Satruday August 17th 2013 Tim Candler
During times of political frustration, a
condition I am often beset by following any interaction with "News about
the Republican party's attitude to the vote etc.....", I find it
sometimes soothing to ask the question, who was the the First King of
the English? Briefly the debate goes this way. Some will argue, it
was Offa of Mercia. Others will claim that Offa was a power hungry
maniac, and better to understand him as a speculator who through
military and political maneuver was acquiring as much property and
wealth for himself and his family as he could. In other words he
wasn't a King, he was more like a War Lord or a corporate chief
executive. Those who argue against Offa, prefer to give the title
of First King of England to Alfred of Wessex.
They do so because Alfred
promoted the idea of "common burdens" in his efforts to maintain lasting and
effective defenses against the remarkably mobile Vikings.
Alfred's Burhs, or Boroughs were garrison towns within twenty odd
miles of each other. To properly man a Burh it was reckoned to require one
man every six yards of wall. Which according to some meant that in
Alfred's territory one in four freemen were always engaged in garrison duty.
To further prepare for Viking incursion Alfred drew on the Anglo Saxon
tradition of the Fryd to raise a mobile standing army. Amongst Germanic
Tribes, Fryd was a levy which freemen when called upon could either
participate in, or pay a fine.