Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Profiles in Toadying III: Asser

Unlikely to have actualy looked like this.And the change-up! Last time I mentioned Alfred the Great, it was in the context of making fun of Robert Powell's disgusting piece of toadying, The Life of Alfred. In this post, we're going to take a very brief look at the one that started it all, Asser's Life of King Alfred. When you're the king, you attract all sort of toadies and flatterers, and this nauseating little Welsh goblin was one of Alfred's. It worked, too, in that he got made Bishop of Sherborne and probably heaped with riches and so on.

Anyway, there is some debate at how much of Asser's Life was actually written by who and when, but if we assume for the moment that it was produced by someone in Alfred's circle, I'm going to go ahead and assume that Alfred, who had a bunch of elder brothers, had kind of an unhappy childhood, as evidenced by this passage:
Now, he was loved by his father and mother, and indeed by everybody, with a united and immense love, more than all his brothers, and was always brought up in the royal court, and as he passed through his childhood and boyhood he appeared fairer in form than all his brothers, and more pleasing in his looks, his words and his ways.

Bear in mind that all these brothers are dead. You can just see Alfred looming over the shoulder of this hapless monk, stabbing a Viking with one hand and building a cathedral with the other, all the while yelling "and don't to forget to mention how I was prettiest and everyone liked me best!"

That's a long time to hold a grudge, that's all I'm saying.


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