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"I am Æthelwold, son of King Æthelred, and rightful King of Wessex. Alfred stole my crown."
—Æthelwold to Guthrum[src]

Æthelwold was a main character in both The Saxon Stories novel series and The Last Kingdom television series. Æthelwold was King Æthelred's son and Alfred's nephew.

His own father considered him an unsuitable heir because of his debauchery and youthful lack of concern for the kingdom's business. After King Æthelred was mortally wounded in battle, the Witan chooses Alfred as his successor, resulting in Æthelwold's humiliation and longing to reclaim what he considered his birthright.

BiographyEdit

The Saxon StoriesEdit

(To Be Added)

The Last KingdomEdit

Season 1Edit

Æthelwold is scolded by King Æthelred for being drunk in the garden. Æthelred refers to his son as an embarrassment and an unsuitable heir. Æthelwold claims he plans to change. ("Episode 1.2")

Young Odda advises Æthelwold to speak to the king to ensure that he’s the successor, as some are arguing that Æthelwold is too young and foolish to lead Wessex. Young Odda surmises that Alfred is in fact his successor. He even suggests that Æthelwold lie and say that his father personally named him as his successor. ("Episode 1.3")

Æthelwold wakes up in the barn after a night of sex with a local Saxon woman. He goes to see his father, but Alfred informs him that the king is dead. As Alfred leaves, Æthelwold lies to the remaining Ealdormen, claiming that his father named him as his successor before he died. However, Odda, who knows this to be false, makes his presence known and informs Æthelwold that the king bequeathed his crown to Alfred. ("Episode 1.3")

A bag is placed over Æthelwold’s head, and he is taken to a barn by Odda and Leofric. Odda will not put up with Æthelwold’s lies of being the successor to the king. However, Æthelwold claims that he got the idea from Young Odda, but it changes nothing. Odda instructs Leofric to take Æthelwold to a monastery for him to be educated. ("Episode 1.3")

Æthelwold joins Uhtred and Leofric. He tells Uhtred that he’s not the nephew of the king, but rather the king, claiming that Alfred is only pretending. Alfred also won’t allow him to fight. So, he hopes that Leofric or Uhtred will teach him. ("Episode 1.3")

Wulfhere kicks Æthelwold awake as he sleeps in a cell. He brings Æthelwold to the courtyard, where Uhtred awaits. Wulfhere sends Mildrith to meet with Ælswith. He then tells Uhtred that his punishment for drawing his sword before the king would usually be death. But Alfred is feeling merciful. He wants Uhtred’s assurance that he will keep the peace. Wulfhere tells Uhtred that it doesn’t matter that he killed Ubba. What matters is that Young Odda has claimed the credit. Should his father die, Odda will become one of the richest man in Wessex. Uhtred’s punishment is to grovel, much like Æthelwold. ("Episode 1.5")

Æthelwold and Uhtred 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. Æthelwold confesses his sins of loving women and tits. He begs for forgiveness, but the king is not amused and walks away. Beocca instructs Uhtred to lay flat and kiss the cross. However, Uhtred refuses and leaves. ("Episode 1.5")

Leofric notices that they’ve been followed. He tells the unidentified tag-along to lower his hood. Instead, he runs and gets caught up in the mud. Æthelwold reveals himself and explains that he merely wanted to be part of the adventure. Leofric wants to kill Æthelwold as they will all be killed should anyone find out what they’re doing. However, Uhtred owes Æthelwold and tells him to come along. That night, Æthelwold tells Uhtred and Leofric about the layout of Cornwalum; they have numerous kings and fierce warriors. Æthelwold is eager to be blooded in battle. ("Episode 1.6")

