Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great (Old English: Ælfrēd, Ælfrǣd, 'Elf-counsel' or 'Wise-elf'; between 847 and 849 – 26 October 899) was King of Wessex from 871 to c. 886 and King of the Anglo-Saxons from c. 886 to 899. He was the youngest son of King Æthelwulf of Wessex. His father died when he was young and three of Alfred's brothers reigned in turn. Alfred took the throne after the death of his brother Æthelred and spent several years dealing with Viking invasions. He won a decisive victory in the Battle of Edington in 878 and made an agreement with the Vikings, creating what was known as Danelaw in the North of England. Alfred also oversaw the conversion of Viking leader Guthrum to Christianity. He successfully defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest, and he became the dominant ruler in England. He was also the first King of the West Saxons to style himself King of the Anglo-Saxons. Details of his life are described in a work by 9th-century Welsh scholar and bishop Asser. Alfred had a reputation as a learned and merciful man of a gracious and level-headed nature who encouraged education, proposing that primary education be conducted in English rather than Latin, and improving his kingdom's legal system, military structure, and his people's quality of life. He was given the epithet "the Great" during and after the Reformation in the sixteenth century. The only other king of England given this epithet is Cnut the Great. In 2002, Alfred was ranked number 14 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.
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