Alfred the Great

Russ Foster asks whether the legend of the heroic king is simply too good to be true.

The market town of Wantage in Berkshire is dominated by a lifesized statue of its most famous son, Alfred, the fifth surviving son of King Aethewulf of Wessex, born in 849. As well as a statue, the Victorians who erected it provided him with an incomparable curriculum vitae:

Alfred found learning dead
And he restored it
Education neglected
And he revived it
The laws powerless
And he gave them force
The church debased
And he raised it
The land ravaged by a fearful enemy
From which he delivered it
Alfred’s name will live as long
As mankind shall respect the past

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