King of the southern Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex from 871 to 899. Alfred is famous for his defence of the kingdom against the Danish Vikings, becoming the only English monarch awarded the epithet 'the Great'. Alfred was also the first King of the West Saxons to style himself 'King of the Anglo-Saxons'. Details of his life are known from a work by the Welsh scholar, Asser. A learned man, Alfred encouraged education and improved the kingdom's law system.