The Wars of the Roses were not just fought by men on the battlefield. Behind the scenes, there were daughters, wives, mistresses, mothers and queens whose lives and influences helped shape the most dramatic of English conflicts.
Because an understanding of Arthur and all the different things he has meant to scores of generations up to the present is fundamental to our understanding of our own past, our understanding of ourselves and the ways in which we can benefit from history.
As the People's champion against a corrupt and murderous oligarchy, he began transformation of the Roman republic into a quasi-monarchy and a military and fiscal system that for four centuries provided western Europe, north Africa and the Middle East with security, prosperity and relative peace.
He is the first Englishman for whom a biography survives so that we know more about Alfred and his ideals than we do for most people who lived over a thousand years ago.A slightly longer answer would say that things are a bit more complicated, and that one reason Alfred seems to be so `great' was that he made sure we were told that he was.
John Lennon is a giant of popular music and culture. His reviews, features and regular columns have appeared in The Independent, Time Out, Mojo and BBC Music. His books include The 100 Greatest Cover Versions (McNidder & Grace 2012) and, as co-author, The Rough Guide to the Best Music You've Never Heard (Penguin 2008).