- "Do you believe that I wished for my brother to be killed in battle? And for the crown to be placed upon my head? I did not. But I soon realised that, as well as it being a burden, it is a privilege, to lead our people. The crown of Wessex is all-important. Wessex and England are all-important. Matters of the heart are not."
- —Alfred to Edward[src]
Alfred of Wessex was a main character in both The Saxon Stories novel series, and The Last Kingdom television series. He was the King of the Wessex. He eventually styled himself as the "King of the Anglo-Saxons", and is driven by a vision for a united Kingdom of all the English (England). Alfred is a king of cunning, bravery, wisdom, piety and intelligence, who uses his deep Christian beliefs and innate drive towards a Kingdom of the English to gain alliances and defeat his enemies.
His father was King Æthelwulf, and he succeeded his brother King Æthelred following battle against the Danes. King Alfred defeated the Norse at the Battle of Ethandun, secured a treaty defining his kingdom and the Danelaw with Earl Guthrum, and made Guthrum convert to Christianity under the name King Æthelstan of East Anglia.
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Winchester, Wessex; Alfred is a godly man as well as a scholar, but suffers from weaknesses of the flesh, both in the form of sexual temptation as well as sickness. After Father Beocca spots a servant of Alfred's walking out of his room, buttoning up her shirt, Beocca reminds him of his duty to God's work and tells him not to give in to temptation. He also informs Alfred of a former Saxon slave Uhtred, whom Beocca had known as a child. Beocca believes the story of Uhtred murdering his Danish master, and believes that he will be an asset to them. Alfred tells him that if the stories are indeed true, he would be glad to welcome him into his service. ("Episode 1.2")
Alfred's brother, Æthelred, currently sits the throne, and the two share the same ideals of ridding England of the invasive Danes lest all of England fall to their pagan savagery. The Danes have now hostilely taken over East Anglia and captured its pious king, Edmund. Edmund calls for Wessex aid, but the council decides against it, admitting that they are now the last standing kingdom of England. They must fight the pagans with Christian prayers and the blood of English men. ("Episode 1.2")
Once Uhtred and Brida arrive in Winchester, Father Beocca takes them to see Alfred. Alfred is rather reserved in his opinions of the two newcomers, distrusting all pagans and Danes by nature. In Alfred's hall are thousands of scrolls, in which he writes down the comings and goings and happenings of all friends and enemies that his spies have managed to gather. He tells Uhtred of the importance of the written word not only for documentation but also for legacy. It is his hope that one day, all kingdoms in England will be united as one, under one god. The idea of a single kingdom called England has to begin in Wessex, the last remaining kingdom. ("Episode 1.2")
After Alfred goes off to prayer, Father Beocca reveals to Uhtred that he has kept the land charter papers of Bebbanburg safe and shown them to Alfred so he is aware Uhtred is the Ealdorman of Bebbanburg by right. Motivated by this, Uhtred decides to help Alfred by going into Readingham as a spy to gain knowledge of any forseeable Danish military plans to gain his trust as an Ealdorman. He reports back to the witan that the Danes, led by Guthrum, plan to attack--and soon. The rest of the witan, Lord Young Odda especially, is hesitant to trust this pagan newcomer, but Æthelred and Alfred decide to follow his advice and march the Wessex army to Ashes Hill, in what follows as the Battle of Ashdown. Alfred, still mistrusting of his two guests, imprison Uhtred and Brida. ("Episode 1.2")
Following the battle, Alfred is crowned king, after his brother perished from wounds sustained in the Battle of Ashdown. Æthelwold, the son of Æthelred, is not pleased, as he is technically next in line in succession. To ensure the transition goes smoothly in a time of division and strife, Alfred's man, Lord Odda has Æthelwold kidnapped by Leofric and sent off to a monastery in Hampton. ("Episode 1.3")
Alfred then has Uhtred and Brida released from imprisonment. Uhtred and Brida are less than pleased and demand some sort of repayment for their tip offs. But Alfred has bigger plans in mind. He gifts Uhtred with a Saxon mail coat and helmet and promises him a Saxon marriage which will entitle him to Wessex lands and therefore an Ealdorman title. It is his goal to use Uhtred's Danish knowledge and sword for a service term of one year to take back English lands from his enemies, whilst dangling the deliverance of Bebbanburg over his head. ("Episode 1.3")
