In English culture, Alfred the Great is most famously known for letting a peasent woman's cakes burn whilst he was meant to be keeping an eye on them. The truth is that Alfred earnt his title as 'The Great' for a reason. He has been worshiped by many for his achievements during his lifetime and is without doubt the most famous English king to have ruled in the centuries prior to William the Conqueror.
King Alfred was from the House of Wessex which is the royal family which ruled most of England for about 400 years up until William the Conqueror won the throne at the Battle of Hastings.
He was born in 848, the son of King Ethelwulf of Wessex. He took over as king in 871 after both of his older brothers had already reigned and died. In the early days, it was said that instead of fighting the, at the time, ever invading Danes, he would pay them not to attack England - not a very great trait!
Despite this, Alfred suffered early defeat at the hands of the Danes and lost much of his kingdom to them. Despite battling back, Alfred was forced to flee the previous strong hold of Chippenham after it had been invaded and this is where the legendary cake story comes form. Whilst hiding out in the woods in Somerset, Alfred sought shelter in a tiny cottage owned by a peasent woman. She agreed to let him stay, not recognising him as king, as long as he looked after her cakes.
It was after this that Alfred earned his high status. He recouped his army and took back Westbury before regaining Chippenham by starving the Danes in to submission. As part of the take over, Alfred even had the Danish king and his men convert to Christianity and Alfred went on to once again reign supreme over a majority of England though the Danish king was given East Anglia.
Alfred was a hero and, despite a few minor attacks from the Danes and the Vikings, Alfred led a fairly peaceful life for the rest of his reign before he passed away in the former capital city of Wessex, Winchester, in 901 though it is not known exactly how he died. A statue of King Alfred still stands in Winchester City centre today.