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"The sacrament of healing will restore you."

Ælswith of Wessex (before, Ælswith of Mercia) is a main character in The Last Kingdom television series, and a supporting character in The Saxon Stories novel series.

She is a Mercian princess in her own right, was the wife of Alfred, King of Wessex, but she was not, to her great annoyance, designated as Queen of Wessex. She is the mother of Edward and Æthelflæd.


The Saxon Stories[]

Ælswith appears in "The Last Kingdom", after the Danes lost the Battle of Ashdown and when Alfred agrees to the peace negotiations with Halfdan in Baðum. Uhtred and Brida are kidnapped by Beocca and other priests and brought to a hall somewhere near Baðum. Ælswith is in the hall and curious about the stories of the two youths. Ælswith reveals, she and Uhtred must be relatives because of Uhtred's uncle, Æthelred in Mercia (Æthelred Mucel or Æthelred).

Alfred arrives later, because of the negotiations with Halfdan. Alfred and Ælswith discuss the future for Uhtred and Brida. It is decided that both should be brought away - Uhtred to Winburnan to Abt Hewald and Brida to a nunnery. Uhtred, who is 15-years-old then, also makes the acquaintance of Æthelflæd, who is just a newborn at that time.

Ælswith is right away disliked by Uhtred, but that feeling is mutual and Uhtred offers some "colourful" descriptions of her in his memoirs.

(More to Be Added)

The Last Kingdom[]

Ælswith warns their new servant girl that she stands too close to Alfred. They are joined by Father Beocca, who reveals that Alfred’s nephew Æthelwold is drunk and sleeping in the garden. ("Episode 1.2")

Ælswith comes to see Alfred after he returns home victorious from the war. They start to kiss before being interrupted by Beocca. Ælswith turns him away and they proceed to have sex. ("Episode 1.3")

Ælswith finds Mildrith praying. She too is pregnant. Ælswith feels bad for Mildrith, having been forced into marriage with Uhtred. But Mildrith informs her that Uhtred treats her well. Ælswith isn’t convinced and hopes that Uhtred will fall in battle. Mildrith then prays to God that he watch over Uhtred. ("Episode 1.4")

Ælswith has given birth to a baby boy, who she and Alfred name Edward. Æthelflaed runs into his arms as he orders Odda and Wulfhere to ride towards the Severn River to face Ubba while he rides south to face Guthrum. ("Episode 1.5")

Uhtred and Mildrith arrive in Winchester. Uhtred realizes that he has not been credited for his actions against Ubba and bursts into the prayer hall to confront Alfred. He also confronts Young Odda for not telling them the truth behind Ubba’s death. Ælswith tells Odda not to say anything. Beocca tries to stop Uhtred but he continues to explain how he and he alone took down Ubba. Alfred is upset as Uhtred has broken his peace. He tells Uhtred to go to the courtyard and wait for him to pass judgement. Alfred then resumes his prayer. Ælswith tells him that this interruption can’t go unpunished. She wants Uhtred sentenced to death. ("Episode 1.5")

Uhtred and Æthelwold are taken before the village by Wulfhere and forced to grovel. They must crawl on their knees to the palace and kiss the cross and lie flat down on their face. And then God and the king will forgive them. King Alfred, Ælswith, Young Odda, Leofric, Mildrith and Beocca watch as the villagers throw spoiled food at Uhtred and Æthelwold while they grovel. ("Episode 1.5")

Ælswith watches as Beocca enters with Uhtred and tells King Alfred that now is the time. She is present at the Witan to determine Uhtred's guilt for plundering in Cornwalum and attacking Britons. ("Episode 1.6")

Alfred, Ælswith, Æthelwold, Young Odda, Brother Asser, and Father Beocca watch as Uhtred and Leofric fight to the death. King Alfred does not wish to watch the outcome and leaves, asking Ælswith to fetch the children. As Uhtred and Leofric trade blows, the town gets word of a Dane invasion led by Young Ragnar and Guthrum. ("Episode 1.7")

Ælswith escapes Winchester with Alfred and the kids and hide out with Uhtred, Leofric, Iseult, and Hild in the swampland. Alfred joins Ælswith and Æthelflæd inside with the priest who looks over Edward, as he has developed a cough and is getting sicker by the day. ("Episode 1.7")

Alfred attempts to explain his reasoning for sending the priests away to Ælswith, who has not spoken to him since they left. The priest will fetch men because without men, passage to the south would be impossible. She questions why Alfred eats meat when he knows it brings sickness. He explains that the pains have subdued due to the tonic from Iseult, who Ælswith believes to be a witch. She knows that Alfred wishes to subject their child to Iseult’s tonic as well. ("Episode 1.7")

Iseult brings Alfred over another tonic. Still, Ælswith sees her nothing more as a pagan witch and wants nothing to do with her. If they allow it, she can try to help Edward. Tonight is a good night but tomorrow will be too late. Ælswith refuses her help and tells Iseult to get out of her sight. Æthelflæd tends to Edward, but he starts to cry and Alfred picks him up. Uhtred tells Iseult to go prepare and reminds Alfred that they only have one chance. ("Episode 1.7")

Hild offers Lady Ælswith comfort, even as she declines the company. When a child suffers, the mother suffers. Hild relates to the pain and the unbearable weight. Ælswith cries, exclaiming that her son is dying. Iseult is a pagan, and yet she has helped the king. Ælswith has trouble with trusting a stranger with her child. Hild tells Ælswith that there is good in Iseult. ("Episode 1.7")

After Iseult heals Edward, Alfred plans to attack the Danes. He wants Ælswith to remain in the marshes with Edward and Æthelflæd. He wants her to go on to Frankia without him if he falls. ("Episode 1.8")

Ælswith attends a Witan in Winchester to keep Wessex safe from the Danes. There are two Northmen, Sigefrid and Erik, two Godless brothers with a voracious appetite for land, silver, slaves and war. ("Episode 2.1")

Ælswith has come to wish Alfred good night. He tells her to stay and begins to unbutton her dress. He has been thinking of Northumbria. Eoferwic is the great city of the North. To make it Saxon once again would bring hope. It would be a beacon. A fortress, from which all Danes of the North could be challenged. ("Episode 2.1")

Alfred and Ælswith watches as Steapa trains Æthelflæd. Alfred doesn’t wish to see her married. However, Ælswith believes the time is right.

