Guthrum or Guthrum the Unlucky (later known as Æthelstan of East Anglia) was a main character and former antagonist in both The Saxon Stories novel series, and The Last Kingdom television series. Guthrum was a Danish earl and one of the paramount leaders of the "Great Heathen Army".
Guthrum came to England with an initial force of six hundred warriors, but soon gains more influence among the Danes in England when he appoints himself king of the recently conquered Kingdom of East Anglia. Other than the sons of Lothbrok, Guthrum commands one of the larger Danish-Norse armies in England.
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Northumbria; Guthrum arrives in Eoferwic and unites with the Danes. He informs Earl Ragnar and Ubba that he’s brought men and horses. Guthrum learns of how they slaughtered Lord Uhtred's son and brought him his head. Guthrum warns them that unlike the other two Kings of Northumbria, Lord Uhtred is strategic. The Danes are concerned about going against three armies, but they do so regardless. The following day, Guthrum helps lead the Danes in a battle against the Kingdom of Northumbria. They set a trap for all three armies to box them in and proceed to slaughtered each of them. Afterwards, the Danes celebrate in the hall, feasting, drinking, and torturing their Saxon prisoners, including King Osbert. ("Episode 1.1")
East Anglia; Guthrum and Ubba arrive at the monastery. King Edmund is tied to a cross and barely breathing. Guthrum doesn’t understand why they allow so many of their captives to live. They should kill them all save for the woman. Uhtred then arrives and reveals that Kjartan and Sven killed Earl Ragnar. Guthrum isn’t convinced and tells Ubba to kill him, but they postpone that until after they finish with the king. King Edmund concedes and agrees to their terms but only if they submit to God. After killing King Edmund, Guthrum and Ubba turn their attention to and Ubba orders his men to kill Uhtred, but he reveals that he has Storri. And so, against Guthrum’s wishes, Ubba let’s Uhtred go. ("Episode 1.2")
Ubba confronts Guthrum for going into battle without him. Guthrum informs Ubba that the Saxons marched faster than they expected, and because of that, the Danes have lost half their men. However, they did manage to kill Æthelred. ("Episode 1.3")
Young Odda arrives at the Danes’ camp to inform Guthrum and the Danes that King Alfred invites him to negotiate peace. Guthrum tells Young Odda to get off the horse and look him in the eyes to speak to him. After Guthrum agrees to meet for a negotiation, he takes Young Odda’s horse. ("Episode 1.3")
Guthrum and Ubba arrive at the negotiation with King Alfred, Odda, Beocca, and Uhtred. In exchange for an agreed amount of grain, livestock, and silver, Alfred proposes that they return to Lundene. He further proposes they confine themselves to East Anglia, Mercia, and Northumbria. However, Guthrum refuses to leave Wessex. Ubba tells King Alfred that he wants silver and Uhtred’s head in exchange for peace. Of course, they won’t be leaving Wessex, however. Alfred would prefer to establish peace, but he has no intention on handing over Uhtred or any land. ("Episode 1.3")
Young Ragnar and Guthrum have conquered Werham. The Saxon army has arrived. Guthrum suspects that Alfred will simply starve them out as he knows they'll be without food within days. They came for war, and Guthrum blames Ubba for leaving them weak. So, until Ubba returns, they have to make peace. ("Episode 1.4")
Outside Werham, Wessex; Word of Werham's fall has spread, and so King Alfred prepares for war. They stand outside of the fortress’ gates. Young Ragnar and Guthrum exit. Alfred, Odda, Leofric, and Father Selbix head down the field to speak with them. Guthrum proposes a truce. He’s decided to leave by sea. Therefore, he will send for 15 ships. Alfred gives them a month to arrive and offers food and ale for that time. ("Episode 1.4")
Werham, Wessex; Uhtred, Father Selbix, and eight other hostages are taken into the Danes’ custody. Food is thrown at them as they enter. Guthrum orders his men to stop. His men have been given strict orders not to kill the hostages. ("Episode 1.4")
Father Selbix teaches Guthrum about God and the miracles of his making. Guthrum then gets word from a messenger that Ubba and his men have returned from Irland. They’re coming ashore at Severn. And Guthrum’s fleet is close to arrival as well. With news of Ubba’s return, Guthrum kills Father Selbix. ("Episode 1.4")
Uhtred watches as Guthrum exits the chamber. He enters to find Father Selbix bleeding out. With his last breath, he reveals that Ubba is coming. Guthrum then announces that the truce is over and that they should prepare for battle. The Saxon hostages are all killed, except for Uhtred, who fights his way out. However, Uhtred finds himself surrounded. Fortunately, Young Ragnar and Brida come to his aid. Young Ragnar tells Guthrum that to kill Uhtred, they’ll have to kill him first. Guthrum concedes and orders for Uhtred to be released. ("Episode 1.4")
Winchester, Wessex; Guthrum and Young Ragnar lead a fleet of soldiers into Winchester. 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")
Guthrum, Brida, and Young Ragnar raid Alfred’s Reading Room after hearing of his survival in the swampland. Guthrum is particularly fascinated with Alfred’s writing, but he wonders what it all means. Guthrum refers to it as magic and words without sounds. Young Ragnar suggests that they go looking for Alfred, but Guthrum says that only a fool would march an army into swampland. ("Episode 1.7")
Guthrum, Brida, 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")
Edington, Wessex; Guthrum, Brida, Young Ragnar, and Skorpa lead an army of Danes to the battlefield, where the Saxons are chanting "no mercy." Brida tells Ragnar that should he meet Uhtred in battle, there can be no doubt. It appears Wulfhere has joined them. They charged towards the Saxons, and men are lost on both sides. After Uhtred kills Skorpa, Young Ragnar looks to Guthrum to lead them, however, Guthrum is more focused on the Saxons are winning, as the priest said and that their God is with them. ("Episode 1.8")
Jarl Sigefrid, his brother Erik, and Hæsten, the three prominent members of his army desert with a large number of his men, and start a war against Wessex. It is revealed that after being baptized, Guthrum became king Athelstan of East Anglia.
This list shows the battles Guthrum has participated in:
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- This character has been based on a real historical figure of Guthrum.
- Historically, he is known as Guthrum the Old.
- In the novel series, Guthrum was referred to as "the Unlucky" by Ravn, because "you could give Guthrum the world, and he would think he had been cheated".
- The book-version of Guthrum had a rib-bone of his mother hanging from his long moustache, due to his love for her. He still has it on the show, as mentioned by Uhtred to Alfred, but tied to his hair, not facial hair.
- After losing the Battle of Edington to King Alfred, Guthrum signs a treaty with the West Saxons and agrees to a Christian baptism. King Alfred of Wessex stands as his god-father, and Guthrum adopts the baptismal name of Æthelstan.
- Guthrum converted religions, he was born a pagan but signs a treaty with the West Saxons and agrees to convert to Christianity.
- The name Guthrum comes from Old English name Guðrøðr. The name is made up of the words guð, which means "battle, war", and rum, which means "glory, fame".
- The name Æthelstan comes from Old English name Æðelstan. The name is made up of the words æthel, which means "noble", and stan, which means "stone".
- Guthrum was a noble; he was the lord/king of East Anglia.