- "Destiny is all."
Uhtred of Bebbanburg or Uhtred Ragnarsson (originally called Osbert) is the protagonist in both The Saxon Stories novel series, and The Last Kingdom television series. Over the course of the series, Uhtred, a Pagan, has become increasingly complex in his loyalty and general attitude. Uhtred is in part based upon the historical Uchtred the Bold who flourished at the start of the 11th century.
Uhtred was born into status as son of Ealdorman Uhtred, Lord of Bebbanburg, and raised to have hatred towards the surrounding kingdoms of Mercia, East Anglia, Wessex, Scotland and the Danes. Uhtred was originally called Osbert and was the younger of Ealdorman Uhtred's sons. The name Uhtred was given always to the oldest son, but after his older brother was killed in a failed attack on the Danes, Osbert's name was changed to Uhtred. Uhtred was never taught swordsmanship in his nine years at Bebbanburg as his stepmother wanted him to pursue a life dedicated to being a priest.
In 866, the first of the Danish army began to arrive in Northumbria. In their speed, the Danes were able to capture Eoferwic (York). Ealdorman Uhtred was killed in the failed assault to reclaim Eoferwic, and Uhtred (his son) was captured by the Danes following his furious but feeble attack on a Danish warlord. That warlord, Earl Ragnar the Fearless, son of Ravn, decided to nurture Uhtred's fury into a suitable fighting spirit and so adopted him. Uhtred found that living with the Danes was a much freer existence than with the pious Christians and their dour priests at Bebbanburg and embraced the Danish gods of Thor, Odin, and Hoder. Uhtred came to love Ragnar as a father and became a brother to Ragnar's sons, Ragnar and Rorik, and daughter, Thyra.
Living in Ragnar's company was enjoyable, even after Rorik's death of sickness, until everything changed. Ragnar had made an enemy in a man named Kjartan due to an incident between Thyra and Kjartan's son, Sven. The enmity came to a head one night when Uhtred was in the forest making charcoal for weapons. Kjartan led a war-band to where Ragnar and his family were sleeping and set their hall on fire, killing them all. Kjartan initially believed Uhtred to have also died in the fire. Uhtred was crushed by Ragnar's death and left Northumbria to find family amongst the Saxons in Mercia, to the south.
Uhtred ended up in Wessex and in the service of Alfred. Wessex was the last unconquered Saxon kingdom in England and thus always under constant threat from the Danes. Despite Uhtred's childhood he began to fight and revel in Danish defeats. However, Uhtred had a particular hatred towards Alfred whom he believed too pious, weak and trusting to fight off the Danish invasion, although he maintained a healthy respect for Alfred's intelligence. Alfred managed to calm any wanton violence between the two and Uhtred served him faithfully, though grudgingly, and at times with a mind to return to the Danes.
As a child in the year 866, Osbert is the 10-year-old second son of English Ealdorman Uhtred, Lord of Bebbanburg in the Kingdom of Northumbria. Whilst exploring with his father outside the Bebbanburg gates, Osbert spots Viking long ships off the coast. At this point in time, the Danes have already raided English cities and monasteries, so Lord Uhtred quickly retreats to the Bebbanburg fortress to raise the alarm. He dispatches his first son, also named Uhtred, to scout the long ships. Not long after, Earl Ragnar returns, riding Uhtred's horse to the gates of Bebbanburg, only to toss the bloodied head of the younger Uhtred. As a result, Osbert becomes the new Uhtred and is baptised for the second time in front of the common folk so that they may recognise him as the new heir of Bebbanburg. ("Episode 1.1")
Lord Uhtred and his army set off to take the fight to the Danes. Uhtred secretly follows behind, and luckily as well, for his uncle, Ælfric, has already given instructions to kill him to seize lordship of Bebbanburg for himself. Danish and Northumbrian forces meet on the battlefield. Lord Uhtred leads the offensive attack as the Danes wait patiently. The English forces rush downhill but their blows are rendered useless by the ever-effective Danish shield wall. The second half of the Danish army comes out of hiding to close in on the English from behind, trapping them between two shield walls. The English are slaughtered and Lord Uhtred is killed. Uhtred then rushes the battlefield in a futile attempt to kill a Dane, and is instead captured as a slave along with a young Saxon girl named Brida. ("Episode 1.1")
Whilst in the Danish longhall that night during celebrations, Uhtred is treated with kindness by Ravn, the blind father of Earl Ragnar. When Ælfric, Uhtred's uncle, learns that he is still alive, a meeting is arranged to ransom him back to Bebbanburg. Father Beocca, warns him of his uncle's treachery and Uhtred is purchased by Ragnar to live with his family as a slave. Ragnar treats Uhtred and Brida with kindness, as if they were his own children. One day while playing in the woods with Brida and Thyra, they encounter Sven, the son of Ragnar's ship master, Kjartan. Sven rips open Thyra's dress, leaving her half naked and afraid as Uhtred rushes to her rescue, knocking Sven to the ground. Uhtred is almost punished by Ragnar for starting a fight until he learns the truth of what happened. Ragnar then makes a visit to Kjartan's house to punish Sven by blinding him in one eye and banishing Kjartan from his lands. Later that night, Ragnar gives Uhtred a necklace of Thor's hammer, letting him know that he is proud of him. ("Episode 1.1")
After a timeskip of several years, Uhtred is grown up. He has a close relationship with his Danish family and is encouraged by Ragnar to marry Brida. That night he goes to Brida in the woods to make love to her. However, it is that same night, the eve of Thyra's wedding, that Kjartan and his men, now allied with Ælfric, have come to exact his revenge on Ragnar. Ragnar's hall is lit on fire, trapping Ravn and Sigrid within. Those who were able to escape are slaughtered by Danes waiting outside. Uhtred and Brida arrive from their spot in the woods just as Earl Ragnar valiantly attempts to kill as many as he can before burning to death. The next morning, Uhtred and Brida look on helplessly in the smouldering aftermath of the murder scene as Kjartan and his men search for Ragnar's wealth. Bloodthirsty, Uhtred sees Ælfric's right hand man, Scallion, and sneaks in to murder him. Thyra, who was captured by Sven, sees Uhtred but is too scared to call out for help. She is carted away with Kjartan and Sven. Uhtred rides to Bebbanburg with Scallion's head and tosses it at the gates just as Earl Ragnar did years before. He declares that Bebbanburg belongs to him and he will take it back. He and Brida ride away from the fortress as his furious uncle orders his men to mount horses and chase them down. ("Episode 1.1")
