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203 [203]

King Alfrede or Alurede K. Alfrede. Scholes, Vniuersities. Actes and Monum. of the Church.

MarginaliaThe liberall hart of king Alfred.other to monasteries: The iij. portion to the schooles of Oxford, for the mainteynyng of good letters: The iiij. he sent to forein churches, without the realme. This also is left in stories writen to his commendation, for his great tolerance and sufferance: that when he had builded the new monastery at Wynchester, & afterward his sonne Edward had purchased of the byshop and the chapter a sufficient peece of ground for certayn offices to be adioyned vnto the same, & had geuē for euery foote of groūd, mancam auri pleni ponderis (whiche was as I thinke a marke of gold) or more: yet Alfred therwithall was not greatly discontented to see his cofers so wasted.

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MarginaliaHow wel and godly this king spent hys tyme.Ouer & besides, how sparing & frugal he was of time (as of a thyng in this earth most pretious) & how far frō all vayne pastymes & idlenes he was: this doth well declare, which in the story of William de Reg. & other writers is told of him. That he so deuided the daye & nyght in iij. partes, if he were not let by warres, or other great busines: that viij houres he spent in study and learning: and other viij. houres he spent in prayer & almes deedes: & other.8. houres he spent in hys natural rest, sustenāce of hys body, and the nedes of the realme. The which order he kept dewly by þe burnyng of waxē tapers kept in hys closet by certayn persons for þe same purpose. Guliel.

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MarginaliaThe godly lawes of kyng Alfrede.How studious he was & careful of the cōmon wealth and mayntenaūce of publike trāquilitie: his lawes most godly set forth and deuised by him may declare. Wherin especially by him was prouided, for the extirping and abolishing al thefte and theues out of the realme. Wherby, the realme through his vigilant care, was brought into such tranquilitie or rather perfection, MarginaliaA notable exāple of theuery and felony banished thys realme.that in euery crosse or turning way, he made be set vp a goldē brouch at least of siluer gilded, through his dominiōs: and none so hardy neither by day nor night to take it downe: for þe more credit wherof, þe wordes of þe Latin story be thes? Armillas aureas iuberet suspendi, quæ viantium auiditatem iritarent, dum non essent, qui eas abriperēt. &c. Guliel. Lib. de Regibus Angl. And no great meruell therin, yf the realme in those days was brought in such an order, & þt iustice thē was so wel ministred, whē þe kyng him self was so vigilant in ouerseyng the doynges of his iudges & officers. Wherof thus also wee read in the sayd autor testified: Iudiciorum a suis hominibus factorum, inquisitor, perperam actorum asperrimus corrector. i. he was, (sayth myne autor speakyng of the kyng) a vigilant inquisitor of the doynges of his iudges, & a strict punisher of their misdoyngs. Iornalensis also writyng vpō the same, thus sayth: MarginaliaEx historia Iornalens.facta ministrorum suorum, et potissime iudicum diligenter inuestigauit, adeo vt quos ex auaritia aut imperitia errare cognosceret, ab officio remouebat, that is, he dyd diligently search out the doynges of his officers, and especially of his iudges: so that if he knew any of them to erre either through couetousnes, or vnskylfulnes: them he remoued from their office.

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And thus much concernyng the valiant actes, & noble vertues of this worthy prince: wherunto although there were no other ornamēts adioining besides: yet sufficiēt wer they alone to set forth a prince worthy of excellēt cōmēdatiō. MarginaliaKyng Alfrede commended for learnyng. 

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Foxe's lengthiest passage on King Alfred was, not surprisingly, devoted to his patronage of letters. It reflected his own commitment to the humanist project to associate political virtue with an educational and literary renaissance. This is the context in which one must read the passage: 'But this we may see, what it is to haue a prince learned him selfe, who feling and tasting the price & value of science and knowledge: is theby not only the more apte to rule, but also to enstructe and frame his subiectes, from a rude barbaritie, to a more ciuile congruencie of life, and to a better vnderstanding of thinges'. Foxe's sources here expanded appropriately to include his base-text, which was William of Malmesbury's Gesta Regum ((J. S. Brewer, and C. T. Martin, 'William of Malmesbury: Gesta Regum.' In Reigistrum Malmesburiense. The Registor of Malmesbury Abbey, ed. by J.S. Brewer and C.T. Martin 2 vols. (London: Rolls Series, 1869-1880), 1, book 2, chs. 122-3 (esp. p. 194), elaborated with reference to John of Brompton's Chronicle ('Chronicon Johannis Brompton Abbatis Jornalensis.' In Historiæ Anglicanæ Scriptores X. [....], ed. by Roger Twysden (London, 1652), p. 814). The latter had mentioned Bede as his source, and Foxe confirms that account with a full and accurate reference (Bede, book 3, ch. 18). In addition, there were additions from Ranulph Higden's 'Polychronicon' (J. R. Lumby, ed. Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden monachi Cestrensis: together with the English translations of John Trevisa and of an unknown writer of the fifteenth century [London: Rolls Series, 1879], book 6, ch. 1, p. 358) and a longer passage from Roger of Howden (W. Stubbs, ed. Chronica magistri Rogeri de Houdene 4 vols, Rolls Series [London, 1868], 1, p. 41; 50). Fabian's Chronicle is used to provide the reference to Alfred's foundation of the school at Oxford (book 6, ch. 171). The brief material on Johannes Scotus comes largely from Howden (1, pp. 46-7) but with Scotus' character and epitaph taken from Malmesbury's 'Gesta Regum' (book 2, ch. 122).

