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The Victorian cult of Alfred the Great
Author: Joanne Parker

This book provides a broad account of the nineteenth-century cult of King Alfred. It reveals the rich cultural interest of the corpus of texts as a whole. The book redresses a misleading modern emphasis on Arthur and the Victorians, and addresses a genuine gap in the current literature on nineteenth-century medievalism. The book focuses on what was probably the apex of Victorian Alfredianism. It provides the background to this event both in terms of the wider cultural movements and in the sense of the Alfredian tradition which the nineteenth century inherited. The intersection of the cult of Alfred with nineteenth-century British politics is considered in the book, which focuses upon the role that Alfredianism played in debate about the future of the monarchy. The book speculates how the Saxon king was enlisted to vindicate and ennoble those institutions of which Victorian Britain was most proud - notably its navy, law-code, constitution and empire. It examines the conceptions of ninth-century Wessex as a time of immense cultural change - the mirror-image of the nineteenth century - and reviews Victorian appropriations of Alfred's reign as a prestigious starting point for myths of national progress. The book further focuses upon more domestic narratives - the use of Alfred, by Victorian authors, to exemplify moral values, and the rewriting of his life as a parable of error and redemption. Finally, the crucial question of Alfred's decline in fame is addressed in the book, which surveys the diminished interest in the Saxon king after 1901.

Ryan Lavelle

and Stuart Brookes have noted, if the Burghal Hidage reflects stages in the changes to defensive mechanisms in the West Saxon kingdom, it may be able to detect a shift from frontier to defence in depth, for example. 46 A militarised society in ninth-century Wessex? It is when we come to assess the militarised nature of West Saxon society by the end of the ninth century that we may be able to perceive something significant. David Pratt has emphasised the

in Early medieval militarisation
Abstract only
The Dunsoete Agreement and daily life in the Welsh borderlands
Lindy Brady

with the benefit of hindsight. The arrival of the Anglo-Saxons in Britain looks like a military conquest when viewed from the perspective of ninth-century Wessex, where the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was likely begun, or eighth-century Northumbria, where Bede wrote his Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum. But for those in the region inhabited by both Welsh and Anglo-Saxons for several centuries 3 Writing the Welsh borderlands – the western territories of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia and the eastern portions of the northern Welsh kingdoms of Gwynedd and Powys

in Writing the Welsh borderlands in Anglo-Saxon England
Transformative potential of plunder in Exodus
Denis Ferhatović

that began in late ninth-century Wessex before spreading elsewhere a century later. Archaeology shows that byrig grew in population and diversity in the late tenth century, with the evidence of imported pottery indicating growing cosmopolitan tastes of the inhabitants. 26 For a poem inundated by the sands of the desert and the waves of the sea, Exodus engages frequently in meditations on various permutations of the urban landscape. Taken individually, many of these instances may not appear remarkable, but, as a whole, they bear witness

in Borrowed objects and the art of poetry
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Daniel Anlezark

the influence of an Anglo-Saxon Christian culture: the de-deified Germanic gods feature in genealogies which privilege biblical history and myth over these same displaced gods. The inclusion of Sceaf in the genealogies is traceable to ninth-century Wessex, and such an extension should be expected at a time when the West Saxon monarchy was in the ascendant. It would seem that Sceaf, probably a figure

in Water and fire
Alfred and Victorian morality
Joanne Parker

-bed and married Judith, daughter of Charles, king of the Franks, incurring great disgrace from all who heard of it.49 Both marriages to Judith met with censure during the late nineteenth century. In part, this perhaps simply reflects the currents of anti-French feeling that existed in popular British culture at the time – certainly, the Anglo-Saxonist J.A. Giles postulated that Æthelwulf’s union with Judith must have met with resentment in ninth-century Wessex, because in marrying a French woman he had ‘lightly esteemed all the women of England’.50 The

in ‘England’s darling’
Alfred and Victorian progress
Joanne Parker

nineteenth century – the slave trade was banned in the British Empire in 1807, but it was 1865 before it was abolished in the Southern states of America, and its spectre hovered for the rest of the century in the use of anti-slavery rhetoric by campaigners for women’s rights.24 References to slaves in Alfred’s laws clearly caused discomfort among many British Alfred and Victorian progress 133 writers who wished to hail him as a champion of freedom. The children’s writer Jesse Page was clearly anxious to extenuate the existence of slavery in ninth-century Wessex

in ‘England’s darling’