Uhtred and Brida flee on horseback from Bebbanburg as Ælfric and his men chase them down. Using a tree branch to cover his tracks, Uhtred shakes Ælfric off in the forest. Uhtred and Brida decide to travel south to look for Ubba. They wish to join forces with Ubba and his army to revenge Ragnar and take back Bebbanburg. They travel to a small Saxon village whose inhabitants have been slain. The sole survivor attempts to shoot them with arrows before Brida hurls her axe into his back. The dying Saxon informs them that it was Danes who murdered his village, as punishment for a rebel Saxon slave who rose up and murdered his Danish master. When Brida demands the name of this alleged "rebel Saxon slave", he says it was Uhtred. Brida declares it would have been better to stay under the radar, let everyone think he was dead, and reclaim Bebbanburg at a later time. Now they have a second story to contend with, one that she thinks Ubba will side with over the truth. They decide to still search out Ubba and plead their case. ("Episode 1.2")
Uhtred and Brida finally arrive in East Anglia. The only way to get Ubba to hear them out is to kidnap his sorcerer, Storri, and hold him ransom. They sneak in by Uhtred pretending to be a Dane foot solider and Brida his hostage. Brida takes Storri away to the woods, with the intention of killing him if Uhtred doesn't return. Meanwhile, Uhtred waits for Ubba's return, who enters the hall with Guthrum. King Edmund lies beaten and bloody in the middle of the church. Uhtred makes his presence known and tries to explain the truth behind the death of Earl Ragnar, much to the displeasure of Ubba. Barred in, Uhtred stands by as Ubba and Guthrum deal with King Edmund, toying with his Christian ideals by seeing if God would save him if they shot him full of arrows like Saint Sebastian. King Edmund does not survive and they turn their attention back to Uhtred. Ubba does not hear his pleas and wants to kill Uhtred, but immediately calls a halt when he learns Uhtred has kidnapped Storri. Uhtred is released in return for the sorcerer as Ubba swears to kill him one day. ("Episode 1.2")
Uhtred goes back to the woods where Brida hides with Storri, who is flung naked, bound, and gagged over a horse with a stick up his ass. As promised, they release him. Brida wants to go to Young Ragnar who is in Ireland. But Uhtred has come to the reality of their situation: they are no longer accepted as Danes. They will go to Wessex instead, hoping to be accepted as Saxons. Stopping in Oxford, Uhtred has a longsword made, with the amber his birth father gave to him welded into the hilt. They flee Oxford when men hired by Ubba come to kill them. Uhtred and Brida arrive in Winchester, where Uhtred is happily reunited with Father Beocca, who takes them to see Alfred for the first time. Alfred is rather reserved in his opinions of the two newcomers, distrusting all pagans (and especially 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. ("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 that Alfred 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 foreseeable 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 Odda the Younger especially, is hesitant to trust him, but Æthelred and Alfred decide to follow his advice and march the Wessex army to Ashes Hill. Alfred, still mistrusting of his two guests, imprison Uhtred and Brida. ("Episode 1.2")
Following the Battle of Ashdown, the Wessex army have claimed a victory but King Æthelred has been gravely injured by an axe blow. Uhtred and Brida remain locked in a prison cell at the behest of Alfred. Uhtred is determined to use the Saxons to his personal advantage, but Brida is adamant in her refusal of the Saxon way. Later, after being 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. Brida tries to convince Uhtred that their fate lies elsewhere than Wessex, but he has already taken a step towards pledging allegiance to Alfred by agreeing to attend the post-battle negotiations. ("Episode 1.3")
At the peace talk, 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, newly anointed as king, is firm in his decision to not give up any more land. He demands the heathen Danes return to London 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. The next day, Uhtred finds Brida in the woods by herself, suffering from a painful miscarriage. Uhtred buries the remains. Uhtred also begins military training with Alfred's men by teaching them the shield wall while a mysterious hooded figure watches from the trees. ("Episode 1.3")
The next evening, Uhtred and Brida meet with the hooded figure, who turns out to be Young Ragnar. Young Ragnar demands the truth of his father's death. Uhtred, still pained by the event, yields his dagger to Young Ragnar if he would truly believe he could kill their father. Relief washes over Young Ragnar as he rushes in to embrace Uhtred and Brida. They vow revenge on Kjartan, but with a carefully calculated plan. Brida does not hesitate to accompany Ragnar on his ship, but Uhtred reveals he has already sworn his oath to Alfred. Ragnar acknowledges the oath and tells him that he will wait until they can kill Kjartan together. Uhtred watches from a mountain as Ragnar and Brida sail away together. He hopes to see them in a year when his service is done, but as Leofric poignantly asks of him, "who will you be in a year?" Uhtred of Bebbanburg or Uhtred Ragnarsson? ("Episode 1.3")
While bathing in a stream, Uhtred is confronted by Odda the Younger, who tries to bribe him to walk away from the arranged marriage Alfred has planned for him. The girl is Mildrith, goddaughter of Odda the Elder. Uhtred has already paid the bride price of 33 pieces of silver and knows that she owns land and will therefore serve his long-term purpose of giving him what he needs to be a respected Ealdorman. In the chapel, Mildrith removes her hood and Uhtred sees her for the first time with a look of pleasant surprise on his face. Uhtred, Mildrith, and Leofric set out to their new home. Uhtred, a little disbelieving that Alfred would gift him such a beautiful bride, begins to ask prodding questions and 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 remove but has chosen not to in order to test Uhtred's obedience as an English Ealdorman. ("Episode 1.4")
Upon arrival in Lyscombe, Mildrith greets her commonfolk and gifts them the silver from her bride price, of which Uhtred learns she was cheated by almost half. Months pass and Mildrith is now pregnant. She joins Uhtred and Oswald on an overlooking ridge as they patrol their lands, seeing an endless line of Danes crossing through the trees. Uhtred rides with Mildreth and Leofric at once to Winchester to warn Alfred. The peace has been broken and King Guthrum's army marches west towards Wareham. In retaliation, a great Wessex army is raised and sets out to meet them. Uhtred confronts Alfred about the outstanding debt of his deviously arranged marriage. But before Uhtred can begin, Alfred informs him that Ivar the Boneless, brother of Ubba, has been killed in Ireland and Ubba has deserted Guthrum to avenge him. 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")
