Peter Henderson wrote:
Starkey seemed to suggest (if I remember correctly) that Alfred managed to unite the shires and also feed the population, leaving them in a state of relative prosperity. I also found it interesting that Harold was closely related to William the Conqueror. As I say, many of these battles seem to have been glorified family fueds.
Yes, he's probably right. he evidence does seem to suggest that the debunking of Alfred was overdone. Living in Winchester, I can seee very visibly the results of his efforts (Winchester was his capital). You can see it in the street layout, for example, in the centre of town (all Alfred;s work, it appears) and, indeed, in what is left of the city walls. You can also see the same thing in towns like Wareham in Dorset. He did seem to be quite an extraordinary organiser would coupled military ability with a much more general, and also successful, approach to running the place.
Still, he never really defeated the Vikings nor united England.