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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, ColoradoRise of Nation State England

Rise of Nation State England
Dark Ages Leaders of England -
Alfred the Great, Edward the Elder, Athelstan

Alfred the Great (871 - 899)
Alfred is remembered as England's schoolmaster. Alfred the Great is also remembered as the king who saved England from the Danes. He defeated them in battle, built strongholds or "burhs" for defense, and reformed the army of Wessex. Alfred was determined to improve learning and education in his kingdom. He invited scholars from home and abroad to his court. He had no schooling in his youth. Like most Anglo-Saxon kings, he was brought up to be a soldier and to love hunting.

King Alfred
Silver penny of King Alfred "The Great"

Up to Alfred's time, English was mainly a spoken language. Songs, stories, and poems were learned and recited, but few seem to have been written down. The laws of kings had to be written in English, because they were for all the people, not just the educated. He wanted to translate important books into English. Then the sons of his thanes, who one day would help to govern the kingdom, could be taught to read in "the language we can all understand."

Edward the Elder (899 - 924)
Alfred's kingdom passed to his son, Edward, the Elder. Edward the Elder is remembered for his re-conquest of the Danelaw. His main aim was to conquer the Danelaw. The Mercians, who no longer had a king of their own, fought on Edward's side. They were led by his sister Ethelfleda (a.k.a. First Lady of the Mercians). The English made a two-pronged advance in to the Danelaw - Edward from the south, and Ethelfleda from the west.

Edward the Elder
Silver penny of King Edward the Elder, king of the West Saxons

In each newly-won area, a burh was constructed.
The Danes offered little serious resistance.
Many were settled down and were prepared to accept Edward as their king, provided that they could go on farming in peace.
This suited Edward. In 920, the conquest of the Danelaw was almost complete.
At the end of Edward's reign, all of the English in the South and Midlands looked to him as their king.

Athelstan (924 - 939)
Edward's son, Athelstan, carried on where his father had left off. Athelstan now called himself "Rex Totius Brittannae" (King of all Britain) on his coins. The kingdom of England, therefore, grew out of the kingdom of Wessex.

King Athelstan
Silver penny of King Athelstan. The king is shown beardless, in the Roman tradition.

Shires, Hundreds and Towns
Once the Danelaw had been conquered, it was divided in to "Shires," many of them centered round towns, such as Derby, Nottingham, and Leicester. Nowadays, we call these local divisions "counties."

Each shire had its law court or shire moot. They met for serious crimes and disputes. In return for their service to the king, "ealdormen" were given money and large estates. Some became very powerful nobles, controlling several shires at once. Duties in each shire were given over to a "shire-reeve," or sheriff.

London had long been the main center of shipping and overseas trade. One thing that would strike us about Anglo-Saxon towns would be the large number of churches. By the eleventh century, there were about twenty in Norwich - roughly one for every 300 people. Experts can only give a rough estimate of the size of these towns:

London population approx. 10,000.
York and Winchester over 8,000 citizens.

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Mr. Sedivy's Lecture Notes & Historical Info

The Celts
| Gallic He-Men | Celtic Culture, Trade, Religion, Women |
| Threat of the Celts - Celtic Battles and Conquests |

- Rise of Nation State England -
| Roman Conquest of Britain | Christianity in Britain |
| Customs: Thanes, Churls, Thralls, Wergeld, Folk-Moot |
| Dark Ages: Alfred the Great, Edward the Elder, Athelstan |
| The Return of the Vikings |
| Kings of Britain: Aethelred, Cnut, Edward the Confessor |
| Bayeaux Tapestry, William the Conqueror,
Edward the Confessor, Harold Godwinson, Harold II
| The Crusades: Richard Lion Heart, Pope Urban |
| King John, Innocent III, Archbishop Stephen Langton |
| Magna Carta / First Parliament |

Wales and Scotland
| Wales: Edward I, Llewellyn, Snowdonia |
| Scotland: Alexander III, John Balliol,
William Wallace, Robert Bruce, King Edward II

The 100 Years War
| Edward III, Longbows at Crecy, Edward IV, Black Prince |
| Henry V, King Charles VI, Battle at Calais, Treaty of Troyes |

More Information
| Other Kings of the Dark and Middle Ages:
William II, Henry I, Henry II
| The British Monarchy's Peerage: Dukes, Viscounts,
Marquess, Earls, Baronets, and Barons

Class Activities
Roman Conquest Comparison
Battle of Agincourt

Related Information
Mr. Sedivy's World History - The Middle Ages
The Complete Bayeux Tapestry
Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages / Crusades
The Hundred Years War
King Henry VIII
The Interesting Life of Elizabeth I
The Stuarts - James I, Charles I, Charles II, James II
Oliver Cromwell



Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000

Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Advanced Placement Modern European History | Rise of Nation State England | World History |
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