Æthelstan of Wessex is a character in both The Saxon Stories novel series, and The Last Kingdom television series. He is the son of Edward and Ecgwynn. He has a twin sister, Ædgyth, but they were separated soon after birth.
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Winchester, Wessex; Æthelwold tells Edward that some ealdormen aren't too happy that he made a whore of a young girl and left her pupped. Edward defends her by retorting that she isn’t a whore. ("Episode 3.1")
Alfred and Ælswith have commanded that he get a divorce after they found out that Edward and Ecgwynn secretly married. Bishop Erkenwald states that Edward’s wife has chosen to enter a nunnery, and therefore, the marriage is dismissed. Edward asks what of his children. Alfred and Ælswith tells him that they will be cared for. ("Episode 3.4")
Winchester, Wessex; Ælswith asks Hild about Ecgwynn, on what is happening to her now. Hild informs Ælswith that Ecgwynn has been forbidden from seeing Æthelstan and Ædgyth. Ecgwynn sees her daughter on occasion but she hasn't seen her son since he was ripped from her arms. ("Episode 4.2")
Ælswith says that Æthelstan has now the love of god but not that of his mother, even she wouldn't wish that on her son. Hild is right to assume that Ælswith wishes to see the two, and to do it in secret. ("Episode 4.2")
Wessex (?); Ælswith finds Æthelstan, the first King of all England and the English. Ælswith asks Æthelstan what he is reading. She then asks who his family is, but he’s been told not to answer that. She tells Æthelstan 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")
Saltwic, Mercia; Æthelstan has been held up at Æthelflæd her Mercian estate with Stiorra and Ælfwynn. Æthelflæd arrives with Uhtred and his men. She asks where is her daughter, and Ælfwynn rushes into her arms. Aldhelm arrives to report that Æthelred is fatally injured and he may not last a week. No plan has been made for the succession, so Æthelflæd is eager to speak with him and the Ealdormen. Uhtred then tells Stiorra to take the children and secure them. She questions how much younger she’ll have to be a prisoner, as she leads Ælfwynn and Æthelstan into the other room. ("Episode 4.5")
Stiorra orders for Ælfwynn to come inside as she spots soldiers ride up towards the gate. She reports to Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric of their arrival and tells them that she has a plan. Stiorra opens the front gate and asks Cenric and his men if they are lost. They’ve come to take Ælfwynn to Aegelesburg. Ælfwynn claims that she’s already been taken to Winchester by Uhtred. Centric isn’t convinced and proceeds to search the grounds while young Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, Sihtric, Ælfwynn, and Æthelstan hide. However, they come up empty handed. Uhtred arrives soon thereafter to find that everyone is safe. After evading capture, they proceed to pack their belongings and head for Ceaster. ("Episode 4.5")
Mercia; As they ride through the woods, hungry villagers rip the bread that Stiorra is eating right from her hands. They come to a stop as the road is blocked with the bodies of dead men piked on large wooden sticks. Finan and Sihtric go to investigate. They realize that at least one man is still alive but that he’s dying of a sickness. Finan claims that it is spread by touch while Uhtred and Osferth state that it spreads by air. Young Uhtred believes that it only takes sinners. Finan suggests that they return to Aegelesburg. However, they don’t have the power to defend themselves against Edward. Uhtred changes the plan. They will now go across land to Wenloca to avoid the bad air. Sihtric worries that the children won’t make the trip on foot, but they proceed nevertheless. ("Episode 4.6")
Uhtred, young Uhtred, Stiorra, Eadith, Finan, Osferth, Sihtric, Ælfwynn, and Æthelstan continue on the road to Ceaster on foot. Uhtred carries Ælfwynn as Finan carries Æthelstan. From Uhtred, he learns that Æthelstan is Edward’s hidden bastard son. ("Episode 4.6")
St. Milburg’s Priory, Mercia; They soon arrive at St. Milburg’s Priory but Æthelflæd and Aldhelm are nowhere to be found. Finan continues to grow more and more worried. He suspects there may even be bodies laying in the fields. Uhtred orders Stiorra to get Ælfwynn out the sun, but she’s tired of mothering her. Stiorra has done it for months and has no intentions on being a wife. Nevertheless, she takes Ælfwynn under the trees. Finan suspects that Æthelflæd isn’t coming and advises they leave. Uhtred realizes that Æthelflæd must’ve gone ahead to Ceaster as agreed, so they do the same. ("Episode 4.6")
