After the Treaty of Wedmore (c. 880), Alfred implemented a comprehensive system of defences designed specifically to counter the Viking threat. He established a network of 33 fortified settlements – burhs – across his kingdom, and a tax, ‘hidage’, to finance their upkeep. The burhs slowed down subsequent Viking incursions, allowing Alfred time to raise sufficient forces to repel the invaders. The new defences proved their worth when the Danes landed at Milton (892). Alfred quickly mounted an expedition to counter the attack, and when the Danish army split, Alfred’s son Edward the Elder chased down and defeated them at Farnham and then Benfleet. Alfred, meanwhile, raced to meet a second invasion in the west relieving the siege of Exeter. Alfred’s distraction enabled the remaining Danes in Kent under Hastein to break free and surge up the Thames valley, only to be defeated at Buttington. After being balked once more at Bridgnorth (897), the invaders gave up and dispersed.
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