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Page 36

CHAPTER I
FIFTH TO ELEVENTH CENTURIES - EARLY ENGLISH PERIOD

that is the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. In almost every convent the monks were accustomed to set down what seemed to them the most important events, such as the death of a king, an attack by the Danes, an unusually high tide, or an eclipse of the sun. One of these lists of events was kept at Winchester, Alfred's capital city, and the idea occurred to him of revising this table, adding to it from Bede's Ecclesiastical History and other sources, and making it the beginning of a progressive history of his kingdom. It is possible that Alfred himself did this revising, and it can hardly be doubted that he wrote at least the accounts of some of his own battles with the Danes.
Death of Alfred. In 901 it was written in the Chronicle, " This year died Alfred, the son of Ethelwulf." King Alfred left England apparently on the way to literary progress, if not greatness. The kingdom was at peace ; the Danes of the north and the English of the south were under one king, and were, nominally at least, ruled by the same laws ; churches had arisen over the kingdom ; monasteries had been built and endowed ; schools were increasing in number and in excellence ; books of practical worth had been translated, probably more than have come down to us ; the people had been encouraged to learn the language of scholars, yet their own native tongue had not been scorned, but rather raised to the rank of a literary language. There seemed every reason to expect national progress in all directions, and especially in matters intellectual.
Literature during the -Tenth and Eleventh Centuries. The contrary was the fact. For this there were two reasons :(i) Alfred's rule was that of one man. His subjects studied because the King

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