Wareham falls at the hands of the Danes, resulting in a talk at the gates between Alfred and Guthrum. Alfred 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. Among 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. That night in Wareham, the reunion between Uhtred, Ragnar, and Brida is joyful as they drink together. Uhtred finally feels at home, but his new Saxon family proves to be another obstacle in his Danish affinity. Albeit tempted to join Ragnar, he is still drawn towards the dream of Bebbanburg despite Alfred's incessant attempts to test his allegiance. ("Episode 1.4")
A messenger arrives from Ireland with the news of Ubba's return to England as well as reinforcements from London. Guthrum then orders his men to get rid of the English hostages. All but Uhtred is slain when Ragnar steps in and tells Guthrum that he will have to kill him first if he wants to kill Uhtred. Uhtred is released and lights the signal beacons as Alfred instructed. ("Episode 1.4")
At Cynwit Hill, the Saxons set up camp and bide their time on the high ground, waiting for Alfred's reinforcements. Ubba and his men camp below, intending to strike sooner rather than later knowing food and water supply is short on the hill. But at negotiations, Uhtred taunts Ubba and provokes him into thinking the gods are against him for not avenging Ragnar's murder, and in so doing, buys the Saxons a little more time. Uhtred then urges Odda the Elder to strike that night after he sets fire to the long ships while the Danes scurry in disarray. Odda must keep his word and not abandon Uhtred in his one-man mission, despite his son suggesting they flee Cynwit to meet with Alfred and form a larger army. ("Episode 1.5")
Taking inspiration from a grease fire, Uhtred prepares wads of pig fat soaked in oil and sneaks into the Danish camp, successfully setting fire to all their ships. When fleeing, he is spotted by Storri and Ubba challenges him to a man-on-man fight to the death, from which he cannot back down. Both men fight without armour, using only a shield and one weapon. Things do not look good for Uhtred as he's knocked to the ground defenseless, but when Ubba raises his axe to deal the final stroke, Uhtred grabs a nearby shard from his splintered shield and stabs Ubba above the knee. In Ubba's moment of pain, Uhtred reaches for his sword and in one fell movement, slices Ubba's ankles open. Ubba falls forward as Uhtred makes another slice at his neck. Respectful of his opponent as a warrior, Uhtred places the battleaxe in the dying Ubba's right hand and sends him on his way to Valhalla. ("Episode 1.5")
The Danes surround Uhtred and are about to kill him, but men suddenly emerge from the shadows and surround Uhtred to form a shield wall. Odda kept his word and the Saxons are able to defeat the Danes. In the aftermath, Lord Odda has been gravely injured and his son rides immediately to Alfred to claim credit for the victory with Ubba's axe as proof. Uhtred is more concerned with going to his wife and son, whom he has not seen since his departure to Wareham as a hostage. Together, they ride to Winchester where Uhtred barges in on Alfred's silent victory prayers, maddened that his efforts at Cynwit have gone unrecognised. Alfred is enraged by Uhtred's continued insolence, and even moreso in the presence of God. He punishes him by forcing him and Æthelwold into penance by grovelling on their hands and knees through the city of Winchester. Uhtred has reached a new level of humiliation under Alfred's service and can no longer hold respect for the Christian religion which, in his eyes, is not able to serve justice the way justice should be served. ("Episode 1.5")
Upon returning home to Lyscombe, Uhtred notices Oswald dragging a felled tree to the lumber yard. Suspicious of Oswald pocketing a profit from timber that rightfully belongs to him, Uhtred questions him. Oswald flees, but he's not quick enough and is run down and trampled by Uhtred and his horse. This, along with Uhtred's recently peaked hatred towards the Saxon-Christian way of life, causes irreparable damage between him and his wife. ("Episode 1.5")
Uhtred grows further apart from his wife and decides to take Leofric up on his offer of masquerading as plundering Danes in order to loot silver from the neighbouring kingdom of Cornwalum. But Danes have already raided the towns they visit and there is no silver to be found. They are met by Brother Asser on the road and brought in front of King Peredur of Cornwalum, who offers to pay Uhtred and his men to help rid him of fellow Britons that have taken over a nearby fortress. Peredur is a newly-converted Christian with pagan tendencies and calls for his shadow queen, Iseult, to read his fate with Uhtred. Iseult tells him that Uhtred is the chosen one to save them. ("Episode 1.6")
Upon approaching the fortress, Uhtred and his men are confronted by Danes, led by Skorpa, the war lord. Skorpa informs Uhtred that there is no silver to be found within the fortress either, they've already ripped it apart. Uhtred realises he has been tricked by Peredur, and so enters into a 50/50 agreement with Skorpa to turn on the Britons in a surprise attack. Skorpa convinces Peredur to tell him where the silver is really hidden by promising to spare his life, but stabs him in the chest once he gets his information, much to Uhtred's disdain. ("Episode 1.6")
Both Danish parties then return to Peredur's hall to unearth the silver hidden beneath his throne. Iseult slyly lets on to Uhtred that she lied to Peredur because she had foreseen Uhtred as the one to free her. Unsurprisingly, Skorpa goes back on his word to Uhtred and threatens to kill Iseult unless him and his men are able to leave with the whole loot. Leofric refuses to lose more men in chasing down Skorpa, but Iseult reveals that there is more silver hidden elsewhere. Uhtred makes a stop in Exeter to see Bishop Alewold regarding the outstanding debt on his and Mildrith's land as well as the wergild he is being summoned to pay for Oswald's murder. He presents the bishop with an Irish relic of a solid silver, as a way to pay off both debts. He then returns home, debt free, but with Iseult in tow, to whom Mildrith does not take a liking. But this no longer matters to Uhtred as he does not see Mildreth (or his son, who was baptised against his wishes) as a lasting part of his future. ("Episode 1.6")
Summoned to the witan by Alfred, Uhtred walks blindly into a one-way trial where he is accused of not only raiding and plundering Cornwall by plotting with Skorpa, but also of helping Skorpa burn down the church being built at Cynwit. Leofric is brought in as a prisoner and admits to plundering Cornwall alongside Uhtred as his equal, but Odda is intent on blaming Uhtred. Uhtred refuses to get on his knees to beg forgiveness and Alfred is left with no choice but to sentence him to die. In a desperate attempt to give Uhtred the dignity he deserves as a warrior, Leofric requests a fight to the death instead. Leofric argues that God would be on his side, an argument he knows Alfred can't refuse. ("Episode 1.6")
