Alfred the Great, born in Wantage, Berks, 849. The youngest son of Ethelwulf, king of the West Saxons, succeeded on the death of his brother Ethelred to a throne threatened by invasion from without and dissention within. His first care was to drive off the Danes, whom he is said to have encountered in fifty-six battles by land and sea. The great victory of Edington (878) led to the peace of Wedmore, and Alfred was thus for a time free to devote himself to the peaceful reforms for which his name is renowned. Prominent among these are the establishment of social order, the encouragement of learning, and the founding of a national fleet. Alfred died in 901, esteemed as a religious and industrious man and a wise and learned king.