Negotiations are made for peace talks between the Saxons and Danes. At the meeting, Danish Earls Ubba and Guthrum arrive. They are surprised to see Uhtred standing with the Saxons. Guthrum demands payment in land, silver, grain, and livestock for peace whilst Ubba would simply appreciate Uhtred's head. But Alfred, is firm in his decision to not give up any more land. He demands the heathen Danes return to Lundene and confine themselves to Mercia, East Anglia, and Northumbria. A compromise is agreed upon and later that night in the English camp, Alfred and his witan begin their long term plan to defeat the Danes in the years ahead. When back at Wessex, Alfred tells Odda the Elder to propose the idea of marriage to Uhtred again, with Odda's goddaughter, Mildrith, to bind him to Wessex. ("Episode 1.3")
Uhtred agrees to marry Mildrith and the ceremony is held by Beocca. But Uhtred soon learns that Mildrith's deceased father had promised a tenth of his land's yield to the Church, despite not being able to pay in full for many years. The sum of the current debt is 2,000 shillings, which Alfred could have removed but has chosen not to in order to test Uhtred's obedience as an English Ealdorman. ("Episode 1.4")
Uhtred quickly confronts Alfred about the outstanding debt. But before Uhtred can begin, Alfred informs him that Ivar the Boneless, brother of Ubba, has been killed in Irland and Ubba has deserted Guthrum to avenge him. However, Guthrum has now taken Wareham. The discussion leads to an argument about the gods versus the one true God. Which god, or gods, provides omens or miracles? Do they not have the same effect? Alfred reveals that his distrust of the Danes stems from their desire for personal gain and pleasure without sacrifice. To Alfred, penance is what separates the good English Christians from the pagan heathens. ("Episode 1.4")
Alfred and his men arrive at Wareham, where he demands the Danes exit Wessex by ship back to East Anglia in one month's time. Ten hostages from each side are exchanged as a condition during the one month peace term. Amongst the Wessex hostages are Father Selbix, who has been instructed to convert Guthrum to Christianity, and Uhtred, who has been instructed to escape and light beacon signals should word of Ubba's return be heard. ("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")
Alfred asks about the men in the camp. He worries that he doesn’t inspire them and that they don’t see him as a warrior. Beocca then notices Young Odda, Leofric, and Wulfhere approaching. He informs them that the Ubba and the Danes have been defeated. Young Odda hands Alfred Ubba's axe as proof of his demise. King Alfred is certain that Guthrum will now retreat. Wessex is saved. ("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. Mildrith follows him out. 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. 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")
Young Odda tells Alfred that progress is made daily and that he should come to Cynuit to inspect the building work for the church he’s having built there. Young Odda wants to have the altar placed in the exact spot where Ubba was buried. Alfred tells Young Odda to exhume the remains and have them buried elsewhere with respect. Beocca arrives with a message from Bishop Alewold. It claims that Uhtred slayed a villager and is refusing to pay the monies owed to the family. Alfred orders Young Odda to investigate. ("Episode 1.6")
Uhtred and Iseult arrive in Winchester for the Witan. Ælswith watches as Beocca enters with Uhtred and tells King Alfred that now is the time. 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. Brother Asser swears this to be true. Also, he reveals that the church in Cynuit was destroyed and the monks there killed. This is the work of Skorpa and Uhtred, Brother Asser claims. Uhtred now speaks, explaining that the only time he was in Cynuit was to kill Ubba. He looks to Wulfhere, who knows this to be true. ("Episode 1.6")
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. Leofric claims that he didn’t follow anyone and that he acted of his own will. However, Odda wants Uhtred held accountable. Beocca suggests that Uhtred beg, but he refuses. King Alfred sentences Uhtred to death. Leofric asks to speak. 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")
Alfred tells Uhtred that today is the feast of Saint Cedd, a man who worked in East Anglia and Mercia and died in Northumbria. Which is why Alfred finds no joy in spilling Saxon blood on his day. Alfred tells Uhtred to resume his debt, dispatch Iseult back to Cornwalum and there won’t be any need for bloodshed. However, if Iseult goes back, she’ll be killed. So, Uhtred turns down his offer. ("Episode 1.7")