Uhtred and Leofric share an ale the night before their duel, admitting respect and friendship for one another. Alfred offers Uhtred one last chance for redemption, but Uhtred refuses to give Iseult up knowing she would be killed should she return to Cornwalum. Alfred, who does not wish to see bloodshed on the feast day of Saint Chad, walks away. Leofric and Uhtred have discarded their weapons at this point, throwing punches at each other, when suddenly the Danes have entered the city walls. Leofric is quick to declare the end of their fight as they flee in the ensuing panic. ("Episode 1.7")
Uhtred, Leofric, and Iseult hide in the rafters of a mill house when Vikings burst in and begin raping a nun. Iseult, unable to look away, hops down from above to stab the Dane and save the nun's life. The group's number is now four, and they must make their way out of the city by pretending to be two Danes and two hostages. They are almost out until Brida recognises Uhtred and confronts him. She is not friendly, but allows them to escape. They make their way to the marshlands when a small party of Danes chases after a group of priests. Uhtred and Leofric fend off the attackers and help everyone escape by boat. The priest they manage to save is none other than Alfred. Uhtred is quick to remind him that like every other kingdom before it, Wessex has fallen and he is now king of nothing. In the safe haven of the Athelney marshes, both Alfred and his infant son, Edward, grow sicker. Alfred reveals to Uhtred that to save Wessex from crumbling at the hands of the Danes, there must be a single, defining battle that will determine the fateful outcome of either nation. To do this, Alfred dispatches his priests in every direction to inform his enemies of his current whereabouts. ("Episode 1.7")
Iseult prepares herbal tonics for Alfred's hemorrhoids which work well enough that he can eat meat again. But another way must be found for Edward--a pagan way which Ælswith is not keen on. Iseult predicts the child only has one night left and Alfred, whose fate as a king is tied to fate as a father, is desperate to save him. Iseult warns Uhtred that to save one life, another must be taken. When they awake the next morning, the baby is magically healed. Alfred, overcome with joy, is deaf to Father Beocca's exaltations that their prayers were answered by God. Uhtred excursions and devises a plan: kill all of Skorpa's men who are currently water-bound and force the remainder to join forces with Guthrum, leading to the penultimate battle. They goad Skorpa's men into the deep marshes, letting the wetlands trap them before they attack. In the sunset, they look on at the burning long ships with renewed hope for a Wessex retaliation. ("Episode 1.7")
Alfred, Uhtred, Leofric, Iseult, Brother Asser, Hild, and Halig travel towards Odda's estate in Devonshire to start gathering Alfred's army. Avoiding the Roman roads which are filled with Danes, they travel by way of Lyscombe, only to find death and destruction. All the villagers have fled and a small grave is marked outside Uhtred's house with a wooden cross. The stranger's baby that was taken in lieu of Alfred's son was Uhtred's. Iseult is torn for Uhtred and the knowledge she has as a seer. She goes to Uhtred in the woods that night so he may take her virginity, and therefore her sight. Afterwards, Iseult finally reveals what Skorpa had whispered to her in Cornwalum: Thyra lives and is being held by Kjartan in the north. ("Episode 1.8")
Odda the Younger, who believes Alfred is dead, tries to make an agreement with Skorpa. But when Uhtred and Leofric, Alfred hidden amongst them, arrive to their estate and rally him to their cause, Odda refuses to believe the king still lives. His father, who has seen Alfred in the crowd, stabs his own son for his traitorous deeds. Uhtred sends Skorpa back on his way to Guthrum, who informs the Viking leader of the Saxon numbers. ("Episode 1.8")
The battle commences and the Saxons let the Danes fall upon their shield wall first and then slowly advance, gaining ground. Leofric takes an axe blow to the neck and falls behind. Skorpa, realising they are already at a disadvantage, leaves the battlefield to attack the Saxon camp where he runs down Iseult and returns to the battle, flinging her bloody head at Uhtred. Enraged, Uhtred breaks formation and leaps over the enemy shield wall and begins killing Danes at will. Father Beocca, calling on the might of God, launches his spear towards Uhtred, who swiftly takes it and throws it into Skorpa's chest, knocking him off his horse. ("Episode 1.8")
In the aftermath of the battle, Uhtred orders Leofric's grave marked as an Ealdorman and a pyre for Iseult. The Battle of Æthendun won, Alfred admits that he is indebted to Uhtred, that Wessex is indebted. Peace is secured by Guthrum's conversion to Christianity and also with hostages including Brida and Ragnar. Brida refuses to look at Uhtred but Ragnar remains both his brother and friend. Having saved Wessex, Uhtred's path now leads back north so he can face his past. ("Episode 1.8")
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Cookham; Uhtred’s Wessex Estate. Uhtred and Æthelflæd have sex. Uhtred hears a noise coming from outside. He goes downstairs to investigate. Aldhelm has come to tell Uhtred that Lady Æthelflæd’s absence has been noted by her husband and that she should leave before she is discovered. Uhtred pleads with Æthelflæd to stay with him, but she continues to get dressed. She refuses to allow men to die just so that she can love Uhtred. Hopefully, in time, things will change for them. Until then, Æthelflæd will go to Winchester to comfort her mother. She kisses Uhtred goodbye and assures him that his men will return from the north soon. Uhtred spends the entire night sitting in front of a fire, waiting to hear back from his men up north, though he receives no such news. ("Episode 4.1")
Uhtred greets Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric as they return from the north. Finan informs Uhtred that his uncle is under attack by the Scots pushing south. He lost half his men in the most recent assault. Leaving him with barely 40 soldiers. Unable to even raise a fyrd. Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric urge Uhtred to attack now while Bebbanburg is weak. Finan explains that the trip will cost a ship and men, as well as all their silver. Uhtred is willing to take the risk. However, they’ll need to ride to Winchester to raise an army. ("Episode 4.1")
Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric arrive in Winchester. Uhtred is welcomed by Beocca and Hild. He greets them both with a hug. Uhtred informs them that he has good news; Aelfric and Bebbanburg have been weakened by the Scots and Uhtred is planning to claim what his rightfully his. Aelfric had a son but the heir Wihtgar was banished. He died last summer in the southern sea. Uhtred is hoping that Beocca and Hild will join him. However, their fighting days are over. Although, Beocca promises that he will join Uhtred when the hard work is done. Hild then asks about his children. Uhtred tells them that Stiorra thrives. She lives at Æthelflæd’s estate. However, he doesn’t get to see his son. Alfred’s influence has made him holy. Hild and Beocca inform Uhtred that Wessex is doing well. Edward’s son is walking and the king’s wife is to be crowned a queen. ("Episode 4.1")
Pyrlig, King Edward, and Steapa approach Uhtred. He informs the king that Cnut has brought his sons over from his homeland, which means he has ambition here. Uhtred has come to Winchester to make Edward an offer. He can help Edward fulfill his father’s dream of a united land if King Edward gives him men to retake Bebbanburg. Uhtred, Pyrlig, Lord Æthelhelm, and King Edward discuss the matter further inside. If Uhtred takes Bebbanburg, it becomes a foothold in Northumbria. King Edward could then unite the four kingdoms. One country, one king. With 100 men, Uhtred can take the kingdom in a week. with 200, in a day. Lord Æthelhelm doesn’t believe it is wise to distract themselves with other matters given the ongoing threat with the Danes. Uhtred urges Edward to accept his offer, but he instead agrees with Lord Æthelhelm and refuses to lend Uhtred his men. ("Episode 4.1")
Uhtred reports back to Sihtric and Finan with the unfortunate news that King Edward is refusing to help them. Osferth joins them and they proceed to discuss the possibility of taking down Bebbanburg on their own. Uhtred assures them that they don’t need an army. All they have to do is kill Aelfric and the gates will open. ("Episode 4.1")
Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric plot their path into Bebbanburg. Hild finds Uhtred and thanks him for offering his men to clear the stables. While they’re distracted, Hild tells Uhtred that Lady Æthelflæd will meet him in the garden. ("Episode 4.1")
Uhtred finds Æthelflæd in the garden just as Hild said. Her woman Sabel is works at Lord Æthelred's estate and she knows of something that will be of use to Uhtred. Lord Æthelred is collecting the relics of St. Oswald. When St. Oswald’s body is reunited in Mercia, the land will be returned to greatness. All that remains to be gathered is the heart of St. Oswald, which Aelfric keeps at Bebbanburg. Lord Æthelflæd has sent a pair of monks up north to strike a bargain for it. They should reach Grimesby by Sunday, then Bebbanburg on the day of Ascension, which is ten days before Pentecost. Should Uhtred intercept these monks, he could gain entry into the fortress. ("Episode 4.1")
Uhtred finds Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric in the stable and tells them of his plan to intercept the monks headed for Bebbanburg. They will need another horse for the priest that’ll be joining them. Before leaving Winchester, Uhtred says goodbye to Beocca and Hild. Beocca tells Uhtred to fulfill his birthright and restore Northumbria to greatness. Uhtred promises Beocca that one day soon, he will live like a lord in Bebbanburg. Hild then gives Uhtred a silver cross, telling him to turn it into hack-silver and pay for bribes along the way. ("Episode 4.1")
St. Wilfrid’s Church; Kingdom of Wessex. Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric kidnap young Uhtred and take him into the woods. Young Uhtred wants no part of whatever his father has planned, claiming the church is his family. Whether young Uhtred likes it or not, Uhtred insists that they’ll be leaving together, headed to Coccham, where they will collect the ship that will take them north to reclaim both of their birthrights. However, young Uhtred doesn’t even know of Bebbanburg. ("Episode 4.1")
Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric prepare the boat. At the last minute, Beocca arrives after changing his mind and deciding to join Uhtred on his journey. Uhtred questions if Hild sent Beocca to keep an eye on him. Beocca insists that it was his own decision. He admittedly allowed himself to get old too quickly. However, Uhtred questions the real reason Beocca decided to tag along. Beocca reveals that word reached him about the abduction of a young deacon. ("Episode 4.1")
Young Uhtred wonders what use his father has for him. Uhtred sees the man that he will be, not the boy that he is. Uhtred knows what it is like to be ripped from life to live another, but it will make young Uhtred stronger. Uhtred points to his sword, which once belonged to his father. One day, it will be young Uhtred, so it is fated. However, young Uhtred retorts that it feels more like penance. Uhtred, young Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric then sail to Bebbanburg. ("Episode 4.1")
Uhtred, Beocca, young Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric continue on their journey to Bebbanburg. Uhtred cuts his arm and bleeds into the water to hopefully settle the sea goddess Rán. Young Uhtred is unconvinced, writing her off as pagan lies. Young Uhtred suspects that he’s the bait in the plan that his father is hiding from him. Uhtred explains that they’re tracking monks who have entry to Bebbanburg. It’s young Uhtred’s job to befriend them and gain access to Bebbanburg and then open the sea gates for them. However, young Uhtred still suspects that something is being hidden from him. He then begins to pray for the men that his father will undoubtedly slaughter. He asks that Uhtred at least show mercy and forgive his uncle. However, Uhtred will do no such thing. ("Episode 4.2")
Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric enter a tavern. They claim that they’re simply traders taking pelts to Frankia. They're in search of women companionship. They are taken down into the dungeon, where the women are. There, they find the monks, Brother Oswi and Brother Iestyn receiving sexual favors. Afterward, Uhtred, Finan, and Osferth follow them out. It takes six days to get to Bebbanburg on the coast road. They’ll get there just before ascension. Uhtred reconvenes with Beocca and his son. He instructs young Uhtred to follow the monks to Bebbanburg. However, he is no warrior and questions why his father has such faith in him. Uhtred explains that he has the spirit of their family within him. It’ll give him a strength that he does not know yet. He instructs young Uhtred to take a horse and ride the road north, close to the shore, where he’ll find the monks and join them. Uhtred, Beocca, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric suddenly find themselves being confronted by the villagers, who are less than welcoming. ("Episode 4.2")
