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  1. #1
    Eway is offline Senior Member
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    Alfred the Great routine?

    Dear Teachers,

    I read these from The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody by Will Cuppy:

    1. "The fact is, he needed her to strengthen his social position. Her family was rich and powerful, and then there was that Alfred the Great routine."

    What does "Alfred the Great routine" mean?

    2. "Henry VIII had so many wives because his dynastic sense was very strong whenever he saw a maid of honor."

    What does "dynastic sense" mean?

    3. "Anne of Cleves had been much admired in the Low Countries, but in England she just wouldn't do. The way she got herself up, they thought she was playing charades."

    Does "got herself up" mean "dressed herself up"? I don't understand what dressing-up has to do with playing charades.

    4. "When Queen Elizabeth first met Essex, she was fifty-three and he was nineteen. He felt he wasn't getting any younger."

    I mean...Of course he wasn't getting any younger. Why would the author especially say so?

  2. #2
    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Re: Alfred the Great routine?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eway View Post
    Dear Teachers,

    I read these from The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody by Will Cuppy:

    1. "The fact is, he needed her to strengthen his social position. Her family was rich and powerful, and then there was that Alfred the Great routine."

    What does "Alfred the Great routine" mean?
    Who is Cuppy talking about in this extract?

    2. "Henry VIII had so many wives because his dynastic sense was very strong whenever he saw a maid of honor."

    What does "dynastic sense" mean? In this context, that he could not resist the idea of sleeping with the girl. He was desperate for a son.

    3. "Anne of Cleves had been much admired in the Low Countries, but in England she just wouldn't do. The way she got herself up, they thought she was playing charades."

    Does "got herself up" mean "dressed herself up"? I don't understand what dressing-up has to do with playing charades. To the English eye, her costume was old-fashioned, ugly and out of date.

    4. "When Queen Elizabeth first met Essex, she was fifty-three and he was nineteen. He felt he wasn't getting any younger."

    I mean...Of course he wasn't getting any younger. Why would the author especially say so? To make a point about the differential in age, particularly since Essex was a desirable catch for a young woman but if he was tied to the ageing queen, no-one would look at him. On the other hand, Elizabeth was definitely feeling her age.
    ..

  3. #3
    pyoung is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Alfred the Great routine?

    Many thanks to Anglika for her answers. here are a few more thoughts:

    Quote Originally Posted by Eway View Post
    Dear Teachers,

    I read these from The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody by Will Cuppy:

    1. "The fact is, he needed her to strengthen his social position. Her family was rich and powerful, and then there was that Alfred the Great routine."

    What does "Alfred the Great routine" mean?

    2. "Henry VIII had so many wives because his dynastic sense was very strong whenever he saw a maid of honor."

    What does "dynastic sense" mean?

    3. "Anne of Cleves had been much admired in the Low Countries, but in England she just wouldn't do. The way she got herself up, they thought she was playing charades."

    Does "got herself up" mean "dressed herself up"? I don't understand what dressing-up has to do with playing charades.
    'Get-up' is a pejorative term for what someone is wearing. The implication is that one's clothing is outlandish in some way. ("Just where do you think you're going in that get-up?" asked her mother.)
    So, to 'get oneself up' means to dress in a way that others think of as overdone or ridiculous.
    In very elaborate games of charades, people are (were, really; it's not very common today) given time to prepare their presentations. This included special costumes meant to give clues as to the answer of the charade.


    4. "When Queen Elizabeth first met Essex, she was fifty-three and he was nineteen. He felt he wasn't getting any younger."

    I mean...Of course he wasn't getting any younger. Why would the author especially say so? 'Not getting any younger' is an expression people use to communicate the fact that, with the passage of time, one's options narrow. 'She decided to finally finish her degree and get a job. After all, she's not getting any younger.'
    I hope this is helpful,

    Petra

  4. #4
    Eway is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Alfred the Great routine?

    About Question 1. Cuppy is talking about William the Conqueror. Does it make any sense?

  5. #5
    Anglika is offline No Longer With Us
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    Re: Alfred the Great routine?

    Alfred the Great set out to make England secure through carefully chosen political alliances and diplomatic marriages [his to Elswith, was the daughter of a Mercian nobleman and, through her mother, descended from the Mercian royal line, so that Alfred's sons could claim the royal blood of both Wessex and Mercia; his daughter's to a Viking].

    William the Conqueror's wife was great-granddaughter to Alfred through her mother Elfreda, who married Baldwin, count of Flanders.

  6. #6
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: Alfred the Great routine?

    What's the context? Alfred the Great is famous for three things:

    • National security/definition, as Anglika said
    • Preserving Old English by setting up scriptoria
    • Burning some cakes (legendary/apocryphal)


    The last point is the one that every schoolchild remembers.

    b

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