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")
While escaping persecution from the Danes, King Alfred and his family escape to the swampland. During that time, they cross paths with Uhtred, Leofric, Iseult, and Hild. Uhtred blames Alfred for the attack on Winchester. He should’ve had watchers and spies on lookout. Like every kingdom before it, Wessex has fallen. Alfred is king of nothing. Before long, they arrive on the other end of the marshlands, where Ælswith waits with baby Edward and Æthelflæd. ("Episode 1.7")
Iseult gives Alfred a tonic for the pain in his stomach. She knows that he passes blood, which he hasn’t shared with anyone and hopes to heal him with herbs. He drinks it, and she tells him there will be more tomorrow. ("Episode 1.7")
Uhtred follows Alfred into the tall grass. Alfred’s priests have visited the swamplands before to preach as the people of the marshlands are oblivious to God. Uhtred remarks that Alfred looks tired. He admits that sleep has been a rarity. Ælswith would like for them to take a ship to Frankia, but he doesn’t want to travel with his son in the condition he is in. Uhtred suggests that Alfred send out word that he is alive so that his men will follow him and fight for him. However, if Alfred is to fight, it would have to be soon before more Danes arrive. He wants to take them out in a single defining battle. On Uhtred’s advice, Alfred sends the priest out in every direction to spread the word of his survival. ("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")
Alfred believes that Edward is sick because God is punishing him for stealing Æthelwold’s crown, but Uhtred reminds him that Æthelwold is a fool and had no place being king. Uhtred believes God is testing Alfred and encourages him to give Edward to Iseult. With no other option, Alfred hands Edward over to Uhtred. Ælswith comes out just as Uhtred walks away with Edward. ("Episode 1.7")
Beocca and Wulfhere arrive in the marshes. Alfred greets them both with a hug. Beocca informs him that they have a lot more men nearby. Beocca then asks about Edward, and Alfred rushes to go find him. Beocca and Wulfhere follow. They find Uhtred watching over Iseult and Edward. She presents the child to Alfred as he has been healed. Alfred takes his child and rejoices. Iseult proceeds to cry for the stranger’s child who will now die in Edward’s place. ("Episode 1.7")
Uhtred informs Leofric and Alfred that the Danes' ships are guarded by no more than 60 men. The rest of the army will be inland looking for food. They can kill the men and burn the ships, forcing Skorpa to go to Guthrum, where they can attack all the Danes at once. After the remaining Danes are killed, they watch as the ships go up in flames. Beocca believes this was a test for Alfred, and he emerged stronger. ("Episode 1.7")
Uhtred, Leofric, Beocca, Alfred, Brother Asser, and Wulfhere discuss their next course of action. Wulfhere doesn’t believe it was wise to burn the ships, as the Danes now have no means to leave. However, now is the time to fight, Uhtred and Alfred argue. Beocca adds that there are men out there waiting for their call. Wulfhere would rather escort Alfred to Frankia, but Alfred refuses to hide. He wants to leave the marshes and take the Danes out in one defining battle. ("Episode 1.8")
Uhtred, Leofric, Iseult, Hild, Alfred, Beocca, and Brother Asser leave the marshes and set sail for Winchester. They arrive on land and cross paths with Wulfhere’s man, Halig. He reveals that Wulfhere left without saying where. So, they continue on their path to Odda’s estate. ("Episode 1.8")
Alfred informs Uhtred, Leofric, Iseult, and Halig that he will be sending word of their army’s gathering point. Brother Asser will be the first messenger. Alfred appoints Halig as his second messenger. Hild wishes to be a messenger as well, and Alfred allows it despite the fact that she’s a woman. ("Episode 1.8")
Uhtred, Leofric, Iseult, Alfred, and Beocca cross paths with a man claiming that Young Odda has arranged for peace with the Danes. Uhtred and Beocca advise Alfred to hide while they assess the area. However, against their wishes, Alfred advances in not far behind Uhtred and Leofric. ("Episode 1.8")
Uhtred claims they come on behalf of the king. They come with Alfred’s written order to raise the fyrd, but Young Odda refuses. He accuses Alfred of deserting Wessex. Unbeknownst to them, Alfred watches from the crowd. When Uhtred accuses Young Odda of siding with the Danes, he orders Leofric to kill Uhtred, but Leofric will do no such thing. Realizing that tyrant he has become and the treason he has committed, Odda kills Young Odda. Alfred makes his presence known. Odda begs the king to forgive his son and let him die a Nobel. However, Alfred will not forgive him. He then orders Odda to raise the Somerset fyrd. Alfred now wants for word to be sent that he is king and will fight alongside the sword of Wessex. ("Episode 1.8")
