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King Alfred the Great (871-899)
How Alfred Burnt the Cakes : A popular tale of scorched cakes and a scolded king.
How Alfred Burnt the Cakes

From ‘Young Folks’ History of England’, by Charlotte Yonge (1823-1901). Slightly altered.

King Alfred the Great ruled from 871 to 899. He did more than any other king to unite the English as a nation, but first he had to overcome an invasion of Danes from across the North Sea, and a very cross housewife.

ALFRED was only twenty-two years old when he came to the throne, and the kingdom was overrun everywhere with the Danes.

At last he had so very few faithful men left him, that he thought it wise to send them away, and take refuge in the Somersetshire marsh country.

There is a pretty story told of him that he was hiding in the hut of a poor herdsman, whose wife, thinking he was a poor wandering soldier as he sat by the fire mending his bow and arrows, desired him to turn the cakes she had set to bake upon the hearth.

Presently she found them burning, and cried out angrily, “Lazy rogue! you can’t turn the cakes, though you can eat them fast enough.”

From ‘Young Folks’ History of England’, by Charlotte Yonge (1823-1901). Slightly altered.

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Picture: © Jon Thomson, Wikimedia Commons. Licence CC-BY-SA 2.0. View original
Oatcakes, a simple biscuit such as the farm labourer’s wife might have been baking.
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