Ælswith learns that Uhtred was taken to be a slave. She says that it’s too late and that Uhtred can be across the seas by now. Although, Alfred sends Ragnar. ("Episode 2.2")

Alfred and Ælswith show Æthelflæd a map of their lands as well as beyond their borders. Ælswith then informs Æthelflæd that she is to be married once a suitable match is made. ("Episode 2.3")

Alfred meets with Ceolwulf. Ælswith informs Æthelflæd that he is the father of Mercia. Ceolwulf demands swords and the men to carry them. They have many raiders from the Daneland. Alfred considers their land to be one, but Ceolwulf objects. He is Mercia. Alfred is Wessex. Ceolwulf wants Uhtred and 50 men to defend his border. Odda reveals that Uhtred was last seen in Northumbria. Again, Ceolwulf wants swords, even as Alfred proposes an alliance. Æthelwold appears amused by Ceolwulf’s rage. Alfred and Ælswith then remind Ceolwulf of the letters they sent regarding a suitor for Æthelflæd. He has a suitor in mind, but needs reassures that he won’t merely become a poor cousin of Wessex. Ceolwulf then blames Alfred for ever agreeing to Daneland. Alfred and Ælswith assure Ceolwulf that Wessex will give them swords. Ceolwulf suddenly dies right there before them, much to Æthelwold’s amusement. Whilst everyone is distracted, Ælswith grabs the letter that Ceolwulf wrote for them. She then asks who is Æthelred. He makes himself known. Ælswith appears satisfied. Alfred asks him to assure that Ceolwulf is returned to his family. ("Episode 2.3")

Much time has passed. Æthelred and Aldhelm sit down with Alfred, Ælswith, Odda, and Æthelwold. Æthelred informs Alfred that his gift of warriors has served Mercia well this winter. The raids haven’t been as frequent. Æthelflæd eavesdrops as they discuss the price of her marriage. Æthelred has proposed 4,000 pieces. They want more than silver. Æthelred is also willing to bequeath her titled lands in order to strengthen the union between Mercia and Wessex. ("Episode 2.3")

Odda fears that should Uhtred survive his trip to Eoferwic that he won’t return. He believes Bebbanburg will hold a greater pull than Wessex. He will look towards Kjartan and continue his blood feud. Should Uhtred defeat Kjartan, Ælswith worries that Uhtred and Ragnar will hold power in Northumbria. Should that happen, Steapa has been put under instructions to kill Uhtred, Alfred explains. ("Episode 2.4")

Ælswith calls Æthelflæd into Alfred's Reading Room to show off her wedding dress. Alfred has not ever seen something so beautiful. As for Æthelred, he is a good and godly man. Æthelflæd asks if Uhtred will be coming to the wedding, as she considers him a lucky charm. ("Episode 2.5")

Whilst having dinner, Ælswith warns the servant girl that she stands too close to the king. She then tells Alfred that once the marriage is made that he should consider making Æthelred earn his privileges. Raids from the Danes will not be tolerated. And the Mercian Ealdormen should be invited to attend Wessex Witans. Odda joins them to inform Alfred that Uhtred has left Winchester, but they don’t know where he went. As for Gisela, Steapa informs them that she remains in Winchester. He adds that Æthelwold is with Uhtred and that they went to Mercia. ("Episode 2.5")

Ælswith attends the royal wedding of Æthelflæd and Æthelred. After it's discovered that Uhtred crossed into Daneland, Alfred expresses his concerns to Ælswith. He is growing Wessex and expanding England in the name of God. Yet, he is reliant upon the strength of a heathen. He worries if this entire time it’s actually been the work of the devil, eating away at his soul. Ælswith swears that Alfred’s soul has not diminished. His faith will continue to grow stronger. He is God’s king. She questions if he trusts Uhtred, wholly. Which he doesn’t. And so, Ælswith advises her husband to get rid of Uhtred. ("Episode 2.6")

Ælswith get news of Æthelred’s return from war. He informs them that while London has been reclaimed, the brothers abducted Æthelflæd. Ælswith tells Alfred that she feels their daughter is alive. Alfred states that Æthelflæd has her mother’s courage, and it is why she will survive this ordeal. Ælswith suggests that Alfred recall Uhtred to Winchester. However, Alfred cannot. ("Episode 2.7")

Ælswith learns of the brothers’ ransom. They want 3,000 lbs of silver and 500 lbs of gold. Without the money, Æthelflæd will be humped by every Dane as far as the eye can see. Alfred refuses to allow his daughter to be whored to the highest bidder. Ælswith argues that is a tale that would overshadow all others. ("Episode 2.8")

Ælswith and Alfred watch as Steapa trains Edward to fight. Uhtred arrives and explains that skills should first be learned through fighting with staffs, not swords. Alfred instructs Uhtred to further test Edward’s ability. After disarming and defeating Edward, Uhtred explains that he will practice only with staffs and learn from being hit. Later, they get word from Hæsten of a new Dane warrior named Bloodhair, who is planning an attack. ("Episode 3.1")

