King Ælfred

Ælfred (849 – 899) was King of Wessex from 871 to 899. Ælfred successfully defended his kingdom against the Danes, and by the time of his death had become the dominant ruler in England. He is the only English monarch to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Details of his life are described in a work by bishop Asser. Ælfred's reputation has been that of a learned and merciful man who encouraged education and improved his kingdom's legal system and military structure.

Remarkably, Ælfred, undoubtedly with the advice and aid of his court scholars, translated four works from Latin himself: Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care, Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, St. Augustine's Soliloquies, and the first fifty psalms of the Psalter. The Old English versions of Orosius's Histories against the Pagans and Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People are nowadays no longer seen as Ælfred's own translations because of lexical and stylistic differences. Nonetheless, the consensus remains that they were part of the Ælfredian programme of translation. In the Orosius text he included two travelogues reported to him by Ohthere, a Norwegian trader, and Wulfstan, who travelled the Baltic Sea.

 

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