This is the twelfth of thirty-one readers used in the Veritas Press Phonics Museum program, designed for first grade.
Ninth-century Europe was battered by a wave of invasions from non-Christian peoples: an old enemy, the Muslims, and two new ones, Magyars and Vikings. Vikings from the North—North Men, or Normans—sailed in flat-bottomed boats, traveling up inland rivers and past conventional coastline defenses. Their favorite targets were monasteries, which held many valuables. Monasteries were also the centers of piety and learning.
King Alfred the Great ruled England from 871-899. In 825, Alfred's grandfather, Egburt, defeated his enemies at the Battle of Ellendun, causing his kingdom of Wessex to become prominent in the Anglo-Saxon world. But then the Vikings raided the land from the northeast, and slowly expanded their hold on the Anglo-Saxon peoples. Alfred became king after his brothers died in battle, and he was forced to take refuge on the Isle of Athelney in a remote swamp. Athelney was England's Valley Forge. The following Spring, in 878, Alfred led his forces to victory over the Vikings at the Battle of Edington. The defeated Viking leader, Guthram, submitted to Christian baptism and withdrew from Wessex.
Alfred pressed ahead, regaining territory that had been lost to the Vikings. He set up fortifications to prevent future attacks, and established a navy. The Anglo-Saxons received Alfred as their liberator, and submitted to him as overlord. Thus Alfred is commonly regarded as the first true king of England. During his reign he reformed the church, instilled a biblical law-code, founded monasteries, and revived literacy and scholarly pursuits. He has been the ideal for subsequent kings.