Uhtred, Beocca, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric scout out Bebbanburg from afar. Ælfric supposedly only has 40 men, but that’s twice as many as them. Uhtred looks to Beocca to answer if he’s leading men to their deaths. Beocca admits that while the fight will be furious and men will fall, he’s certain Uhtred will win. ("Episode 4.2")
Uhtred and Finan spot the signal and move in, along with Beocca, Osferth, and Sihtric. Uhtred and Finan take out the two guards by the gate and wait for young Uhtred to open the gate. When young Uhtred never shows, they’re forced to pry the gate up. Uhtred manages to slip under and raise the gate from inside. They proceed into the fort and kill every guard they cross. ("Episode 4.2")
Meanwhile, young Uhtred has been captured by Wihtgar. He suspects that young Uhtred was trying to steal away and demands to know why. Wihtgar tortures young Uhtred for answers. When he can’t get the answers out of him, Wihtgar kills both monks. Ælfric joins them. He remarks that young Uhtred’s face is familiar somehow. When Ælfric demands to know who he is, young Uhtred replies that he’s Uhtred of Bebbanburg. Ælfric isn’t convinced and orders for young Uhtred to be executed. When one of Ælfric's men attempts to kill him, Uhtred tackles his attacker to the ground and nearly chokes the life out of him before Uhtred, Beocca, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric arrive. Uhtred holds a blade to Ælfric’s throat. Uhtred explains that no one else has to die save for his uncle. As Lord of Bebbanburg, he swears to provide for and protect them. Uhtred then looks to Aidan and asks where his allegiance lies. Aidan replies that he’s loyal to the true heir of Bebbanburg and points up to Wihtgar, who’s pointing a crossbow at Uhtred. He demands that Wihtgar put down the bow. Instead, he fires it, striking Ælfric in the eye, killing him instantly. The men of Bebbanburg then pledge their allegiance to Wihtgar. ("Episode 4.2")
Ælfric’s body lays on the ground after being killed by Wihtgar. Uhtred, young Uhtred, Beocca, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric are surrounded by the men of Bebbanburg. Wihtgar explains that his father was weak, so he put him out of his misery. Uhtred tells Wihtgar that Ælfric stole the land from him when he was a child, so if Wihtgar wants to be considered the true Lord of Bebbanburg, he has to a fight. But Wihtgar declines the challenge. Beocca reveals that he was Ælfric’s priest. Beocca knew his strengths and flaws. He proposes that they make peace and unite against the Scots. However, Wihtgar does not seek peace. He only wishes to kill Uhtred so that he doesn’t repeat his father’s mistakes. But first, he wants Uhtred to watch as he kills his son. Wihtgar fires an arrow at young Uhtred, but Beocca jumps in front of him, taking the arrow in the chest. Uhtred becomes enraged and kills Wihtgar’s men. Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric assist him. Uhtred checks on Beocca but he has succumbed to his wounds. Outnumbered by their adversaries, they retreat to their ship. Wihtgar tries to sink it by catapulting boulders, but he fail. Aidan questions if they should follow them, but Wihtgar assures him they won’t last the night. ("Episode 4.3")
Uhtred, young Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric just barely make it on shore. They’re tired and weak. Finan tells Uhtred that the men are tired and hungry and that there’s nothing there for them here. It’s time they move on. Uhtred contemplates going back to retrieve Beocca’s body, but Finan insists that he doesn’t. Uhtred blames himself for Beocca’s death. He has lost any family he’s ever had, but Beocca was always a constant. Without him, Uhtred has no home. ("Episode 4.3")
Uhtred returns to camp. He tells young Uhtred to quit his praying, but he persists in honor of Beocca. Uhtred calls his son’s God unto question; asking where was his mercy when Beocca needed it. Young Uhtred explains that it’s not his God that Uhtred hates, but the fact that young Uhtred is not his father. Uhtred tells Finan that they’ll need silver and to get out of the woods. To do that, they’ll have to fight battles, which Uhtred feels he is no longer equipped to do. He wants Finan to lead them into battle. He thought that his destiny was to return to his home, but he’s lost everything. He can no longer call himself Uhtred of Bebbanburg. He’s nothing, and he can no longer be their lord. ("Episode 4.3")
Uhtred walks alone. He begins digging in the ground with his knife. He buries the silver cross that Hild gave him in Beocca’s honor. Finan approaches Uhtred and tells him that Beocca would not want to see him mourning so. Uhtred recalls how Beocca held him on the ramparts, when Earl Ragnar rode to Bebbanburg. When his father named him Uhtred and told him to die for Bebbanburg, Beocca was at his side. He even baptized him. He saved Uhtred’s life many times over. Finan hugs Uhtred as he cries over Beocca’s loss. Finan assures Uhtred that this isn’t the end. They will return with more men and concur Bebbanburg. ("Episode 4.3")
Uhtred, young Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric cross paths with Hæsten as he’s with younger Cnut and Esgar. He questions why Uhtred is so far from home, joking that he rides once more to save Lady Æthelflæd. He then tells Uhtred that he’s free to pass, however, he also welcomes Uhtred and his men to join them. ("Episode 4.3")
After setting up camp, Osferth reveals to Uhtred, young Uhtred, Finan, and Sihtric that Cnut and Brida have attacked Mercia. While he owes the kings nothing, Uhtred does fear for Æthelflæd. Hæsten then invites them all over to join him. He heard of the rumors that Uhtred returned to Bebbanburg to reclaim his land. Hæsten once had the desire to claim Mercia and Wessex for his own, but now he only wants a woman to hump and land to call his own. He had that twice before Uhtred took it from him. He then asks about Æthelflæd, who will undoubtedly ride into battle against Cnut with her husband and brother. Hæsten asks how Æthelflæd is in bed, comparing her to a squealing pig. Uhtred gets upset and attacks Hæsten. He spares Hæsten, only to return to kill after he makes another remark. In exchange for his life, Hæsten offers Uhtred the name of the man that killed Ragnar. Æthelwold may have held the dagger but another whispered poison into his ear. Hæsten reveals that it was Cnut. He wanted to lead the Danes and he wanted Ragnar’s woman. Uhtred lets Hæsten go, but keeps Cnut’s sons, younger Cnut and Esgar, with him. Uhtred orders Finan and Sihtric to tie the boys up. One makes a run for it while the other tries to stab Finan, but they are both captured. ("Episode 4.3")
Young Uhtred asks his father what he will do with the boys. Uhtred plans to take them to Æthelflæd in Mercia. Young Uhtred recalls his father riding out from Winchester before he fought at the battle of Fearnham. Gisela was there. It was the last time Uhtred saw her. He still sees her in his dreams. Young Uhtred feels her loss every day. That day, he asked her why his father left them, and she said he fought because he believed in a cause to keep the people that he loves safe. She said that is why Uhtred will always have the strength to stand up when others fall and to go on when those around him say it is hopeless. It is why Uhtred’s men love him and are willing to follow him wherever he goes. As will young Uhtred. ("Episode 4.3")
