On the base of this King Alfred statue the following words are found:
- Alfred found learning dead and he restored it
Education neglected and he revived it
The laws powerless and he gave them force
The church debased and he raised it
The land ravaged by a fearful enemy from which he delivered it
Alfred’s name will live as long as mankind shall respect the past
The great life lesson of G.K. Chesterton was that the “long ago and far away” may very well open our eyes to the “here and now” better than the events that swirl about us each day.
Alfred the Great was born in a time of great national distress, similar in many ways to America today. The foundations of everything stable seemed to be crumbling, the world literally falling apart. It appeared that there were no great men on the scene. Alfred became what a true Christian leader ought to be, what he should be in times of overwhelming difficulty.
For centuries after Christ the biblical foundations of civilization had been birthed and developed by Celtic Christians. But by the 9th century, it seemed that England was destined to be destroyed by the marauding, blood-thirsty Viking armies. Even London fell to the invaders.
Alfred, the one independent king left in all of England came from a county called Wessex. He had been made head of his father’s army at the age of 17. In the coming years Alfred lost his father and older brothers in battle and was left alone to face the invaders. Alfred made a treaty of peace with the Vikings in 877 for the winter holidays. The Vikings broke that treaty and attacked Alfred’s castle on Christmas night. In the chaos that ensued most of the English were killed, but Alfred escaped with 200 of his men into a swampy marsh.
That winter, facing near starvation and the loss of all of England, Alfred had an epiphany, a real conversion to faith in Jesus Christ. The love of Christ inspired him to surrender his kingly pride. He repented and was imbued by the power of the Holy Spirit with a new, selfless courage. That spring, Alfred won a decisive victory against the Vikings. The future of the world was transformed that day, not only because brutal paganism was turned back, but because Alfred was then free to create a thoroughly God-honoring civilization and government.
Alfred was merciful in victory. He baptized them, trained them in the doctrines of the faith, and sent them back to rule in northern England. Alfred’s graciousness in victory was blessed of God. His descendants ruled England for over a century and confirmed that England would become a beacon of Christian faith.
He was bold in battle and fierce in defending his homeland. In order to continue defending his borders he built regional fortifications, designed ships, created the English Navy, and fought in 54 hand to hand battles.
Read the rest of the story at World History Institute