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Wedmore, treaty of

Wedmore, treaty of, 878. The agreement made between King Alfred and the Danish leader Guthrum at Wedmore proved a turning-point in the Danish wars. From their fortified position at Chippenham the Danes had threatened to overrun all Wessex, but Alfred emerged from his refuge at Athelney, inflicted a severe defeat on the Danes at Edington, and forced peace on Guthrum on condition that he would himself accept baptism and that his army would leave Wessex. There followed a series of formal ceremonies which involved Alfred standing as sponsor at baptism for the Danish leader at Aller near Athelney and the unbinding of the chrism at Wedmore. Guthrum with 30 of his chosen companions spent some twelve days with the king and was greatly honoured by him. The Danes kept the substance of the arrangement, moving the army back to Cirencester and ultimately to East Anglia. Guthrum accepted the baptismal name of Athelstan and, as far as can be judged, the Christian faith. The accord reached at Wedmore foreshadowed the partition of England into much of the south and west, which remained in English hands, and the Danelaw of the north and east.

Henry Loyn

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