Sunday August 18th 2013 Tim Candler
In those days of course keeping good with the
Church had certain advantages. Alfred was so favored by the Pope in Rome
that Anglo Saxons living within Rome did not have to pay any sort of
duty, tax or tribute. Offa for his part, irritated Rome. Offa's
disagreement with Canterbury, resulted in Offa creating a new
archdiocese closer to the heart of Mercia. A place called Lichfield.
In Offa's day, near where Lichfield Cathedral now stands there
would have been a wooden church that contained the bones of Saint Chad,
who had converted the Mercian clans to Christianity.
But beyond not irritating the church, Alfred has yet
one more advantage over Offa in the matter of First King of England.
He wanted to increase the level of literacy. Fewer and fewer Anglo Saxons
read Latin. Alfred bribed the most learned monks he could find, some of them
from Europe, to join his court, where one of their roles was to translate
books from Latin into Old English. Alfred himself is said to have translated
four books. And it has been said that when it came to teaching the young,
Alfred's idea was to first learn to read English, and then if a person was
serious about reading they could go on to learn Latin.