Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Vote and The Fryd

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.

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