Du er her: KRL Norsk Engelsk Matematikk Samfunnsfag Natur & miljø TverrfagligFilosofiske samtaler Forsiden Forum E-postliste Kontakt Hjelp Om
8.-10. klasse English kings in the Middle Ages Alfred and the cakes
 English kings in the Middle Ages deco

Alfred the Great (849-899)

Alfred and the cakes

Øyvind Olsholt/Clipart.com
Filosofiske spørsmål:
Øyvind Olsholt
Sist oppdatert: 20. januar 2004

Alfred has to flee from the mad Danes and on his escape he comes to a woodcutters hut in the midst of a large forest. He asks politely for some food and shelter and the wife says OK. There is only one thing she wants him to do in return for her favours. This Alfred forgets to do. Then... well, read on and you will see what happens.

Many years ago there lived in England a wise and good king whose name was Alfred. No other man ever did so much for his country as he; and people now, all over the world, speak of him as Alfred the Great.

In those days a king did not have a very easy life. There was war almost all the time, and no one else could lead his army into battle so well as he. And so, between ruling and fighting, he had a busy time of it indeed.

A fierce, rude people, called the Danes, had come from over the sea, and were fighting the English. There were so many of them, and they were so bold and strong, that for a long time they won every battle. If they kept on, they would soon be the masters of the whole country.

At last, after a great battle, the English army was broken up and scattered. Every man had to save himself in the best way he could. King Alfred fled alone, in great haste, through the woods and swamps.

Late in the day the king came to the hut of a woodcutter. He was very tired and hungry, and he begged the woodcutter's wife to give him something to eat and a place to sleep in her hut.

The woman was baking some cakes upon the hearth, and she looked with pity upon the poor, ragged fellow who seemed so hungry. She had no thought that he was the king.

"Yes," she said, "I will give you some supper if you will watch these cakes. I want to go out and milk the cow; and you must see that they do not burn while I am gone."

King Alfred was very willing to watch the cakes, but he had far greater things to think about. How was he going to get his army together again? And how was he going to drive the fierce Danes out of the land? He forgot his hunger; he forgot the cakes; he forgot that he was in the woodcutter's hut. His mind was busy making plans for tomorrow.

In a little while the woman came back. The cakes were smoking on the hearth. They were burned to a crisp. Ah, how angry she was!

"You lazy fellow!" she cried. "See what you have done! You want something to eat, but you do not want to work!"

I have been told that she even struck the king with a stick; but I can hardly believe that she was so ill-natured.

The king must have laughed to himself at the thought of being scolded in this way; and he was so hungry that he did not mind the woman's angry words half so much as the loss of the cakes.

I do not know whether he had anything to eat that night, or whether he had to go to bed without his supper. But it was not many days until he had gathered his men together again, and had beaten the Danes in a great battle.

Suggested topics for philosophical discussion

  1. The woodcutter's wife asks Alfred to watch the cakes while she is out to milk the cow. He said yes to this, but then he forgets all about the cakes and they get burned. When the wife returns and discovers that her bakery is destroyed, she is very angry.

    The wife didn't know that her guest was a king. Do you think she would have been just as angry if she knew who he was? Why are we often more willing to accept blunders from certain people but not from others? What makes a king different from a woodcutter? What makes an important human being different from an unimportant human being? Or is it wrong to draw a line between important and unimportant people?
  2. Was it more important for the king that night to think about warfare than about food? Must not also a king have food? What is most important in life: food or thoughts? Milking cows or thinking about how to defeat an enemy of the state? repairing bicycles or studying remote galaxies in space?
  3. Do you think this story would have survived all the centuries if this guest in the cottage of the woodcutter had not been a king? Would the story have been less funny if he had not been a king? Do you think it is a funny story? Why/why not?
tilbake-ikon frem-ikon

tilbake-ikon  filosofi-ikon  frem-ikon
[her kommer en innlesning av teksten]
Når du holder musen over de uthevede ordene i teksten, dukker det opp en forklaring!
Alfred the Great
  About Alfred the Great
Du er her Alfred and the cakes
  Alfred and the beggar
Canute the Great
  About Canute the Great
  Canute on the seashore
William the Conqueror
  The sons of William the Conqueror
  William and the wise men
The text with philosophical questions
interaktive øvelser
Fill in the gaps in the text
© www.skoletorget.no