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"Your father, Lady Æthelflæd, the King, all of them, stole my chance to regain my honour. Pushed my face in the dirt when all I wanted was to take back what was owed. Do you know what it is to live your life derided? To be forced to turn from your people to survive? Do you know what that does to a man?"
—Eardwulf to Stiorra[src]

Eardwulf of Mercia was a supporting character in both The Saxon Stories novel series, and The Last Kingdom television series.

He came from a disgraced noble family of Mercia who lost all of their influence, land, and power. However, he was able to become the commander of Lord Æthelred's household troops. He had hopes of regaining what his family lost.

Biography[]

The Saxon Stories[]

In "The Empty Throne", Eardwulf, whose sister is Æthelred's lover, commands Æthelred's household warriors.

Æthelred has been wounded at the Battle of Tettenhall, and is now dying. The Witan, although not explicitly, is convening to decide the fate of the Kingdom after the Lord has died. Eardwulf is the leading contender for the Lordship.

At the Witan, it is decided that Eardwulf will marry Æthelred's daughter, and inherit the Lordship of Mercia.

Uhtred and Stiorra go back to Gloucester to kidnap Æthelred's daughter, in order to prevent her from being married to Eardwulf. Even though he made it appear as if he was heading east, Eardwulf and Æthelhelm are sure to realise he is heading to Chester, so Uhtred takes refuge in an abandoned fort.

Eardwulf surrounds Uhtred at the abandoned fort and demands he surrender Ælfwynn. Uhtred refuses, and just before he is about to fight Eardwulf, the Lady Æthelflæd arrives and commands Eardwulf return to Gloucester. Æthelred has now died, so it is not clear who has the authority to command the troops. Eardwulf leaves for Gloucester and Uhtred, suspecting an attack, prepares a trap for Eardwulf.

Eardwulf, whose only chance to inherit the Lordship is to marry Æthelred's daughter, decides his only hope is to attack Uhtred and kill the Lady Æthelflaed. Uhtred outwits his opponent and forces Eardwulf to flee with only a handful of troops. Eardwulf's sister, Eadith, is captured.

Uhtred returns to Gloucester, and he learns than Eardwulf had returned briefly and stolen Æthelred's wealth. Eardwulf, having attempted to murder Æthelflaed, is now an outlaw.

Uhtred realises that the exiled Eardwulf has joined the Norse fleet, lead by Sigtryggr, and they are headed to Ceaster to capture the fort from the Saxons. Uhtred rushes to Ceaster. Some of Eardwulf's men have already entered Ceaster and he learns they plan to open the gate for the Norse army.

After the defeat of the Norse army, the two armies negotiate that the Norse will be allowed to leave for Irland unhindered, as neither army has enough men for a good victory. As part of the negotiations, Eardwulf is handed over to Uhtred, and he has the boy Æthelstan execute him.

The Last Kingdom[]

Season 4[]

East Anglia; Hæsten arranges a meeting with Eardwulf. He claims that the Danish have been loading ships for three days, leaving the land they fought so hard for. Cnut is taking his men to Irland. A cousin, Sigtryggr, is being held captive by the natives. Eardwulf questions why Hæsten is so eager to tell him this. Hæsten explains that he has not been rewarded for his services to the Danish. Also, he no longer wants war. He wants silver. And so, Eardwulf pays him. ("Episode 4.1")

Avlesburv, Mercia; Eardwulf returns to Avlesburv. He reports to Æthelred that he met a Danish spy who revealed that Cnut is taking his warriors from East Anglia and heading to Irland, leaving their women and children in undefended settlements. Æthelred plots to take over East Anglia while the Danish are gone. Eardwulf suggests they leave quietly, before the Ealdorman can disapprove. Æthelred remarks that relics of St. Oswald are already working in his favor. He’s collecting all the bones of their beloved Saint as a good omen to signal to the Mercian people that he shall restore their lands to greatness. Monks are leaving with silver to bargain for his heart. Once Æthelred leaves, Eadith questions if what her brother says is true. He admits that it is. Eardwulf explains that he’s simply trying to keep the king happy and instructs his sister to do the same. However, the moment she has sex with him, he’ll lose interest in her. She refuses to return to being landless and ridiculed. ("Episode 4.1")