King Alfred goes to investigate Egbert’s stone. Just over the ridge, he will know if they have an army or not. Uhtred joins him and they discover that not a single man has answered his call. Uhtred instructs him to wait for more to come. Fortunately, more men start to appear. The swords of England have answered the call. ("Episode 1.8")
Alfred gives a speech to his army of great numbers. They will murder the Danes and any who wish to take from them. They will strip them of what they have plundered and show them no mercy. King Alfred marches into battle and declares no mercy and the Saxon army defeats the Danes. ("Episode 1.8")
They return to Winchester, where Alfred tells Uhtred that he is indebted to him for saving Wessex from the Danes. Peace was further secured by Guthrum’s baptism at the hands of Father Beocca. They watch as he accepts the Christian God. ("Episode 1.8")
Alfred, Ælswith, Æthelflæd, Æthelwold, Odda, and Father Beocca attend 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")
Alfred and Odda discuss Æthelflæd’s coming of age and how soon she’ll be old enough for marriage. Alfred will require a list of suitors. Father Beocca enters with Brother Trew, who has traveled from Cumbraland, in the west of Northumbria. He’s come with a letter that tells of a vision and prophecy. Abbot Eadred of Cumbraland dreamed of a likeness and it spoke to him. The likeness was of Saint Cuthbert. Speaking directly from heaven. Brother Trew informs Alfred that their land is ruled by Danes and that they are in need of a Christian savior — Guthred. Alfred agrees to help where he can. ("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 has Brida and Ragnar brought before him. They still have men in Northumbria. Most have settled but they’re still his to call upon. He also has men in East Anglia with Guthrum, who Alfred informs them is now named Æthelstan. In parts of the North, Saxon, Dane and Briton now live side by side. Alfred wants to expand that. In order for the land and trade to flourish, there must be peace. ("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. Father Beocca is willing to search for him. Æthelflæd is in agreement with him and wishes to help Uhtred, who has helped them many times before. Odda suggests releasing Ragnar and Brida to find Uhtred. ("Episode 2.2")
Winchester; Kingdom of Wessex. 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. Æthelflæd 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")
Uhtred returns to Winchester. For Ragnar fulfilling his task, Alfred would like to free both him and Brida. Alfred lights candles in an attempt to measure the passing of time. He’s trying to find a candle that burns from midday to midday. Alfred would like Uhtred in his service yet again. Alfred then confronts Uhtred for killing Abbot Eadred on blessed ground. However, Uhtred was in the company of Ragnar, who was under Alfred’s orders and whom he will hold responsible for the killing of Abbot Eadred. Uhtred refuses to allow Ragnar to take the blame for his actions. However, Alfred orders that Ragnar stand trial. And he lastly request that Uhtred serve him. Uhtred agrees to serve Alfred only if he allows Ragnar to go free. ("Episode 2.3")
Alfred instructs Æthelwold to join Uhtred on his journey to Eoferwic. ("Episode 2.4")
Coccham, Uhtred's Wessex Estate. Alfred and Odda arrive in Coccham to speak with Uhtred. Alfred is bothered by Uhtred’s pagan hall. Gisela brings them refreshments. She assures them that she is well, as is her family. She asks about Alfred, who is apprehensive about his daughter being gifted in marriage. Uhtred and Finan join them, greeting Steapa at the door. Alfred has come after getting word that Uhtred hung a man of Wessex. Uhtred admits he did so, but the man was guilty. However, Uhtred never held a trial. If Uhtred wishes to remain an Ealdorman, he’ll have to adhere to their laws. He then asks about Æthelwold, however, Uhtred claims to have no knowledge of him crossing over into Daneland. While walking through Coccham, Alfred and Odda discover that Uhtred has built a church for his people. Clapa then informs Uhtred and Finan that a ship of traders approaches. ("Episode 2.5")
Hild takes off her armor and removes her weapons before putting her cross back on. Alfred joins her in the church. He asks if Hilda found her lasting peace. She's near. She feels more content in the church with God than she does with her sword. Alfred prays that she finds her peace. ("Episode 2.5")