Five days of raiding, and they’ve turned up with nothing. They cross paths with five men. Uhtred tells Æthelwold not to speak. Brother Asser has brought them a gift from King Peredur, of the Britons. The king has heard of them and wants to enlist in their help as the king is under attack by a fellow Briton, Callyn. Peredur is prepared to pay them well if they help him recapture their land. Brother Asser takes them to meet King Peredur. Their rivals have between 40 and 50 men. The king only has 30 fighting men at his disposal. In return for their help, he will pay them 400 pieces of silver. ("Episode 1.6")

The following day, Uhtred, Leofric, and Æthelwold lead King Peredur, Brother Asser, and his men into battle. However, as they approach, the Britons exit the fortress. Æthelwold goes to see why they’d do such a thing. He discovers that King Peredur lied to them and that his fortress was taken by Danes. ("Episode 1.6")

Uhtred and Leofric make a deal with the Danes and return to their horses and inform Æthelwold and the others of their plans to double cross King Peredur. They charge forward and then turn around, joining forces with the Danes and killing Peredur’s men. Brother Asser watches from the bushes before running off. With King Peredur as the sole survivor, they demand to know where they can find his wealth. Skorpa promises him that he will be spared. King Peredur reveals that it’s buried beneath his throne. Skorpa then kills him. ("Episode 1.6")

They return to King Peredur’s kingdom, where they find Queen Iseult awaiting their arrival. She tells them that the silver is under his throne and they begin searching. However, Skorpa has double crossed Uhtred, Leofric, and Æthelwold. He holds an axe to the queen’s throat as his men walk out with the riches. Skorpa whispers something into Iseult’s ear before releasing her and leaving. After they’re gone, Iseult tells Uhtred that she can get him more silver. There’s more hidden outside under a stack of hay. Just under the hay, they find a chest filled with silver, including a large cross, which Uhtred tells them is not for plunder. ("Episode 1.6")

Æthelwold later attends Uhtred and Leofric's Witan after they discover of their plunder. Young Odda tells Uhtred that he’s charged with taking a troop of the king’s men into Cornwalum and making war against the Britons. He is also charged with joining forces with Skorpa. The punishment for these crimes is death. Leofric is introduced as a witness. He admits to being in Cornwalum with Uhtred. They also killed Britons and plundered. He also donated his share of the plunder to the church and begged for forgiveness. While they’re admittedly guilty, Leofric requests a fight to the death. He assures them that Uhtred won’t win. It would take God’s intervention for Uhtred to beat him. Æthelwold agrees that it should be put into God’s hands. Alfred grants Leofric’s request. ("Episode 1.6")

Guthrum and the Danes infiltrate the palace. They kill many Saxons in search of Alfred. Æthelwold watches as this unfolds in the hall. Once Guthrum is alone, Æthelwold approaches him as the rightful King of Wessex. As king, Æthelwold is prepared to negotiate. Guthrum has no desire to negotiate with Æthelwold and attacks him. ("Episode 1.7")

Brida, Guthrum, and Young Ragnar look to Æthelwold for intel on Alfred. Æthelwold warns them that Alfred is wise and calculated and his strength comes from God. Ragnar questions why Alfred stole the crown. Æthelwold reveals that he was not seen as a man to follow. Whereas Alfred was more honorable. Guthrum hands Æthelwold a blade and tells him to kill Alfred. ("Episode 1.8")

Æthelwold greets Uhtred and Leofric as they arrive at Odd's estate to order the raise of the fyrd, but Young Odda refuses. He accuses Alfred of deserting Wessex. Realizing that tyrant he has become and the treason he has committed, Odda kills Young Odda. Alfred makes his presence known. Alfred now wants for word to be sent that he is king and will fight alongside the sword of Wessex. As they're leaving Odd's estate, they cross paths with Skorpa, and Uhtred tells him that the truce is off. ("Episode 1.8")

Leofric notices that Æthelwold has a Dane’s knife. Æthelwold claims that he took it off a Dane he killed in Winchester. Æthelwold goes to find Alfred. He slowly approaches him from behind and begins to draw his sword, but he sheathes his blade and offers Alfred company. Alfred tells Æthelwold there is a change in the shadow and air. Suddenly, more men start to appear. The swords of England have answered the call. ("Episode 1.8")

