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IV. Background regarding England at the time of Alpha Four

Rulers and Alpha Four:

  • Saxons rule: King Egbert or Ecgberht (802-839), from his power base in the south, Wessex, is able to bring all of England under his control.

  • In 870 a massive Viking army from what is now Denmark lead by Guthrum, invaded England and had great success until they turned south towards Wessex. From their stronghold in the south Æthelred I and his brother Alfred fought back. Æthelred I died but Alfred the Great continued the fight and eventually the Vikings ruled the Northeast and the Saxons the Southwest. Alfred is widely regarded as saving England from being ruled by the Vikings completely and created a standing army on rotation.

  • Alfred the Great’s son, Edward the Elder, in 910 defeated an invading Viking army from the north, solidifying Saxon rule in the south.

  • Several rulers later Eadred (reigned from 946-955) had inherited all of England but lost Northumbria to the Vikings, However, he was able to win it back making the Vikings pay dearly.

  • It is during the rule of Eadred that Alpha Four, or A4, was born (sometime between 945 to 947). Some say Alpha Four’s father was King Edmund I’s seneschal (the one Edmund I died defending at Pucklechurch in Gloucestershire) and it is widely believed A4’s mother was of Viking descent.

  • The next ruler for England was a disaster, Edwy (or Eadwig) the Fair ruled from 955 to 959 and was known as very promiscuous. There are accounts of him leaving his coronation banquet to meet up with a mother and daughter. Dunstan (later Sainted) had to pull him out of the bedchamber and back to the feast.

  • Æthelred II or the Unready ruled from 966 to 1016 (he was but 10 years old when crowned). Of note, the title, Unready, does not refer to his age at coronation, although it would be apt, but actually is a play on the meaning of Æthelred (it means well advised). Unready comes from the Old English unread or uncounseled, meaning he was not good at listening to his advisors.

King Alfred statue

Hampshire, England

Library Scene.jpg

Alpha Four writing the Far Forest Scrolls

  • Alpha Four, being fluent in many languages, likely because of his mother’s Viking heritage, was part of Æthelred II’s Witan (see below). The surviving sources are limited, but it appears Alpha Four was in and out of favor of Æthelred II, likely becoming frustrated at the lack of weight given to his advice on military matters. Æthelred II had sought to buy off the Vikings draining his coffers and neglected the defense of England. There is some evidence Alpha Four served briefly with Sweyn I in 1013 as well.

  • Alpha Four died sometime between 1019-1021, an unusually long life–over twice the average.

  • Danish Kings rule England from 1016 until 1042.

  • Saxon line was restored when Edward the Confessor (son of Æthelred II) gained the throne in 1042 and ruled until 1066.

  • Harold Godwinson ruled in 1066 for just under a year. After defeating Viking Harold Sigurdsson or Hardrada of Norway and the traitorous Tostig, Earl of Northumbria, at Stamford Bridge in Northumberland what he had feared, a Norman invasion, commenced. He then marched south at the news of William of Normandy’s landing. William the Conqueror beat Harold and set up the Norman Kings of England (note North-man=Norman, they were of Viking descent).

English Kings’ Council

Alpha Four arguing with King Æthelred II

A Witan (or Witenagemot) is an Anglo-Saxon council that would advise the king. Witan were influential from the sixth until the eleventh century. They were made up of Ealdormen (Earls), lesser nobles (Thegns), high-ranking religious such as Arch Bishops, and Shire Reeves (later Sheriffs) who collected taxes.

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