Uhtred, Gisela, Finan, Alfred, and Odda have dinner together. Alfred again asks about Æthelwold. Uhtred and Gisela inform him that Æthelwold had been sober for days. He remarks that Æthelwold is as good of a man as Æthelred. Uhtred is merely concerned about the safety of Wessex, which Guthrum’s old men threaten. They gather at the mouth of the Temes river at Beamfleot. 200 or more. Should they decide to block the river, Wessex will be starved of trade. Alfred believes that Guthrum, now known as King Æthelstan, should stop them. Until then, they will hold the peace. Uhtred warns them that Danes are rogues and won’t listen to Æthelstan. Should they find a lord, they’ll become an army. Uhtred advises Alfred to send ships and men to Beamfleot. However, Alfred reiterates that they will maintain the peace. ("Episode 2.5")
Alfred reads of the raids in Daneland. He then tasks Father Pyrlig with traveling to East Anglia to deliver a letter to King Æthelstan. After Father Beocca and Father Pyrlig leave, Ælswith calls Æthelflæd into the 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. Alfred orders Steapa to put a watch on Gisela until Uhtred’s return. Beocca joins them and informs them that he is to be married. ("Episode 2.5")
Alfred and Odda tell Uhtred that he was seen crossing into Daneland. Ælswith wants the truth. Uhtred informs them that London has been taken by Sigefrid and Erik. They have an army at Beamfleot. Aldhelm still questions why Uhtred crossed into Daneland. Uhtred explains that he was invited to Padintune. And there, he was asked to join with Sigefrid and Erik. Æthelflæd asks if the Northmen intend to stay in London. Alfred and Æthelred want to offer negotiations. After the celebration, Uhtred and Æthelred are to travel to London to assess the threat. Aldhelm wonders what bargain was struck in Northumbria to allow the brothers to leave with their lives. Uhtred has told Æthelflæd this story. He defeated Sigefrid in combat but spared him on the condition they leave. He did this to preserve the lives of his own men. ("Episode 2.6")
Odda fears that Alfred undervalues Uhtred. He is by far their most accomplished warrior and has been nothing but loyal. However, Uhtred continues to behave as if he were his own man, Alfred counters. Alfred only tolerated his behavior because he is so accomplished. Alfred fears that Uhtred was tempted by this offer. Uhtred is a sword that Alfred would rather wield than face. ("Episode 2.6")
Uhtred, Æthelred, and Aldhelm return to Winchester and report back to Alfred and Odda. The Danes have well over 1,000 men in London. Uhtred and Æthelred argue over the best method of attack. Alfred then asks Uhtred why the brothers call him the King of Mercia. Alfred can’t trust Uhtred as he behaves like a spy, floats into Daneland and back again, tells half-truths, keeps secrets and refuses to accept the existence of the one, true God. Not to mention, he serves Alfred reluctantly. And so, the King now intends to devise a plan of attack without Uhtred, which appears to alarm Steapa and Odda, though they don’t make their concerns heard. Aldhelm tells the king that Uhtred’s insolence cannot go unpunished. Odda tells him it’s not his business. Nevertheless, Alfred wants Uhtred to return to Coccham. Odda leaves to inform him personally. Alfred then instructs Æthelred and Aldhelm to return to Mercia to gather men. Lastly, Alfred asks Steapa if he trusts Uhtred. Steapa replies with his life. ("Episode 2.6")
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")
King Alfred, Ælswith, and Odda get news of Æthelred’s return from war. He informs them that while London has been reclaimed, the brothers abducted Æthelflæd. And they’re unsure if she’s still alive. Alfred will send word and ask for word regarding Æthelflæd’s health. Odda accuses Æthelred of putting all kingdoms at risk, making him the fool he always believed him to be. ("Episode 2.7")
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")
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. Uhtred arrives and informs them of Æthelflæd’s health.The Danes have been boasting about her abduction and outrageous demands are soon to follow. Alfred will do what he has to to recover his daughter, even if it means negotiating. ("Episode 2.7")
Odda recalls Alfred speaking of paying for Æthelflæd's release in one of two ways-with silver, or with blood. There is a third way. Should the ransom be too great, Æthelflæd should be encouraged to take her own life for the greater good of the kingdom. Odda tells the king to look around him and see what has been sacrificed. He reminds Alfred that he is a king before he is a father. Unbeknownst to them, Æthelwold eavesdrops from the hall. ("Episode 2.7")
King Alfred 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. Odda fears that Wessex will not survive the negotiation. Beocca retorts that God will never allow that to happen and that they will triumph. Alfred states that the metal will be paid in full. ("Episode 2.8")