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Now besides these other qualities & gifts of Gods grace in hym, aboue mentioned: remaineth an other part of hys no litle prayse & cōmendation, whiche is his learnyng and knowledge of good letters: wherof he not onely was excellently expert hym selfe, but also a worthy mainteyner of the same through all his dominions: where before, no vse of Grammer or other sciences was practised in this realme, especially about the Westparts of the land: MarginaliaWhen learning first began to be set vp in England.there through þe industrie of this kyng, scholes began to be erected, & studies to florish. Although emong the Britaines in the towne of MarginaliaChester a pleace of learnyng.Chester in Southwales long before that, in kyng Arthurs tyme, as Galfridus writeth: both Grammer, and Philosophy with other tounges was then taught. After that some writersrecord, that in the time of Egbert king of Kent, this Ileland began to florishe with Philosophie. Aboute which tyme some also thinke: MarginaliaThe vniuersitie of Grauntchester by Cābridge.that the vniuersitie of Grauntechester, nere to that whiche now is called Cambrige, began to be founded, by Bede: followyng this coniecture therin, for that Alcuinus (before mentioned) which after went to Rome, and from thence to Fraunce, in the time of Charles the great, MarginaliaThe vniuersitie of Paris fyrst began by iiii. Rabanus, Alcuinus, Claudius, Ioan. Scotus.
Sigebert kyng of Eastāgles, a setter vp of scholes.
Two auncēit scholes in England one for Greke, the other for Latine.
where he first began the vniuersitie of Paris: was first tradid vp in the exercise of studyes, at the same schole of Grauntechester. Beda Lib. III. cap. 18, writyng also of Sigebert king of Eastangles, declareth how the sayd Sigebert returning out of Fraūce into England (accordyng to the examples whiche he did there see) ordered & disposed scholes of learning, through the meanes of Felix then bishop: and placed in them masters & teachers, after the vse and maner of the Cantuarites. And yet before these tymes, moreouer is thought to be ij. scholes or vniuersities within the realme: thone Greke, at the towne of Greglade, whiche after was called Kyrkelade: The other for Latine, whiche place was the called Latinelade: afterwarde Letthelade nere to Oxforde.

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But how so euer it chaunced that the knowledge and studie of good letters being once planted in this realme afterward went to decay: yet king Alfred deserueth no litle prayse, for restoring or rather increasing the same. After whose time they haue euer since continued, albeit not continually through euery age in like perfectiō. But this we may see, what it is to haue a prince learned him selfe, who feling and tasting the price & value of science and knowledge: is therby not only the more apte to rule, but also to enstructe and frame his subiectes, frō a rude barbaritie, to a more ciuile congruencie of life, and to a better vnderstanding of thinges: as we see in thys famous prince to happen. Concerning whose first education and bringing vp, although it was somewhat late before he entred any letter: yet such was the apte towardnes and docilitie of hys nature, that being a child, he had the Saxon poemes (such as were vsed then in hys own tonge) by hart & memorye. Who afterward with yeares and tyme grew vp in such perfection of learning and knowledge, in so much that, as myne author sayth, nullus anglorū suerit vel intelligendo acutior, vel in interpretando elegantior. MarginaliaEx historia Guli. de regibus Angl.The which thing in him the more was to be marueled, for that he was. xij. yeares of age before he knew any letter. Thē his mother, careful and tender ouer him, hauing by chaunce a boke in her hand, which he would fayne haue: promised to geue hym the same, so that he would learne it. Wherupon he for gredines of the booke, eftsones learned the letters, MarginaliaPleimūdus teacher of king Alfred, & after byshop of Cant.hauing to his scholemaister Pleimundus, after bishop of Canterburye. And so dayly grewe more and more in knowledge, that at length, as myne author sayth, plurimam partem Romanæ bibliothecæ Anglorum auribus dedit, optimam prædam peregrinarum mercium ciuium vsibus conuertens. That is. A great part of the latine library he translated into englishe, conuerting to the vses of his citizens, a noble pray of foren ware and marchandyse, &c. MarginaliaBookes translated out of Latine by K. Alfrede.Of which bookes by him & through him translated, was Orosius: Pastorale Gregorij. The historye of Bede: Boecius de consolatione philosophiæ. Also a booke of his own making & in hys own tonge, which in the englishe speech he caled a handbooke, in Greeke called it Enchiridion, in latine a manuell. Besides the historye of Bede translated into the Saxons tounge, he also himselfe compiled a storye in the same speech, called the storye of Alfride, &c. which both bookes in the Saxons tounge I haue seene, though the language I doe not vnderstand. And as he was learned himself excellently well, so likewise dyd he inflame al his countrey men to þe loue of liberall letters, as the wordes of the storie reporteth, illos præmijs, hos inijurijs hortando, neminem illiteratum ad qualibet curiæ

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