King Alfred of Wessex, A Great Leader

Gene Veith writes a short, interesting piece for Tabletalk magazine on the Christian leadership exhibited by King Alfred of Wessex. Alfred assumed the throne in AD 871 at the age of twenty-two. Almost immediately, the Vikings invaded England, and Alfred responded by unifying the various tribes against the common threat. Breaking from the pattern of past leaders, Alfred later codified the rule of law to end the socially debilitating vengeance practices perpetrated by family against family. But Alfred also Christianized the law, writes Veith:

He began his written code with the Ten Commandments, followed by the Golden Rule of Jesus. He replaced the blood feuds with a system of fines that would be enforced not by individual avengers but by the king and his officers. He instituted a judicial system, including trial by jury.

Alfred was an example of a young Christian man who “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (I Timothy 4:12).
It just so happens that Alfred is also the name sake of the institution (and the town!) where I earned a Bachelor of Science degree, Alfred University. Alfred (like many other universities) no longer bears any distinctive Christian moorings, but there is a statue of King Alfred on the campus that served as a helpful rendezvous spot for my friends and I when I was there. For any other Alfred University alumni out there, you’ll doubly enjoy Veith’s summary of King Alfred’s distinguished Christian leadership.

One Response to “King Alfred of Wessex, A Great Leader”

  1. Michael Duenes April 30, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

    Thanks for this, Alex. It is interesting to see how Christian truth has influenced law and the basic ethics by which western culture has prospered. We trample it under foot to our own peril, as we are seeing.

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