223 – King Alfred and Chippenham

How do you redeem a year like 877? If you’re Alfred, how do you fix something like this? Even if he cast it in the best possible light, the story of 877 would still be the story of how Wessex lost control of two of its major coastal strongholds, was unable to directly counter the military strength of Guthrum, and largely only survived thanks to bad weather. Now, true, that could certainly be cast as divine intervention, and that would definitely bolster some spirits, but even in that circumstance, you’re looking at a year that was so bad that the almighty had to get involved to keep the kingdom safe from total annihilation.

And the hits kept coming. As harvest season drew to a close, Alfred would have received word from across the channel that King Charles the Bald of Frankia had died. Charles was never the best king, but his death raised the specter of instability… and don’t forget how powerful the Viking fleets became when they were able to exploit Frankish instability. The prospect of short sighted nobles once again financing these pirates would have been cause for concern to say the least.

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  1. The choice of closing music was very suitable, could it also be a tip of the hat to the song’s author, Leonard Cohen, who we have just lost? Thanks for another very enjoyable podcast.

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