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King Alfred the Great (871-899)
King Alfred and the Beggar (1) : An everyday act of charity triggered off a series of extraordinary events.
King Alfred and the Beggar
Part one

Based on Stories of the Olden Times, edited by James Johonnot, which is itself based on the ‘Historia de Sancto Cuthberto’ (History of St Cuthbert), 11th century.

Alfred the Great ruled Wessex (roughly, southern and western England) from 871 to 899, but he had to reclaim it from Danish invaders first. The King had only a handful of loyal men to rely on, and was hiding out on a hill amid the Somerset levels, at that time a marshy lake.

EARLY in his reign, King Alfred was driven out of the Kingdom of Wessex by the invading Danes. With a handful of loyal men, he took refuge in a house in Glastonbury, which at that time was a hill completely surrounded by water.

One day, when King Alfred’s companions had all gone out fishing to re-stock their miserably bare pantry, Alfred found a road-weary traveller standing at the door. The King sent him away very happy, with half of the last remaining loaf of bread in the house, and even some wine.

Fortunately, Alfred’s companions came back staggering under the weight of more fish than they had caught in three years. Even better, when the butler went to his pantry, he found the last loaf still there, whole and uncut.

Alfred fell asleep wondering how an army was to be raised, how the bread had got back into the pantry, and how the traveller had got onto the island without a boat.

Based on Stories of the Olden Times, edited by James Johonnot, which is itself based on the ‘Historia de Sancto Cuthberto’ (History of St Cuthbert), 11th century.

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Picture: Photo by Adrian Pingstone, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain. View original
The town of Glastonbury today, photographed from the Tor (a small, steep-sided hill) showing land at one time under water. © Adrian Pingstone, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain.
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Based on the account by Reginald of Durham
(12th century)
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Part Two
Based on the ‘Historia de Sancto Cuthberto’
(11th century)

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