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Question Why was Alfred Able To Defeat The Vikings In the autumn of 856 Danish Viking ships sailed to England and invaded what is now Norfolk in East Anglia By Easter of 878 the Danes held control of all of East Anglia Mercia most of Wessex all save Hampshire Wiltshire and Somerset and had set up a puppet ruler in Northumbria The invaders had destroyed or overrun almost everything that had been of the four great Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England However by 896 King Alfred of Wessex and his countrymen had driven the Danes from Wessex completely and also from much of Mercia When England came so close to becoming another Dane-land how it was able to fight its way back from the very brink so that over 150 years later England was still decidedly Anglo-Saxon remains one of historys abiding mysteries While one might argue that the chief factor in Wessex withstanding the Danish invasion was the marked resistance and singular stubbornness to accept defeat of its people what is perhaps more reasonable to argue is that it was Alfred and his various qualities as king not least of which was his own stubbornness to accept defeat which were also reflected in the actions if not the will of the people of Wessex Indeed Alfred would seem to hold the key to the whole puzzle if only because it was he who from 868 to 896 first as secundarius to his elder brother and King thelred then as King himself led the long exhausting and at times seemingly futile campaign against the Danish invaders Therefore one must turn ones attention to the person and deeds of King Alfred The first place in the records of Asser Alfreds biographer and author of most of the contemporary records we have of Alfred in which one first begins to perceive Alfreds greatness is at only his second engagement of the Danish host at Ashdown on the
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