Mercia; Eardwulf, Æthelred, and Eadith lead a group of warriors to conquer East Anglia. On the border of Mercia and East Anglia, Æthelred tells Eardwulf that soon all the land will belong to Mercia. Later, Eardwulf and Æthelred reach the Kingdom of East Anglia only to discover that it’s been attacked. He orders Eardwulf to seize the land to the north until he reaches the sea. And then they will see which Saxon Kingdom is the greatest. ("Episode 4.1")

Eadith exits her tent, where she is immediately asked by Eardwulf if she gave herself to Æthelred, which she didn’t. Eardwulf fears that the king may lose interest if his sister continues to deny him. However, Æthelred’s willingness to kill his own wife would suggest otherwise. Eadith doesn’t want anyone else’s blood on her hands nor does she want to be married to a man who kills so frivolously. Eadith makes Eardwulf promise her that if Æthelred asks him to attack Lady Æthelflæd that he will refuse. However, Eardwulf won’t deny the wishes of the king. ("Episode 4.2")

King’s Lynn, East Anglia; Eadith tells Eardwulf that she has no choice but to act the part of the king’s whore. She detests him however. Eardwulf tells Eadith to follow him as he has news to put the king in better spirits. Eardwulf hands Æthelred a sword that they ripped from the hands of an ugly Dane named Ulf. They’ve also taken Lindcylne. Æthelred promises Eardwulf that he will be rewarded for his hand in their victory. Eardwulf only asks that he remain in charge of the king’s armies and to restore his family’s name. To lift the king’s decree that every generation be born into disgrace. Æthelred says he’ll consider it after Eardwulf takes all of East Anglia. ("Episode 4.3")

East Anglia; A messenger from Wessex comes to deliver a message to Æthelred, but he tells Eardwulf instead. He reports that Cnut’s army has attacked Mercia. The lord’s estate has fallen. Eardwulf realizes that this could mean bad for him and his family’s legacy, so he kills the messenger. Unbeknownst to him, Eadith watches from afar. ("Episode 4.3")

Eardwulf buries the body of the dead messenger in a shallow grave. Eadith asks what has he done. Eardwulf explains that all would be lost if he hadn’t. Edward sent word to Æthelred that Cnut did not sail to Irland, but has rather been attacking Mercia. Meaning Eardwulf was tricked by Hæsten, who gave him false information. There is benefit in delaying their return however. If the Lady Æthelflæd throws herself into the paths of the Danes, it will leave a path open for Eadith, but she has no desire to be married to a husband who used to be king. Eadith advises Eardwulf to tell the king the truth and persuade him to defend his kingdom. However, Eardwulf fears the king will kill him. ("Episode 4.3")

King Æthelred asks for an update on their troops in Lindcylne. Eardwulf explains that the surrounding settlements are resisting, but they will prevail. Æthelred reminds Eardwulf of their bargain; he wants all of East Anglia if Eardwulf's family is to be forgiven. Eardwulf finds Eadith lying in bed after having sex with the king, who is in a considerably good mood. Eadith reminds her brother that she had sex with the king as a favor to him. So now, he must tell the king the truth about Mercia. However, Eardwulf is reluctant, in fear of the king’s response. ("Episode 4.4")

Eardwulf informs Æthelred that the settlements around Lindcylne have capitulated. Also, Cnut's armies have raided Mercia and taken the king’s palace at Aegelesburg. Æthelred blames Eardwulf, as it was on his intel that they left Mercia. Eardwulf reveals that he got this information from Hæsten, who the king calls a well known liar. Æthelred fears that his reputation will be ripped to shreds. However, Eardwulf explains that they’ve had word from Lady Æthelflæd. She will be at Tettenhall, where she plans to lure Cnut. There is an advantage in this, so the king can return to Mercia a hero. And so, Æthelred asks if his men can be there by morning. As for Eardwulf, when they return to Aegelesburg, the king will have him publicly castrated. His family will never prosper and his sister will never leave Æthelred's bed. ("Episode 4.4")

Tettenhall, Mercia; Æthelred, Eardwulf, and the Mercia army join in on the battle at Tettenhall. Eardwulf then saves Edward from an incoming attack after Steapa is killed protecting him. ("Episode 4.4")

Mercia; Afterwards, Eardwulf returns from battle. Eadith suggests that they take advantage of all the chaos and run. The king will simply think that Eardwulf died in battle. However, Eardwulf refuses to run. He will find Æthelred and beg him for forgiveness. Eadith assures her brother that the king will never forgive them for what they’ve done. King Æthelred is carted back to camp. He is wounded, unconscious, and the back of his head is split open. ("Episode 4.4")

