The Last Kingdom Wiki
This article is about Æthelhelm, but you may be looking for this Æthelhelm.

"I have learned things in my life that you do not know."

Æthelhelm the Elder or Æthelhelm of Wiltshire is a main character in The Last Kingdom television series, and a supporting character in The Saxon Stories novel series.

He is the richest man as well as the most powerful ealdorman in Wessex. He is the father of Ælflæd.


The Saxon Stories[]

(To Be Added)

The Last Kingdom[]

Season 3[]

Winchester, Wessex; Æthelhelm arrives in Winchester and meets with Alfred and Edward. Alfred informs Æthelhelm that the Great Dane Army is coming and they will pray for their defeat. ("Episode 3.4")

The Witan has requested Uhtred and Æthelflæd's presence. Edward has come in place of the king. Æthelflæd claims that Danes are near and it was Hæsten who attacked her. Æthelred and Æthelhelm question how Uhtred knew where to find Æthelflæd. He accuses Uhtred of making a plan with Hæsten in order to gain Æthelflæd’s trust. Alfred joins them and demands the truth. Uhtred wants 1,000 men and he will give them Beamfleot and peace. Alfred denies Uhtred's proposal. ("Episode 3.5")

Æthelhelm arrives in Winchester to meet with Alfred. He 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. He also attends the Witan, in which Æthelwold is sentenced to have his eye removed for betrayal. ("Episode 3.7")

Æthelhelm and Ælflæd have arrived for the arranged marriage. They’re guided in by Father Pyrlig. Edward asks to have some time alone with his wife-to-be, but Æthelhelm is very much against it after hearing talk of Edward’s bastard children. Pyrlig takes Æthelhelm 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. ("Episode 3.8")

Æthelwold approaches Æthelhelm at the royal feast to congratulate him. Æthelhelm suggests that he cover his eye as it is off-putting. However, Æthelwold sees it as his loyalty to the crown, which may some day rest on his head, as the Witan and Ealdormen are known to be unpredictable. Æthelwold then informs Æthelhelm that he is not Edward’s first father-in-law. He claims his bastard children to be legitimate. Edward has been married once before. Æthelhelm distrusts Æthelwold and sees the children as nothing more than bastards. ("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")

After Uhtred is pardoned by both Alfred and Edward, he helps prepare Wessex for a battle with the Danes. Æthelred has spies inside Danelaw that have confirmed the Danes are moving closer. Æthelred has issued an order for his men to retreat, but he wants to know when they will be joined by Wessex. Æthelred asks if the Ealdormen stand with Edward. Æthelhelm insists that they do. ("Episode 3.10")

Season 4[]

Winchester, Wessex; Lord Æthelhelm informs King Edward and Pyrlig that Cnut is leaving for Irland to help a cousin, Sigtryggr, who’s besieged there. King Edward says they’ll ignore the news until the scouts confirm and orders them to continue to fortify the board. When the Danes break the peace, they’ll be ready. King Edward is joined by his mother, Ælswith, whom he tells to take comfort in knowing that all is well. ("Episode 4.1")

Lord Æthelhelm, Uhtred, Pyrlig, and King Edward discuss the matter of Uhtred helping Edward fulfill his father’s dream of a united land, but only if King Edward gives him men to retake Bebbanburg. If Uhtred takes Bebbanburg, it becomes a foothold in Northumbria. King Edward could then unite the four kingdoms. One country, one king. With 100 men, Uhtred can take the kingdom in a week. with 200, in a day. Lord Æthelhelm doesn’t believe it is wise to distract themselves with other matters given the ongoing threat with the Danes. Uhtred urges Edward to accept his offer, but he instead agrees with Lord Æthelhelm and refuses to lend Uhtred his men. ("Episode 4.1")

Lord Æthelhelm, King Edward, Pyrlig, 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 either of them. Æthelhelm tells Ælfweard that the men of Wessex are fighters. Rule the sword, and rule the land. ("Episode 4.2")

Æthelhelm, Æthelflæd, Pyrlig, King Edward, Aldhelm, and Ælswith 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. Æthelred has ridden into Daneland and ravages East Anglia. With Æthelred gone, the people of Mercia expect King Edward to protect them. Edward then realizes that Cnut is trying to draw him out into the open. 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 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")

