THE SAXONS IN WESSEX FROM CEAWLIN TO ALFRED THE GREAT: medievalhistory.net
The Saxons in Wessex
Ceawlin's son Cuthwine remained in the land of the West Saxons, as they were called. His descendants included the later kings of Wessex. His son Cuthwulf and grandson Ceolwold were succeeded by Ceolwold's son Cenred, grandson Ingild, and great grandson Eoppa.
At the beginning of the eighth century, Eoppa's son Eaffa was born. His son was Ealhmund, who called his own son Egbert.
Egbert lived at the same time as Offa, the powerful saxon king of Mercia who built the long border ditch marking the edge of England and the beginning of Wales. This huge excavation, which we call Offa's dyke, is still there, over a thousand years later.
This was also the time of Charlesmagne (Charles the Great), king of the Franks, who became the first German emperor. Although the noble class of the Germans was the warrior caste, who mastered arms and not literacy, Charlesmagne insisted on being taught the arts of reading and writing. He could not master writing, but he did manage to read.
Generally, only the clerics of the church bothered with literacy, since it was unproductive and unprofitable work. They were, of course, called upon to keep records and accounts receivable for their fuedal landlords, and so the name of the cleric is associated very much with what we call today clerical work, that done by our clerks today, who are no longer churchmen at all.
Egbert's son was Aethelwulf, the last king of Wessex.
During their time, the viking invasions began, and the Danish vikings conquered the northeast half of both Britain and Eireland.
In England, wherever the Danes conquered the English, they settled their own people among the English, and ruled with danish laws. The territory which they controlled was called the Danelaw.
As the Danish armies drove further south, they destroyed all but one of the seven English kingdoms. The remaining kingdom, Wessex, absorbed all of the english refugees.
Aethelwulf's son, King Alfred, became the king of all the English. He organized a brilliant restructuring of English society towards military service. The entire people were resettled into easily defended new towns. Each town was responsible for keeping one hundred full time troops, armed and mounted, and ready to fight. For every hundred troops, a new town was settled.
With the country divided into military hundreds, which could be called upon at any time to march and fight without delay, Alfred was able to martial the resources of all the English people. He kept the whole country on a war footing, and kept track of how much everybody contributed. In this way, he could overwhelm the Danish attacks, and defeat them.
And so, king Alfred began the long reconquest of the Danelaw, taking all of England back from the Danes. The danish settlers submitted to English rule, and became good citizens.
Because he was a brilliant king, and the first king of all the english people, Aethelwulf's son is called Alfred, the Great.
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