Uhtred, young Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric arrive in Aegelesburg. Uhtred hands young Cnut and Esgar over. With Cnut’s heirs in his possession, Cnut will surely come for them. So, Uhtred asks where is Æthelflæd’s army. She replies that Æthelred is in East Anglia with his men. Although, Æthelflæd has ordered the Mercian fyrd to Tettenhall, and she believes that Edward will meet them there. Æthelflæd doesn’t know if Æthelred is coming, so she had to force her brother’s hand. Uhtred tells Finan that they leave at first light, and Æthelflæd instructs Aldhelm to prepare the survivors. Æthelflæd then asks Uhtred what happened at Bebbanburg, and he starts to cry. Unbeknownst to them, Bjorgulf arrives with a fleet of soldiers just up the hill. ("Episode 4.3")
Young Uhtred says a prayer for the lives lost during the Dane attack. Uhtred tells Æthelflæd that they don’t have the time for such luxuries. However, many of the dead are children, which deeply saddens Æthelflæd as she further explains that the Danes also took their heads. Uhtred urges Æthelflæd to leave before the Danes arrive, but it’s too late. Finan and Osferth alert the others that the Danes are charging towards the gate. Uhtred guides Æthelflæd to safety while Aldhelm and Sihtric stay behind with the others to hold off the Danes. ("Episode 4.4")
Uhtred goes to the roof. Finan and Sihtric follow him with knives held to young Cnut and Esgar’s throats. He tells Bjorgulf to leave or else the children will die. Bjorgulf refuses to leave, and so Uhtred tricks him into thinking that he cut off the head of young Cnut by throwing the body of one of the dead Mercian kids off the roof. In fear that Uhtred will kill Esgar, Bjorgulf retreats. Cnut will hunt them down the moment he learns they killed his boy. So, they prepare to leave. Young Cnut and Esgar are set free by Sihtric as they have served their purpose. They join Æthelflæd and Aldhelm as they leave for Tettenhall. ("Episode 4.4")
Uhtred and Æthelflæd kiss in the nearby woods. Æthelflæd believes she’ll survive the battle with the Danes because God favors those with goodness in their hearts. Uhtred argues that the Gods simply play with them. But tonight, he will believe what Æthelflæd believes. She then asks about Bebbanburg. He thought it was his destiny for so long, but it apparently was not. All he knows for certain is that destiny has brought him back to Æthelflæd. ("Episode 4.4")
Uhtred, Æthelflæd, young Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, Sihtric, and Aldhelm arrive at Tettenhall. They are joined by Father Pyrlig and King Hywel’s army. Pyrlig explains that it was Ælswith who sent him to find allies, as he’s heard nothing from the king. Uhtred still fears that the men they have may not be enough. However, Æthelflæd refuses to back down. With no word from Edward, Uhtred advises Æthelflæd to lie to her men to keep their spirits up. ("Episode 4.4")
Uhtred, young Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric devise a plan to fend off the Danes. However, they aren’t certain it will work. Æthelflæd, Aldhelm, and Pyrlig join them as the Danes get close. Cnut, Brida, Jackdaw, and the Dane army arrive in Tettenhall. Brida notes that something isn’t right and orders them to fallback, but Cnut leads his men forward, right into Uhtred’s trap; a large, camouflaged ditch. As the Danes try to recover, Uhtred, Æthelflæd, young Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, Sihtric, Pyrlig, and Aldhelm charge, with the Welsh as backup. Brida is knocked off her horse, but she manages to take out two enemies in the same breath. Meanwhile, Cnut pulls himself up from under the pile of dead bodies in the ditch. Young Uhtred is nearly killed by a Dane, but Uhtred saves him, and Father Pyrlig helps him up. ("Episode 4.4")
Cnut follows Uhtred into the woods and they fight. Cnut demands to know why Uhtred killed his first born. Uhtred claims it was revenge for Ragnar. Brida arrives as the two fight for control, though she doesn’t intervene. Cnut claims that Ragnar was weak and needed him to die, while his son was innocent. Unbeknownst to Cnut, Brida has overheard him admit to killing her former lover. As Uhtred places him in a chokehold, he tells Brida to give him his seax. She slowly picks up his blade and Uhtred lets Cnut go. She confronts him for sending Æthelwold to kill Ragnar and stabs him with his own sword. As Cnut kneels there with his sword in his chest, gasping for air, Uhtred reveals that both of Cnut’s boys are alive just before he dies from his wounds. ("Episode 4.4")
Brida finds herself surrounded by the Welsh as they take in Dane prisoners. She asks Uhtred to spare her and send her to Valhalla. She refuses to be a slave, which is a fate worse than death. Brida simply wants to be with Ragnar. She pleads with Uhtred to kill her, but they take her in as a prisoner. ("Episode 4.4")
Uhtred wonders what excuse Edward gave for his cowardice. Æthelflæd explains that he wanted to avoid bloodshed for his men. Which Uhtred argues created more bloodshed. He wants to speak with Edward personally, but Æthelflæd asks him to leave it be and for them to celebrate their victory over the Danes. ("Episode 4.4")
Uhtred, Æthelflæd, young Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric arrive at Æthelflæd’s Mercian estate. Uhtred has come to bring Stiorra home. Æthelflæd asks where is her daughter, and Ælfwynn rushes into her arms. Æthelstan has been held up with them as well. Aldhelm arrives to report that Æthelred is fatally injured and he may not last a week. No plan has been made for the succession, so Æthelflæd is eager to speak with him and the Ealdormen. Uhtred then tells Stiorra to take the children and secure them. If Æthelred dies, times will be unstable. Uhtred questions what will happen if the successor the Ealdormen chooses seeks to have Æthelflæd removed. He fears they'll send her to a nunnery and her daughter will be sold to the highest bidder. He urges Æthelflæd to follow him to Coccham, where he can protect her and her daughter. ("Episode 4.5")
Uhtred, Æthelflæd, and Aldhelm meet with Edward and Pyrlig to discuss the succession of the king. Uhtred informs Edward of the rumors of a break from Wessex. Edward intends to betroth Ælfwynn to the successor and seal the bond between lands. In return for the strength it’ll bring to Mercia, they’ll simply ask for loyalty. Edward wants Ælfwynn brought to Aegelesburg immediately, but Æthelflæd refuses. Instead, she asks that Edward first find a suitor and they will arrange a match. ("Episode 4.5")