King Edward asks if there’s been any word of Æthelred. Unfortunately, there hasn't. Edward’s mother and sister force his hand. Lord Æthelhelm proposes that Edward allow the Lord of Mercia to return defend to his wife and land. They say that Æthelred has 400 men, no match for Cnut’s. So, the battle would remove the problem of King Æthelred. And once he’s gone, Edward could defeat Cnut and unite the kingdoms, fulfilling his father’s dream. However, this would mean sacrificing Mercia and his sister. ("Episode 4.3")

Ælflæd tells Æthelhelm that Edward is too deep in prayer and that he shouldn't be bothered. Lord Æthelhelm explains that what Edward needs is to listen to those wiser than him, who knows the cost of battle. He then reveals to his daughter that Ælswith was seen visiting Edward’s bastard at the monastery. She arranged a reunion between the boy and his mother. And a rumor persists that her marriage to Edward was legitimate. One that could endanger Ælflæd’s son when the time comes. Lord Æthelhelm encourages his daughter to keep the king satisfied. Another son would strengthen their position. Ælflæd tries to but matters of Kingship weigh heavy on Edward. Æthelhelm must act before Ælswith turns Edward away from them. Æthelhelm assures his daughter he will do what he must. ("Episode 4.4")

Tettenhall, Mercia; Lord Æthelhelm arrives after they have won the battle at Tettenhall. Æthelflæd then thanks Edward for his contribution and for saving her. However, he came against his better judgement, and he doesn’t take his sister’s defiance lightly. He lost many men in the battle, including Steapa. The man they’ve both known since childhood. He blames Steapa’s death on Æthelflæd’s ambition to be loved by all and chronicled for her bravery. He tells her not to return south. Lord Æthelhelm adds that she would not be welcomed by the grieving widows of the Wessex men whose lives were lost. ("Episode 4.4")

Aegelesburg, Mercia; King Edward, Lord Æthelhelm, and Pyrlig ride into Mercia to hold Æthelred accountable for abandoning his people. They won the war, now they must help bring about the peace. Edward then tells Æthelhelm to have his mother publicly rebuked for raising King Hywel’s army. Edward calls on Cenric and sends him back to Winchester to have their men brought to Mercia to help rebuild the town. Edward refuses to ignore the Mercians plight again. ("Episode 4.5")

King Edward approaches Æthelred, intent on making him answer for his desertion. However, when he sees the king is barely conscious and not even aware of himself, King Edward exits. Lord Æthelhelm advises him to act decisively to install someone in Mercia before chaos breaks out. Admittedly, King Edward hasn’t been as attentive to them as he should have. Pyrlig informs them that Danish survivors have been spotted heading East. However, Edward wants all his forces in Aegelesburg. He also wants to speak with Ludeca to discuss succession. ("Episode 4.5")

Lord Æthelhelm pulls Cenric to the side and instructs him to tell the Wessex Guard to settle within the walls. And as for the command to punish the king’s mother, he asks Cenric to undertake it. ("Episode 4.5")

Edward and Ludeca are confronted by Burgred. He demands that the king remove his troops from Aegelesburg. Lord Æthelhelm intervenes, advising Burgred to remove himself. Burgred will do so gladly. He remarks that there’s ways to make men the Lord of Mercia without the Witan. Ludeca fears that Burgred will do something foolish to assure his son’s seat on the throne. As Ludeca leaves, Æthelhelm worries that his love for Mercia may lead to conflict in time. Edward wonders how old will he be when Ælfwynn is of age to produce an heir. Æthelflæd will certainly not approve. So, he looks elsewhere, possibly at Eardwulf. ("Episode 4.5")

King Edward remains troubled by Ludeca’s old age. Edward questions if he should offer his niece to him as dowry in return for a renewal of the alliance. Lord Æthelhelm advises the king to follow his instincts. Eardwulf arrives after being invited to feast with them. Æthelhelm explains that the Mercian Guard is loyal to Eardwulf. It would bring a fighting force under Edward’s command. Lord Æthelhelm believes that Eardwulf would be willing to work with them to achieve peace, especially if it means restoring his family’s name. ("Episode 4.5")

