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Today in History: Alfred the Great's First Victory

Posted by Gilbert Stack on January 8, 2018 at 6:10 PM

On this day (January Eight) in 871, Alfred (the Great), younger brother of King Ethelred I, led a West Saxon army against the Danes and won the Battle of Ashdown. Days earlier, the West Saxons had been defeated in their attempt to push the Vikings out of Reading. Ethelred and Alfred’s three older brothers had already been killed in battle against the Danes and the situation looked quite severe—so much so that Ethelred refused to leave Mass to command his army out of fear that God would punish him with another defeat if the king insulted Him. So Alfred took the initiative, defeated the Danes and drove them back to Reading. It was the only victory the West Saxons would enjoy that year.

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