King Alfred and the Anglo Saxons
Michael Wood tells the story of King Alfred the Great and his children and grandson, arguing that they were the most important rulers in the history of England; shaping the nation itself, founding cities, establishing law and government and reviving the language and literature that still define the English today. Before laying the foundations of a single kingdom for 'all the English', Alfred fought a desperate guerrilla war against the Vikings in the marshes of Somerset - burning the cakes on the way - before his decisive victory at Edington.
Alfred's children continue the family plan to create a kingdom of all the English. Michael Wood recovers the story of Alfred's daughter Aethelflaed, the ruler of Mercia. One of the great forgotten figures in British history, Aethelflaed led armies, built fortresses, campaigned against the Vikings and was a brilliant diplomat. Her fame spread across the British Isles, beloved by her warriors and her people she was known simply as "The Lady of the Mercians". Without her, concludes Michael Wood, 'England might never have happened'.
Alfred's grandson Aethelstan fulfils the family plan and creates a kingdom of all England. Travelling from Devon to Cumbria, Scotland and Rome, Michael Wood tells the tale of Aethelstan's wars, his learning and his lawmaking, showing how he created a national coinage and traces the origin of the English Parliament to the king's new assembly politics. But there's also a dark side, with later legends that the king had his brother drowned at sea. In his last desperate struggle, Aethelstan defeated a huge invasion of Vikings and Scots in what became known as the Anglo-Saxon 'Great War'.
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