ALFRED (849-901): DR. HARESHWAR ROY
Alfred was the greatest and noblest Anglo-Saxon king. He was the first Englishman who encouraged the making of English prose. No English king ever did more for his people than he.
Alfred was born at Wantage in Berkshire in 849. His early years as a king were spent in fighting hard against Danes. Finally, he drove back Danes from England and established peace. He founded a monastery at Athelney. He was pioneer of popular education.
It was Alfred who began the writing of prose in Wessex. First of all, he put the Vernacular to systematic use. During his reign the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle came into existence. It is the greatest monument of Old English prose. During Alfred’s reign the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was transformed into a national history under his guidance.
Alfred was a translator. He rendered into English Pastoral Care of Pope Gregory, Orosius, Bede’s The Ecclesiastical History, Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy and St. Augustine’s Soliloquies. His prose style is for the most part simple and straight forward. He had the rare merit of clarity in his writing.