Alfred the Great, king of Wessex (871-99) and first king of the "Anglo-Saxons", is among the most important figures in English history. His victories over the vikings and his sweeping administrative and military reforms not only preserved his native Wessex from Scandinavian conquest, but began the process of political consolidation that would culminate in the creation of the English nation. This new biography combines a sensitive reading of the primary sources, including Alfred's own works, with a careful evaluation of the most recent scholarly research on the history, literature, and archaeology of ninth-century England. Alfred emerges as a great warlord, an effective and inventive ruler, and a passionate scholar whose sense of Christian duty and intellectual curiosity led him to sponsor a cultural and spiritual renaissance. Alfred the Great: War, Kingship and Culture in Anglo-Saxon England strips away the varnish of centuries of interpretation and image-making to recover a portrait of the historical Alfred--pragmatic, generous, brutal, pious, scholarly--within the context of his own age.