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However, Alfred was lauded by Anglo-Norman historians, like William of Malmesbury, Gaimar and Matthew Paris, and their presentations, and occasional embellishments, of his achievements would be picked up by later writers.

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

As a pious king with an interest in promoting the use of English, Alfred was an ideal figurehead for the emerging English Protestant church. The works he had commissioned or translated were interpreted as evidence for the pure Anglo-Saxon church, before it had become tainted by the false Romanism introduced by the Normans. With a bit of selective editing, Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical provision came to bear an uncanny resemblance to Elizabethan Anglicanism. Comparable claims of the contribution of the Anglo-Saxons to English life were used to support radical political change in the seventeenth century, when it was argued, for instance, that the right of all freemen to vote for representatives in Parliament was a lost Anglo-Saxon liberty.


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Alfred himself was an unlikely champion for the more radical movements, and was more readily adopted by those who wanted to show Stuart, and eventually Hanoverian, rulers, how they could become successful constitutional monarchs by emulating their most famous Anglo-Saxon ancestor. Robert Powell, in his Life of Alfred, published in , attempted to draw parallels between the reigns of Alfred and Charles I, something which often called for considerable ingenuity, and his hope that Charles would share the same respect for English law as that apparently shown by Alfred proved misplaced.

Spelman was to die the following year of camp fever, and publication of the biography was delayed until more propitious times. In fact, any attempts to interest Stuart monarchs in their Saxon forebears had only a limited success.

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The common Saxon heritage of the Hanoverians and the Anglo-Saxons provided more fertile ground for the promotion of a cult of King Alfred. His first aristocratic and royal backers came from the circle which gathered around Frederick, Prince of Wales , the eldest son of George II, and was united by the opposition of its members to the prime minister Robert Walpole. A number of literary works centred upon Alfred were dedicated to the prince.

Alfred The Great Assers Life Of King Alfred Amp Other Contemporary Sources

This new interest in the Germanic past began to trickle down to other sectors of society. Those who could not have a Saxon memorial in their grounds or in the nearby countryside could at least own a print of the new genre of History painting. A series of patriotic Alfred plays, opera and ballets were performed, particularly during the French Wars As in other European countries, a new national pride in nineteenth-century England had an important historical dimension, and an accompanying cult of the heroes who had made later success possible.

Asser's Life of King Alfred - The British Library

These characteristics were felt to have made those of Anglo-Saxon descent uniquely programmed for success, and to rule other less fortunately endowed peoples, and the best of them were represented by King Alfred himself. Anglo-Saxonism, and the accompanying Alfredism, could be found on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Thomas Jefferson had ingeniously argued that, as the Anglo-Saxons who had settled in Britain had ruled themselves independently from their Continental homelands, so the English settlers of America should also be allowed their independence. He believed both countries shared an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and proposed a local government for Virginia based on a division into hundreds, an Anglo-Saxon institution widely believed then to have been instituted by Alfred.

He is a native of every clime — a messenger of heaven to every corner of this Planet. One of the chief supporters of The Anglo-Saxon , who wrote large segments of it if no other copy was available, was Martin Tupper, the author of several volumes of popular, highly sentimental and moralistic verses. The event was not the success for which Tupper had hoped, largely because he left arrangements rather late in the day and had no influential backers.

During the reign of Victoria, who gave birth to the first Prince Alfred since the Anglo-Saxon period b.

Alfred was no longer a mirror for princes, but an exemplar for people at all levels of society and, above all, for children. The noble king Whom misfortune could not subdue, whom prosperity could not spoil, whose perseverance, nothing could shake. Who was hopeful in defeat, and generous in success. Who loved justice, freedom, truth and knowledge. So much had Alfred become the epitome of the ideal Victorian that Walter Besant, in a lecture on Alfred in , thought it entirely appropriate to apply to him verse that Alfred, Lord Tennyson had written to commemorate Prince Albert.

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Alfred was no longer the totem of one political party. Problems with the calculation of Anglo-Saxon dates meant it was widely believed then that Alfred had died in , rather than , which is now recognised as the true date of his death, but at the time it seemed particularly apposite to many that the great Queen and her illustrious forebear had died a thousand years apart.

But in Britain was embroiled in the Boer War, and the priority was the reality of the present rather than an imagined past. The National Committee did not raise nearly as much money as it had expected and had to abandon many of its ambitious plans, including one for a Museum of Early English History. Stock photo. Search Results Results 1 of Penguin Classics. Spine creases, wear to binding and pages from reading. May contain limited notes, underlining or highlighting that does affect the text. Accessories such as CD, codes, toys, may not be included.

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The Long Ninth Century and the Prose of King Alfred’s Reign

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Age-yellowed pleasingly. Asser's life of King Alfred and other contemporary sources translated with an introduction and notes by Simon Keynes and Michel Lapidge.