Alfred the Great (Old English: Ælfrēd, Ælfrǣd, "elf counsel" or "wise elf") was King of Wessex from 871 to 899.
Alfred successfully defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest, and by the time of his death had become the dominant ruler in England. He is one of only two English monarchs to be given the epithet "the Great", the other being the Scandinavian Cnut the Great. He was also the first King of the West Saxons to style himself "King of the Anglo-Saxons". Details of Alfred's life are described in a work by the 10th-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 and improved his kingdom's legal system, military structure and his people's quality of life.
While Alfred was not the first king to lay claim to rule all of the English, his rule represents the first unbroken line of Kings to rule the whole of England, the House of Wessex, so the list of Kings of England starts with him.