Saxons - Asser's The Life of King Alfred

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Comyn
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Saxons - Asser's The Life of King Alfred

Post by Comyn »

Alfred, alone of Anglo-Saxon kings, inspired a full-length biography, written in 893, by the Welsh scholar Asser. This work contains much valuable information, and it reveals that Alfred laboured throughout under the burden of recurrent, painful illness; and beneath Asser’s rhetoric can be seen a man of attractive character, full of compassion, able to inspire affection, and intensely conscious of the responsibilities of kingly office. This picture is confirmed by Alfred’s laws and writings.
- https://www.britannica.com/biography/Al ... -of-Wessex

I recently enjoyed reading a translation of Asser's Life of King Alfred by J. A. Giles (1847). I am aware of Stevenson, then Cook's translations (and many others since) but this is the one I found first and it was very approachable (read: easy to read?) and there were free copies available.

My interest piqued, I followed up by reading a more academic paper in the English Historical Review which lays out the evidence that Asser probably wrote one of the Anglo Saxon charters (specifically one he had financial interest in which might explain why he wasn't a witness on it as he was on several others) based on lexical evidence (the kinds of words used).

I will attach an archive of both pages (zipped up and in HTML format so open them in a web browser) in case they go missing in future as often happens.
Asser.zip
Asser's Life of Alfred and his writing of charters (html)
(1.15 MiB) Downloaded 6 times
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Guthrum
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Re: Saxons - Asser's The Life of King Alfred

Post by Guthrum »

Apparently, Alfred was the godfather of someone named Guthrum (no relation)
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Comyn
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Re: Saxons - Asser's The Life of King Alfred

Post by Comyn »

It is also spelled Gothrun in some sources. He is called the "king of the pagans" by Alfred, but he actually was in England because his bid for the Danish throne had failed, so instead he led a sizable army of Danes in the 870s across England choosing a new locale (about 100 miles away) each year to winter in. He had a great surprise victory against Alfred on Epiphany, 878 and Alfred fled to a fortified site in Wessex which was a very defensible rise of land in the swamps (a fortress called Athelney). Later that year Alfred defeated Guthrum at the Battle of Eddington and Guthrum ended up besieged for a fortnight and eventually came to make a truce with Alfred. Under the terms of his surrender he was baptized (and took a new name: Æthelstan), then performed a strange procession from place to place with Alfred probably to denote the boundary between Alfred's Saxon England and the "Danelaw" where Guthrum/Æthelstan ruled. Weregild and trade agreements were made between them.
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