State of Learning

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

This statement alludes to the times in which Bede flourished, and when Alcuin was educated, but after that period, the Saxon mind declined from its love of literature. Other occupations occurred during the interval in which their octarch was passing into a monarchy, from the feuds and wars, and mutations of fortune which this political crisis occasioned, which the Sorthmen’s invasions increased, and which monopolised their time, passions, and activity. Alfred’s preface continues, ” They knew very little of the use of their books, because they could not understand anything in them, as these were not written in their own language, which they spoke. Our ancestors, that held these places before, loved wisdom, and through this they obtained abundance of it, and left it to us. Here we may yet see their treasures, though we are unable to explore them, therefore we have now lost both their wealth and their wisdom, because we have not been willing with our minds to tread in their steps.”

 It is difficult to conceive how much even churchmen partook of the gross ignorance of the times, “Very few were they,” says Alfred, “on this side the Humber, (the most improved parts of England,) which could understand their daily prayers in English, or translate any letter from the Latin. I think there were not many beyond the Humber they were so few, that I indeed cannot recollect one single instance on the south of the Thames, when I took the “kingdom.” On less authority than his own, such a general illiteracy among the clergy, even of that day, can hardly be credited it is so contrary to present experience. The earls, governors, and servants of Alfred, were as uninformed.

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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