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"Be he God-fearing or God-less, this new Order will encompass all and seek to improve man by aligning his needs with the ebb and flow of nature itself. This is my hope. This is my vow."
Alfred in his commentary.[src]-[m]

Alfred the Great (Old English: Aelfrēd; c.849 – 899), also known as Alfred of Wessex, and his pseudonym, A Poor-Fellow Soldier of Christ, was King of Wessex from 871 to 886 and later King of the Anglo-Saxons from c. 886 to 899. During his reign, he repelled the Vikings' invasions and laid the foundation for what became the Kingdom of England.

Secretly, he was also the Grand Maegester of the Order of the Ancients in England, a position he inherited from his late elder brother Æthelred, who in turn had adopted it after the death of their father Æthelwulf. Seeing the role's required polytheistic worship of the Isu to be blasphemous and a defilement to his Christian beliefs, Alfred worked to eliminate the Order from within, though the Viking invasion of England delayed his plans.

After the Viking and Hidden Ones ally Eivor Varinsdottir eradicated the Order's prominent agents in England, surreptitiously aided by the Grand Maegester himself, Alfred abandoned the remnants of the Order of the Ancients. Over the following years, he focused his attention on building a new "universal order" to replace it, one that was more compatible with his religious principles and which would rapidly develop into the Templar Order.


Early life

Alfred was born as the youngest son of King Æthelwulf of Wessex and Osburh. As a child, Alfred accompanied his father to Rome, where he met and was blessed by Pope Leo IV. The pope recounted to Alfred his victory against Saracen pirates at the Battle of Ostia in 849, which made a lasting impression on the young boy. As the youngest of the brothers in the family, little expectations were placed on Alfred of becoming king, so he devoted himself to learning and scholarly pursuits.[1]

In the late 860s, Wessex became subjected to Viking raids from the north by the Great Heathen Army which led Alfred to fight alongside his brother Æthelred, who became king in 865. Alfred proved himself a capable commander, scoring victories at both battles of Reading and Ashdown, and although he led valiantly, the Battle of Wilton was a devastating loss.[1]

Kingship and Grand Maegester

"Grand Maegester was not a title I desired. It passed to me on the death of my brother, from my father before him. Defilers of God's majesty and grandeur. I was their master, and I loathed them."
Alfred to Eivor, 878.[src]-[m]

After Æthelred died from a spear wound sustained during the Battle of Meretun,[1] Alfred became king and in turn, assumed his brother's leadership of the Order of the Ancients. Unlike his father and brother, however, Alfred disagreed with and deeply reviled the Order's ideals and beliefs, believing them to be sacrilegious to the one God preached by Christianity. Thus, he devised a plan to rid England of the Order and developed an alias for his war against the Order. Posing as a spy by the pseudonym of "A Poor Fellow-Soldier of Christ", Alfred recruited the reeve of Wincestre Goodwin as his personal informant to scout England for information while using the study in the Old Minster as a base of operations. In the meantime, Alfred remained serving as the Grand Maegester of the Order, with Palatinus Fulke as his personal attendant.[2] To keep his identity a secret, Aelfred also adopted the pseudonym of "The Father" when exchanging correspondence with his Order members.[3]

Despite his reformations set in motion, the increased raids across England by the Great Heathen Army greatly affected his plans to undermine the order. In 873, Aelfred saw an opportunity with the settlement of the Raven Clan in Ledecestrescire. The clan's jarls Sigurd Styrbjornsson and Eivor Varinsdottir aided the Sons of Ragnar in deposing King Burgred of Mercia, and installed Ceolwulf as king. After learning that the Hidden One Hytham was affiliated with the Raven Clan settlement of Ravensthorpe, on Goodwin's suggestion, Alfred made use of his Hytham's affiliation with Eivor to unwittingly aid in his plans to undermine the Order.[2] Under his "Poor Fellow-Soldier" pseudonym, Alfred sent a letter to Hytham listing the Order's plans in the city of Lunden, led by The Compass, The Arrow, and The Leech.[4] Sure enough, over the next few years, Eivor aided Hytham in eliminating the Order members throughout England,[5] thereby unwittingly aiding Alfred's in his plans to rid the Order.[2]

