King Ælfred 871-899 AD

Alfred came to the throne of Wessex in 871, on the death of his brother Æthelred. Although Æthelred was survived by a number of children, the imminent threat posed by the Danes meant that Ælfred was the logical choice as successor. He suffered a number of defeats early on in his reign, and as a result Wessex was forced to buy peace. The problems continued, and Alfred was driven to take refuge on the Isle of Athelney in AD 876, from where he led a guerrilla campaign which culminated in a significant victory at the battle of Edington in AD 878. This marked a major change in Ælfred's fortunes, and he was instrumental in maintaining Wessex as a major force in the late 9th century, and is also known as the founder of the first standing fleet.