King Alfred the Great as One of the Greatest Rulers of English History

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King Alfred the Great as One of the Greatest Rulers of English History

King Alfred the Great can, in many ways, be considered one of the greatest rulers of England. His defeat of the Danes, unification of England, many successful reforms and insistence upon the restoration of ecclesiastical culture are the result of his superior leadership and command. The epithet, "The Great," attached to his name by writers of the sixteenth century and given to no other English king is another reflection of the kind of ruler he was.1 A twelfth century writer notes the prestige that was given to Alfred when he wrote, He reigned for twenty and eight years; there are few such men living: for he was wise and a good
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In 853 he played his first role in politics and diplomacy. At the age of four, Alfred was sent to Rome by his father to represent him at a papal court. Even at such a young age, Alfred was taking part in the politics of his country. At four years old Alfred took part in a legal ceremony at his father's court and at age five he was a witness to a series of charters given to churches by his father.4 Alfred took part in many of the political activities in his father's court. Because of Alfred's active role in the diplomacy of his father's kingdom, he had a different education than one would expect a future king to have. He spent his youth taking part in his father's court and hunting. Through his hunting, he learned the land of his father's kingdom, which would become an advantage against the Viking invaders during his reign.5 Alfred did not have a literate education as a young boy. He remained illiterate in Anglo-Saxon until his teen years and in Latin until much later in his life.6 However, his literacy made no difference in his ability to lead a country against attack. As the fourth son of a king, it is quite an oddity that Alfred took the throne in 871. However, with the deaths of all of his brothers, Alfred was able to lead his kingdom to victory over the Vikings. At a battle in 878 against the Viking leader Guthrum Alfred was able to defeat the Vikings