Encounter with Eivor

Sigurd: "As I understand, King Aelfred, your name is not spoken with affection here in Mercia."
King Aelfred: "Yet I am close enough to Wessex to hear myself praised from morn 'til twilight."
Sigurd: "Return to your singing subjects then! And leave the affairs of Mercia to the Danes."
King Aelfred: "Not 'til your pagan war songs are safely out of hearing."
Alfred's meeting with Sigurd, c. 874[src]-[m]

Alfred meeting with Eivor and Sigurd

Circa 874, Alfred received a request for an alliance by Lady Eadwyn, the wife of the late ealdorman Theodric of Oxenefordscire who was killed by jarl Guthrum's army. Alfred accepted the request and personally led an army himself to Oxenefordscire to assist the noble lady and meet her at the stronghold of Cyne Belle Castle. By the time his army arrived, however, the castle had already fallen to the forces of the rebel thegn Geadric, Sigurd, and Eivor. As his army surround the castle keep, the rebels called for a parlay, with both Eivor and Sigurd meeting Alfred himself.[6]

Left with little options, Sigurd proposed the suggestion of an exchange of men to propose peace between Mercia and Wessex. Alfred accepted and offered his war thegn Wolfrich in exchange for Sigurd's associate, the Hidden One Basim Ibn Ishaq. However, this exchange was interrupted by the arrival of Fulke, revealing her true allegiance to the siblings. Fulke suggested that Alfred take Sigurd instead, given his status of a jarl and accusing him of being a heretic. Alfred accepted the suggestion and thus took Sigurd prisoner, leaving him in Fulke's care.[6] Some time after these events, Alfred used his Poor Soldier moniker to deliver yet another list to Hytham and Eivor, sending the shieldmaiden to deal with the Order in Jorvik, led by The Vault, The Needle, and The Firebrand.[7]

Hunted by the Order

Eivor: "You risk your life, Aelfred King."
King Aelfred: "I have invited you here to speak on equal terms. Do the Danes laws of hospitality not apply in Wessex?"
Eivor: "You gifted my "jarl" to that whelp from The Order of Ancients, the warrior Fulke."
King Aelfred: "Fulke was an enemy of Wessex. But it seems someone has already removed her threat from my lands."
—Aelfred meeting with Eivor after the events in Oxenefordscire, c. 875[src]-[m]

Circa 875, the Paladin Fulke was able to uncover Alfred's "exchange" with the Poor Soldier via a marked seal on the letters exchanged between them. Learning that the king was possibly responsible for the eradication of the Order in both Lunden and Jorvik, she sought to eliminate Alfred and uncover the Poor Soldier, unaware of his double identity. However, given her position in Suthsexe while holding Sigurd hostage, she thus contacted the three Order members in Wincestre, The Gallows, The Quill, The Seax to deal with Alfred themselves. Unable to risk exposing his identity, Alfred contacted Hytham and Eivor once again, instructing her to meet with his associate Sigebeald in The Old Minster to initiate a secret meeting.[8]

Exile and revelation

"You have saved England, whether or not that was your intent. Now, let England save you."
Alfred to Eivor, 878.[src]-[m]

Following the Battle of Cippanhamm in January 878, Alfred went into exile after the Vikings led by Guthrum seemingly defeated his troops under Goodwin.[9] While in exile, Alfred lived as a commoner at the village of Athelnay in the west of Hamtunscire. After Eivor had eliminated the hierarchy of the Order of the Ancients in England save for the Grand Maegester, Alfred, under his Poor Fellow-Solder alias, sent a final letter to Hytham and invited Eivor to the village to discuss the Order.[2]

Eivor accepted the invitation and travelled to Athelnay, meeting Alfred a while later and learning of his identity as the Poor Fellow-Soldier. As Eivor asked about the identity of Grand Maegester, Alfred showed her his medallion, revealing his identity of Grand Maegester and his motives for bringing down the Order. Thanking Eivor for her efforts, Alfred gave her a key to his study in the Old Minster, as well as telling her of his inspirations for a new order, one that would replace the Order of the Ancients and inspired by God for the betterment of man. He then bade Eivor farewell, returning to his duties as a commoner in the village. This new order would go on to become the Knights Templar, otherwise known as the Templar Order.[2]