Uhtred is called into the hall after it is discovered that he desecrated his wife's grave. After accidentally killing a monk, Uhtred flees, but he returns to face his punishment. While he is willing to pay the wergild as punishment, he can’t swear himself to Edward, as Alfred asks him to. Such an oath would be for the rest of his life. When Alfred refuses to release Uhtred, he pulls a blade from his armor and holds it to Alfred’s neck, ordering Steapa to stay back. Beocca is taken by surprise though he ensures that Ælswith and Edward remain unharmed. Ælswith orders Steapa to kill Uhtred, but Beocca insists that no one move. Alfred informs Uhtred that this can mean nothing but his certain death. Uhtred then exits with Alfred as his hostage, but the King returns to the hall and orders Uhtred to be killed. ("Episode 3.2")

Word of Uhtred’s abandonment and Alfred’s weakening has spread. Alfred wishes to put an end to the rumors. Beocca suggests a party of sorts. Perhaps a betrothal for Edward. Ælswith assures Alfred that he will see the birth of England, but they both know he won’t see another year, so they must move forward and find Edward a suitable match. Ælswith assures him that their children will build an England for him to be proud of. ("Episode 3.2")

Alfred continues to document his life as king. He tasks Beocca with looking into possible suitors for Edward. Ælswith tells Beocca that it is not the daughter they are choosing, but rather her father and their standing. She tells Beocca that he will choose Lord Æthelhelm. ("Episode 3.3")

Ælswith reluctantly helps Alfred prepare for battle, even as he’s barely able to stand. He wishes to quiet the rumors of his weakness. Should he die, Ælswith tells Alfred that he will never leave her. ("Episode 3.3")

Hæsten and Dagfinn arrive in Winchester. He joins Alfred, Ælswith, and Father Pyrlig in the hall. He tells them how he traveled to Dunholm, where he crossed paths with Uhtred and Æthelwold. The plan is to march before the deepest winter makes it impossible. Hæsten suggests that Alfred march out to meet them. Alfred tells Hæsten that his loyalty towards their agreement will not be forgotten. Ælswith urges Alfred to kill Æthelwold. Alfred then tells Pyrlig to write a letter to Æthelred to inform him of the pending battle. ("Episode 3.4")

Alfred informs Edward that they are to march in less then a week. Edward has looked to God and it is before God that he did swear his love for his wife. Alfred and Ælswith have commanded that he get a divorce. Bishop Erkenwald states that Edward’s wife has chosen to enter a nunnery. And therefore, the marriage is dismissed. Edward claims that this isn’t true and wishes to see her, but Ælswith refuses. Edward doesn’t wish to be king, but neither did Alfred. However, he was the rightful choice, as is Edward. Alfred tells Edward that he will marry Ælflæd. Alfred then asks Father Pyrlig to gather the holy relics. Edward asks what of his children. Alfred and Ælswith tells him that they will be cared for. But right now, the crown is the only thing of importance. Edward then swears upon a holy relic. ("Episode 3.4")

Despite word going around of his demise, Alfred is very much so alive and plans to ride out to Aegelesburg to meet with the Mercians. Ælswith watches as they leave. ("Episode 3.5")

Edward has come to discuss the matter in which he led the Wessex guard into battle against his father’s wishes. While he has no regrets, he acknowledges that he went beyond what is his right and accepts any punishment necessary. Alfred tells Edward that his actions were worthy of a king and invites him to sit. Wessex shall soon be Edward’s. It’s future will be secured through unions. Ælswith believes it’s time for Edward to meet Ælflæd in order to strengthen them. ("Episode 3.6")

Edward prepares to meet Ælflæd. Ælswith tells him not to fret, and Beocca assures him she will be a fitting match. Æthelhelm then enters with his daughter Ælflæd. Ælswith advises Edward to show the girl the courtyard while Alfred and Æthelhelm negotiate. ("Episode 3.7")

Æthelhelm believes that the bride price offered by Alfred and Ælswith seemed low. As does Edward’s morning gift. Alfred argues both offers are generous. Edward offered his protection to Ælflæd, however, he is not yet king, and the time when power passes from an elder to a younger king is met with danger. Others might lay claim to the throne. Alfred insists that Edward will be king. His only challenger is Æthelwold, who Ælswith promises will be dealt with. Still, Æthelhelm argues there is a large risk. As a mark of goodwill, Alfred raises the bride price by a third, which Æthelhelm accepts. ("Episode 3.7")

Alfred has asked God but found no answer in regards to Æthelwold's punishment. He blames himself for not doing more to stop Æthelwold from straying. Ælswith assures him that he’s done as much as he could. Ælswith claims that Æthelwold was rotten from the moment he was born and lacked purpose. However, Alfred sees Æthelwold as a reflection of his own failings. Ælswith urges Alfred to kill Æthelwold, otherwise he will be perceived as weak. However, Alfred is reluctant to kill his own brother’s son. He fears such action would be sinful. Ælswith reminds Alfred just how much of a danger Æthelwold is. The Witan resumes and Alfred declares that Æthelwold will lose an eye. ("Episode 3.7")

Alfred asks about the marriage arrangements. Beocca informs him that it’s all but complete. Ælswith adds that it will be the shortest of ceremonies, as the king requested. As for the Danes, they have yet to move. They remain camped. Alfred suspects that Æthelwold has returned for reasons other than forgiveness and should be watched. ("Episode 3.8")

Æthelhelm comes to the hall to meet with Alfred and Ælswith. They wish to discuss the strength of the union between their children. Alfred asks Æthelhelm’s opinion of Uhtred, who he sees as nothing more than an outlaw. However, Beocca and Alfred argue in his favor, unlike Ælswith, who is very much against Uhtred. Alfred states that Uhtred is a warrior and that should Edward take his counsel as king, then he may be better off for it. Æthelhelm then asks if Uhtred is an outlaw, to which both Alfred and Ælswith claim that he is. Although, Edward may take a different view. Ælswith wonders if Alfred values Uhtred so much then why he doesn’t pardon him himself. Alfred explains that Edward will need a warrior such as Uhtred at his side and that he doesn’t pardon Uhtred because he wouldn’t accept. It must be Edward’s decision. ("Episode 3.8")

