Historical sketch show. King Alfred the Great argues with his older brothers then defeats the Vikings using his cunning hit-and-run tactics.
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Alfred, what ya doin'?
Just reading my book, Father.
You're such a disappointment, Alfred.
Why aren't you always fighting, like your brothers?
Why doesn't my name start with Aethel, like all my brothers?
Because Aethel means prince and you're the youngest,
so you'll never be king.
But my name means, "Elf wisdom."
It's so girlie.
Compared to Aethel.
You want to read something? Read that.
One day, boys, all this will be yours.
Well, not this bit. Obviously.
This bit's a different kingdom.
Vikings have had a bite out of this.
One day, boys. This will all be yours.
-That's good. It's enough.
-The kingdom of Wessex.
Whoa! Share it nicely.
Right, brothers. Now that he's dead...
No point in sharing with elf boy.
He'll never be king!
Not unless we all drop dead from a variety of
almost certainly natural ailments.
Now there's three left.
I'm joking. I'm actually fine.
So, Aethelstan, Aethelthing
..the others are all dead,
which means I am the king.
And you, younger brother,
are suddenly heir to the throne.
Will you help run my army?
-Good, cos the Vikings are coming.
You take that, I'll catch up.
Catch it, now.
So, Alfred, his brother and their Saxon followers
had to defend their kingdom against the pesky pagan Vikings.
The Vikings were fearsome invaders from Scandinavia,
famous for sailing across the seas in their longboats
and attacking all across Northern Europe.
The Vikings believed in lots of different Norse gods
like Thor, the god of thunder. Yeah.
But the Saxons were Christians and they took their beliefs seriously.
And I mean seriously, seriously.
Men of Wessex,
we shall defeat the Vikings
by dividing our army into two.
I, King Aethelred, will lead one half,
while my other brother Alfred...
Will lead the other.
Ah, the Vikings approach.
There's no time to lose.
Let us pray!
Our father, who art in heaven, forever and ever, amen.
HE CONTINUES TO PRAY
And the boats, the long ones... What are they called...?
-What are you doing?
-Obvious when you think about it.
Er, sorry, still praying.
OK, it's just there's 800 Vikings out there
and we are kind of outnumbered.
Yeah, that's why I'm having an extra strong pray.
OK, you do that.
I'll keep them busy till you're ready.
Sorry, Lord, can't get a moment's peace around here.
Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
-How is it going?
Haven't really got going, to be honest?
OK, well the battle really has got going
-and we're kind of outnumbered here. So...
I better get these prayers right or we really will be in trouble.
Our father, eh, no. Dear Lord... That one's a bit formal.
I'll cut to the chase, please let me win the Battle of Ashdown, amen.
All right, coming ready or not.
Well, that was easy.
We did it.
We actually beat the Vikings.
I don't know about the "we" there, Alfie, I did all the heavy praying.
I actually really hurt my knee.
Still, I owe you one, big guy!
I wasn't talking to you.
Alfred may have fought the Vikings, but in some parts of the country,
Vikings and Saxons learned to live side by side.
They might have been terrifying, but the Vikings brought lots
of things to Britain, including a strange new way of talking.
Oh, hello, Ona.
How's that flaxen tunic I sold you?
Oh, it's so fab. I really loved the way that it fell apart immediately
that I put it on, and how much it smelled of sheep's wee(!)
I was being sarcastic.
It's a way of insulting people
us Vikings probably brought from Scandinavia.
Basically, you say the opposite of what you mean
but in a really sneery tone of voice.
So, you didn't like the fact that it fell apart or the fact
that it smells of sheep's wee?
Wow, she's a genius(!)
What a clever Saxon woman you are(!)
Oh, thank you very much.
Oh, hold on a minute, that was sarcastic, wasn't it?
I'm sorry you weren't happy with the clothes.
I'll tell you what, to make up for it,
why don't you choose anything you like from the shop free of charge?
Well, I do need a gift for my wife.
Look, if you're going to be like that, I'm not going to help you.
-No, I really do, we're going through a rocky patch.
-Oh, I see.
I thought you didn't need a gift
because you said you did need a gift.
That wasn't me being sarcastic,
I didn't use the sneery tone of voice.
I get it, hold on.
Why don't you get your beautiful wife this lovely handful of dirt,
Then she'll smell even nicer than she does already(?)
-Well done, I'm definitely not going to kill you now.
Sorry, I've been hanging out with Saxons too long, I forgot the tone of voice.
Well done, definitely not going to kill you now(!)
Oh, I get it.
For my wife.
So, back to Alfred, the boy who would never be king.
His brother, Aethelred, died fighting the Vikings
and, against all the odds, Alfred became the top man.
At first, he was forced to retreat and hide in a farmhouse where,
legend has it, he was asked to watch some cakes cooking in the oven.