The Saxon and Dane armies advance towards the middle of the field. Leofric demands Wulfhere’s head for his treacherous ways. He, along with Uhtred and Æthelwold, are frontline. They build a wall as Brida, Guthrum, Ragnar charge towards them with an army. Leofric manages to stab and kill Wulfhere during the battle. However, Leofric is also killed in the attack. ("Episode 1.8")

King Alfred marches into battle and declares no mercy and the Saxon army defeats the Danes. Uhtred stands over Leofric’s body. Æthelwold hands him Leofric’s sword and Uhtred places it in his hand. Leofric’s grave is to be marked like that of an Ealdorman. ("Episode 1.8")

Season 2Edit

Æthelwold attends a Witan in Winchester. To keep Wessex safe, they must look beyond its borders, where Christians suffer under the same rule of the Danes. There are two Northmen, Sigefrid and Erik, two Godless brothers with a voracious appetite for land, silver, slaves and war. Alfred wants it known that God, Alfred and the Ealdormen of Wessex are watching them. ("Episode 2.1")

Hild rides to Winchester and reports to Odda and King Alfred that Uhtred has been taken. However, Alfred doesn’t believe that Uhtred can be saved. Ælswith adds that it’s too late and that Uhtred can be across the seas by now. However, Æthelwold knows that Uhtred will make it out, as he always does. ("Episode 2.2")

The kingdom of Winchester meet with Lord Ceolwulf. He 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. Ceolwulf suddenly dies right there before them, much to Æthelwold’s amusement. ("Episode 2.3")

Æthelwold informs Uhtred that he’s been instructed to join him on his quest to Eoferwic by Alfred. He’s to be Alfred’s errand-boy. Æthelwold suspects that Alfred wants him dead, which is his reason for sending him along. ("Episode 2.4")

Æthelwold, Uhtred, Ragnar, Hild, Finan, Steapa, and Beocca head to Eoferwic. But first, they stop in Loidis, where they reunite with Brida. They proceed to find Sigefrid and Erik’s camp, where Æthelwold informs them of the game Tafl. The king is positioned at the centre of the pieces. Æthelwold presumes the brothers are in the center. Uhtred enters their camp, cuts off Sigefrid's hand and forces the brothers to leave the land. ("Episode 2.4")

Æthelwold, Uhtred, Ragnar, Brida, Hild, Finan, Sihtric, Steapa, and Beocca lead an army of men to Dunholm. They arrive just outside the fortress and breach the East wall. They invade the fortress, killing many men. Then, Ragnar kills Kjartan. After winning the battle, they plan to return to Wessex. ("Episode 2.4")

Coccham, Uhtred’s Estate, Wessex; Æthelwold awaits Uhtred's arrival. Not a drop of ale has passed his lips in ten days or more. Æthelwold is sober now. He tells Uhtred that the dead speak. He saw a corpse rise from its grave. He said that Æthelwold should be King of Wessex and that Uhtred will be crowned King of Mercia. Bjorn, the dead man, heard it through the three spinners. Uhtred isn’t convinced that what Æthelwold speaks is the truth. He claims to have seen the corpse in Mercia. Beyond Watling Street. Meaning he crossed into Daneland. Æthelwold claims he was invited and the same will happen for Uhtred. ("Episode 2.5")

Winchester, Wessex; Æthelwold informs Uhtred that Bjorn wishes to see him. Æthelwold claims that he and Uhtred are bonded. Their ancestors are kings and yet they are barely acknowledged as Ealdorman. Æthelwold refuses to stand by and watch while power and wealth is given to Æthelred. He seeks Uhtred’s help. Æthelwold tells Uhtred that if they leave now to see Bjorn, they can be back in two days for the wedding. They will leave as soon as Uhtred’s horse is cooler and fed. ("Episode 2.5")