King Edward, Lord Æthelhelm, and Ludeca agree that the union between Mercia and Wessex is critical. Edward wishes to further discuss this unity as well as the betrothal of his niece. Pyrlig grows uncomfortable with the talk of Ludeca’s betrothal to Edward’s niece and leaves. Eardwulf believes their in need of a peacemaker, someone to unite the divisions. He proposes that Eardwulf be that man as opposed to Ludeca. Should Eardwulf agree, they would only need the approval of a Witan. Later, Lord Æthelhelm orders Cenric to ride to Saltwic and fetch Ælfwynn. King Edward would like to ensure no force is used. ("Episode 4.5")

Lord Æthelhelm worries that they’re running out of time to find Uhtred and the king’s niece. Edward orders Cenric to continue looking. Pyrlig and Ludeca then inform them of a sickness spreading across Mercia. Ludeca advises they close the gate to prevent any more sick villagers from entering. Pyrlig and Burgred refuse to abandon the sick, but Lord Æthelhelm is in agreement with Ludeca. Edward believes they should keep the gates open as well, but should he overrule Ludeca, the Witan will say that Edward desires to conquer them. And so, Edward orders that the gates be shut. ("Episode 4.6")

Cenric reports back to Edward and Æthelhelm. Unfortunately, the fugitives haven’t been located. Edward worries that the sickness may have taken her and that they drove her into danger, but Æthelhelm recalls Æthelflæd leaving of her own will. Edward tells Cenric to burn herbs in the surrounding fields to let the smoke drive out the bad air. Ludeca then reveals that Eardwulf left with 12 of their best men. He believes that Eardwulf is simply devoted to himself and would risk the bad air for treasure. Edward blames Æthelhelm on Eardwulf’s departure and tells him to advise him better on who to trust in the future. ("Episode 4.6")

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")

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")

Burgred exclaims that the king cannot be trusted. He constantly schemes against them. The time has come to take a bolder step. However, Ludeca advises against separating from Wessex. Edward, Æthelhelm, and Cenric enter despite being unwelcome and the Witan proceeds. Burgred calls King Edward a liar. He accused Edward of orchestrating the sickness and closing off the city, leaving them without food or guards. Uhtred makes his presence known. He assures them that while Ælfwynn is safe, she will not be betrothed as Eardwulf has confessed to the murder of Æthelred and fled Mercia. He then presents Æthelred’s ring as proof, handing it over to Ludeca. ("Episode 4.7")

Edward asks Uhtred where is Ælfwynn. Uhtred will only reveal her location if Edward promises that Ælfwynn and Æthelflæd will be protected. Edward threatens to have Uhtred seized, but he’s done nothing wrong. Nevertheless, Edward has him taken away and orders Æthelhelm to find out where Uhtred hides Ælfwynn. Æthelhelm does this by having Cenric torture Uhtred when he refuses to tell him the location of Ælfwynn. ("Episode 4.7")

Edward tells Æthelhelm to leave Aegelesburg. More than once he has taken it upon himself to interpret Edward’s wishes in a way that he finds unchristian. Æthelhelm claims that he nearly placed himself between Edward and some necessary unpleasantness. Still, Edward orders him to return to Winchester. ("Episode 4.7")

Winchester, Wessex; Brida, Sigtryggr, Eardwulf, and the Danes attack Winchester. They kill many men and take Æthelhelm, Ælflæd, and Ælfweard captive. They ask if he would like to fight or yield. Lord Æthelhelm chooses to yield, and Sigtryggr orders his men to kill the Wessex Guards regardless. He then orders for Æthelhelm, Ælflæd, and Ælfweard to be locked up. Eardwulf informs Sigtryggr that they will have the town soon enough. ("Episode 4.9")

Ælswith, Æthelstan, Stiorra, Æthelhelm, Ælflæd, and Ælfweard 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")

Ælswith, Æthelhelm, and Ælflæd 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. She 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. Æthelhelm watches as Ælswith drinks from the jug of water he poisoned with the purple plant. ("Episode 4.10")


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 Æthelhelm, yet, his origins are unclear. Some historians believe him to be Æthelhelm of Wiltshire (who died in 897), whilst others argue that he could be Æthelhelm (c.865-c.890), son of Æthelred I (Æthelred of Wessex). However, many historians dismiss the idea as it would imply incest as Edward the Elder (Edward) would of been married to his cousin, Ælfflæd (Ælflæd).
  • The name Æthelhelm comes from Old English. The name is made up of the words æthel, which means "noble", and helm, which means "helmet, protector".
  • Æthelhelm is a noble; he is the lord of Wiltshire.