King Alfred and Odda learn from a messenger from Canterbury that the Northmen are crossing the river and raiding directly into Wessex. They’ve taken a man’s wife and daughter. Odda wants good faith to prevail. He wants to march and fight the Danes. Should they kill Æthelflæd, she will be considered a martyr, her dignity preserved. Odda reminds Alfred how he chose Wessex over his child and advises Alfred to consider doing the same. Odda’s injury and appetite for wine has robbed them both of his worth. He no longer serves a purpose, and so Alfred sends him back to his estate. ("Episode 2.8")
Father Pyrlig returns to Winchester with Æthelred and Aldhelm to inform Alfred that Odda has raised the fyrd of Devonshire. He intends to march against Beamfleot. They have no choice but to stop Odda. 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. Alfred and Odda order for a shield wall as the Danes charge towards them. Eventually, they manage to subdue the Danes. ("Episode 2.8")
Alfred approaches Uhtred and states that he has a habit of rescuing Wessex. Odda told Alfred that Uhtred believed he was acting under the king’s orders. Uhtred questions what will happen to Odda for raising the fyrd. Alfred replies there will be a trial. And following, Odda’s execution. Alfred tells Uhtred that he is free to go as his oath man. ("Episode 2.8")
Winchester, Wessex; Alfred worries that when he dies, he’ll be going to purgatory rather than heaven. Nothing has changed since he’s been crowned, as the Danes still rummage the lands. Beocca explains that he is the Lord’s King. Without Alfred, there would be no churches or even an idea of an England. He has laid the foundation for a country for all. And when he’s gone, Beocca will see to it that it continues. ("Episode 3.1")
Alfred and Ælswith 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. ("Episode 3.1")
Hæsten arrives in Winchester and informs them of a Dane warrior named Sigurd, who goes by the name of Bloodhair. Hæsten has given his word to the king and has declined all offers to join Bloodhair. Hæsten claims that his wife and children wish to become Christian, and he’s asked Beocca to arrange it. Uhtred is certain that Bloodhair will raid and encourages Alfred to attack first. Alfred, however, throws up on the floor. He continues to grow ill. Alfred agrees that they shall march. He orders Beocca to send word to Æthelred. They will join him at the Burh of Aescengum. ("Episode 3.1")
Uhtred takes Alfred to see Skade. He tells Uhtred to leave them. Skade remarks that Alfred reeks of death. She tells him to ask whatever it is that he must. Alfred asks if she knows how much time he has left. She tells him that he will not see another summer but his name will live on as the first, the last and only king of all Saxons. Skade then calls out to Bloodhair to free her and continues to do so for the entire night. ("Episode 3.1")
They arrive at Fearnham and meet with the Mercian guard, where they join forces and defeat the Danes, forcing Bloodhair to retreat. ("Episode 3.1")
Alfred has discovered that Uhtred desecrated Gisela’s grave. Uhtred meant no disrespect and apologizes. Brother Godwin remarks that Gisela was a pagan whore who never should’ve been buried on blessed grounds to begin with. He continues to insult Gisela even as Uhtred commands him to stop. When he persists, Uhtred strikes him. In knocking him to the ground, Uhtred kills Brother Godwin unintentionally. Alfred orders his men to seize Uhtred, but he manages to escape the hall. Alfred orders Steapa to lock Winchester down and bring him Uhtred. ("Episode 3.2")
Uhtred meets with Alfred. While he is willing to pay the wergild as punishment, he can’t swear himself to Edward. Such an oath would be for the rest of his life. Alfred wants Steapa at Edward’s left hand and Uhtred at his right. 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. Uhtred reminds Alfred of the glory and freedom he has given him. And still, Alfred treats him no better than a hound. Uhtred kicks Alfred to the ground and escapes. 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. However, Alfred soon learns that his son is married to Ecgwynn. Alfred demands the name of the priest or he will send for the girl. Edward refuses to do either, adding that he also doesn’t wish to become king. Alfred exclaims that it’s his duty. He then orders Bishop Erkenwald to escort Edward to the nearest monastery. ("Episode 3.3")
Alfred asks Beocca about Uhtred’s children. Beocca explains that Hild is proving for them. Alfred denounces Coccham as Uhtred’s estate and wants both children brought to Winchester, where they will receive education and knowledge of God. ("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. Steapa helps him onto his horse and he and Beocca follow behind. Ælswith watches as they leave. ("Episode 3.5")
