Annales Return Gestarum Alfredi Magni

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Character and Virtues of Alfred


Amid the wars and many hindrances of his life, and amid the assaults of the pagans and his daily illness, Alfred ceased not from the government of the kingdom and from the pursuit of every form of hunting. Nor did he omit to instruct also his goldsmiths and all his artificers, his falconers and his huntsmen and the keepers of his dogs; nor to make, according to new designs of his own, articles of goldsmiths’ work, more precious than had been the wont of all his predecessors. He was constant in the reading of books in the Saxon tongue, and more especially in committing to memory the Saxon poems and in commanding others to do so. And he by himself labored most zealously with all his might.

Moreover, he heard the divine offices daily, the mass, and certain psalms and prayers. He observed the services of the hours by day and by night, and oftentimes was he accustomed, without the knowledge of his men, to go in the night to the churches for the sake of prayer. He was zealous in the giving of alms, and generous toward his own people and to those who came from all nations. He was especially kind toward all men, and merry. And to the searching out of things not known did he apply himself with all his heart. . . .

He was eager and anxious to hear the Holy Scripture read to him by his own folk, but he would also as readily pray with strangers, if by any chance one had come from any place. Moreover, he loved with wonderful affection his bishops and all the clergy, his earldormen and nobles, his servants and all his household. And cherishing their sons, who were brought up in the royal household, with no less love than he bore toward his own children, he ceased not day and night to teach them all virtue and to make them well acquainted with letters.

But it was as though he found no comfort in all these things. For, as if he suffered no other care from within or without, he would make complaint to the Lord and to all who were joined to him in close affection, lamenting with many sighs that God had not made him skilled in divine wisdom and in the liberal arts. . . . He would obtain, wherever he could, those who might assist his righteous intention and who might be able to aid him in acquiring the wisdom for which he longed.

1 Asser, , ch. 76.

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Chicago: Annales Return Gestarum Alfredi Magni in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 335. Original Sources, accessed September 29, 2023,

MLA: . Annales Return Gestarum Alfredi Magni, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, page 335. Original Sources. 29 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: , Annales Return Gestarum Alfredi Magni. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.335. Original Sources, retrieved 29 September 2023, from