A Companion to Alfred the Great


Eleven major scholars of the Anglo-Saxon period consider Alfred the Great, his cultural milieu, and his achievements. With revised or revived views of the Alfredian revival, the contributors help set the agenda for future work on a most challenging period. The collection features the methods of history, art history, and literature in a newer key and with an interdisciplinary view on a period that offers less evidence than inference. Major themes linking the essays include authorship, translation practice and theory, patristic influence, Continental connections, and advances in textual criticism. The Alfredian moment has always surprised scholars because of its intellectual reach and its ambition. The contributors to this collection describe how we must now understand that ambition.
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Biographical Note

Nicole Guenther Discenza is Associate Professor of English at the University of South Florida. Her publications include The King’s English: Strategies of Translation in the Old English Boethius (2005) and a number of articles and book chapters.

Paul E. Szarmach is Emeritus Professor of English and Medieval Studies (Western Michigan University). His special area is Anglo-Saxon England with special reference to Latin backgrounds. He is a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America.

Table of contents

Notes on Contributors
List of figures
Abbreviations and Short Titles

I. Context
1. Simon Keynes, Alfred the Great and the Kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons
2. Leslie Webster, The Art of Alfred and His Times
3. Rosalind Love, Latin Commentaries on Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy

II. Alfred as Author
4. Janet M. Bately, Alfred as Author and Translator
5. Susan Irvine, Alfredian Prologues and Epilogues
6. Carolin Schreiber, Searoðonca Hord: Alfred’s Translation of Gregory the Great’s Regula Pastoralis
7. Nicole Guenther Discenza, The Old English Boethius
8. Paul E. Szarmach, Augustine's Soliloquia in Old English
9. Patrick P. O’Neill, The Prose Translation of Psalms 1–50
10. Mary Richards, The Laws of Alfred and Ine

III. Alfrediana
11. Janet M. Bately, The Orosius
12. Susan Irvine, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
13. David F. Johnson, Alfredian Apocrypha: The Dialogues and the Bede

Appendix A: Annotated Bibliography on the Authorship Issue

Notes on Contributors

Janet M. Bately is Sir Israel Gollancz Professor Emeritus of English Language and Medieval Literature, King’s College, London, having begun her academic career as Assistant Lecturer, Lecturer, then Reader in English Language and Medieval Literature at Birkbeck College London, before moving to the chair at King’s. Her research, often reflecting her teaching, has covered a range of different subject areas, though almost invariably with a ‘language’ component. Her two main interests are in early Modern English lexicography (particularly that of the seventeenth century) and ninth-century OE texts (with editions of Chronicle, Orosius and Tanner Bede and papers on the Alfredian canon .)

Nicole Guenther Discenza is Associate Professor of English at the University of South Florida. She specializes in Old English prose, particularly texts associated with Alfred and his circle and Anglo-Saxon constructions of space. Her publications include "Writing the Mother Tongue in the Shadow of Babel," Conceptualizing Multilingualism in England 800–1250, ed. Elizabeth M. Tyler (Turnholt: 2011); “Following in the Tracks of Bede: Science and Cosmology in the English Benedictine Reform,” Anglo-Saxon Traces, ed. Jane Roberts and Leslie Webster (Tempe, AZ: 2011); and The King’s English: Strategies of Translation in the Old English Boethius (Albany, NY: 2005).

Susan Irvine is Quain Professor of English Language and Literature at University College London. She is author of Old English Homilies from MS Bodley 343 (1993) and The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle MS E (2004), and co-author (with Bruce Mitchell) of Beowulf Repunctuated (2000) and (with Malcolm Godden) of The Old English Boethius (2009), which was awarded the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists 2011 ‘Best Edition’ Prize, and The Old English Boethius with Verse Prologues and Epilogues (2012). She has also published articles on twelfth-century writings, Old English poetry, and literature associated with King Alfred. She is currently editing the prefaces and epilogues to Alfredian writings.

David F. Johnson is Professor of English at the Florida State University. In addition to a collaborative critical edition of the Old English Translation of Gregory’s Dialogues, he is currently working on a book about the punctuation interventions of the Tremulous Scribe of Worcester in Old English manuscripts. He is a past Executive Director of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists, and current member of the Speculum Book Reviews Board as area editor for medieval English literatures, with a special emphasis on Anglo-Saxon.