Skald’s Hall; Æthelwold takes Uhtred, Finan, Sihtric, and Clapa to see Bjorn rise. The time has come. To raise the dead, they have to send a messenger across the gulf. A sacrifice. They bring a twice convicted thief. He pleads for his life, but his prayers go unanswered. Hæsten shoves a harp string down his mouth to build a bridge from their world to Bjorn’s. Hæsten then puts the message in his mouth and slits his throat. They proceed fertilize the grave with his blood. Moments later, Bjorn rises and spits out the harp string. Bjorn has a message for Uhtred. Afterward, Uhtred wonders if Finan, Æthelwold, and Clapa believe that Bjorn rising from the dead is true. All three of them are convinced that Bjorn’s words are true and that Uhtred is meant to be King of Mercia. Æthelwold reminds them that it’s their birthright to be kings. ("Episode 2.5")

Æthelwold tries to convince Uhtred, Finan, and Clapa to act against Alfred. He assures them Bjorn speaks the truth. He later follows Uhtred into battle against the brothers. They find the north gate open and unguarded. An obvious trap, but they proceed. They meet up with Æthelred and Aldhelm, neither haven’t crossed a single man. Æthelred believes that the Danes have fled and celebrates. Suddenly, fire is set in a tower above. Undoubtedly a signal. Uhtred realizes that the signal was to alert the Danes to attack their camp. ("Episode 2.6")

Æthelwold returns to Winchester with Æthelwold and Aldhelm to inform the king that while London has been reclaimed, the brothers abducted Æthelflæd. And they’re unsure if she’s still alive. Odda accuses Æthelred of putting all kingdoms at risk, making him the fool he always believed him to be. Æthelwold finds amusement in Æthelred’s scolding and reminds him and Aldhelm that the only man capable of cleaning up this mess is Uhtred, who they’re desperately trying to blame. ("Episode 2.7")

A Witan is held in Winchester. Æthelwold expresses his concerns of the Northemen in Beamfleot. They’re currently raiding into Mercia to feed their army. It won’t be long before they move on to Wessex. Æthelwold suggests raising the fyrd. However, Alfred tells him that he has no place to speak of raising fyrds. Alfred instructs the Ealdorman to begin harvesting. Should the Danes raid, they won’t be fed off Wessex food. ("Episode 2.7")

Odda gets drunk in the courtyard. He asks Æthelwold’s opinion on paying a ransom for Æthelflæd. Admittedly, it’s not an opinion that he’s willing to say out loud. Odda asks if there’s any of Æthelwold’s father in him. Æthelwold replies that he is becoming more like his father by the day. He tells Æthelwold that the time may come when he needs his help. ("Episode 2.7")

Æthelwold finds Odda at a pub and tells him that he doesn’t agree with the payment of the ransom. If he had an army to raise, he would prove it. ("Episode 2.8")

King Alfred, Æthelwold, Æthelred, Aldhelm, and Steapa lead an army of warriors to stop Odda and the Devonshire fyrd. They eventually manage to catch up to him. Odda explains that he lied to his men and told them that they were there to fight on Alfred’s orders. Odda explains that he’s done what he had to for Wessex. Before long, Uhtred, Finan, Sihtric, and Osferth arrive with Lady Æthelflæd. Uhtred warns Alfred that Sigefrid and his men are near and that now is the chance to kill them all. They go to war with the Danes and eventually manage to subdue them. ("Episode 2.8")

After winning the battle, Odda is taken back o Winchester, where he is to be out on trial. Æthelwold brings Odda a blade to kill himself with. Odda would’ve liked to see his land of Devonshire once more. He asks Æthelwold how it looked. He replies it was beautiful. Odda takes the blade and plunges it into his heart. ("Episode 2.8")

Season 3Edit

Æthelwold approaches Edward after his training and informs him that certain Ealdormen would rather see him dead than rise to king. He made a whore of a young girl and left her pupped. Edward retorts that she isn’t a whore. ("Episode 3.1")

