June 22, 2017

Alfred the Great

King of England, youngest son of king Aethelwulf, and Asbury; b. in 849 in Berkshire. His grandfather Egbert, king of Wessex, at the beginning of the IX century United all the small Anglo-Saxon kingdoms into one state — England. For 5-year-old boy Alfred was sent to Rome to be anointed by Pope Leo IV. A few years later, he undertook with his pious and generous to the Church father’s secondary journey to Rome. On the way, back they both spent quite a long time at the court of Charles the Bald, where a young Alfred became acquainted with a higher civilization. Only after the death of his elder brother æthelred in 871, Alfred was crowned king. Even before, he had to repel the invasion of the Danes. Reaching the throne, he exerted all his efforts to save the independence of the country. At first, he struggled without success, as the Danes came to England in greater numbers, and the Anglo-Saxons or subordinate to another’s yoke, or left home. He himself even had some time to hide from the enemy in the hut of a shepherd, in the County of Somerset. Here, in a desolate, swampy area, he laid the castle and when the people began to rebel against the Danes, summoned his adherents.

The tradition of the highly adorned military adventures of Alfred. Breaking in May 878 the Danes and subjecting them to himself, he allowed them, however, to retain their settlements in England, so that they recognized him as their king and adopted Christianity. In the next 6 years, he built a fortress, and commanded him to rebuild the ruined cities and monasteries and patronized agriculture, at the same time exercising your people in the art of war. A new invasion of the Danes (893) after a stubborn fight ended happily. Also successfully repelled it and repeated attacks of the Normans under the leadership of Hastings. Through legislation and concerns about public education, he tried to raise the level of national development and are characterized by simple justice as against the British and the Danes. Later, however, he began to ascribe such beneficent institutions, which they had been or just started, or already existed before the Anglo-Saxons, and Alfred was soon resumed, approved and more developed. To improve the management, he divided the province into smaller units (Shires), at the head of which put the counts (thans, earls); the County in turn was divided into desyatni, or tythings. Entered for the whole country judicial organization became the basis for later trial by jury. Alfred ordered to gather the ancient laws of Kent, Wessex and Mercia and joined them, with the addition of new laws in a single code, which became the basis of the Common law. In addition, he separated the judges from the leadership in the army. He tried his best to raise agriculture and trade.

As an ardent lover and advocate of science education, Alfred ordered to translate many works from the Latin language, which he learned only 36 year in the Anglo-Saxon. Some compositions, such as, e.g., Boethius “De consolatione philosophiae” and the history of Orosius, he translated himself, adding to the last notes of the travels of the German and Baltic seas and description of the Slavic lands, he sent 2 expedition of the Normans Ohthere, who visited the White sea, and Wulfstan infiltrated from Schleswig in the Gulf of Finland. To support such enterprises, and mainly for protection against the Normans, he strengthened his fleet, so it can be considered the founder of the English Navy. Alfred died on 26 or 28 October 901 G. the most Important source for his biography is the “Vita Alfredi” (“Life of Alfred”) , written by his friend Asser, the Welsh, and later Bishop of Sherburskie, characterized by simplicity of presentation (ed. Visa, Oxford., 1772), in “Monumenta historiae Britannicae” (vol. 1, Lond., 1848). Writings of Alfred in evangl. The translation distance of Giles in collaboration with Bosworth, etc. under the title “the Complete works of king Alfred the Great” (2 vols, Lond., 1858).

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