You are here: History > LET'S EXPLORE British history > Why was King Alfred known as the Great?

Why was King Alfred known as the Great?

Alfred the GreatAlfred was the fifth son of King Aethelwulf of Wessex. He was born in Wantage, Berkshire, in 849. In those days, England was divided into a number of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. Wessex, in southern England, was the most powerful of them, and its king ruled over all England. But England was under threat from the Danes, a Viking people. They made their first raids on the English coast at the end of the 8th century. Large invading armies soon followed. They wanted to conquer the entire country.

The Danish army advance into battle

War with the Danes

Alfred became king of Wessex in 870 and spent the first years of his reign fighting the Danes. At the Battle of Ashdown in 871 his forces crushed the Danish army. Alfred won five years of peace with the Danes before they attacked Wessex again in 877.

Alfred is the only one of all the English kings and queens to be known as “the Great".

Q-files now has new sections specially written for younger readers. They are: Living world, Earth, Science, Human body, Prehistoric life, Space, History, Geography and Technology.

Find the answer