The Anglo-Saxon kings came to power as the seven kingdoms, the Heptarchy, began to unify in response to Danish raids. Wessex was virtually the only kingdom still intact after the invasions; therefore, the Anglo-Saxons were descended from Wessex families. The Anglo-Saxon line was interrupted for two decades by Danish conquerors, but was re-established by Edward the Confessor. Special note must be taken concerning the twice deposed Anglo-Saxon line: before the Danish usurpation, there was a weak king who reigned for a significant amount of time (Aethelred the Unready), followed by a short, vigorous reign (Edmund II); this pattern emerged again before the Norman invasion, with Edward the Confessor being the weak, long-reigning king and Harold Godwinson the strong, short-lived king.
Alfred the Great was the most significant of this line of kings. He perpetually battled the Danes (laying the foundations for the English fleet and reorganizing the taxes laid upon peasants) until he divided England with the Danish king, Guthrum. The Anglo-Saxon and Danish lines were combined in the person of Harold Godwinson, who was killed at the Battle of Hastings by the forces of William the Conqueror after having reigned from January to October 1066.