King Alfred, before He was Great
Manage episode 352807620 series 3348972
It’s probably no exaggeration to say the Alfred the Great is one of the most, if not the most, famous Anglo-Saxon of them all. The only British monarch given the epithet ‘the Great’, the traditional account of his life is one of a scholar forced into the role of a war leader who defied the odds to save and unite not just his people, but all the English. Indeed, Alfred is usually cast as the man who saved England, without whom all of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms would have fallen to Scandinavian invasion. However, it is not just for his military successes that Alfred is remembered. He was also celebrated as a wise king who cared deeply for law, religion, and learning. The revival of Latin and Old English learning that is called by scholars the ‘Alfredian Renaissance’ is usually attributed to Alfred’s vision of a just and pious English nation which he sought to realise by gathering to himself the learned man of Britain, Ireland, and the Continent. It is important to be wary, though, of mythmaking and the ‘great man’ interpretation of history. While Alfred was without question a great leader, we must take a step back and look at his life with dispassionate eyes so that we can cut through the layers of legend to reach the core of the man who saved England.
Music: 'Wælheall' by Hrōðmund Wōdening
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