King Alfred was born at Wantage, the 5th son of King Ethelwulf of Wessex. He was taken when about four to Rome, where, though so young, he was given Consular rank, and, according to the legend, was apointed King by Pope Leo IV. He succeeded his brother Ethelred on the throne of Wessex in 871 : fought the Danes : became over-lord of all England : died in 899, and was buried at Winchester, but the vandals of the 18th century in the year 1787 " scattered his dust and sold his coffin for two pounds." Alfred was the regenerator of England, a great legislator, a patron of learning, and himself the learned translator of Boethius, Bede, St. Gregory the Great, and Orosius. He was a devoted Christian "setting aside half his time, and half his revenue to the immediate service of God." Henry VI applied in vain to Pope Eugenius IV for his canonization, but the Convocations of the modern Church of England, greatly daring, have inserted his name on October 26 in the calendar of the New Prayer Book (1928). It has been said that "Alfred is one of the few historical characters that all writers delight to honour. Almost with one consent historians have pronounced that he comes pretty nearly as close to perfection as a man and a King as any ruler of whom there is record." He was called " England's Darling," and Von Ranke proclaims him as one of the greatest figures in the history of the of the world."
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