Asser’s Life of King Alfred

Asser’s Life of King Alfred was commissioned by the King himself. The book is in two parts. The first concentrates on Alfred’s life to 887AD, the second part is a discussion of his rule. Asser’s work ends quite abruptly suggesting that the manuscript was not completed. Original copies of Asser’s work held at the British Library were lost to a fire in the 18th century, though there are numerous copies of the work from the Middle Ages.

Alfred Jewel.
Photograph taken by Mkooiman – click image to go to original file.

At 47 pages (A4) long the work is a lengthy source. It is available freely on the internet or could be purchased via good book retailers with academic notes alongside.

Resources and Links

A pdf copy of Asser’s Life of King Alfred is available here (external link).

The British Library has a selection of images from copies that they hold and an introductory post about the book, here.

This article is useful as it breaks down several of the more important sections of Asser’s work and provides commentary alongside.

History Today have a good article on King Alfred. Whilst it is not only about Asser’s work it provides context and examples of contrasting works on Alfred’s rule, along with an assessment as to why his reputation has changed over the centuries. You can read it, here.

Do you want to find other Primary Sources for use in your lessons, or for research purposes? Visit our Primary Sources page to see which areas we currently have a range of sources for.

Primary History

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Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of England

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