But it happened on a certain day, that the countrywoman, wife of the cowherd, was preparing some loaves to bake, and the king, sitting at the hearth, made ready his bow and arrows and other warlike instruments. The unlucky woman espying the cakes burning at the fire, ran up to remove them, and rebuking the brave king, exclaimed:
“Ca’sn thee mind the ke-aks, man, an’ doossen zee ’em burn?
I’m boun thee’s eat ’em vast enough, az zoon az ‘tiz the
From a single mention in an email, I find myself delving into the world of King Alfred the Great of Wessex (Britain). and finding this wonderful gem of a translated biography from 1847. As the above story shows, it reads as a story book, and, indeed, references to the lineage of the day resonates with “Lord of the Rings” and other modern fantasies. There is also that disquieting phrase, in the biography, that reminded me that this is a story from another era, when accepted prejudices against the Jews could be used as a metaphor to clarify the severity of misbehaviour, “and both those two who, like Jews, sought to betray their master”.
King Alfred’s official biography doesn’t seem to support the notion that he met the Abbisidian Caliph (Musa or Harun Al-Rashid were contemporaries). Charlamagne who was a more powerful (Frankish) king did receive gifts from Harun (a clock and possibly an elephant). Alfred did go to Rome as a youth and possibly so did Harun. So conjecture lies in the medieval connections between the rulers of Christianity, Islam and the pagans (Danes etc). Certainly Islam showed the greater technological and trade advancements of the time, that perhaps only tranfered to Europe after the much later Crusades.
Interestingly, Harun made Jews wear identifying clothes, much like our more recent resident evil, the Nazis. Considering the above in Alfred’s biography, prejudice against the Jews may have been one common interest. today, the west seems to have largely gotten over it, while Islamic nations seem still to be riddled. Maybe the degree of anti-semitism can be used as a benchmark for how far a society has become truly civilised.