Asser’s Friendship

Book 2, Chapter 5, 878 AD to 901 AD – Alfred’s Educational Efforts

“About this time, I was summoned by the king out of the furthest coasts of Western Britain, and came into Saxony. When I had proposed to go to him, I travelled through a large tract of country, and at last arrived in the territory of the Saxons, who live on the right hand, which in the Saxon language is called Suthseax, (Sussex,) under the guidance of some of that nation. I first saw him in the royal ‘village which is called Dene. After receiving me graciously, he entered into familiar conversation with me, and asked me with eagerness to devote myself to his service, and become his friend.

He requested me, moreover, to give up for him all that I possessed on the left or western bank of the Severn, at the same time promising to bestow upon me more than an equivalent for all that I might relinquish. I replied, that I could not promise such things rashly, and without due forethought, for it seemed unjust for me to leave those sacred places in which I had been nourished, educated, and crowned, and at last ordained, for the sake of any earthly honour or distinction, unless by compulsion.

 To this he replied, ‘If you cannot accede to this, let me at least have half your services, so that you may spend six months of the year with me here, and an equal portion of time in Britain.’ I answered, I could not even promise that easily or hastily, without the advice of my friends.’ When, however, I perceived how earnestly he desired my services, (for what reason I knew not,) I promised him that if my life were spared, I would return to him after six months with such an answer as should be agreeable to him, as well as advantageous to me and mine. After giving him a pledge to return at the appointed time, on the fourth day I left him, and returned on horseback to mine own country. After my departure, a violent fever seized me in the City of Winton, (Winchester,) where I lay for twelve months and one week, night and day without any hope of recovery. At the appointed time, therefore, I was not able to fulfil my promise of visiting him, and he sent messengers to hasten my journey, and to ascertain the reason of my delay. As I was unable to ride to him, I sent a second messenger to tell him the cause of my delay, and to assure him that if I recovered I would fulfil my promise. My sickness at length left me, and by the advice and consent of my friends, for the benefit of that holy place and of all who dwelt therein, I did as I had promised to the king, and devoted myself to his service, on the condition that I should remain with him for six months only in each year.

Chapter 5, Alfred’s Fortifications

Effects of the Danish Ravages

Alfred’s Measures for the Defence of the Country



New Attacks under Hasting

Chapter 5, Revolt in the Danelagh

Revolt in the Danelagh

Four Years of Conflict

Chapter 5, Alfred’s Educational Efforts

Ultimate Success

Hume’s Estimate of Alfred

His care for Internal Prosperity of the Country

State of Learning

Educational Efforts

Asser’s Friendship

His Computation and Division of Time

Chapter 5, Alfred’s Industry and Zeal

Alfred’s Industry and zeal

Application of his Revenue

Chapter 5, Saxon Laws

The Domboc

Saxon Laws

Alfred’s Watchfulness over the Executive

Origin of Jury

Divisions of the Country

Chapter 5, Summary of Alfred’s Character

The king’s Illness and Death

His Will

Summary of Character


Categories: Book 2

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