Ælswith prays to God to give her strength and guidance to serve him best. If it is right and proper to rely upon a heathen such as Uhtred, she asks for a sign. She wants her son to remain untarnished by heathen ways and to be God’s king. Alfred enters the monastery and tells her that he wants to sit in peace. ("Episode 3.8")

Ælswith arrives outside of Alfred's Reading Room, overhearing a conversation between him and Uhtred. She barges in and demands to know why Uhtred has returned. Alfred invited him and asks if Ælswith keep this matter to herself. Ælswith pushes back, as she refuses to have Uhtred guide her son, but Alfred again tells her to leave. Ælswith returns to the hall and tells Steapa that she would like guards at every corridor of the palace. Uhtred has come, and she wants him to leave the palace immediately following his meeting with the king. He will be dealt with in the days to come. Edward notes that his mother seems concerned and asks her what’s wrong. She tells him that they’re living in difficult times and he will need all his resolve. ("Episode 3.9")

Æthelhelm asks why was he not told about Edward being married previously and that his children were from this marriage. He also wonders if these children have standing. Ælswith insists that the marriage is the past and the children are bastards. Æthelhelm suggests that it may be better for all of the children didn’t exist. Ælswith grows uncomfortable with the notion and leaves. ("Episode 3.9")

Ælswith has comes into Alfred's room to ensure that he agrees with her showing Lord Æthelhelm the chronicle. Alfred wishes for him to be invested into the history of Wessex. The matter of Uhtred still concerns her greatly. By pardoning him, Uhtred can now become Edward’s advisor. Alfred argues that it’s necessary for England to strive. Ælswith doesn’t believe that England can be God’s king or country if it is a pagan that guides them. Ælswith retorts that Uhtred is an outlaw and that he should be treated as such. She asks Alfred to rescind what he has done, but Alfred passes on before he can do so. She takes his hand and cries over his body. Father Beocca arrives. Ælswith refuses to accept that he’s gone as he hasn’t yet united England. Ælswith wishes to withhold Alfred’s death from the public, but Beocca encourages her to tell the people so that they mourn as well. Moving forward, they will pray to Alfred and God. ("Episode 3.9")

Ælswith brings Edward and Æthelflæd to mourn their father’s death. Admittedly, Ælswith has not loved him for a long time. As a young man, he behaved as such. She could not forgive him for his infidelities. And then, without being aware why, she realized that she did in fact love him. She knew that without her, he couldn’t be the king she needed him to be. Ælswith then instructs Edward to fetch Beocca so that they may prepare for the first day in a new land. ("Episode 3.9")

Following Alfred's passing, Ælswith rescinds Alfred's pardon to Uhtred and tells Beocca that he will no longer be needed in the palace. ("Episode 3.9")

Ælswith attends Alfred's funeral in the great hall. Afterward, she has Uhtred banished from Winchester. However, with Edward next in line to be king, he declares that Alfred’s pardon stands and that Uhtred is a free man.declares that Alfred’s pardon stands and that Uhtred is a free man. ("Episode 3.10")

Winchester, Wessex; Alfred's study is being cleaned out by the guards. Ælswith informs Æthelflæd that Lord Æthelhelm wants the room given over for planning their defenses. Ælswith instructs the men to be careful with her husband’s Chronicle. Æthelflæd remarks that every time she returns home there is a new insult. ("Episode 4.1")

Pyrlig interrupts King Edward and Ælswith as they pray. He whispers into the king’s ear. Edward instructs his mother to finish her prayer as it is of no concern of hers. ("Episode 4.1")

Ælswith worries that Steapa is trying to worm his way in with the King’s guards. She shares her concern with Hild. In the past, he has suggested to Ælswith things that are most unchristian in regards to the other heirs of the throne. Beocca interrupts and asks if she’s referring to her own firstborn child, who she had banished so that her son could make a better marriage. Ælswith’s referring to the children who were conceived without holy union. However, Beocca and Hild inform her that the first marriage was, in fact, legitimate. Beocca reminds Ælswith that she chose Lord Æthelhelm’s daughter as a match because he had silver that Wessex needed. She chose her over a woman that Ælswith’s son loved and who had borne him children. Ælswith reminds Beocca that she had him removed from the court and that it’s unwise to remain somewhere he isn’t wanted. However, much like him, Ælswith is unwanted there as well, he claims. After she leaves, Hild tells Beocca that Ælswith is not herself. Her role has diminished and she’s veiled in grief. ("Episode 4.1")

King Edward, Pyrlig, Lord Æthelhelm, and Æthelflæd discuss Æthelred of Mercia and the troop of soldiers he’s led from Aegelesburg. All Æthelflæd knows for certain is that he is seeking the bones of St. Oswald. Ælswith warns them that If Æthelred is seeking St. Oswald, he means to break from Wessex. Many Mercians believe that uniting the body of the saint will restore their land to greatness. This is a signal of intention. Or to Æthelhelm’s point, a ploy to pander to the simple folk of Mercia. Pyrlig and Lord Æthelhelm advise King Edward from being drawn in. They are then joined by Steapa, Ælflæd, and Ælfweard, though Edward doesn’t appear interested in eithe rof them. Æthelhelm tells Ælfweard that the men of Wessex are fighters. Rule the sword, and rule the land. ("Episode 4.2")

