[00:05.30] Royal espionage
[00:13.57]What important thing did King Alfred learn when he penetrated the Danish camp of Guthrum
[00:22.74]Alfred the Great acted as his own spy,
[00:25.99]visiting Danish camps disguised as a minstrel.
[00:30.46]In those days wandering minstrels were welcome everywhere.
[00:34.61]They were not fighting men,and their harp was their passport.
[00:39.56]Alfred had learned many of their ballads in his youth
[00:42.60]and could vary his programme with acrobatic tricks and simple conjuring.
[00:48.97]While Alfred's little army slowly began to gather at Athelney,
[00:53.90]the king himself set out to penetrate the camp of Guthrum,
[00:58.62]the commander of the Danish invaders.
[01:01.71]These had settled down for the winter at Chippenham:thither Alfred went.
[01:07.61]He noticed at once that discipline was slack:
[01:11.31]the Danes had the selfconfidence of conquerors,
[01:14.18]and their security precautions were casual.
[01:17.91]They lived well,on the proceeds of raids on neighbouring regions.
[01:22.15]There they collected women as well as food and drink,
[01:25.70]and a life of ease had made them soft.
[01:29.96]Alfred stayed in the camp a week before he returned to Athelney.
[01:34.80]The force there assembled was trivial compared with the Danish horde.
[01:39.45]But Alfred had deduced that the Danes were no longer fit for prolonged battle:
[01:45.03]and that their commissariat had no organization,
[01:48.44]but depended on irregular raids.
[01:51.90]So,faced with the Danish advance,
[01:54.82]Alfred did not risk open battle but harried the enemy.
[01:59.33]He was constantly on the move,drawing the Danes after him.
[02:03.72]His patrols halted the raiding parties:hunger assailed the Danish army.
[02:09.39]Now Alfred began a long series of skirmishes--
[02:13.64]and within a month the Danes had surrendered.
[02:17.24]The episode could reasonably serve as a unique epic of royal espionage!