Uhtred arrives in Aegelesburg. A Witan requests his presence. Alfred demands the truth. Uhtred wants 1,000 men and he will give them Beamfleot and peace. He reveals that Ragnar is dead, meaning the Danes will have half their army and less leadership. Sigebriht argues that this is too great a risk to Wessex. Alfred denies Uhtred's proposal. He then tells Uhtred that while he remains an outlaw, he is under the protection of Lady Æthelflæd and free to leave when he is ready. ("Episode 3.5")
Edward tells Alfred that he’s given his word to Uhtred to expect an army at Beamfleot. Alfred wants Beocca to inform Uhtred that Edward has withdrawn his support. Edward refuses to back down and begs his father to listen to him. Should the Danes join armies, there will be a great battle, which Edward isn’t ready for. And he fears the aftermath of a great battle will be too much for him. Beocca agrees with Edward in delaying a greater battle. Alfred concedes, ordering his men to prepare for battle at Beamfleot. ("Episode 3.5")
Off in the woods, Alfred, Edward, Steapa, Beocca, and the Wessex guard watch as Uhtred and his men are surrounded by Hæsten and an army of Danes. They do nothing as Uhtred and his men are attacked. Edward wishes to attack but Alfred insists that they hold their position. ("Episode 3.5")
Uhtred and a small group of men continue to battle against the Danes while Alfred watches from the forest. Alfred refuses to intervene, and so Edward takes charge and leads Steapa, Beocca, and the Wessex guard into battle. They eventually overtake the Danes and win the battle. ("Episode 3.6")
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")
As much as it pains Alfred to say it, Edward will need Uhtred when he is gone. He tells this to Beocca in secret. However, Uhtred must remain an outlaw until Alfred is dead. He would also like for Beocca to act as Edward’s counsel and push him towards Uhtred when necessary. ("Episode 3.6")
Alfred and Ælswith meet with Æthelhelm, who 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")
Æthelwold is taken before the Witan. He is accused of conspiring with the Danes to ride against Mercia and Wessex. When Beocca traveled to Dunholm, it was Æthelwold who welcomed him. In East Anglia, he was seen with Dane leaders. They suspect that he’s made a deal with Danes in order to steal the throne. Æthelwold claims that he went to spy on the Danes. They brought him into their trust and told him their plans. Alfred questions what secrets Æthelwold has discovered. He claims the Danes are waiting for Alfred’s death and the chaos to follow. Æthelwold then swears his allegiance to Edward. Alfred struggles to get up from his seat, but he does so and tells Æthelwold he should’ve remained with the Danes. ("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. ("Episode 3.7")
Alfred resumes the Witan and calls Æthelwold forward. He has decided to accept Æthelwold’s word. Wessex is a sacred place of fairness. He offers Æthelwold his hand and reminds him of all they have built in Wessex. That is what Æthelwold has put in danger. And for his actions, Æthelwold will be blinded. Alfred is merciful. And so, only one eye on will be taken. Æthelwold begs for mercy, but Alfred orders Steapa to take him away. Later, Alfred watches as Æthelwold's eye is burned out. ("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")
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. After Pyrlig, Æthelhelm, and Beocca exit, 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")
Alfred prepares for the arranged marriage. While today is about stability, Beocca tells the king that the fear must be dispatched. It exists in every man and woman who fears life without their king, and Edward alone is not the answer, which is why even Alfred prays that Uhtred returns. Beocca reveals that Uhtred is in fact in Winchester. He can either have him found and executed or speak with him. ("Episode 3.8")
Rather than attending the wedding, Beocca takes Uhtred to meet with Alfred in his Reading Room. On the table, Uhtred finds many pages that tell the tale of Alfred’s rule. He looks upon the pages, all the while unaware that Alfred stands hidden in a darkened corner. ("Episode 3.8")
