These awards recall the memory of the warrior/educator/administrator and ruler Alfred, generally acknowledged as “the Great” (849-899) who expelled Danes from Wessex and eventually from England. He used to be known to every primary school child, if only for the legend that he went to sleep in a humble cottage while he was on the run from the Danes, and allowed the bread on the fire to burn.
Alfred succeeded in government as well as at war. He was a wise administrator, organizing his finances and the service due from his thanes (noble followers). He scrutinized the administration of justice and took steps to ensure the protection of the weak from oppression by ignorant or corrupt judges. He promulgated an important code of laws, after studying the principles of lawgiving in the Book of Exodus and the codes of Aethelbert of Kent, Ine of Wessex (688–694), and Offa of Mercia (757–796), again with special attention to the protection of the weak and dependent. While avoiding unnecessary changes in custom, he limited the practice of the blood feud and imposed heavy penalties for breach of oath or pledge.
Alfred is most exceptional, however, not for his generalship or his administration but for his attitude toward learning. He shared the contemporary view that Viking raids were a divine punishment for the people’s sins, and he attributed these to the decline of learning, for only through learning could men acquire wisdom and live in accordance with God’s will. Hence, in the lull from attack between 878 and 885, he invited scholars to his court from Mercia, Wales, and the European continent. He learned Latin himself and began to translate Latin books into English in 887. He directed that all young freemen of adequate means must learn to read English, and, by his own translations and those of his helpers, he made available English versions of “those books most necessary for all men to know,” books that would lead them to wisdom and virtue.
Lets see how King Charles III goes in comparison. This is a bit unfair because the king in those days could lead the army in battle, tell public officials and administrators what to do and spend as he liked from the public purse.
The Jacques Barzun Award for history, cultural studies and education. Keith Windschuttle.
The Brian Penton awards for bohemian or hippie conservatives. Barry Humphries (dec).
In case you were wondering about hippie conservatism.
The William Harold Hutt award for industrial relations. Gerard Henderson
The Peter Bauer award for economics. Wolfgang Kasper
The Laughing for Liberty award. Barry Humphries (dec). The award was decided while Mr Humphries was alive. Regrettably this is the second posthumous winner. The first was Bill Leak. The idea of the award is to honour the long record of comics, artists, comedians and satirists who fought the good fight for liberty.