Alfred the Great, King of Wessex

Alfred, the son of Aethelwulf and Osburga, was born in about 848 at Wantage in Oxfordshire.
He married at Winchester in 869 Ealhswith of Merica

The Ridgeway, leading to the site of the Battle of Ashdown,
with King Alfred's statue at Wantage

In April 871 Alfred succeeded his brother, Aethelred, to the throne of a kingdom largely overrun by Vikings. But within weeks, he had won a great victory, defeating the invaders at Ashdown.

The Vikings however, were more successful in the north. By the spring of 873 they had conquered much of Northumbria, forcing  Burhred, King of Mercia (Alfred's brother-in-law), off his throne.

In May 878 Alfred routed the Vikings at Edington in Wiltshire, driving them back to their stronghold at Chippenham. A few  weeks later their leader, Guthrum, agreed to withdraw from Wessex, though the Vikings did continue to occupy Mercia, East Anglia and Northumbria.

Apart from being a great warrior, Alfred was a fine scholar and promoted learning and religion, he also developed a law code. He established the first parliament in England by gathering together bishops, ealdormen and thanes who met twice a year to advise on governing the kingdom.

King Alfred died October 26 899 and is buried in Hyde Abbey. He was succeeded by his son, Edward the Elder. His widow, Ealhswith, who became a nun at St Mary's, Winchester, died at Winchester on December 5 902.