Ælswith and Æthelflæd worry about the negative influence Æthelhelm may have on Ælfweard. It’s troubling, as are Æthelred’s intentions. Æthelflæd will ask Aldhelm to make inquiries. Admittedly, she was unjust with him, so Ælswith asks Pyrlig to bring Beocca to her, but he has left Winchester. He thought there was nothing left there for him. Pyrlig reminds Ælswith that it was she who asked that he be removed. She admits this is true. Just as she asked her son to be married to that vain, silly girl. Any path Ælswith chose was to secure the country her husband loved. ("Episode 4.2")

Æthelflæd, Ælswith, and Hild watch as Ælflæd prepares for the royal coronation. Lord Æthelhelm and Ælfweard watch from the crowd. Hild remarks that while he’s quiet, his ambitions for his family grow. He obsesses over the aetheling and pushes Ælswith aside. Had she known what sort of man he was, Ælswith would've selected a different bride for Edward, who cherishes peace both within Wessex and within the palace. ("Episode 4.2")

Ælswith instructs the nuns to light 17 candles on her behalf. One at each shrine and no mumbling in the prayers. Hild wonders if something is on Ælswith’s conscience. Ælswith fears that she’s allowed too much to change in the palace. Ælswith asks about Ecgwynn, the girl who married Edward in secret. She took holy orders when her marriage was forcibly annulled. And, she's very unhappy. She was forbidden from seeing the two children she bore to Ælswith’s son. Her daughter she sees occasionally, but her son, she's not looked on since he was taken from her arms. Ælswith admits that seems a cruel punishment and that Hild and Beocca are right to question her mistreatment of Ecgwynn. So, Ælswith would like to make amends, in a small way. She asks where is Ecgwynn’s son now. He lives in a monastery. Ælswith would like to see them both, but wants to keep the arrangement secret. ("Episode 4.2")

Wessex; Ælswith finds Æthelstan, the first King of all England and the English. Ælswith asks Aethelstan what he is reading. She then asks who his family is, but he’s been told not to answer that. She tells Aethelstan to come with her and points out a window, telling him that Ecgwynn, his birth mother, wants to meet him. The two reunite in the garden as Ælswith watches from the window. ("Episode 4.2")

Ecgwynn puts Aethelstan to bed and thanks Ælswith for arranging the meeting. Ælswith simply explains that she is a mother who feels for Ecgwynn’s plight. To see her son even briefly heals a wounded heart. Ecgwynn then asks if she’s still out of favor with Lady Ælswith, completely unaware that she is in fact talking to her. Still acting under the ruse that she’s merely a sympathetic mother, she replies that Ælswith disfavored no one and simply chose what was best for her own son. It would be foolish for Aethelstan to be raised without a woman’s nurture. So, they must ensure there is always a lady to guide him when he is permanently moved to somewhere more secure. Ælswith assures Ecgwynn that her son will be well-protected, though she won’t be able to see him again. Ecgwynn questions why she’s being punished when all she wanted was a husband and family. To which Ælswith replies her desires is why she would’ve been unsuited for life in Winchester, and why this has all come to pass. ("Episode 4.2")

Winchester, Wessex; Ælswith, Æthelflæd, Pyrlig, King Edward, Aldhelm, and Æthelhelm attend Ælflæd’s coronation. Steapa interrupts to inform Pyrlig that the Danes have attacked Mercia. Pyrlig then relays this to the king. As for Lord Æthelred, no one knows if he’s dead or alive. Ælswith and Æthelflæd suggest calling off the coronation and sending men to Aegelesburg to retake it. However, Æthelhelm disagrees with calling off the ceremony. King Edward explains that he will set the terms, not anyone else. And so, they return to the coronation for it to resume Ælflæd is coronated. ("Episode 4.2")

Pyrlig informs King Edward, Æthelhelm, and Steapa that Cnut has left Aegelesburg and is camped near Tameworthig. Ælswith, Æthelflæd, and Aldhelm enter the room and question when the king intends to act. He explains that going in would essentially mean sacrificing his own men. Ælswith explains that Edward’s father was crowned King of Wessex, but he always sought to unite the Christian peoples. In spirit, he was King of all Saxons. Edward retorts that his father is gone. Instead of helping, he tells Pyrlig to dispatch messengers to find Æthelred. ("Episode 4.3")

Ælswith tells Æthelflæd that Edward betrays his father’s memories. Ælswith is Mercian. She was married to Alfred to knit the two kingdoms together, as Æthelflæd was with Æthelred. If Mercia falls, then Wessex will stand alone against the Danes. Æthelflæd duty is to Mercia, and she will do whatever she can to save it, starting with going to Aegelesburg and summoning the Mercian fyrds. In doing this, Æthelflæd will be throwing herself in the path of the Danes. She could be harmed or held for ransom. She makes Ælswith promise her that she won’t tell Edward about her plan until she’s gone. Ælswith not only agrees but tells Æthelflæd about a place for the fyrds to assemble. Ælswith assures Æthelflæd that her brother won’t abandon her and that he’ll be there once he learns that she left. ("Episode 4.3")

Ælswith joins King Edward, Lord Æthelhelm, Ælflæd, and Pyrlig at the table and asks if they’ve heard about Cnut and how he continues to burn villages from Tofeceaster to Fagranford. He defiles their holy places and slaughters their priests. Edward explains that he’s merely waiting for the right moment. Æthelhelm interrupts to inform them that Lady Æthelflæd isn’t at the nunnery as Ælswith claimed. Concerned for her, Æthelhelm asked Steapa to make further inquiries. He saw Æthelflæd leaving Winchester. Ælswith reveals that she has gone to Mercia. They could not allow their people to die. Ælswith only wishes to counsel Edward to follow the Christian path, as she did his father. Edward worries that his sister has now walked directly into Cnut's trap. She put the men of Wessex and all the Christian kingdoms at risk. Edward orders his mother to call his sister back, but Ælswith cannot swear loyalty to a plan that is misguided. Æthelflæd will summon the Mercian fyrds to Tettenhall. Edward must join her. ("Episode 4.3")

