Alfred the Great

400px-Statue_of_King_Alfred_in_Wantage_Market_SquareAlfred the Great was ranked number 14 in the BBC’s list of the 100 Greatest Britons following a UK-wide vote!

British History is a big interest of mine.

I believe it started with my faith (being a Christian that is) and tracing the beginnings of the Christian faith in England and the myth that it was imported in the 4th Century AD, however it wasn’t. It is true to say that ‘Roman Christianity’ came via Augustine in 597 AD. But in fact Christianity arrived long before then, probably in the 1st Century AD through the Roman Empire.

My point being that our Victorian forebears thought very highly of King Alfred the Great, and I have to say so do I. Here is certainly one reason why:

Details of his life are described in a work by the 10th Century Welsh scholar and Bishop Asser in his Life of King Alfred, wrote of him:

  • “He was loved by his father and mother, and even by all the people, above all his brothers, and was educated altogether at the court of the king. As he advanced through the years of infancy and youth, his form appeared more comely than that of his brothers; in look, in speech, and in manners he was more graceful than they. His noble nature implanted in him from his cradle a love of wisdom above all things; but, with shame be it spoken, by the unworthy neglect of his parents and nurses, he remained illiterate even till he was twelve years old or more; but, he listened with serious attention to the Saxon poems which he often heard recited, and easily retained them in his docile memory. He was a zealous practiser of hunting in all its branches, and hunted with great assiduity and success; for skill and good fortune in this art, as in all others, are among the gifts of God, as we also have often witnessed.”

Alfred’s reputation has been that of a learned and merciful man who encouraged education and improved his kingdom’s legal system and military structure, a man after any Victorian Gentleman’s heart.

In 1877 the Victorians (Lord Wantage had became a notable local and national benefactor.He was very involved in founding the British Red Cross Society) erected a statue in Wantage (the birth place of King Alfred the Great). The statue was designed and sculpted by (possibly the man with the longest name in the world) Admiral Victor Ferdinand Franz Eugen Gustaf Adolf Constantin Friedrich of Hohenlohe-Langenburg GCB also known as Count Gleichen, to his friends!