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Asser's Life of King Alfred: Translated From the Text of Stevenson's Edition

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  693 ratings  ·  36 reviews

The issue of Stevenson's long and eagerly expected edition of Asser's Life of King Alfred has provided an opportunity to supply the ever increasing number of the great king's admirers with a more satisfactory rendering into English of this, perhaps the most precious document, notwithstanding all its faults, for the comprehension of his life and character.

The authent
Kindle Edition, 83 pages
Published February 3rd 2012 (first published 893)
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3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  693 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Jul 30, 2011 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Alfred the Great
This is a great book to get hold of if you are interested in the Anglo-Saxons or early medieval history. It's packed full of source material - enough to get the curious going, not just Asser's life of Alfred which fascinatingly stops well before Alfred's death (did Asser just die unbeknown to us before he could finish the work?), extracts from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and a Latin translation thereof, as well as some wills and laws.

Alternatively if you only know Alfred from secondary material th
E Owen
Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The "Life" provides a tantalising glimpse into the rule of the most famous of English (or rather, Wessex) kings. In this remarkable survival of a tumultuous time in history, Asser veers between biography, contemporary events and geographical descriptions. It was never intended to be read by the English but by other nations and Welsh monk Asser is keen to propagandise the monarch's piety and generosity (perhaps to advertise him as a potential ally, trading partner or future overlord). The text is ...more
Billy Roper
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alfred, one of my distant ancestors from the Saxon side, has always been one of my favorite historical figures, regardless of how he's being portrayed in the History Channel Vikings tv show or in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon series. I did unfortunately inherit his health issues along with his more favorable traits, but his brave stand in Wessex was worthy of the greatest of military leaders.
Adam  McPhee
He kicked viking ass, loved reading and encouraged education. If you have to have a king, that's the kind you want.
Very informative book for anyone interested in King Alfred or the situation in late 9th century 'England'. The book includes a lengthy introduction, a section of it examines the sources, another gives a summary of Alfred's life and his reign. Asser's Life of King Alfred follows, also includes a brief look into Asser himself.

Also in the book are extracts from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (from 888 to 900 AD), and extracts from the writings of King Alfred himself, these include his translations of P
Nov 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anglo-saxon, history
Unlike most translations of Asser's Life of Alfred the Great, Smyth does not take liberties in deciding that sections are interpolations and provides an excellent complete translation of the text. In the introduction and commentary he takes on heavyweights such as Whitelock, Lapidge and Keynes by stating that the text is actually a late tenth century forgery by the monk Byrhtferth.
Lindsey Smith
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
King Alfred was a great man. This book led me to admire him greatly. He is responsible for the beginning of so much rich culture that has come from England since the time of his rule. Not a particularly easy read, but definitely an interesting one!
Jul 18, 2017 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Lost the book
Dec 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Remember what punishments befell us in this world when we ourselves did not cherish learning nor transmit it to other men." - King Alfred the Great

I read this mostly for Asser's Life of King Alfred, which if probably true of most people who read it; however, all the extra material wasn't some sort of burden. It is highly informative. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is added to throw in the details of what happened when Asser's Life suddenly ends, despite the fact that he lived longer than his subject
Peter B.
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This is a helpful collection of primary source documents concerning King Alfred (849-899) and his reign, in particular, the Life of King Alfred by Asser (who was a companion of Alfred's). King Alfred seems to have combined the biblical kings David and Solomon into one life. Like David, he was a Christian warrior who knew times of defeat and wandering as well as victory. Like David, he made the Psalms his companion and he even translated the first fifty Psalms into Anglo-Saxon for his people. Lik ...more
Peter Ellwood
Marvellous, albeit a little slow to get going. A fair way into the book (chapter 21 , out of a total of 106), Asser remarks “I think I should return to that which particularly inspired me to this work..” i.e. to talk about King Alfred!

