"I dispatch you to your heaven."
— Guthrum, stabbing Father Selbix
Guthrum is a main character and former antagonist in both The Saxon Tales novel series, and The Last Kingdom television series. Guthrum is a Danish earl and one of the paramount leaders of the "Great Danish Army" (known as the 'Great Heathen Army' by the Anglo-Saxons). Guthrum comes 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 Lothbrok brothers, Guthrum commands one of the larger Danish-Norse armies in England.
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Guthrum leads a Danish army into capturing the fortress of Werham, which therefore threatens Wessex with a Danish invasion. He was present in East Anglia when Ubba killed the King Burghred by shooting him full of arrows. In order to maintain and solidify the truce that Alfred and Guthrum agreed upon at Werham, the two sides exchanged hostages, including Uhtred. A priest was taken along with these hostages, and he started instructing Guthrum about God's ways and the Christian faith, which made Guthrum quite intrigued. However, upon learning of the arrival of Ubba's relief fleet from Ireland, Guthrum ordered the hostages to be slaughtered, including the priest. Uhtred was saved thanks to the intervention of Ragnar, and was allowed to leave Werham, while Guthrum led his fleet to Wessex. However, the fleet was destroyed following a heavy storm that left Guthrum's army crippled and dismantled. Guthrum reorganized his forces and attacked Winchester without warning on Saint Cedd's feast day while Uhtred and Leofric where fighting on a trial by combat. The ensuing fight was a slaughter, the Danish forces managing to plunder and raid Winchester and scatter the remaining West Saxon folk, while Alfred was obliged to flee to seek refuge somewhere in Wessex.
Guthrum took control of Winchester's palace and used Æthelwold as a puppet, promising him the kingship he deserved by birth if he manages to murder Alfred. Meanwhile, the latter was also reorganizing his forces and calling to him the nobility of Wessex, assembling a few hundred soldiers to face Guthrum's army on open field. Alfred received the support of many nobles who brought with them thousands of their own soldiers, further bolstering the Wessex army, which now matched the Danish one. The two forces met at Edington and the ensuing fight was a decisive West Saxon victory. During the battle Father Beocca declared that Skorpa, Guthrum's fellow Danish warlord, would be killed by Beocca's own spear. Later in the battle Beocca threw the spear to Uhtred, who used it to kill Skorpa. Guthrum, shocked that the priest's words had come true, came to believe the Christian God was supporting the Saxons and simply stopped giving orders, leaving Ragnar Ragnarsson to lead the failing Viking Army. As a result of the battle Guthrum surrendered and a peace was agreed between the Guthrum and Alfred, a peace which was sealed by Guthrum's baptism. He later became King of East Anglia with Alfred's support.
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- In Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories book series, Guthrum was referred to as "the Unlucky" by Ravn, the father of Ragnar the Elder, 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 Ethandum to King Alfred, Guthrum signs a treaty with the West Saxons and agrees to a Christian baptism. King Alfreed of Wessex stands as his god-father, and Guthrum adopts the baptismal name of Aethelstan.