King Alfred the Great (849-899) was, according to Winston Churchill, the greatest Englishman ever. I agree.
"We discern across the centuries a commanding and versatile intelligence, wielding with equal force the sword of war and of justice; using in defence arms and policy; cherishing religion, learning and art in the midst of adevrsity and danger; welding together a nation, and seeking always across the feuds and hatreds of the age a peace which would smile upon the land. (...)
"In the grim time of Norman overlordship the figure of the great Alfred was a beacon-light, the bright symbol of Saxon achievement, the hero of the race."
From Winston S Churchill: A history of the English speaking peoples, 1956.
More on King Alfred's astounding range of achievement and his exceptional personal qualities at: http://orthodoxengland.org.uk/athlifea.htm
He was more an Anglo-Saxon than an Englishman. You should allow a few centuries for the Danes and then the Normans to blend in with everyone else.
But it was the Anglo Saxons who discovered/ created/ invented the English - specifically the Venerable Bede.
(Ref. Michael Wood - In Search of England)
Naturally they were the best at it...
No, they weren't the English. They needed time to blend in with the preceding Romano-British and the succeeding Danes and then Normans before it makes sense to call them English if you also propose to call Newton, Shakespeare and Darwin English. For otherwise you are using English to mean both the English of 16th-19th centuries and one arbitrarily selected strain in their descent. That would make no sense at all.
In that case, I'm happy not to make sense! (anything is preferable to including the Normans as English...)
But the Normans were just Danes who lost their ways, and gained others. Like Saxons.
That is a reductio ad absurdum! - if your analysis yields no significant difference between the Normans and the Anglo Saxons, then so much the worse for your analysis!
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