But forgot and burnt them instead.
Whatever the truth of that, he did come up with a cunning plan.
To beat a Viking army, he would fight like a Viking army.
Hit and run.
Mind you, if I ever seen a Viking, I'd just do the second bit.
# I had four brothers Future kings, every man
# Aethelbald, Aethelred, Aethelburton, Aethelstan
# I'm not an Aethel but I'll end up being king
# They mostly ended up the wrong end of a Viking
# Every time I spoke to Viking Guthrum to try to broker peace
# He always seemed to break his promise
# So, ceasefire had to cease
# His armies entered Exeter I caused him strife
# But he fought back so now I'm fighting for my life
# I'm out of town I'm in retreat
# Don't want to end up as Viking meat
# I've hurried off, I am upset
# Hiding in the marshes of Somerset
# I'm on the run Though I'm supposed to be top man
# Think I'm beat but this is neat It's my royal master plan
# I know this land so well I'll catch him hit and run
# Mount attacks on Viking shacks It's like I've won
# On the Isle Of Athelney is where great legends all began
# People say that while I was there I burnt cakes in a pan
# They say there was nothing left but smouldering cakey goo
# Is this story real? I must admit it's not true
# I'm out of town, but now I see
# A way to win Build a huge army
# I'm hanging in I'm getting tough
# Quite soon those Vikings will have had enough
# Now with his army Guthrum's men I'm whipping them
# They exit Exeter now chipper in Chippenham
# Prove to the country I've got what it takes
# But all people ask though
# "Is it true about the cakes?"
# I win the fight I am the king
# Tough like my brothers Kill the Viking
# I'm number one, I am the boss
# You mess with me and that'll be your loss
# I won the war Came out on top
# Viking roaming needs to stop
# Raised the stakes I got the breaks
# But I didn't really burn the cakes. #
So, Alfred defeated the Vikings
and he definitely didn't burn the cakes, OK?!
Well, probably not anyway.
But over in China they were
scoffing on some very strange stuff at the court of great empress
Wu better believe it(!)
GEORDIE ACCENTS: Hello! Yes, it's I'm A Tang Celebrity,
live from eighth-century China.
Joining us for the bushtucker trial.
It's tangtastic ruler, Empress Wu Zetian
So, Wu. You could say, you're a powerful Wu-man(!)
Now, you've had to murder lots of people to get them to talk.
But can you cope with...
Oh, she's eating it.
In that case, how about...
Boiled camel hump!
Oh, to die for!
THEY BOTH GROAN
Oh, it's gorgeous!
-The tail's the best bit for me.
-Not the tail.
A juicy bit!
-It's making me feel...
-I think I'm going to...
THEY RETCH Steamed bear.
You do know in Tang China these are things we normally eat. Ooh!
Stop, stop, stop.
You've passed the bushtucker trial.
Here's your prize, ten pounds of sirloin steak
to share with your royal court, well done.
I can't eat that.
Oxen are used by Tang farmers
to pull their carts and plough fields.
How dare you eat such a useful animal!
-SHE YELLS INAUDIBLY
-I'm a Geordie, get us out of here!
It was him.
Oi! That rat was my cousin.
Actually, it's all right. I've got about 6,000.
Still, I'm glad she doesn't have any beef with me!
Ha-ha! Now, back in England...
King Alfred needed to show everyone he was the real royal deal
by proving he had lots of impressive relatives.
So, he got in a Welsh monk called Asser,
who knew plenty about Alfred's family history...
..and even more about making stuff up.
Now that you're kind, Sire, people want to know all about you.
-So, we've got to write your family tree.
-Oh, that's easy.
I'm Alfred, son of Aethelwulf, son of Egbert,
son of Ealmund of Kent, son of Eofa, son of Ingild.
-And before that?
-How far do you want to go back?
Noah would be nice.
-Noah? As in, "The animals go in two by two." That Noah?
Hang on, according to the Bible,
isn't everyone technically descended from Noah?
Exactly, so we've just got to fill in the gaps.
I don't really know.
Oh, why don't you say you're descended from Cerdic?
Anglo-Saxon kings don't come much bigger than Cerdic.
Oh, but I'm not sure if I am.
But you're not sure if you're not?
Oh, look, there it is in black and white,
you are descended from Cerdic.
So, you are a descendant of Sceald.
And he was the grandson of Bedwig,
whose dad was Sceal,
and you know who his dad was?
Congratulations, Sire. HE LAUGHS
-We've made peace with the Vikings...
..but in order to be accepted amongst them,
they just need a few details of your family tree.
No problemo. Tell them I am descended from Noah.
THE Noah. They'll love that, they all converted to Christianity.
They haven't yet, Sire.
I think it might be better if you were descended from someone
a bit more Viking-ish.
