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Alfred, Guthrum and Christianity

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Alfred, Guthrum and Christianity: The Peace of Wedmore

Following King Alfred’s successful at Battle of Edington in 878, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles contain the entry:

“7 þa salde se here him foregislas 7 micle aþas þæt hie of his rice uuoldon 7 him eac geheton þæt hiera kyning fulwihte onfon wolde” (sub anno 878)

“and then the raiding-army granted him prime hostages and great oaths that they would leave his kingdom, and also promised him that their king would receive baptism”

("The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles", (trans) Swanton, M., Phoenix, 2000, p. 76)

The insistence that Guthrum accepted baptism was a tremendous act of political acumen on behalf of King Alfred.

One of Alfred’s prime concerns must have been the continued well-being of the Christian people who were within those areas of England that became part of the Danelaw. By insisting that their ruler became Christian, Alfred could at least ensure that the practice of Christianity would continue within these areas.

However, Alfred’s reasons were more complicated than that and in order to understand this we have to look more closely at the act of baptism during the Anglo-Saxon period.

 Next page: Alfred, Guthrum and Christianity: the Baptism of Guthrum