Simon Keynes is Elrington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. His books include The Diplomas of King Æthelred the Unready (978–1016), published in 1980; Alfred the Great: Asser’s ‘Life of King Alfred’ and Other Contemporary Sources, in collaboration with Michael Lapidge (1983); a facsimile edition of The ‘Liber Vitae’ of the New Minster, Winchester (1996); and Anglo-Saxon England: A Bibliographical Handbook for Students of Anglo-Saxon History, 8th ed. (2012). His other publications include a study of the ‘cult’ of Alfred the Great from the 11th to the 19th century.

Rosalind Love (Ph.D., University of Cambridge, 1991), is Reader in Insular Latin in the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic, at the University of Cambridge, where she teaches Insular Latin language and literature, palaeography and textual criticism. During 2007–12 she was involved in a project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust and headed by Professor Malcolm Godden at the University of Oxford, to edit the glosses on the Consolation of Philosophy in manuscripts up to 1100. She has published on Anglo-Latin hagiography of the eleventh century, including two editions in the series Oxford Medieval Texts, of which she is now one of the General Editors.

Patrick P. O’Neill is the James Gordon Hanes Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at the Department of English and Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His research centres on literary interactions between the English and Celtic worlds during the Middle Ages. His book, King Alfred's Old English Prose Translation of the First Fifty Psalms, was awarded the Sir Israel Gollancz Prize (2005) by the British Academy.

Mary P. Richards is Professor of English Emerita at the University of Delaware, USA. The author of four books and numerous essays and reviews, she has focused upon Anglo-Saxon and early Norman manuscripts and texts, especially those associated with Rochester Cathedral Priory and the Old English laws. Since 1986 she has published eight essays on the laws, most recently “I-II Cnut: Wulfstan’s Summa?” in English Law before Magna Carta: Felix Liebermann and Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen, ed. Stefan Jurasinski, Lisi Oliver, and Andrew Rabin (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 137–56.

Carolin Schreiber worked as a lecturer for English historical linguistics and mediaeval literature at the universities of Munich and Göttingen. Her PhD dissertation on the Alfredian Pastoral Care, supervised by Helmut Gneuss, was published in 2003. She is now a curator of manuscripts at the Bavarian State Library in Munich and member of the editorial board of the German national manuscripts portal Manuscripta Mediaevalia. Other areas of interest are Old English philology, and insular manuscripts in continental collections—see N. Morgan and C. Schreiber (eds.), The Golden Munich Psalter (München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 835), 2 vols. (Luzern: 2011).

Paul E. Szarmach is Emeritus Professor of English and Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University and currently Visiting Scholar, University of California-Berkeley. He recently completed a five-year term as Executive Director of the Medieval Academy of America and Editor of Speculum. His previous service includes thirteen years as Director of the Medieval Institute at Western Michigan University, where he was also Professor of English and Medieval Studies and Distinguished Faculty Scholar. Szarmach has received the Medal of Merit from the Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznan) and the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland. A contributor to Brill's Companion to Boethius in the Middle Ages, Szarmach is President of the International Boethius Society. Szarmach’s major field of study is Old English Prose with special reference to Latin backgrounds and to Alfredian translations and the literature of later Anglo-Saxon England.

Leslie Webster was for many years senior curator of the British Museum’s unrivalled Anglo-Saxon collections and more recently Keeper (head) of the Department of Prehistory and Europe there, from which she retired in 2007. During her time at the Museum, she co-curated four major exhibitions on Anglo-Saxon and early medieval Insular themes, including The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art, 966–1066, and The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon Art and Culture AD 600–900. She has also curated an exhibition on The Anglo-Saxon Feast at the Sutton Hoo Visitor Centre. In addition to exhibition catalogues, she has published numerous articles on Anglo-Saxon art and artefacts, and edited several volumes of essays; her most recent monographs include Anglo-Saxon Art: a New History (Cornell University Press), and The Franks Casket (British Museum Press) both published in 2012. Her 2011 Brixworth Lecture, From Wall-paintings to Altar-cloths: Furnishing the Anglo-Saxon Church, will be published in 2015.


Graduate students and scholars in early medieval history, art history, literary studies, or Anglo-Saxon Studies; members of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists; members of medieval institutes and centers.


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