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Alfred the Great

849 - 899

Born in 849 the fifth son of Æthelwulf, king of Wessex, Alfred became king in 871 following the reigns of three of his brothers. From a young age he was given to learning and showed sensitivity to religion. After his accession to kingship, he led the Saxons in victory against invading Danish Vikings and then established reforms in law, education, and religion, particularly the use of the English language in both churches and schools (over against Latin), as well as a new system of ‘burhs’ (later boroughs) that advanced the Anglo-Saxon nation greatly. He was a committed and pious Christian who was eager, as king, to embody the virtues he encouraged among his people, and he is still remembered and revered today.