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King Alfred of England by Jacob Abbott

[Illustration: ALFRED THE GREAT]

MAKERS of HISTORY

KING ALFRED OF ENGLAND

BY JACOB ABBOTT

ILLUSTRATED

NEW YORK AND LONDON

HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred and forty-nine, by

HARPER & BROTHERS,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York.

PREFACE.

It is the object of this series of histories to present a clear, distinct, and connected narrative of the lives of those great personages who have in various ages of the world made themselves celebrated as leaders among mankind, and, by the part they have taken in the public affairs of great nations, have exerted the widest influence on the history of the human race. The end which the author has had in view is twofold: first, to communicate such information in respect to the subjects of his narratives as is important for the general reader to possess; and, secondly, to draw such moral lessons from the events described and the characters delineated as they may legitimately teach to the people of the present age. Though written in a direct and simple style, they are intended for, and addressed to, minds possessed of some considerable degree of maturity, for such minds only can fully appreciate the character and action which exhibits itself, as nearly all that is described in these volumes does, in close combination with the conduct and policy of governments, and the great events of international history.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. THE BRITONS II. THE ANGLO-SAXONS III. THE DANES IV. ALFRED'S EARLY YEARS V. THE STATE OF ENGLAND VI. ALFRED'S ACCESSION TO THE THRONE VII. REVERSES VIII. THE SECLUSION IX. REASSEMBLING OF THE ARMY X. THE VICTORY OVER THE DANES XI. THE REIGN XII. THE CLOSE OF LIFE

ILLUSTRATIONS

WALL OF SEVERUS SAXON MILITARY CHIEF THE SEA KINGS LOTHBROC AND HIS FALCON ANCIENT CORONATION CHAIR THE FIRST BRITISH FLEET ALFRED WATCHING THE CAKES PORTRAIT OF ALFRED HASTINGS BESIEGED IN THE CHURCH

ALFRED THE GREAT

CHAPTER I.

THE BRITONS.

Alfred the Great figures in history as the founder, in some sense, of the British monarchy. Of that long succession of sovereigns who have held the scepter of that monarchy, and whose government has exerted so vast an influence on the condition and welfare of mankind, he was not, indeed, actually the first. There were several lines of insignificant princes before him, who governed such portions of the kingdom as they individually possessed, more like semi-savage chieftains than English kings. Alfred followed these by the principle of hereditary right, and spent his life in laying broad and deep the foundations on which the enormous superstructure of the British empire has since been reared. If the tales respecting his character and deeds which have come down to us are at all worthy of belief, he was an honest, conscientious, disinterested, and far-seeing statesman. If the system of hereditary succession would always furnish such sovereigns for mankind, the principle of loyalty would have held its place much longer in the world than it is now likely to do, and great nations, now republican, would have been saved a vast deal of trouble and toil expended in the election of their rulers.


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