Alfred the was King of Wessex from 871 to 899. Alfred is noted for his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against the Vikings, becoming the only English king to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first King of the West Saxons to style himself "King of the Anglo-Saxons". Details of his life are described in a work by the Welsh scholar and bishop, Asser. Alfred was a learned man who encouraged education and improved his kingdom's legal system and military structure. Alfred is a Catholic and an Eastern Orthodox Churchsaint and is commonly regarded as a hero of the Christian Church in the Anglican Communion, with a feast day of 26 October.
King Alfred the Great (849, ruled 871-899) was one of the best kings ever to rule mankind. He defended Anglo-Saxon England from Viking raids, formulated a code of laws, and fostered a rebirth of religious and scholarly activity. His reign exhibits military skill and innovation, sound governance and the ability to inspire men and plan for the future, piety and a practical commitment to the support of religion, personal scholarship and the promotion of education.
We don't know what Alfred really looked like. The first contemporary Anglo-Saxon royal portrait we know of is of Athelstan, Alfred's grandson. Visual depictions of Alfred have varied from era to era. The visual image we have today is largely a Victorian one, which in turn is built on depictions from the 17th and 18th centuries, portraying Alfred as a wise, strong and bearded figure. In these early pictures he is often clad in ermine, or some similarly royal fashion, and appears as a rather standard regal figure.
In 1693, a remarkable discovery of a Saxon jewel was made near Athelney, now known as the Alfred Jewel and housed in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. As the Jewel contains no fastening, it is not thought to be a brooch or a clasp. It is probable that it formed the crown of a writing instrument.
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