Ælswith tells Pyrlig how her husband valued loyalty and was always practical. If he saw a person make the wrong decision, he took action to correct it. Edward’s rule in Wessex is vulnerable and Mercia has been left undefended by its king. Mercia needs their protection and the support of all their Christian allies. Ælswith wants Pyrlig to deliver a message to the Welsh king, Hywel. Pyrlig fears that he’ll be killed if he disobeys Edward’s rule. However, Ælswith that the risk of him losing his life is worth protecting the people of Mercia. Æthelflæd is expecting an army, so Ælswith will deliver. ("Episode 4.3")

Edward questions why she has sent Pyrlig to Wealas. He suspects his mother wants Hywel's help. Cnut wants them to march on his terms, and Ælswith has walked them right into his trap. Cnut will hear of them going to Hywel and will think them weak. While this may be true, Ælswith wanted her daughter safe. Edward then informs her that it’s too late as his sister is already marching to Tettenhall. Ælswith tells Edward that this isn’t the way to get people to speak his name in awe. ("Episode 4.4")

Ælswith, Ælflæd, and Ælfweard pay their respects to the fallen soldiers from Tettenhall as they are brought into Winchester. Ælflæd worries that he’s too young to be displayed before people, but if he’s to send men to war as the future king of Wessex, he must know the consequences, Ælswith argues. ("Episode 4.5")

Ælflæd follows Cenric as he goes to inform Ælswith that an order has come from Aegelesburg. Ælswith is to be confined to punishment for raising an army without the king’s consent. Cenric has been asked to enact the will of the king. She will be guarded in the Reading Room. Ælswith calls into question Ælflæd’s authority. She reminds Ælswith that she is anointed Queen. And in Edward’s absence, her will takes precedence. ("Episode 4.5")

Ælswith is brought a book to read by a guard while confined to the Reading Room. She tells him to follow her next instructions, and she assures him he’ll be well rewarded, placing a bag of silver in his hand. ("Episode 4.5")

Aegelesburg, Mercia; Ælswith arrives in Aegelesburg but the gates remain closed. Æthelhelm tells her there is sickness all around. She requests to speak to her son. Ælswith survived the swamps of Athelney and is unafraid of the sickness. Æthelhelm reports the arrival of Ælswith to Edward and Pyrlig. Edward questions why his mother is still outside the gate. Ludeca explains that the order to keep the gates closed applies to all. Edward reminds Ludeca that his mother is Mercian in blood and defied him by sending troops to help them. Æthelhelm advises Edward against overruling the Ealdormen, but he does so regardless, demanding that the gates be open. As Ælswith enters, Burgred remarks that Edward lets his own kin in while good Mercians suffer. Ludeca admits that Burgred may have been right all along. King Edward seeks to conquer them. ("Episode 4.6")

Edward questions why his mother is in Mercia. She reveals that she was imprisoned, but Edward sent no such command. Ælswith suspects that it was the doing of Æthelhelm, who despises her. Æthelhelm schemes to his own plans, Ælswith adds. Ælswith is tired of fighting and only wishes to see Æthelflæd, who Edward reveals is somewhere in Mercia with Uhtred. ("Episode 4.6")

Ælswith confronts Edward after discovering that he not only imprisoned Æthelflæd but that he also sent men of violence to hunt her and Ælfwynn down. Ælswith reveals that Edward’s second born son, Æthelstan is also with Uhtred. She originally had him hidden at Æthelflæd’s estate because threats were made against him. As best, two of her grandchildren are on the open road during this sickness due to Edward. She wonders how he’s strayed so far. Edward explains that forging an alliance with Mercia means everything. However, Ælswith reminds him of how few children survive after being brought into politics. ("Episode 4.6")

The Mercian people have nothing but ill will towards Æthelred and show him no respect, much to Ælswith and Edward’s disapproval. Lord Æthelhelm explains that their defiance is due to hunger, fever, and lack of leadership. Edward fears that Burgred continues to speak against him, but Æthelhelm believes him to be no genuine threat. Cenric then informs Edward that the Ealdormen have called their Witan for after the funeral. Furthermore, Edward isn’t welcome to attend. ("Episode 4.7")

Ælswith asks Edward about Burgred’s son. While it was a callous decision, it was also clever. It has diminished Burgred and they’ve averted a fight. For that, Ælswith is grateful. Now, her son can play peacemaker. She offers him some advice, telling Edward that forcing the people of Mercia to be Wessex will only result in them fighting back. She instructs him to continue to care for Mercia and find the right match for her granddaughter, and peace will come. She then asks about the children from Saltwic, but Uhtred refuses to talk, Æthelhelm explains. ("Episode 4.7")

Ælswith informs Edward that Ælfwynn is at the gate and orders that they be opened. Ælswith sees this as a reward for Edward denouncing his tyranny. Osferth and Eadith emerge from the crowd with an unconscious Ælfwynn in arms. Edward orders Cenric to find him every healer in town and not to speak a word of this to anyone. ("Episode 4.7")

Father Pyrlig distribute the grain among the people, but the villagers become too unmanageable and start fighting over the grain. Uhtred takes control of the situation. While they may have suffered, turning on each other won’t save them. He urges them to work together. He tells everyone to form a line and they will be given what is needed. All the while Edward, Ælswith and Cenric watch from above. With Uhtred’s influence, Ælswith fears he will make the Mercians turn against Edward. And so, Edwards orders Uhtred to be brought before him. ("Episode 4.7")

Father Pyrlig takes Æthelstan to hide with the other villagers he’s brought in. Unbeknownst to him, Ælswith follows. She demands that he show her the child. Tears of joy fill her eyes to know that Æthelstan is safe. It is for this that she’s grateful to Uhtred. Pyrlig then tells her about the offer Edward made to Uhtred to become Lord of Mercia. ("Episode 4.7")

