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King Alfred

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At a low point, Alfred flees through winter forest with his wife and young children, hunted by Danes.

Alfred was just twenty-four when he became king of Wessex. He had been elected by the Witan as the best man to face and defeat an invasion.

Heathen Danes were laying waste to the people and country. Peace was finally achieved when Alfred defeated them and the Danes accepted Christian teachings and common law. The dramatic story is told in compressed form here.

Alfred, whose feast day this is, had a regard for institutions – the Navy, grammar schools, the law. He built them up because he saw that safety and education and justice require an infrastructure.

Many people dislike institutions because they assume they will be hostile to freedom. The history of the Brits suggests that a number of institutions, including the Church, inspired and sustained the defenders of liberty. Not always, but surprisingly often.

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