When “Alfred the Great” was still only “Alfred”, namely at a young age, he was sent to Rome where, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he was “anointed king” by Pope Leo IV. This was understood as an anticipatory coronation to the King of Wessex. After this coronation he was still not “the Great”, which he only became after numerous battles against the Vikings.
The political situation in England came to a head when 866 Danish Vikings invaded Anglo-Saxon territory. The chronicle tells of “a large army of Vikings, whose most important leader was Ivarr Ragnarsson, a hero of Scandinavian saga literature. In fact, the attacking Danes seemed to have outnumbered the Anglo-Saxon troops, at least they posed a serious threat and destabilized the political situation in England considerably. In 868 Alfred, together with his brother Æthelred, tried to keep the invading Vikings away from Mercia, but failed.
By the end of the 9th century, the Vikings had defeated all five English kingdoms. The whole country was in the hands of the invaders – except for a small swamp area. King Alfred of Wessex hid here with a few loyal followers. Uhtred, a warrior in Alfred’s army, knew the strength of the Vikings. Nevertheless, Alfred wants to lead a final, decisive battle. The pious king relies on God’s help, but Uhtred relies more on his sword. But in one thing the two unequal allies are in complete agreement: If the last “throne of the north” falls, this defeat would be the downfall of England.
This story, which you can find in your music sheet database musicainfo.net under the title Throne of the North, was musically realized by Mathias Wehr, a composer from Germany, who won the composition competition of the Philharmonic Society of Mantzaros 2017 in Corfu, Greece, with this work.