Ælswith confronts Edward over the bargain he struck with Uhtred. While she doesn’t like Uhtred, it may be the only compromise. The Ealdormen may complain but this time, she tells Edward not to treat them too harshly. Then he will find some redemption. She presents Æthelstan to Edward as she hopes he is willing to reconcile with him. She admits that she was wrong to rip them apart, as well as separate him from his first wife. So, she asks for Edward’s forgiveness. However, Edward orders his mother to take Æthelstan back to where he came. ("Episode 4.7")

Æthelflæd arrives outside of Aegelesburg’s gates. Ælswith reveals to Æthelflæd that Ælfwynn is very much alive. They enter Ælfwynn’s chamber to find Eadith watching over her. Ælfwynn awakens and gives her mother a hug. Ælswith informs Æthelflæd that Edward has restored peace and the people are being fed. Mostly, everyone now looks forward to the new Lord, that being Uhtred. ("Episode 4.7")

Uhtred is baptised by Father Pyrlig in front of the Edward, Ælswith, Aldhelm, Ludeca, Burgred, and the other Ealdormen. Ælswith explains that it’s not that she doubts Uhtred, but rather the fact that he held a blade to Alfred’s throat and threatened to kill him. Young Uhtred watches angrily before leaving. Pyrlig then calls Edward forward. Uhtred undresses and goes under water to be baptized. ("Episode 4.8")

Ælswith informs Æthelflæd that Uhtred has been baptised and will become the Lord of Mercia. Ælswith recalls Alfred always seeing something in Uhtred that the rest of them were blind to. Still, Æthelflæd doesn’t believe Uhtred is the right man. Æthelflæd accuses Edward of simply doing what’s best for him as opposed to Mercia. Æthelflæd would prefer a lord selected by Wessex. Ælswith explains that these decisions and others like them are not made by them. Aldhelm then informs them that the gathering has started. ("Episode 4.8")

Edward asks Ælswith if it is wise to bring the child there. Ælswith invites Edward to join her and Æthelstan, and so he does. Æthelstan gives Edward a king he crafted. Æthelstan claims that he’s a good king, like Edward. Edward reveals to Ælswith that he intends to hold Aegelesburg until Mercia is in the charge of someone he trusts. Ælswith would like to thank Uhtred for his actions. Because of him, their family now sits on the throne of Wessex and Mercia. ("Episode 4.8")

Ælswith wishes to talk to Edward about Æthelstan. She tells Edward that the boy can’t come with him to Winchester. There are people there who may wish him ill. Ælswith would like to take charge of Æthelstan and take him to Bedwyn and raise him there, as she raised Edward. Edward tells her to make the arrangements and he will ask Uhtred to accompany them. ("Episode 4.8")

Thatcham, Wessex; Uhtred and his men hold up in Thatcham, where they set up camp for Ælswith, who will offer prayers of thanks on their behalf when she arrives in Bedwyn. She explains how God worked through Uhtred and how he did not give up his throne to Mercia on his own. And for that, she would always be grateful. She hopes that Uhtred will be willing to help her to accomplish the goal that her husband started. However, Uhtred has his own children to look to. ("Episode 4.9")

The group, with the exception of Eadith, who hides behind the trees, suddenly finds themselves surrounded by Hæsten and his men. Hæsten informs Uhtred that Sigtryggr has landed from Irland and he wants all Danes to follow him. Sigtryggr and Brida have captured Winchester, where Hæsten plans to take Ælswith, Æthelstan, and Stiorra. Hæsten orders his men to tie Uhtred and his men to trees so that they may die slowly. ("Episode 4.9")

Winchester, Wessex; Ælswith, Æthelstan, and Stiorra arrive in Winchester. She tell them that the Danes will surely kill them, so she suggests that they say their prayers. However, Stiorra refuses as she’s not Christian. Once inside, they are reunited with Æthelhelm, Ælflæd, and Ælfweard, and the six of them are taken to Brida, Sigtryggr, and Eardwulf. Ælswith warns them that her son will burn them all to the ground before he concedes any of Wessex land. As Ælswith is being taken away, she claims that Stiorra and Æthelstan are Dane slaves and that if Brida values her people, she would take care of them. Brida determines that Stiorra is at least half Dane. However, Eardwulf then reveals that she’s in fact Uhtred’s daughter. Brida orders her men to find Uhtred and send him Stiorra’s head, but Sigtryggr takes Stiorra with him instead. ("Episode 4.9")

Ælflæd blames Edward for not being in Winchester to protect them. Ælswith retorts that if not for his actions, Cnut and Sigtryggr would’ve joined forces and they would be facing a bigger threat. Æthelhelm, realizing that Æthelstan is far too young and noble looking to be a servant, asks why he is traveling with Ælswith. Æthelstan reveals that he’s to be educated at Bedwyn. Æthelhelm realizes who Æthelstan is and confronts Ælswith. She explains that it was Edward’s wish for them to go to Bedwyn. Ælswith tells Æthelhelm to focus on his account with God and Ælflæd to reflect on her anger towards a child, when her own is in danger. She then calls Æthelstan over and tells him about his grandfather Alfred. ("Episode 4.9")

Ælswith, Æthelstan, Æthelhelm, Ælflæd, and Ælfweard remain locked up. Æthelhelm finished the last of the water. Ælswith tells him to pray they offer more. Ælflæd repeatedly states that she is hungry as she is not accustomed to discomfort. However, she is grateful the screaming has stopped. However, that’s likely due to the fact that everyone is dead. They’re being kept alive so the Danes can make a show of their deaths. Ælswith explains that there’s a plant that flowers in the courtyard. The purple blooms, when dissolved in water, are tasteless and effective, especially in children. It was planted there should this situation arise. Sigtryggr comes to take Ælfweard but Ælflæd reveals that Æthelstan is the king’s first born. Æthelstan admits that he’s the elder brother, and Sigtryggr decides to take both. ("Episode 4.10")