Aegelesburg, Mercia; Eardwulf and Eadith lead a fleet of men back to Aegelesburg, where they can tend to King Æthelred. King Æthelred is weak and barely conscious. He asks why have the Ealdormen circled around him. Eardwulf and Eadith tell him that he’s been sleeping since the day of the battle, where he fell and hit his head. However, they did defeat the Danes and Erdwukf assures the king he'll recover. The last thing Æthelred remembers is arriving at the battle. ("Episode 4.5")

The Ealdormen questions why Eardwulf lies to the king when he is certain to die. Burgred believes this to be Æthelred’s time of judgement. Punishment for his greed and ambition. He left them to face the Danes alone. Burgred lost his eldest during the massacre. His youngest and wife were beaten. No one came to help, and for that, Burgred, Ludeca, and the other Ealdormen will not honor him. Eardwulf agrees that they shouldn’t, claiming he did all he could to convince the king to return sooner. ("Episode 4.5")

Æthelred holds Eadith's hand and demands that she do not leave his room. Eardwulf returns and asks his sister if the king blames him for their late return. Eadith reveals that he has not spoken of Eardwulf, but they should leave before his mind returns. However, Eardwulf believes the king will be dead soon, and if that’s the case, they'll have no need to run. This is an opportunity to regain their influence. The Mercian Guard is loyal to Eardwulf and the Ealdormen are against the king. Groups are forming. Æthelflæd then unexpectedly arrives, familiar with both Eardwulf and Eadith. Æthelflæd would like to be left alone with Æthelred and tells everyone to withdraw. ("Episode 4.5")

Eardwulf and Eadith plan to ingratiate themselves with King Edward. However, Eadith is reluctant. She wants to take this opportunity to escape and avoid the turmoil when Æthelred dies. She’s the mistress of a soon-to-be dead king and Eardwulf is the favorite. Such people will not thrive. Eardwulf replies that for a whore, his sister lacks ambition. Unlike her, he refuses to run merely because it’s become dangerous. They are interrupted by Uhtred and Æthelflæd and part ways. ("Episode 4.5")

Eardwulf leads the Mercian Guard in the clean up of Mercia. Edward calls him over after recalling that he pulled the king to safety during that battle. Edward questions what are the Mercian Guard's thoughts on the succession should Æthelred die. Eardwulf claims they have no view on it. They’re only loyal to the leader of Mercia. Edward thanks Eardwulf for his honesty and action on the battlefield. ("Episode 4.5")

Eardwulf is invited to feast with the King. Ludeca asks Eardwulf about Burgred, who’s not yet to make another move. He then realizes that the king means to propose to the Ealdormen and the Mercian Guard that Ludeca should be the successor. He wonders if he has Eardwulf’s loyalty. Eardwulf replies the Guard are loyal to the leader of Mercia. 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. ("Episode 4.5")

Eardwulf tells Æthelred that he’s been chosen as the successor. However, the king will not agree to it. He promised Æthelflæd that he would not act without her. Eardwulf fears that without a plan, King Edward will take Æthelred’s throne and Mercia will be subsumed. Eardwulf claims to have always served the king well, but while Æthelred cannot place it, his stomach tells him that Eardwulf lies. Æthelred tells Eardwulf that he isn’t worthy of his daughter and he will never rule Mercia. Eardwulf becomes enraged. He climbs on top of Æthelred and snaps his neck. Unbeknownst to him, Eadith watches through the curtains. Eardwulf steals Æthelred’s ring off his finger and leave. ("Episode 4.5")

Eardwulf catches up to Edward, claiming to have just gotten the news of the king’s death. Edward fears that his sister will not mourn her husband. While she loved Mercia, she never loved its leader. He orders Eardwulf to have Æthelflæd continued until all this is settled. Eardwulf does as told and takes Æthelflæd to a room. He claims it’s a chance to mourn. She hands over her weapons and is locked inside. ("Episode 4.5")

Edward tells Cenric and Eardwulf that they will seize Uhtred’s land in Coccham and take his children. Cenric reports that Uhtred was seen on the road with a number of children. Edward tells Cenric to not speak of this to anyone. Pyrlig then reveals that Æthelflæd has escaped and left Aegelesburg. And rumor has it that Eadith helped her escape. Edward orders Cenric to track Uhtred down. ("Episode 4.6")

