The Medieval Life of King Alfred the Great

A Translation and Commentary on the Text Attributed to Asser

  • Authors
  • Alfred P. Smyth

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xx
  2. Translation of the Life of King Alfred

    1. Alfred P. Smyth
      Pages 1-54
  3. Commentary

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 55-55
    2. Alfred P. Smyth
      Pages 57-91
    3. Alfred P. Smyth
      Pages 92-131
    4. Alfred P. Smyth
      Pages 132-161
    5. Alfred P. Smyth
      Pages 162-201
  4. Back Matter
    Pages 211-280

About this book


Very few King's earn the appellation 'Great'. Alfred is the only English King honoured with this name and is credited with various successes (the foundation of a navy, English education system and religious revival). His memory looms large in the English Imagination. The medieval 'Life' of King Alfred of Wessex purports to be written by Asser, a monk in the King's service. This account of one of England's best loved and most famous kings has been accepted as offering evidence on most aspects of life in early medieval England and beyond. It was used in Victorian times to create a 'Cult' of Alfred. Alfred Smyth offers a carefully annotated translation of the 'Life' together with a long commentary. He argues that the 'Life' is a forgery which has profound implications not only for our understanding of the early English and medieval past but also for the nature of biography and history. This close scholarly rendering of the text allows the reader access to the intricacies of medieval history.


England history manuscripts medieval history

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2002
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, London
  • eBook Packages Palgrave History Collection
  • Print ISBN 978-1-349-40228-1
  • Online ISBN 978-0-230-28722-8
  • Buy this book on publisher's site