King Alfred. Everybody knows that he is called “the Great,” but few remember why. Forgetfulness is strange, for few men have led lives so full of physical, mental, and spiritual adventure, or influenced in so many ways the lives of people in every part of the globe. The Golden Dragon is his fascinating and moving story, told afresh with the aid of recent archaeological evidence and research in four languages.
Alfred’s achievements have melted cynicism. Gibbon called him “the greatest of English kings”; Hume, “the greatest man in history.” Voltaire declared, “I know not whether there has ever been a man on earth worthier of posterity’s respect.” When his kingdom was reduced to thirty acres, he fought back with such courage and genius that he expelled the Viking invaders and made possible the saving of Western civilization. His list of accomplishments is amazing: transcendent diplomat, Europe’s greatest naval designer, notable architect, law giver, founder of the oldest literary tradition in the Occident, originator of a system of public education, and producer of translations that have endured a thousand years.
The author’s research led him to the conclusion that the ninth-century English kin was the superior of Charlemagne in almost every respect, and indeed was one of the greatest geniuses Western civilization has ever produced. Alfred’s courage, faith, and temperance are enduring examples for modern men.
Alf Mapp Jr. was a professor of history, literature, and Western civilization at Old Dominion University. His writings, including The Virginia Experiment and Frock Coats and Epaulets, have been published in nine languages and have earned him a Freedoms Foundation Honor Medal, a Pulitzer nomination and numerous American and British citations. As a journalist he covered Truman, Eisenhower and Churchill. He was a direct descendent of Alfred the Great.
Woodcuts by Bruce Carter