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Alfred the Great Timeline



Detailed Information

23 April 871

Accenssion of Alfred


King Alfred succeeded his brother Ethelred to the throne of Wessex and Danish Mercia.


Birth of Edmund

A son, Edmund, was born to Alfred and his wife, Ethelswitha.



Birth of Edward the Elder

A son, Edward, was born to Alfred and Ethelswitha.



Danes bought off

After suffering a year of minor defeats by the Danes, Alfred was forced to buy them off. They promised to leave Wessex alone for five years.



Danes invade Mercia

The Danes invaded Mercia expelled King Burgred and replaced him with a Dane. They also began dividing up Yorkshire for permanent settlement.


Death of Burgred

The King of Mercia, Burgred, died. His widow, Ethelswitha, became a nun.


Danes attack Wessex

The Danes launched another attack on Wessex, but success was limited.


Danes Mercia

The Danes began to partition Mercia ready for colonisation. The partitions included present day Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire.

before May 878

Danes attack Wessex

A smaller Danish force made a surprise attack on Chippenham, gaining much of Wiltshire and Hampshire and forcing Alfred to retreat to Athelney in the Somerset marshes.

May 878

Battle of Edington

After spending some time raising forces, Alfred defeated the Danish army and forced the Danish leader Guthrum to accept baptism and peace terms. The peace terms recognised Danish occupation of England north of the line from London to Chester.Guthrum was to withdraw to behind this line and be recognised as King of his own independent kingdom.

878 onwards


The area behind Guthrum’s boundary, became subject to Danelaw and the Danish soldiers established a society of their own. Evidence of this still exists today as Yorkshire, Leicestershire and to some extent, East Anglia, are still full of places ending in -by or -thorp.


Danes settle in East Anglia

The Danes had left Wessex and begun to settle in East Anglia.


Alfred takes London

Alfred the Great captured London, allegedly after defeating a Danish garrison. However, as London was in the Kingdom of Mercia, Alfred, turned London over to Mercian control.


Marriage of Ethelfleda

Alfred’s daughter, Ethelfleda, married Ethelred, Ealdorman of Mercia.


Ethelswitha on pilgrimage

Ethelwulf’s widowed daughter, Ethelswitha, went on a pilgrimage to Rome but died on the journey.


Alfred Defends Wessex

Following defeat of the Danes in 878, Alfred had reorganised the defence of Wessex. He introduced a system where only half the army was to be on service at any one time, thus producing a smaller but more efficient army. Alfred also spent time and money building ships to match those of the Vikings. Alfred also covered Wessex with a network of public strongholds, several of which have a regular grid of streets that can still be seen today. Examples are Winchester, Chichester and Wareham.

890s onwards

Alfred’s government

Alfred had a clerical staff of priests, headed by a chief clerk. The office of chief clerk evolved into that of Chancellor. Part of their duties involved record keeping for the purpose of taxation.


Danes invade London

A large Danish force landed in the Thames estuary. They made raids on local towns and villages.


Birth of Aethelstan

A son, Aethelstan, was born to Edward the Elder, Alfred’s son, and Egwina his wife.

25/26/28 Oct 899

Death of Alfred

King Alfred died. He was buried in Newminster Abbey, Winchester.

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