King Alfred (the Great) ruled Wessex in the late 9th century (871-899) following on from his father Aethelwulf and his three brothers, he had to contend with a the new attacks from Vikings. The attacks had shifted from pillaging to settling. He did incredibly well against these large groups of Vikings hoping to usurp his territory relative to other kings for a number of reasons: cunning military organization, necessary political compromises with the Vikings, and great political leadership.

For saving Wessex from the Vikings he was accorded the title great, but he was also great in his raising of the intellectual levels of his people. This was linked with his success against the Vikings, since many of the writings and translations made by his court acted as propaganda for his political campaign. This propaganda's main purpose was to group his people together against the foreign enemy of the Vikings, a tactic seen all too often in the modern political world but a diamond in the rough of the Dark Ages.

The survival of Alfred's Wessex probably hinged on the suspected paying of 'Danegeld' money to the Vikings. The evidence for these comes from archaeological sites in London where stores of Alfredian money were found in Viking land. In any case, this did not stop the Vikings completely but gave Alfred enough time to put military reforms into action.

The second main compromise of Alfred's regime was after his first major victory at Eddington, near modern Chippenham, where Alfred offered the defeated Viking Guthrum a large portion of England in exchange for peace and Guthrum's conversion to Christianity.