Æthelwold informs Uhtred that Sigebriht wants to kill Edward because Edward has whelped twins with the girl who Sigebriht loved. Æthelwold is certain that Alfred will make Uhtred tend to the matter, as he is a kingmaker, and it could pose a threat to Edward. The following day, the men of Wessex meet the Mercian guard on the battlefield, where they defeat the Danes and force them to retreat. ("Episode 3.1")

Æthelwold wishes to speak with Brother Godwin. Æthelwold doesn’t believe that Uhtred is the right man to guide Edward. Bishop Erkenwald needs to see this and Alfred needs to be reminded of this. Should Godwin does as he is asked, Æthelwold will ensure that he is given a lady to fondle. Æthelwold even makes mention of Uhtred desecrating his wife's grave. ("Episode 3.2")

Æthelwold finds Offa and informs him of his intent to form his own guard. He is willing to employ him and two others. They will be paid in silver. ("Episode 3.2")

Æthelwold, Offa and two others arrive in Aegelesburg to see Æthelred. Aldhelm demands to know what he wants. Æthelwold wants their disloyalty towards Alfred. He adds that Uhtred has left Alfred’s side, making him vulnerable. Æthelwold claims that the crown of Wessex is his and unlike Alfred, he doesn’t want to control Mercia. He’d rather leave that to Æthelred. He’s proposing they form an alliance. Æthelwold even suggests harming Æthelflæd, who is away at her own estate. ("Episode 3.2")

Æthelwold and Offa meet with Bloodhair and Hæsten. They bring word of Alfred, Uhtred, and Skade. He claims that Uhtred humps her, but he has been banished from Wessex, likely headed to Dunholm. Æthelwold presents them with an alliance. He wishes to join them as well as Ragnar and Uhtred. Right now, Wessex has never been more vulnerable. Uhtred is gone and Alfred is weak. ("Episode 3.2")

Æthelwold arrives in Dunholm with Bloodhair and Hæsten. He tells stories to Cnut and the other Danes of Alfred in his youth. Uhtred then asks what Æthelwold said to Æthelred when he visited Merica. Æthelwold spoke of an opportunity to enrage Alfred and cause division, which included killing Æthelflæd. Uhtred tells Æthelwold to not sleep or else he might not awaken. Æthelwold questions why Uhtred cares. He surmises that the real reason Beocca came was to ask that Uhtred save her. Æthelwold predicts that Uhtred is about to desert them. Cnut reminds Uhtred that they’re supposed to be joined as one. Bloodhair agrees that Uhtred appears conflicted, and so Ragnar asks what side he is on. Uhtred replies he is leaving to save Æthelflæd. ("Episode 3.3")

Æthelwold demands to know why Ragnar and Cnut are allowing Uhtred to leave after he beat Bloodhair in a battle. He suggests they kill him. Ragnar questions his worth and why he shouldn’t kill Æthelwold. Cnut reminds him that Æthelwold can drip poison into the ears of Saxons. Still, Ragnar grows upset and attacks Æthelwold, striking him several times. Cnut reminds him that it is Uhtred who has caused their division and they need to remember their task ahead. Ragnar states that nothing has changed and they will march when the time comes. Cnut helps Æthelwold up and agrees that they shouldn’t have allowed Uhtred to leave. ("Episode 3.4")

Ragnar leads Brida, Cnut, Bloodhair, Æthelwold, and the great army to Wessex, during which time Cnut tells Æthelwold that Ragnar is planning to kill him soon. Æthelwold has been contemplating his next actions after Cnut told him that Ragnar will likely kill him. Æthelwold intends to kill Ragnar first. Cnut wonders how he will do so. Æthelwold will wait until he sleeps. Cnut encourages him to do so tonight. Once it is done, Æthelwold will have Cnut’s protection. ("Episode 3.4")