Alfred has chronicle of Wessex. From the moment of his brother’s death until now. None of which will mention Uhtred. People 100 years from now will know nothing of Uhtred, not his loyalty, advice, or bravery. He asks why Uhtred has come. Uhtred tells Alfred that he would have never killed him, not even when he held the knife to his throat. Uhtred understands his absence from Alfred’s chronicle, even though they both know he has helped him many times over. Alfred lifts his sword and points it towards Uhtred, though he struggles to keep it lifted, as he weakens with every moment. Uhtred tells Alfred that he cannot kill him because they are bonded. They proceed to talk about God and how he often works through Uhtred, such as when he broke the shield wall at Ethandun. The devil also works through men, and Alfred fears his death will bring the devil in some men to the forefront. ("Episode 3.9")
Alfred reveals that he had Uhtred’s children brought to Winchester and baptized just to damn him. He admits that taking Uhtred’s children was an irrational decision, though they have been taken care of. Alfred also admits that he was wrong in both his provocation and punishment of Uhtred for killing Godwin. Alfred was afraid of losing Wessex. His work must continue. England must emerge and God must be praised. Ælswith 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. Alfred explains that Ælswith is simply upset that he’s dying. Like many in Wessex, his wife is afraid of the uncertainty that comes next. Uhtred tells Alfred that the gods will decide what comes next. Alfred’s last act is to ensure good men hold power. That is why he invited Uhtred. ("Episode 3.9")
To Alfred, it feels like just yesterday he was giving baby Edward over to Uhtred and Iseult when he was sickly and dying. Uhtred is surprised that Alfred remembers his wife's name, to which Alfred replies that he will always remember her. He wishes to give Edward over to Uhtred to ensure he lives. All he asks is that Uhtred remain in Winchester until he is crowned the King. Afterward, he can do as he pleases. Alfred then pardons Uhtred. And if beyond that door Alfred’s wife has summoned guards, which he suspects she has, Alfred will dismiss them. Alfred takes Uhtred’s hand and tells him that he’s made his Peace. And regardless of Uhtred’s answer, he is pardoned all the same. Alfred raises his cup to Uhtred, the true lord of Bebbanburg, who without, Alfred would not have died a king. ("Episode 3.9")
Uhtred awakens Alfred from his sleep and swears that he will remain in Winchester until Edward is crowned king. Ælswith comes into his room much later 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. ("Episode 3.9")
Winchester has learned of Alfred's death. A funeral is held in the great hall for Alfred. ("Episode 3.10")
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Memorable Quotes Edit
- "Fear can be expelled with knowledge."
- "The act of committing ink to parchment gives a deed permanence."
- "Fear is within all of us. As is strength."
- "Courage without the sword is the more difficult path. It must, in time, become the only path."
- "To see is to be wise."
- "Being king is not a pastime, not a choice, but a duty."
- "War is how a man takes his wealth, Earl Ragnar, it is the land and trade that makes it. And for the land and trade to flourish, there must be peace."
- —Alfred to Ragnar the Younger
- This character has been based on a real historical figure of Alfred.
- Historically, he is known as Alfred the Great.
- In history, Alfred was born in 848/9 and died in 899, at the age of 50 or 51. If the book series followed factual date of Alfred's birth then these are his ages throughout the books:
- In The Last Kingdom, at the start of the book it is 867, Alfred would be around 19 years old. At the end of the book, it is it is 874-876, Alfred is 26-28 years old.
- In The Pale Horseman, it is 876-878, he is 28-30 years old.
- In The Lords of the North, it is 878-881, he is 30-33 years old.
- In Sword Song, it is 886, he is 38 years old.
- In The Burning Land, it is 892-893, he is 44-45 years old.
- In Death of Kings, it is 899-902, he is 51-54 years old.
- In history, Alfred was preceded to the throne of Wessex by three of his older brothers, Æthelbald (reigned 858-860), Æthelberht (reigned 860-865) and Æthelred (reigned 865-871).
- Also in history, Alfred is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of joining his father, King Æthelwulf, on a pilgrimage to Rome in 855. The Liber Vitae of San Salvatore of Brescia records the young Prince Alfred of being granted a consulship by the Pope Leo IV. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, however, states that Pope Leo invested Alfred as the future king of Wessex, when in fact consulships were granted as a token honour to foreign royalty.
- Alfred is believed to have suffered from Crohn's Disease or hemorrhoids throughout his life and for that to be what killed him.
- The name Alfred is an English name and is the modern descendant of the Anglo-Saxon name Ælfræd. The name is formed of the Germanic words ælf, which means "elf", and ræd, which means "counsel, wisdom".