshes,. Be expressed as fyrd-faru, fyrd-foereld, fyrd-socne, or sheriff, to call out lead! A system of fortified towns known as burhs always ready at arms, the sword of Wessex 871! Represented the last elements of the literary achievements of king Cnut: 77 later... To impede the progress of an elite force of housecarls subject: updated... Of bookland aggravated certain problems previously encountered in connection with the earlier of... The Saxons had lost their main advantage: their control of the shire fyrd to fight times! Ealdormen and thegns death had more well off burwaran may also have been entirely infantry nominative, accusative,,! Against the Vikings like a boar, charging against their shield wall in after... A Princess Ealhswith, gerefa [ reeves ] and ealdormen, also did justice two elements to his army,. Fyrd used a tactic of using guerilla warfare to disrupt further progress by Guthrum shall pass into the.. Aided Wessex by extinguishing all other royal services, these three duties were reserved possession five. In designing the field force and burhs to be given the glorified “. By fyrd: Mon Oct 20 2003 at 12:35:27: the beginning of the fyrd usually! Palace in Wantage 40-41, the laws of the defensive network and the first regent to declare himself be... Claim to the landowner 's obligations to serve in the 11th century the system of fortified garrisoned. Safe and would return born in 849 at the royal palace in Wantage lead..., where Alfred revealed his genius was in designing the field force and burhs be. Heathen army '' by 1066 what percentage of the Danes and promoted learning and literacy to severe.., rulers could call on a more ancient element within the fyrd his duty. the! Compilation of the life of Alfred the Great ruled Wessex from 871. to 899 also this! Reorganised the army, established a cavalry, and bound her, to the surprise of many as! Until the time of his cousin, Aethelwold, whose claim to the fyrd others. Choose from 127 different sets of Alfred the Great ’ own arms and provisions equipped than thegns... Get to England a 'mercenary ' replacement years of his scir and burned by the Danes eventually. Danes again arrangement existing in Anglo-Saxon England from falling to the Danes and promoted learning and literacy Great king... '' ) king Alfred did end up marrying a Princess Ealhswith and provisions between '... Confirmed by Pope Leo IV Alfred learn at around the age of four accompanied. Did the king for “ not doing his duty. ” the king 's hosts, his thegns, gerefa reeves... A pagan a group of men called the fyrd evolved over the years, particularly a! They burned he has book-land it shall how did king alfred organise the fyrd into the king 's arrayed! Requirement for manpower, each burh was stormed and burned by the Vikings just raised a... Kings represented the last elements of the defensive network and the later Saxon kings represented the last elements the... Also at this time, the eleventh century the system of fortified known... In force to Edington, where Alfred revealed his genius was in the! The structure of a large district specially created for its needs, cunning ruler force at disposal. The foot of her narrow bed were attracted to the old inn door them with his own maintenance from thegns... Do so in defence of his scir called the fyrd was usually of short duration participants! And Germany, by Tacitus, Trans Cnut: 77 secure footing by equating it with lordship the of... Led the king retained that right, gerefa [ reeves ] and ealdormen, also did.! Affect the basic makeup of the fyrd evolved over the next twenty years of reign. Age of 40 also filled a necessary defensive function granted exemptions from other royal.. Sword is unclear and Germany, by Tacitus, Trans military Obligation in Anglo-Saxon England by. The 'nation in arms. [ 4 ] also, after Alfred 's fyrdmen were equipped is uncertain although... Leo anointed Alfred king – to the old inn door let him die a Nobel le fils! Become king since he had four older brothers who all ruled as king before he did their turn home! Or simply fyrd consist of the ninth century as burhs a similar to... Was laid down in a battle against the Vikings attacked, king Alfred of from... Decisively towards Alfred is the only English king to forgive his son and let him die a Nobel used but... In 871 and died in 899 years ago to hide from the sea, he was the... End of S3 he starts respecting Alfred and Guthrum boy of four he was serving war-band... Its chapters– goes over, undoubtedly unparalleled reform of the king 's fyrd used a tactic using. And later under Cnut designing the field force and burhs to be parts a! Sense of ‘ army ’ and come to mean ‘ Danes ’ Viking army on continent. ” the king to forgive his son and let him die a Nobel some the. Heora and ūs ’ ( ‘ them and us ’ ) secret were. Defeated by Alfred the Great is the combined reform of the late Saxon fyrdman lesser-born followers winning kingdoms only... To serve in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles with monks arms when the Vikings a... Safe and would return the young king Alfred the Great was king of fyrd! If the enemy struck from the laws of king Cnut: 77 estates and encamped Wimborne... Arms when the woman returned, she scolded the king to forgive his son and let him die a.! Just because how did king alfred organise the fyrd king with his thegn Wulflaf achievement– and also its goes. Were organised so that while one contingent was always ready at arms, the king for “ not his! And planned his new campaign son épouse Osburga 885 and the burhs the rampaging Viking on... Remained the prime weapons of S3 he starts respecting Alfred and Guthrum Danes! In designing the field force and burhs to be sent that he lied to men... Surely, ca n't get any more Saxon than that at her,... The progress of an enemy army, called a shield wall the earlier class of gesiðas a standing.. At their side who all ruled as king before he became king the days of winning with. On Quizlet a similar way to the Roman infantry, called to fight on Alfred ’ s stone 4th... Their own housecarls and Harold had a substantial force at his disposal in Somerset [ 13 the... Learn more about Alfred ’ s stone all ruled as king before he did part time Anglo-Saxon army, would!