It doesn’t really matter in some ways. How many of us are so very specialised and already knowledgeable, that a few chapters on Alfred’s family and context won’t be fascinating too, to set the scene? And fascinating Asser’s account is, as translated into modern En
Edoardo Albert
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Dark Ages are dark not for reason of savagery (although they were), or for ignorance (there were remarkable instances of learning amid the fighting), but for obscurity: after the legions' withdrawal in AD 410, history... stops. For a century or so there is virtually nothing. The fifth century - the time of warfare between Britons, Angles and Saxons, the time of Arthur (if he existed) - is almost blank. The sixth and, more, the seventh centuries emerge a little into the light, with most of th ...more
Gabrielle Baalke
I LOVED this book. It gave me such an appreciation of Alfred and respect for his literary undertakings. He suffered greatly throughout his life and his fortitude and candor were remarkable. A great little intro to this Anglo-Saxon king.
Rob Markley
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Alfred one of my great heroes! The key source material into his life and times!
Dick Edwards
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable biography/hagiography of Alfred by one who knew him. While not exactly a "warts and all" portrait, it does show that Alfred suffred greatly from a mysterious malady, and implies that it may have been somwhat psychosomatic in origin. He also implies that Alfred may have suffered from bouts of depression. Alfred comes off as being all the more admirable a man for accomplishing all that he did while suffering from these problems. He was, nevertheless, a Saxon (Churchill calls t ...more
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was really my first experience with something one could rightly call "textual archeology." I've long been interested in what used to be called the Dark Ages, and early Medieval period. This book is the first primary document of the era I've ever read. It is not writing as we understand it in the modern era. You are not going to find plots and characters and insights and inner voices as we've come to understand them as modern readers. But it is a fascinating introduction to what was deemed i ...more
A simply amazing collection, not only for what is included within it but also for its extended section of notes and introductions. For a student of Alfred this is very important, as almost everything is commented upon, explained, or given a suggested interpretation. Without the notes I would not have been necessarily lost, but after reading them I understood how much fuller the texts were than when I read them stripped of any comment. This is a great edition, and if you're interested at all in A ...more
Bishop Asser was clearly, but unsurprisingly, a biased reporter of King Alfred's life. The style is quite interesting and reads much like a journal highlighting key events during Alfred's life but occasionally delving into odd streams of trivial matters. Nevertheless, it is worth a read for those interested in early English history.
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Asser provides a rare first person window into the life and times of 9th century Wessex and the character of the only "Great" King to rule in Britain. He has a task to accomplish, but he doesn't get right to it which is a relief to me. For, in the meandering path he takes to explain the deeds of the Great King are telling moments and appreciated context.
Ninth century manuscripts with regards to - shock! - the life of King Alfred the Great, the sole English royal with such an epithet. Glory to the learned and the strong, and those with the patience and cunning to wait for and receive one's birthright.
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read most of these in the original Anglo-saxon Old English - so I'm not sure how this translation of them is - I loved my translations ;) The stories are good and amusing- hopefully the funny double-entendres will be translated properly.
Four stars for Asser's short biography of Alfred. Amidst ill health and various threats, both domestic and foreign, King Alfred worshipped God and charted a course for intellectual, spiritual, and legal development.
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very good primary source documents; this book creates a very clear picture of Alfred's achievements and the time he lived in. For fun reading, it's pretty boring.
Sep 24, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
interesting, more like a book you'd use for research.
Aaron Cummings
Mar 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cummings-shelfs
Must readied interested in English or medieval history.
Rick Davis
I thought I'd better finally get around to reading Asser's life of Alfred before I go to Edington next week.
Christopher Law
Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great, if you like reading history. Rather dry if you don't.
Apr 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-history
It's pretty much all we have. An essential for British history.
Mike O'Connor
More a curio than a good read, it was through watching the BBC series "The Last Kingdom" that got me interested in King Alfred, and reading this contemporaneous history seemed a logical segue way.
I've read a few stories out of here so far, but haven't yet gone from start to finish. Seems like it will be a good read once I get to it :)
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Anglo Saxon Perio...: Asser's Life of Alfred The Great. Genuine or forgery? 1 8 Jul 22, 2012 05:07AM  
  • The Anglo-Saxon World: An Anthology
  • Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford History of England)
  • The Age of Bede
  • The Anglo-Saxons
  • Two Lives of Charlemagne
  • The History of the Franks
  • The Anglo Saxon Chronicle
  • Chronicles of the Crusades
  • Chronicles
  • Feudal Society, Volume 2
  • Alfred the Great
  • The Alexiad
  • Orkneyinga Saga: The History of the Earls of Orkney
  • Fourteen Byzantine Rulers: The Chronographia of Michael Psellus
  • The Journey Through Wales & The Description of Wales
  • The Making of the Middle Ages
  • The Saxon and Norman Kings
  • Britain After Rome: The Fall and Rise, 400 to 1070
Bishop Asser of Sherborne.