Later life and death

Eventually, Alfred returned from his exile and was able to muster up an army, defeating Guthrum's army at the Battle of Edington. This led to the Treaty of Wedmore, which saw Guthrum's conversion to Christianity and departure from Wessex, and the official establishment of Danelaw in eastern and northern England.[10]

Alfred remained as King and continued to defend Wessex against Viking raids in the next few decades. A key focus of his during his reign was ensuring that the populace, particularly young nobility, were literate in Latin and Old English.[11]

Alfred died on 26 October, 899, and his reign lay the groundwork for his grandson Æthelstan to found the Kingdom of England.[10]

Personality and characteristics

As the king of the Anglo-Saxons, Alfred always stood tall, fearless and proud, even in the face of enemies who were more powerful than him. Being inspired by Pope Leo IV, Alfred was deeply devoted to his faith in God and rigorously pursued scholarly activities, turning himself into a highly educated man.[1] When he summoned Eivor to his study in Winchestre, Alfred displayed immense charisma, hospitality, patience, thoughtfulness and a strong vocabulary. These personality traits had helped him persuade Eivor, a woman who despised him at the time, to aid him in getting rid of the Order of the Ancients in Winchestre.[8] Even Guthrum, leader of the Vikings in Mercia, and Eivor admired him and secretly confided with each other that they were envious of Alfred's inner strength which is fueled by his faith.[9]

Upon discovering the existence of the Order of Ancients, especially their theological beliefs, Alfred came to secretly despise the Order and even despised his own role in the Order as their Grand Maegester. Despite his repulsion of the Order, Alfred did take a strong reverence for the Father of Understanding, whom Alfred believed to be another name for God himself. Alfred also displayed little to no tolerance for Pagans, especially the Viking invaders in northern England as well as the druids in the west.[2]

However, Alfred did see the value in having a secluded organization with a vast network and sought to create his own secret order, but one guided by his strict Christian principles and held a strict reverence for the Father of Understanding. This new secret order rapidly developed into the Templar Order. [citation needed]

Behind the scenes

Alfred the Great is a historical figure and character first introduced in the 2020 Echoes of History podcast episodes on Vikings, though his voice actor is uncredited. He later featured in the 2020 video game Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, where he is voiced by Tom Lewis.

According to Assassin's Creed: Valhalla's narrative director Darby McDevitt, Alfred was meant to be an antagonist in the game, but not be the central antagonist.[12]

When creating Alfred's digital model, the art department had to take care that his appearance reflected historical documents. While Alfred had to carry himself in a stately manner as was befitting for a king, he also suffered from Chron's disease, which often left him in a weakened condition that he could ill-afford for enemies to see lest they think him unfit to rule and an easy target. To that end, artists made use of heavy contrasts to ensure that the clothes of Alfred the king were juxtaposed with the facial features of Alfred the man underneath.[13]




  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Assassin's Creed: ValhallaDatabase: Aelfred
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Assassin's Creed: ValhallaThe Poor Fellow-Soldier
  3. Assassin's Creed: ValhallaBreaking the Order
  4. Assassin's Creed: ValhallaWalls and Shadows
  5. Assassin's Creed: Valhalla
  6. 6.0 6.1 Assassin's Creed: ValhallaThe Saga Stone
  7. Assassin's Creed: ValhallaThe Welcoming Party
  8. 8.0 8.1 Assassin's Creed: ValhallaThe Reeve of Wincestre
  9. 9.0 9.1 Assassin's Creed: ValhallaHoly Day
  10. 10.0 10.1 Wikipedia-W-visual-balanced.svg Alfred the Great on Wikipedia
  11. Discovery Tour: Viking AgeLearnings: Old English Literature
  12. Hussain, Tamoor (1 May 2020). Assassin's Creed Valhalla's Narrative Director On Crafting A Unique New Story. GameSpot. Archived from the original on June 7, 2020. Retrieved on June 6, 2020.
  13. Discovery Tour: Viking Age – Behind the scenes – Research: Long Live the King