King Alfred of Wessex is the only king in British history to have been honoured with the epithet of "Great", yet he is usually remembered for the story of the burnt cakes, his finer achievements are often forgotten. Afflicted by poor health for most of his life, Alfred nevertheless showed unflagging energy as a warrior, administrator, scholar and educator. He was remarkable for both his range of interests and his wisdom. In battle he was faced by the Danish invaders and the real threat of Viking supremacy in England. With the help of the first Royal Navy, which he founded with minimal resources, the invaders were eventually repelled. Anglo-Saxon hegemony was preserved, for a while, and Alfred survived to found an English monarchy which, under his son and grandson, saw most of modern England united under one crown. The author examines the scale and intent of the relentless threat of conquest by the Viking sea-raiders, the military and logistical problems that beset both sides and the strategies devised by the king which led to the reconquest of his Wessex homeland and the creation of England itself.
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