The group sleeps as Uhtred watches over them. Day breaks and the group awakens. Ælfwynn goes following behind a crow, chasing it through the woods on her own. That’s when she crosses paths with a sleeping Eardwulf and his men. Fortunately, Uhtred gets to her in time before she can awaken them. The group then run off into the woods. ("Episode 4.6")
They rests at a river stream, where Finan and Æthelstan sail a small ship made from tree bark. As night falls, the group settles down to sleep. The following morning, they continue their journey to Ceaster, Eadith fears that Ælfwynn is getting sick. Uhtred is aware, but tells Eadith to simply reassure her. Unfortunately, they are tracked down by Eardwulf and his guards. They find themselves in a swamp filled with dead bodies, certainly the result of the sickness. So, they are forced to fight their way out. Eardwulf demands they hand over Ælfwynn, but Uhtred refuses. Finan tells Æthelstan to run into the trees when the fighting starts and Sihtric hands him a knife. As the guards inch towards them, Eadith reveals that her brother killed Lord Æthelred and she’s willing to swear it on the book. She adds that Eardwulf is also responsible for the delay of their return to Mercia. Eadith has proof off his crime. She tells the guards to look inside the pouch that her brother wears around his neck. In it is Æthelred’s ring. And so, Eardwulf’s guards turn on him. Eadith advises Eardwulf to save himself and flee to Frankia. He heeds Eadith’s warning and leaves. Uhtred then picks up Æthelred’s ring off the ground. ("Episode 4.6")
Wollerton, Mercia; Sihtric asks for his blade back from Æthelstan. Uhtred orders young Uhtred and Sihtric to find Æthelflæd and tell her that Ælfwynn is safe. Eadith and Osferth will guard her until Edward has sworn he won’t harm her. Eadith fears that Ælfwynn is getting worse. Uhtred asks that Eadith keep her alive until he returns. Eadith tells him that she and Osferth will do everything they can. ("Episode 4.6")
Aegelesburg, Mercia; While the town is distracted by King Æthelred’s funeral, Pyrlig sneaks Uhtred, Finan, Stiorra, and Æthelstan inside. Pyrlig fears they are beyond getting Edward to listen. Aegelesburg is like a tinder waiting to spark. 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")
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")
Eadith watches over Ælfwynn and Æthelstan as they play on the swings and in the yard. However, she says goodbye to them after being told by Æthelflæd that she can't remain in Aegelesburg. ("Episode 4.8")
Thatcham, Wessex; Uhtred, Stiorra, Eadith, Finan, Sihtric, Osferth, Æthelstan, and Pyrlig 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. 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")
Æthelstan and Ælfweard are used as pawns by Sigtryggr to draw their father out. Uhtred approaches the kingdom on his own and calls out to Sigtryggr. Uhtred tells Sigtryggr to send out both of Edward’s children and he will walk into Winchester alone. Sigtryggr agrees to make the exchange. Uhtred enters Winchester as Æthelstan and Ælfweard exit, running into Edward’s arms. ("Episode 4.10")
Edward reveals to Uhtred that his mother is ill and that she can no longer care for Æthelstan. He looks to Uhtred to take care of the child. He will need guidance and protection. Bringing him into the palace would create a major strife. Edward wants Uhtred to teach Æthelstan how to be a warrior, all he knows of the Danes and Northumbria. Sigtryggr has shown them that there are ways to take land without fighting for them. Later, Uhtred leaves Winchester with Æthelstan. ("Episode 4.10")
Killed Victims Edit
This list shows the victims Æthelstan has killed:
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- This character has been based on a real historical figure of Æthelstan.
- Æthelstan was born c.894 and died in 939, at roughly 45 years of age. If the book series followed factual date of Æthelstan's birth then these are his ages throughout the books:
- In The Pagan Lord, it is 909-910, he is 15-16 years old.
- In The Empty Throne, it is 911, he is 17 years old.
- In Warriors of the Storm, it is 917, he is 23 years old.
- In The Flame Bearer, it is 918, he is 24 years old.
- In War of the Wolf, it is 923-924, he is 29-30 years old.
- In Sword of Kings, it is 924, he is 30 years old.
- In War Lord, it is 937, he is 43 years old. (assumed)
- The name Æthelstan comes from Old English name Æðelstan. The name is made up of the words æthel, which means "noble", and stan, which means "stone".