KS2 History: The Anglo-Saxons. 2: Alfred the Great

The story of King Alfred and his struggles against the Vikings.

Drama: Alfred and the Vikings

2. Alfred the Great

Alfred was in his early 20s when he became king in 871 and the defining challenge of his reign was conflict with the Vikings.

Alfred's initial tactic was to make a pact with the Vikings: he agreed to pay them money - the danegeld - in return for peace. The arrangement was eventually broken when the Viking leader - Guthrum - launched a surprise attack against Wessex.

Alfred was forced into hiding in marshland in the West Country and the famous story of Alfred 'burning the cakes' dates from this time. It also marks the low-point in the fortunes of Alfred and the Anglo-Saxons.

Alfred gathers his strength and defeats Guthrum at the Battle of Edington. The Vikings agree to remain in an area to the east of England - which becomes known as the Danelaw. Alfred then sets about increasing the security of Wessex by training an army and building forts.


Song: 'Alfred the Great' (Vocal)

More from this series

1. The Anglo-Saxons arrive
3. Athelstan - first king of England?
4. Beowulf - Part one