Monday, 20 August 2012

Alfred the Great part 2

Found two useful books in the public library dealing with aspects of the life of Alfred the Great - The political thought of King Alfred the Great by David Pratt (Cambridge University Press 2007) and Alfred the Great : Asser's life of King Alfred and other contemporary sources (Penguin Classics 1983).

Both books have a photo of the Alfred Jewel now in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum of British Archaeology at Oxford University. The jewel was believed to have been the top of a pointer (aestel) sent to bishops with copies of Alfred's translation of Pope Gregory's Pastoral care or it may have been a symbol of office. The Alfred Jewel is one of the few objects remaining from the Anglo-Saxon period.

Alfred translated Pope Gregory's Pastoral care from Latin into old English for the use of his bishops who he suspected were neglecting their duties. he also wrote a preface to the work explaining his program of educational reform. This is one of the works included in Penguin Classics volume. Other works include:

Asser's Life of King Alfred - available online as part of Online Medieval and Classical Library. Asser was the Bishop of Sherborne and wrote this work in Latin around 888.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle - also available as part of Online Medieval and Classical Library . King Alfred commissioned the writing of the chronicle around 890 and it was subsequently added to by other writers until the middle of the 12th century.

Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius - available online as part of the Project Gutenberg. Boethius wrote this work c524.

Soliloquies by Augustine of Hippo - available online as part of  Internet Archive. Saint Augustine lived from 354 to 430.

Prose translations of Psalms 1 - 50 - available online Medieval Academy publications.

Other sources from the reign of Alfred include:

The laws of King Alfred - a selection is available online in Internet History Sourcebook. An article on the laws and a brief account of Alfred's life is also available online.

Will of King Alfred

Pratt's work provides a study of the translated works and their relevance to the understanding of Alfred as well as his contribution to the governance and development of England as one nation.

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