Oh, but I'm not.
Of course we have only looked at your father's side...
It turns out your mother was descended from
the great Viking god Woden.
"It turns out." Did it really?
Yes, Woden with a W.
The mighty Viking god Woden and Noah?
This is unbelievable, you couldn't make this stuff up.
Well, I wouldn't go that far, Sire.
When I was a young prince, my brother and I did our best
to fight off those nasty Vikings,
but other English royals had less success.
Guess how Vikings executing King Aelle of Northumbria.
The answer is B.
It's called the blood eagle which is a truly gruesome punishment.
Why can't people just be nice to each other, eh?
Alfred was a great warrior,
but he was also known for being really brainy,
for improving Saxon education
and for coming up with his very own inventions.
Hey, welcome back to the Historical Shopping Channel.
-We are thrilled to have King Alfred with us today
King Alfred The Great.
I'm trying it out.
I'll tell you what is great, your thrilling new book.
Is it about killing Vikings?
No, it about how the church should care for its flock.
-By killing Vikings?
I'm trying to put the put the whole "killing Vikings" thing behind me.
Actually, it comes with a free gift.
Is that for killing Vikings?
No, it's for pointing.
-At dead Vikings?
-At words, in the book.
It's worth 50 gold coins.
Wait, that's more than the book's worth.
-Well, as in 50 gold coins with every sale?
Right, well, do you have anything else
which we could make some of the money back with?
I do, this incredible candle clock
which I hasten to add, I invented myself.
So, you know when it's Viking slaughter o'clock?
No, so I know when it's prayer, studies and kingly duties o'clock.
Right, what's wrong with a sundial?
It doesn't work at night, does it?
These babies are 24/7!
Do many people call you great?
That is a design flaw, I'll admit.
So, Alfred ended up with a pretty great nickname.
But not all kings of the time were quite so lucky.
Grandson of Charlemagne, emperor of ze franks. I am...
Count of Barcelona, Count of Urgell,
Count of Cerdanya, Count of Girona.
I put the Viking armies across the North Sea.
I created a kingdom.
I am Ragnar, and I don't have a silly nickname.
All right, Ragnar Hairy Trousers.
King of Scotland.
Hello! I'm down here.
I am king of ze Franks.
Pepin The Short, obviously.
Oh, forget it!
I am the man who united Norway and Denmark.
Oh, sorry, lost track of time.
First recognised King Of Denmark.
So, people around the world in Alfred's time had some
pretty unusual names and they had some
very unusual ideas about medicine too.
Horrible Histories Health Direct,
you've come through to the Saxon era.
What is the nature of your medical complaint?
Tummy trouble? Oh, I am sorry!
SHE BLOWS A RASPBERRY
Now, tell me, dear.
Have you been attacked by elves or dwarves in the past couple of days?
No, real dwarves for elves.
Beards, pointy ears. Yes, yes?
No? Oh, well that's useful to know.
We Saxons believe that many illnesses are caused by supernatural attacks.
But not in your case? OK.
So, for runny bottoms,
you will need to...
Ah! Cut nine strips of bramble bush and boil them in milk.
OK, if that doesn't work, my Mayan colleague is suggesting chocolate.
Then again, he always does.
It doesn't matter if it's diarrhoea or acne.
Thank you for calling. Bye!
Horrible Histories Health Direct,
you've come through to the Saxon era.
I'm Aziz from Egypt.
What is the nature of your medical complaint?
You called earlier and it's getting worse?
-Dwarves and elves?
-I did tell him.
No, I don't think any of that is likely.
But we do have a fully functioning hospital in Cairo
in the Saxon era,
and our medical team can treat you there and
you can stay while you recover.
Oh, and some chocolate can't hurt.
Hello, me again.
Annoyingly those Vikings are still a problem,
so I've cunningly built a navy to
stop them sailing their longships up our rivers.
In fact, I'm known as the father of the British Navy.
But what teensy problem have we had with our new Navy?
The answer, would you believe it,
You might think bigger is better, but our huge longships
keep getting stuck in the mud when the tide goes up.
Whereas the smaller Viking ships can sail away.
I think there's only one solution.
Build bigger rivers.
Actually, that sounds like quite a lot of work, ignore that.
Yeah, get your thinking crown on, Alfred.
Over in Rome, a new Pope had an interesting idea about
how to make his mark as leader of the Catholic church.
I say interesting, it was in fact, completely bonkers!
It's time for another one of History's Craziest Fools.
You ought to see it, there's a big beaver on my lilo!
History has shown us, yeah,
that sometimes crazy fools find themselves in positions
of great power, which can mean only one thing.
Stupid stuff goes down, bro.
His holiness, Judge Pope Stephen VI.
I thought I had a long name.
