In an era darkened by the terror of the Viking invasions, England's first and greatest king was a beacon of light.
Alfred is the only English king ever to be called 'Great'. It was not a title given by political supporters, not the sycophantic gift of an official biographer, nor a self-styled title. It was the gift of history. Justin Pollard's enthralling, authoritative account befits Alfred - a soldier, a scholar and statesman like no other in English history.
His rule spanned troubled times. His shores were under constant threat from Viking marauders and he faced turmoil at home. Soon after he began his rule a conspiracy erupted and he was hounded out of his kingdom into solitary exile in forests and fens. But his ambition was not felled by adversity. Alone in this damp, dangerous, half-world of bogs and quicksand Alfred looked within and found the motivation to create a new type of nation.
Drawing on the latest historical, textual and archaeological research Justin Pollard radically reassesses the key moments in Alfred's life. He offers a new interpretation of what caused this most remarkable king to begin the formation of England and how it coloured the subsequent history of the Western World down to the present day.