The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

The New Kingdom Almanac: Alfred the Great, White Horse King

Alfred the Great, son of Æthelwulf of Wessex (West Saxons), vanquisher of the Danish warlord Guthrum, victor of the field of Ethandun, warrior king and royal servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was on this day, May 6 anno Domini 878, after having spent years studying the methods of the Viking raiders and engineering many advances in field and naval combat[1], that the Anglo-Saxon King Alfreda defeated the cruel Northmen of Scandinavia and preserved Christendom in Britannia, thus making the unification of that land possible for the first time since the occupation of the Roman Legions four centuries earlier [2].

Before the gods that made the gods
Had seen their sunrise pass,
The White Horse of the White Horse Vale
Was cut out of the grass.

Before the gods that made the gods
Had drunk at dawn their fill,
The White Horse of the White Horse Vale
Was hoary on the hill.

Age beyond age on British land,
Æons on æons gone,
Was peace and war in western hills,
And the White Horse looked on.

For the White Horse knew England
When there was none to know;
He saw the first oar break or bend,
He saw heaven fall and the world end,
O God, how long ago.

~Excerpt from Gilbert Keith Chesterton’s The Ballad of the White Horse

In his recent study of the life of King Alfred, Dr. Benjamin R Merkleb summates:TheWhiteHorseKing.Merkle
“…the whole of Britain had fallen to the savage dominion of the Viking invaders. The Saxon kings who had fought against the Danes had all either been cut down in bloody combat or captured and executed in gory sacrifice (by such beastly methods as the Blood Eaglec)…Only one man remained to hold off the Viking assault – King Alfred, young king of Wessex, who took his war-weary band of Anglo-Saxon men…and led them from the edge of extinction back to face their enemies once more on the field of battle.
“He was a seasoned warrior, a scholar, a poet, a law-giver, and architect and shipwright, and a zealous Christian.
“Alfred was great because Alfred was a great king.” [3]

Dr. George Grant, polymath pastor and educator, writes of the day:

“Presciently, Chesterton concludes the poem with a mournful soliloquy by Alfred, in which the now-aged king laments that the next invasion to threaten the peace of Christendom would not come from the barbarian hoards but rather from within, by an educated elite.”

I have a vision, and I know
The heathen shall return.
They shall not come with warships,
They shall not waste with brands,
But books be all their eating,

And ink be on their hands.

“Alfred’s victory reverberates to this day: he sparked a literary renaissance, restricted Britain’s roadways, revised the legal codes, and revived Christian learning and worship. It was Alfred’s accomplishments that laid the groundwork for Britain’s later glories and triumphs in literature, liturgy, and liberty.” ~ Dr. Grant

│The New Kingdom Almanac is a periodical feature of Kuyperian Commentary
that highlights significant figures in the history of God’s covenant people│

Aaron W Eley is the owner of a Real Estate Appraisal Business. He graduated from Ruston high School in 1996, and studied architecture and studio art at Louisiana Technical University. He and his wife Aleta are parents to four children of the Covenant. They are members of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church (CREC), along the banks of the Ouachita River in Monroe, LA, where their children attend Geneva Academy

~ Resources for Further Inquiry ~

a The other children of Æthelwulf, even his daughter all carried an element of their father’s name – the Anglo-Saxon Æthel means ‘princely’ or ‘high born’. The ‘noble’ Æthel was dropped for the fifth sone Alfred, which means ‘elf wisdom.’

b Dr. Merkle is undergraduate Dean and Fellow of Theology at New Saint Andrews College in Moscow, ID, and is a contributor at Canon Press and Canon Wired

c The Blood Eagle:A brutal and ruthless method of torture and sacrificial execution mentioned in the Nordic saga legends. It was performed by cutting the captive open along the spine. The ribs were then broken and spread like bloody wings. The lungs were pulled through the open back and salt was poured on the wounds.

[1] For all things Alfred, visit the official website of the British Monarchy

[2] The Christian Almanac,A Book of Days Celebrating Histories Most Significant People & Events;  Dr. George Grant (Founder of Kings Meadow Study Center & Mr. Greg Wilbur (Senior Fellow of New College Franklin), Cumberland House, i2000, ii2004.

[3] The White Horse King: the Life of Alfred the Great; Benjamin Merkle, Thomas Nelson, 2009.

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