They are escorted out their prison and taken to Brida and Sigtryggr. He reveals that Edward couldn’t choose between his sons, and he has given them Uhtred in his place. Brida orders for Uhtred to be tied to the crucifix in the marketplace. However, Sigtryggr wants Uhtred taken to the hall first. He assures Brida she will have Uhtred when he’s done. Lastly, he has the captives taken to the chapel and fed. As Æthelhelm is being taken away, he bargains with one of the guards. ("Episode 4.10")

Ælswith wonders why Sigtryggr is showing such kindness. Æthelhelm suspects their being toyed with. He then exchanges his gold ring for the purple flowers from the yard retrieved by the guard. Æthelhelm tells Ælflæd to drink enough water and give the jug back and after that not to drink anymore. He plans to poison Ælswith. ("Episode 4.10")

Unbeknownst to Ælswith, Æthelhelm poisons the water with the purple flower with the sole intent on killing her. Later, after a bargain is truck with the Danes, they are set free. Æthelflæd brings her mother to her room and tells her to rest, but Ælswith collapses onto the floor. ("Episode 4.10")


This list shows Ælswith's family:

  • The † means that the individual is dead.
  • The ° means the individual appears more then once in this list.

Individual Relationship Notice
Parents Æthelred Mucel of Mercia Father
Siblings Æthelwulf of Berkshire and Mercia Brother
Children Edward of Wessex Son
Æthelweard Son
Æthelflæd of Wessex and Mercia Daughter
Æthelgifu (of Wessex) Daughter
Æfthryth Daughter
Significant Other(s) Alfred of Wessex Husband
Grandchildren Æthelstan of Wessex Grandson
Ædgyth of Wessex and Northumbria Granddaughter
Ælfwynn of Mercia Grandson
Ælfweard of Wessex Grandson
Affinity Æthelwulf of Wessex Father-in-law °
Æthelred of Wessex Brother-in-law
Æthelred of Mercia Son-in-law °
Ecgwynn of Kent and Wessex Daughter-in-law
Ælflæd of Wiltshire and Wessex Daughter-in-law
Eadgifu of Kent and Wessex Daughter-in-law
Others Æthelred of Mercia Nephew  °
Æthelwulf of Wessex Second Cousin °

Individual Relationship Notice
Children Edward of Wessex Son
Æthelflæd of Wessex and Mercia Daughter
Significant Other(s) Alfred of Wessex Husband
Grandchildren Æthelstan of Wessex Grandson
Ædgyth of Wessex Granddaughter
Ælfwynn of Mercia Grandson
Ælfweard of Wessex Grandson
Affinity Æthelred of Wessex Brother-in-law
Æthelred of Mercia Son-in-law
Ecgwynn of Kent and Wessex Former Daughter-in-law
Ælflæd of Wiltshire and Wessex Daughter-in-law

Individual Relationship Notice
Parents Æthelred Mucel of Mercia Father
Eadburh of Mercia Mother
Siblings Æthelwulf of Berkshire and Mercia Brother
Children Edward of Wessex Son
Æthelflæd of Wessex and Mercia Daughter
Æthelgifu of Wessex and Shaftesbury Daughter
Æthelweard of Wessex Son
Ælfthryth of Wessex and Flanders Daughter
Significant Other(s) Alfred the Great of Wessex Husband
Grandchildren Ælfwynn of Mercia Granddaughter
Æthelstan of Wessex Grandson
Ædgyth of Wessex and York Granddaughter
Ælfweard of Wessex Grandson
Edwin of Wessex Grandson Edward
Æthelhild of Wessex and Wilton Abbey Granddaughter Edward
Eadgifu of Wessex and the West Franks Granddaughter Edward
Eadflæd of Wessex and Wilton Abbey Granddaughter Edward
Eadhild of Wessex and the Franks Granddaughter Edward
Eadgyth of Wessex and the East Franks Granddaughter Edward
Ælfgifu of Wessex Granddaughter Edward
Edmund of Wessex Grandson Edward
Eadred of Wessex Grandson Edward
Eadburh of Wessex and Winchester Granddaughter Edward
Æthelwine of Wessex Grandson Æthelweard
Ælfwine of Wessex Grandson Æthelweard
Arnulf of Flanders Grandson Ælfthryth
Adalulf of Flanders and Boulogne Grandson Ælfthryth
Ealswid of Flanders Granddaughter Ælfthryth
Ermentrud of Flanders Granddaughter Ælfthryth
Affinity Æthelred of Mercia Son-in-law °
Baldwin of Flanders Son-in-law Ælfthryth
Ecgwynn of Wessex Daughter-in-law
Ælflæd of Wiltshire and Wessex Daughter-in-law
Eadgifu of Kent and Wessex Daughter-in-law
Æthelwulf of Wessex Father-in-law
Osburh of Wessex Mother-in-law
Æthelred of Wessex Brother-in-law
Æthelstan of Wessex and Kent Brother-in-law
Æthelswith of Wessex and Mercia Sister-in-law
Æthelbald of Wessex Brother-in-law
Æthelberht of Wessex Brother-in-law
Others Æthelred of Mercia Nephew °


The Saxon Stories[]

Books 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
The Saxon Stories              

The Last Kingdom[]

Episodes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Season 1  
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5


  • This character has been based on a real historical figure of Ealhswith.
  • The name ÆlswithI/Ealhswith or Ealhswiþ comes from Old English. The name is made up of the words ealh, which means "temple, hall", and swiþ, which means "strong".
  • Ælswith is a noble; she was born a princess of Mercia, and then married the King of Wessex which made her his consort.