233 – Alfred’s Powerplay and the Restructuring of Wessex

While all of the political wrangling was occurring in Tamworth, Guthrum-AEthelstan was relocating to East Anglia, and he was bringing serious changes with him.

Culture isn’t something that you can easily uproot in a person – it goes deep. Sure, Guthrum had spent 12 days feasting like and Anglo Saxon, and even gave that one awkward strip tease to demonstrate that he was committed to embracing the Anglo Saxon ways and their god. And honestly, I get the sense that he genuinely was trying to acclimate to his new culture. For example, shortly after moving into East Anglia we see him issuing coins under his baptismal name: AEthelstan. So not only was he accepting his new Christian name, but he was minting coins… which wasn’t something that was generally done by Danish Kings. In fact, Guthrum was the first of the Scandinavian Kings of Britain to mint his own coins, so I do get the sense he was trying. But he had a lifetime of being Scandinavian and a 12 day crash course wasn’t going to completely erase all of that. And Culture is more than how you pray and what you wear. It’s how you work, how you entertain yourself, how you organize your home, your government – culture is basically how we do things, all things.

Culture is all encompassing.

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  1. Jamie,
    Why wouldn’t Alfred use the Army to do construction. at least on the burhs? It reduces the work required of the non-army and keeps the people in the Army employed.
    I know this sounds like a good idea but is there any evidence one way or the other?


  2. So as I listened to this episode, I couldn’t help but think about the similarities between Alfred’s army and the theme armies that the Roman Empire was using at the same time to combat the caliphates. Is it possible that Alfred was drawing inspiration from them?

  3. I’m so grateful for the transcript on this episode. I started with this episode in January and it went over my head except that Alfred was great. It’s packed. The visual helps me get the terminology. And now I’m only 1 year behind. Sally

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