King Alfred the Great is an example of a historical figure who, with the passage of time, became a figure of legend. From A . D . 871 until 899, Alfred ruled the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex in southwestern England. His achievements won the admiration and affection of his subjects during his reign. Long afterward, English people told tales about his victories and his wisdom.

Alfred's main political achievement was to defend Wessex against the invading armies of the Danes. One of the legends that arose from this campaign involved his powers of concentration. At one point, Alfred was on the run, fleeing his enemy, and took refuge in a cottage. The woman of the house asked the disguised monarch to watch some cakes that were baking in her oven while she stepped out. However, Alfred was so deep in thought that he allowed the cakes to burn.

Alfred is credited with leaving a lasting mark on the English countryside. To celebrate his victory over the Danes, he had the shapes of white horses cut into the chalk hills of Wessex, where they remain to this day.

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