Eardwulf confronts Burgred as he's exiting the king’s chamber. Burgred claims that he’s merely showing his son where he will rest when he is lord. Burgred claims to have greater forces and that the lord is on his side. He believes there’s a reason he survived the massacre. God wants him to right the wrongs done to Mercia. He then questions why Eardwulf isn’t betrothed to the king’s niece. Burgred suspects they’re being lied to. Eardwulf then leaves with twelve guards in search of Uhtred and the king’s niece. ("Episode 4.6")

Mercia; Eardwulf and the guards cross paths with a group of villagers. He asks if they’ve seen warriors traveling with children. The village woman asks if the warriors he speak of brought the sickness. Eardwulf has no fear of the sickness, claiming it only takes sinners, but his men aren’t convinced and turn around. So, Eardwulf doubles the reward of every man that chooses to stay. ("Episode 4.6")

Eardwulf and his guards track Uhtred and his men down. 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")

Wealas; Eardwulf finds himself cornered by Brida and the Danes. He heard there were Danes in Wealas and was coming to speak to them. He claims to have something of value to share with them, but before he can reveal what he has to say, he is knocked unconscious. ("Episode 4.8")

Later, Eardwulf awakens tied to a tree. He remembers Brida from the Battle of Tettenhall and how she was humiliated. However, Eardwulf knows how to defeat Edward. All he asks that Brida listen to what he has to say. ("Episode 4.8")

Deheubarth, Wealas; Brida returns to Wealas with Eardwulf and tells Sigtryggr that he will help them take Winchester without a single drop of Danish blood spilled. Eardwulf reveals to Brida, Sigtryggr, and the Danes that after Tettenhall, Edward believes the Danes no longer hold a threat. He’s taken his army to Aegelesburg, leaving Winchester undefended. Only a handful of soldiers remain there. Brida assures Sigtryggr that an attack on Winchester is worth the risk. And so, the Danes plan to leave for Winchester as soon as possible. ("Episode 4.8")

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")

Outside Winchester, Wessex; Brida orders the Danes to dig up the bodies of dead Wessex men. Eardwulf asks her to stop, as it is clear sacrilege. He fought alongside some of the men. However, that is no concern of hers. She tells Eardwulf that he doesn’t get to decide which Saxons he betrays. ("Episode 4.9")

Winchester, Wessex; Drunk off ale, Eardwulf enters the reading room, where Stiorra sits alone. Stiorra fears that Eardwulf has come to kill her, but she tells him that’ll throw him out of favor with the Danes, which Eardwulf no longer wants. He realizes now that bargaining with them was a mistake. He wants to enact his vengeance on Stiorra for her father turning Eadith against him. Stiorra tells him that he brought this on himself, so he slaps her. Sigtryggr enters and disarms Eardwulf before hitting him. She then reveals to Sigtryggr that the reason Eardwulf ran from Mercia is because he killed King Æthelred. ("Episode 4.9")

Sigtryggr gathers his men and brings Eardwulf out before them. He reveals to Brida that Eardwulf works to his own plan and they need to be of one mind. Hæsten jokingly tells Eardwulf that Sigtryggr is playing with him and will show mercy. Sigtryggr then makes a speech about how when they fight, they work as one to achieve a common goal. And at all times, they are united and never fight out of anger as this is the way of the old generation. He then turns his attention to Eardwulf, who works for his own desires. Eadith screams out from the crowd for them to have mercy. However, Eardwulf tells them to ignore her as she’s only a whore he once knew. Brida questions how Sigtryggr can speak so frivolously against the greatest of their kind who has ever walked the land. To which Sigtryggr retorts they’d still be there if they were truly so great. Eardwulf is then executed by the Danes. ("Episode 4.9")

Killed Victims[]

This list shows the victims Eardwulf has killed:

  • Æthelred
  • Wessex Messenger
  • Ulf (potentially/indirectly)
  • Several unnamed Dane civilians in East Anglia (possibly)
  • Numerous unnamed Dane soldiers

This list shows the victims Eardwulf has killed:

  • (To Be Added)

Appearances[]

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

Trivia[]

  • The name Eardwulf comes from Old English. The name is made up of the words eard, which means "earth, homeland" as well as "coincidence, fate", and wulf, which means "wolf".
  • Eardwulf was a noble; he was born to an ealdorman of Mercia, however his family got disgraced and Eardwulf was trying to win the family honor back.
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