Alfred the Great was king of Wessex (871–899) and a Saxon kingdom in southwestern England. He prevented England from falling to the Danes and promoted learning and literacy. Compilation of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle began during his reign, circa 890.
He was the youngest son of King Ethelwulf of Wessex. His father died when he was young. Three of Alfred's brothers, Ethelbald, Ethelberht and Ethelred, reigned in turn before him.
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 Old English rather than Latin and improving the legal system and military structure and his people's quality of life. He was given the epithet "the Great" during and after the Reformation in the 16th century, and together with Danish Cnut the Great, is the only king of England to be given such a name.
He defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest, becoming the dominant ruler in England. Depicted here is silver offering penny issued under Alfred the Great. The legend read as AELFRED REX SAXONUM ('Alfred King of the Saxons').
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