Why was Alfred so devout and committed to learning?
This essay will explain why King Alfred was so devout and committed to learning. Firstly it will focus on how the Viking invasions had an impact on his commitment to learning. Secondly how he viewed the decline of education within England at this time and lastly how he may have always had a desire for wisdom and for learning.
In the eight century, England was made up of small kingdoms. There was Northumbria, Mercia and Wessex which was the kingdom of King Alfred. By 879 the Viking invasions had destroyed all native English dynasties except for that of Alfred’s, for Alfred and his kingdom to survive, he had to strengthen the defences of his kingdom and he done this by building fortresses and ships. However Alfred thought that this would not be enough, he wanted to develop a new powerful ideology of Kingship that would tie the West Saxon nobility more closely to him.
Alfred saw the Vikings as a torment sent from God as punishment for his wayward people. Alfred wrote;
“What punishments befell us in the world when we ourselves did not cherish learning nor transmit it to other men. We were Christians in name alone, and a very few of us possessed Christian virtues”
Alfred believed the Vikings had come in response to the moral and spiritual failings of the English. He believed it necessary for their survival that he and his people had to bestow themselves to God. He believed that no people could succeed without God’s favour. Alfred’s determination to restore his kingdom to what it had once been - a place of learning and religious devotion which was ruled by king who obeyed God and his messengers. This saw Alfred recruit scholars from Mercia, Wales and overseas to enhance the tenor of his court and he created a court school to educate his children and the children of his nobles.
The quality of learning in England had declined so much that there was very few men that were capable of understanding...