Æthelwold waits for the army to fall asleep and creeps around camp to Ragnar’s tent. He sneaks inside and kills Ragnar in his sleep, stabbing him as well as the women he lays with, multiple times. Ragnar reaches for his sword so that he may go to Valhalla, but Æthelwold pulls it away. He then drags the woman out of bed and stakes her with Ragnar’s sword before putting the blade he used to kill them both in her hand, so that it will seem as if she killed Ragnar. ("Episode 3.4")

Jackdaw returns to camp to report hat Alfred is dead. Brida rushes to inform Ragnar but discovers him dead in his tent. Brida exits the tent, suspecting that it was someone at the camp who took his life. Despite Ragnar’s death, Cnut wants to go on. He and Bloodhair will march. Æthelwold watches silently as this unfolds. He gives his condolences to Brida. ("Episode 3.5")

Hæsten arrives in Hunstanton with Skade, where he regroups with Bloodhair and Cnut. Hæsten informs Bloodhair that Skade belongs to him now. He reveals that Alfred lives and that they came at night in thousands. And that Uhtred is with him. Æthelwold is doubtful, but Hæsten insists that Alfred lives. ("Episode 3.6")

Bloodhair believes Ragnar’s death to be an omen and that they should postpone the fight, but Cnut wants to push forward. He wishes to send Æthelwold back to Winchester to raise a Saxon army. He also reveals to Hæsten and Bloodhair that it was Æthelwold who killed Ragnar in his sleep. ("Episode 3.6")

PersonalityEdit

Æthelwold is a complex character, self-serving but self-loathing and able to display ridiculous, almost comical self-importance as well as acute and candid self-awareness. For one he is quite aware that many people perceive him as a lightweight and a buffoon, a role he often makes light of and even embraces.

When he is made to grovel before Alfred he uses the occasion to stir the crowd into laughing, ridiculing the punishment as well as himself, thus indirectly shaming Alfred, and gaining Uhtred's favour in the process for although Æthelwold does harbour great pride he is not one bit hindered by it, keeping his eye on the big picture.

Having led a sheltered youth he is immature, petulant and generally cowardly. However, he occasionally shows surprising bravery; being a man with a wounded ego, little to lose, and a lot to prove (though, in Uhtred's own words, he is "as much a warrior as he is a king.")

Though not in-your-face charismatic, Æthelwold has a way with words and a sarcastic (oftentimes self-deprecating) sense of humour. Having received a kingly education, he is well-versed in geography and politics.

Manipulative, Æthelwold is considerably smarter than meets the eye and displays good judgement for people's character, motivations, weaknesses and wounds, which he will often wield to turn them into allies of circumstance (though he will often switch sides if he finds himself in a predicament or sees a new opportunity to seize.)

With no land or army to call his own, Æthelwold is not the most eloquent public speaker, and prefers to work behind the scenes, often presenting his arguments in a downplayed, matter-of-fact manner (though he is perfectly aware of their insidiously persuasive effect).

Despite his desire for the throne and growing resentment towards Alfred for inheriting it, he is very aware of his uncle's intellectual might and worth as a leader and harbours great admiration and even love for him, feelings with which he struggles as he tries to find the right path for himself.

Though he shows considerable personal growth throughout Seasons 1 and 2, and a genuine intent to prove his worth off the royal path, both to himself and to his friends, Æthelwold is regularly tempted astray and grows more bitter and reckless as he grows older, particularly as the young Edward is groomed to become Alfred's heir which only rubs salt in Æthelwold's wounded pride.

Killed Victims Edit

This list shows the victims Æthelwold has killed:

This list shows the victims Æthelwold has killed:

  • (To Be Added)

AppearancesEdit

The Saxon StoriesEdit

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

The Last KingdomEdit

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

Trivia Edit

  • This character has been based on a real historical figure of Æthelwold.
    • Historically, he is widely known as Æthelwold ætheling.
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