Gisela Hathacanutesdottir or Gisela of Cookham (before, Gisela of Cumberland) was a main character in both The Saxon Stories novel series, and The Last Kingdom television series. She was the daughter of the Danish warrior and Jarl Harthacnut and the sister of King Guthred of Northumbria.
Uhtred and Gisela form a close bond quickly and eventually the two marry and have three children. She sadly died in childbirth.
Uhtred, Father Beocca, Steapa and Ragnar are sent on embassy to Guthred with a message to make peace in Northumbria. They arrive in Guthred's court to find that Gisela was married to Ælfric via proxy in return for support in another attack against Kjartan, and that Ivarr has abandoned Guthred and is raising men to fight him. Uhtred is certain his uncle will send no men to support Guthred. He fends off Ælfric's men and kills Brother Jænberht when he insists that Gisela is still married to Ælfric. Out of fear of suffering the same fate, Brother Ida agrees that Gisela is not married, as the marriage has not been consummated.
Uhtred then forgives Guthred for casting him into slavery and declares his intention to marry Gisela. Despite the calls of many churchmen to instead execute Uhtred for the killing of Jænberht, Guthred agrees to the marriage and Uhtred and Gisela spend their first night together, after which Uhtred takes command of Guthred's troops for the attack on Dunholm.
In The Burning Land, while celebrating the Mercian/Saxon victory at Farnham after the Battle of Fearnham, Uhtred is devastated by news that his beloved wife, Gisela, has died in childbirth, along with the child she bore.
When Uhtred and Skade return to Lundene, Alfred's adviser, Bishop Asser uses the mad Brother Godwin to denounce Gisela's name, ranting that Gisela was the devil's whore, and has come back from the dead as Skade. Uhtred flies into a rage and kills Godwin accidentally.
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Northumbria; Gisela reunites with her brother, Guthred, who was taken as a slave. They enter the church for the royal oath, which shall be sworn upon the corpse of the blessed Saint Cuthbert himself. Saint Cuthbert’s casket is brought in and the Abbot prays over his body. Guthred takes Saint Cuthbert’s hand and swears to defend Cumbraland. ("Episode 2.1")
Uhtred finds Gisela in the temple. She’s not Christian, but she finds sitting in the temple peaceful. Gisela is thinking about her brother, who now believes that he owns her, but she will not be his gift. She has her own mind. The abbot Eadred dreamt her brother to be king, but it was not his idea to offer a ransom. It was not his idea that we should go to Alfred for silver. It was Gisela’s. Should she be offered as a bride, she will look to Uhtred for advice. She will decide whether to stay or to leave, should that time come. ("Episode 2.2")
After defending Uhtred against Abbot, he sneaks into Gisela’s hut, where they proceed to have sex. Later, Gisela is being taken by Brother Trew while her brother sells Uhtred to a slave trader, Sverri. Uhtred and Halig are to be sold in exchange for 200 men from Bebbanburg. They’ve struck a deal with Ælfric. ("Episode 2.2")
Gisela attends a meeting that her brother attends with Ælfric, Erik, and Sigefrid. Ælfric wants to know how Uhtred died. He asks if he begged. Gisela retorts that Uhtred would never do something so pride-less. Sigefrid and Erik reveal that Uhtred is still alive, which angers Ælfric, as the agreed upon price for 200 men was Uhtred’s head. Gisela warns Ælfric that her brother is part fool and that he shouldn’t do business with him. She then leaves the meeting and plans to escape Eoferwic. Given that Sihtric remains loyal to Uhtred, she hands him a note to give to Hild when she returns. ("Episode 2.3")
Gisela has been held up in a nunnery. Brother Trew has come looking for her, but the nuns protect Gisela and tell Brother Trew that they haven’t crossed paths with any women. ("Episode 2.3")
Abbot Eadred and Brother Trew seize Gisela. They will have her married immediately. He orders Aidan to stand in for Ælfric, at Gisela’s side. When Gisela refuses to marry against her will, Abbot Eadred strikes her. Aidan forcefully takes Gisela’s hand and Abbot Eadred marries the two. Uhtred, Finan, Hild, and Ragnar arrive. Abbot claims that it’s too late, however, Uhtred and Ragnar are willing to kill everyone in their way. And so, Abbot Eadred lets Gisela go. Although, he repeatedly states that Gisela is now married. Uhtred orders him to stop, but when he continues, Uhtred stabs him, much to Hild’s displeasure. He sends Aidan back to Bebbanburg to tell his uncle that his wife is with him. ("Episode 2.3")
Uhtred and Gisela lay in bed together. She asks if Uhtred will kill her brother when they cross paths. Uhtred has sworn to Alfred that King Guthred won’t be harmed. Gisela wants to return to Eoferwic with him, but he won’t allow it. Later, Father Beocca marries Uhtred and Gisela in the temple. He bounds their hand and they kiss. ("Episode 2.4")
Winchester, Wessex; Uhtred returns and washes in the lake with Gisela. Afterward, he tells her about his encounter with Bjorn. She doesn’t wish to hear any talk of going against Alfred. They’re approached by Æthelred, who makes a crude remark towards Gisela. Uhtred draws his sword and pulls Æthelred off his horse. Aldhelm tells his men to fallback as he is sure Uhtred won’t hurt the lord. Aldhelm then politely requests that Uhtred let Æthelred go and apologizes to Gisela on his lord’s behalf. Uhtred releases Æthelred and parts ways. She later attends the royal wedding. ("Episode 2.6")
Gisela worries about Æthelflæd. If she lives, Uhtred will be her hope. It should not be for Uhtred to resolve, but he will do it. By sending Sihtric, he has already begun. They are approached by Osferth, who joins them for dinner. He tells Uhtred how everyone in Winchester is praying that Æthelflæd is alive. Osferth wishes to serve Uhtred as his Uncle Leofric often told him that Uhtred is a good man. Gisela tells Osferth that while Uhtred may be a good man, he’s only allowing him to join his crew to embarrass Alfred. Gisela wants to go to Winchester, but Uhtred has no news to share yet. ("Episode 2.7")
Uhtred tells Gisela of Æthelflæd’s plan to escape with Erik. He has to help them. If they escape, there will be no ransom paid and no great army. And therefore, the men of Wessex are saved. However, in doing that, Uhtred will have broken his oath to Alfred. And so, they will have to run. ("Episode 2.8")
Winchester, Wessex; Gisela and Thyra and prepare food for Stiorra and Young Uhtred. Gisela is certain that she’s pregnant with a boy as he will not keep still. She remarks that thankfully he will be the last. Uhtred then informs her that he will be marching, but he has sent word to Hild in Coccham, who will join her in Wessex. Later, Gisela goes into labour. Hild and Thyra see her through the birthing process. However, she sadly dies giving birth to the baby Osbert. ("Episode 3.1")
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- The name Gisela comes from Old English and Old High German. The name comes from the word gīsal, which means "hostage, pledge".
- Gisela "converted religions", she was born a pagan and it is assumed that she was baptised into Christianity. She was most likely baptised alongside her brother in order for him to gain the support of the Christian Saxons and the local clergy of Northumbria. Additionally, she was most likely baptised when she was a Christian nun for two years, however she could of just been pretending to be a nun as she was in hiding. After marrying Uhtred, the two lived together sharing pagan beliefs.