HST3115/3116: King Alfred the Great: Between Vikings and Franks

40 credits (semesters 1 and 2)

Module Leader: Dr Máirín MacCarron



A pass in at least two history modules at level two.


Module Summary

King Alfred was one of the most extraordinary of medieval kings: a warrior against the Vikings, a lover of literature, a victim to mystery illnesses, and a key figure in the emergence of a united England. This module aims to understand Alfred and his achievements by putting him in a continental context, with special attention to the Carolingians across the Channel. How similar were these kingdoms, how important were the relations between them in helping their kings surmount the formidable obstacles they faced, and what can we learn by studying them together?



This module aims to introduce you to the opportunities and challenges provided by studying Anglo-Saxon history within its broader European, and particularly Frankish and Scandinavian, contexts, through the intensive study of key secondary and primary source materials.



Seminar discussion of primary and secondary sources will help you to acquire an in-depth knowledge of the historiography of this period and of the principal varieties of primary source material available to historians. Through discussion of these primary and secondary materials you will develop your understanding of ninth-century Anglo-Saxon England's place in Europe.



You are assessed by means of a three hour unseen examination testing your command of the secondary literature and your ability to contextualise and analyse primary source material


Selected Reading
  • S.Keynes and M.Lapidge, trs., Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred and other contemporary sources (1983)
  • P.Dutton,ed., Carolingian Civilization: a reader (2nd edition, 2004)
  • M.Innes, M.Costambeys, and S.Maclean, The Carolingian World (2011)
  • J.Graham-Campbell, The Viking World (2001)
  • R.Abels, Alfred the Great: war, culture and kingship in Anglo-Saxon England (1998)


Intended Learning Outcomes
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