When King Alfred was around, this guy was Pope in Rome
and wanted to make himself look better
by dissing the Pope who came before him.
I put it to you, Pope Formosus, that you became the Pope illegally.
Are you, or are you not guilty?
How do you plead?
That is not cool, bruv.
Your silence is damning Pope Formosus.
That's hardly his fault. He is innocent.
Then why has he been hiding underground?
Because he has been dead for a year, in a grave!
That's right, they put a dead guy on trial.
We've had enough of your games, Pope Formosus,
we can see right through you.
What? You're the only guilty one here, you lunchbox.
Guilty of being a papaly, crazy, holy fool.
History proves, once again, that just because someone is in charge,
doesn't mean that they aren't crazier
than a frog on a rollercoaster with a wig on.
So, stay away from stupid, all right?
No, it's not quinoa, it's keen-wah.
-Come on, grow up!
Grow up? HE CACKLES
Asser, my trusted adviser. What business have we today?
We have messages from all the great men over Europe, Your Majesty.
They mean to compliment us on our victory over the Vikings
and the great country that we've built.
We must be the talk of Europe.
Yep. Shall I, eh...
..put a cushion down, Sire?
No, why should I have a cushion?
(I told you not to mention my bottom problems.)
(I'm meant to be a great king,)
(I don't want everyone talking about my backside.)
(You don't think they know, do you?)
Oh, Sire, you've had piles for 20 years now
but I don't see how anyone could know.
Yes, all right, all right.
If they're not all talking about my bottom, then why all the cushions?
Oh, it's a coincidence, Your Majesty.
When I prayed to God to make me ill so I could focus on my work,
I was not expecting an attack from the rear.
Still, as long as no-one's talking about it. Approach.
I bring world from Jerusalem.
The head of my church has taken a great interest in
what is happening here in Britain.
I told you, Asser.
Our schools, our new towns, our legal codes
are the talk of Europe.
I bring herbs and spices.
It's a good one, for your...
how you say, runny, botty splats?
All right, that's it. I've had enough. No more talk about bottoms.
The next person who mentions backsides will be in
a lot of trouble, is that clear?
No, that's his name!
That's his name!
HE SQUEALS IN AGONY
My bummy bum.
Despite the pain in his bum,
Alfred ruled successfully until he died in 899,
aged 50 years old,
and passed the rule down to his son,
Edward the Elder.
Alfred had defended his kingdom against the vicious Vikings
and laid the foundations for the country that would become England.
Not bad for a bloke who wasn't called Aethel.
# Chatty Death, Chatty Death
# My grizzly interviews
# Chatty Death, Chatty Death The dead and famous too. #
Yeah, well, that's the problem with eating curry
when you're a skeleton, isn't it?
Goes right though you.
Ooh! Welcome back to Chatty Death.
Time for my next guest.
He's a former king of the Anglo-Saxons.
Please welcome Alfred The Great!
So, Alfred The Great.
How's life now you're dead?
People still call me that?
-Alfred The Great?
That is great!
Yeah, all right, mate. I'll do the jokes.
I'm sorry. I know it's your show,
It's just nice to know my efforts to defeat the Danes
and unite the Anglo-Saxons under one king were appreciated.
Yeah, it's better than being forgotten like
-King Thingamajig The Whatshisname.
-Oh, I can rest easy.
Yeah, wherever you are.
What do you mean?
I was buried in the great church in Winchester.
Well, you were...
Why don't you tell him for a change? You tell him? Shall I tell him?
Well, you were buried in Winchester,
-but then you were dug up and moved to a new church.
And then you were dug up and moved to Hyde Abbey.
And then Hyde Abbey was demolished by King Henry VIII.
-So, what's happened to my body?
-No idea, mate.
Could be anywhere.
I demand to know what happened to my body.
Demand all you like, mate, no-ones got a clue.
Although, I could arrange a tip off.
Thank you, that'd be much appreciated.
Here's your tip-off, mate.
Alfred The Great, there, everybody.
Oh, yes. No, I liked him too.
I think I'll miss him.
I suppose we could always call him up on the Anglo Saxophone.
Seriously? Nobody laughed at that?
I'm wasted here.
# Chatty Death, Chatty Death
# Hope next time it's not you. #
It's the only book I've ever read in my life.
There's no words.
You'll like it.
I can't run,
I'm screwed to the table.
# The past is no longer a mystery
# Hope you enjoyed...
# Horrible Histories! #
A special episode about King Alfred the Great, starring Tom Rosenthal. Watch Alfred argue with his older brothers then defeat the Vikings using his cunning hit-and-run tactics, summoning the spirit of Ed Sheeran. Meanwhile, across the world, Ant and Dec host a very special Chinese edition of I'm a Celebrity, and the Egyptians tell us how healthcare should really be done. With of, course, our host Rattus to guide the way!