Uhtred informs Æthelflæd that Edward has ordered all his troops to Aegelesburg. Uhtred fears that this means a war is coming. Æthelflæd urges Uhtred to trust her brother. They then stumble upon Eadith and Eardwulf in the middle of an argument. Eadith assures Uhtred that she’s fine, and then Æthelflæd tells Eadith that Æthelred is asking for her. Again, Uhtred asks Æthelflæd to leave with him, but she fears that if she leaves, she’ll never be able to return. ("Episode 4.5")
Æthelflæd informs Uhtred and Aldhelm of Æthelred’s demise. She thought his death would bring her peace, but it hasn’t. Aldhelm promises that he will bargain their way out of this, but what they need is to alert their allies. Rally them against Eardwulf if necessary. This would set the Mercian Fyrd against the Wessex army. Pyrlig reveals that a group of riders were just sent to retrieve Ælfwynn. Æthelflæd will try to speak with Edward. In the meantime, she orders Uhtred to go to Ceaster and take her daughter somewhere she can be protected. ("Episode 4.5")
Uhtred arrives at Æthelflæd’s estate to find that everyone is safe. After evading capture, they proceed to pack their belongings and head for Ceaster. ("Episode 4.5")
Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric come to a stop, if only for a second as Edward and his men won’t be far behind. Eadith arrives with a message from Æthelflæd. She wants them to meet her at the ruins of St. Milburg’s Priory. They do not entirely trust Eadith, but they have no choice. Uhtred wonders what’s next for her. Eadith has family in Frankia, but that way is Inland, so Uhtred invites Eadith to travel with them. ("Episode 4.6")
Eadith tells Uhtred that he’s kinder than his reputation and that Lady Æthelflæd is lucky to have him serve her. Uhtred explains that he simply owes her his respect. Eadith never sought to disrespect Æthelflæd, but only to protect her brother, but he did not protect her in return. ("Episode 4.6")
As they ride through the woods, hungry villagers rip the bread that Stiorra is eating right from her hands. They come to a stop as the road is blocked with the bodies of dead men piked on large wooden sticks. Finan and Sihtric go to investigate. They realize that at least one man is still alive but that he’s dying of a sickness. Finan claims that it is spread by touch while Uhtred and Osferth state that it spreads by air. Young Uhtred believes that it only takes sinners. Finan suggests that they return to Aegelesburg. However, they don’t have the power to defend themselves against Edward. Uhtred changes the plan. They will now go across land to Wenloca to avoid the bad air. Sihtric worries that the children won’t make the trip on foot, but they proceed nevertheless. ("Episode 4.6")
They continue on the road to Ceaster on foot. Uhtred carries Ælfwynn as Finan carries Æthelstan. From Uhtred, he learns that Æthelstan is Edward’s hidden bastard son. ("Episode 4.6")
They arrive at St. Milburg’s Priory but Æthelflæd and Aldhelm are nowhere to be found. Finan continues to grow more and more worried. He suspects there may even be bodies laying in the fields. Uhtred orders Stiorra to get Ælfwynn out the sun, but she’s tired of mothering her. Stiorra has done it for months and has no intentions on being a wife. Nevertheless, she takes Ælfwynn under the trees. Finan suspects that Æthelflæd isn’t coming and advises they leave. Uhtred realizes that Æthelflæd must’ve gone ahead to Ceaster as agreed, so they do the same. ("Episode 4.6")
They sleep as Uhtred watches over them. Day breaks and the group awakens. Ælfwynn goes following behind a crow, chasing it through the woods on her own. That’s when she crosses paths with a sleeping Eardwulf and his men. Fortunately, Uhtred gets to her in time before she can awaken them. The group then run off into the woods. ("Episode 4.6")
The group rest at a river stream. As night falls, the group settles down to sleep. Eadith thanks Uhtred for not killing her brother. He replies there is no honor in killing a sleeping man. Although, if Eardwulf comes for them, Uhtred will not hesitate. He wonders why Eadith didn’t betray them when she had the chance. Edith explains that she would rather sleep on cold earth than in a palace where people see her as a whore. She asks if his Gods look down on him from the Heavens. Do they sit in judgement. Uhtred explains they’re more fickle than that and he isn’t always sure how to please them. Sometimes, he thinks the path of the warrior is his way to Valhalla. Other times, he isn’t sure. He asks if Eadith’s God looks over her. She looks for signs if he does, but she rarely sees them. ("Episode 4.6")
While continuing their journey to Ceaster, Eadith fears that Ælfwynn is getting sick. Uhtred is aware, but tells Eadith to simply reassure her. Unfortunately, they are tracked down by Eardwulf and his guards. 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")
They arrive in Wollerton; Kingdom of Mercia. Sihtric asks for his blade back from Æthelstan. Uhtred orders young Uhtred and Sihtric to find Æthelflæd and tell her that Ælfwynn is safe. Eadith and Osferth will guard her until Edward has sworn he won’t harm her. Eadith fears that Ælfwynn is getting worse. Uhtred asks that Eadith keep her alive until he returns. Eadith tells him that she and Osferth will do everything they can. ("Episode 4.6")
While the town is distracted by King Æthelred’s funeral, Pyrlig sneaks Uhtred, Finan, Stiorra, and Æthelstan inside. Pyrlig fears they are beyond getting Edward to listen. Aegelesburg is like a tinder waiting to spark. Uhtred then interrupts the Witan. He assures them that while Ælfwynn is safe, she will not be betrothed as Eardwulf has confessed to the murder of Æthelred and fled Mercia. He then presents Æthelred’s ring as proof, handing it over to Ludeca. ("Episode 4.7")
Edward asks Uhtred where is Ælfwynn. Uhtred will only reveal her location if Edward promises that Ælfwynn and Æthelflæd will be protected. Edward threatens to have Uhtred seized, but he’s done nothing wrong. Nevertheless, Edward has him taken away and orders Æthelhelm to find out where Uhtred hides Ælfwynn. As for who to betroth her to, Edward thinks that instead of making a bond with the Ealdormen, they should find a way to break them. ("Episode 4.7")
Cenric chains up Uhtred, who recognizes him. He initially asks if Cenric was sworn to Alfred before realizing that Cenric fought at Beamfleot. Æthelhelm pleads with Uhtred to tell him the location of Ælfwynn so that they don’t have to torture him, but he refuses. So, Cenric begins to punch him repeatedly. ("Episode 4.7")
Edward finds Uhtred and bloody and beaten in his cell. Edward explains that he made no such order. Uhtred tells him that Æthelhelm claims to act for the king. Edward opens Uhtred’s cage and tells the guard to fetch Uhtred food, water, and fur to keep him warm. Edward elaborates that he didn’t order the torture of Uhtred because he knew it wouldn’t have worked. Edward questions where Uhtred’s courage comes from. He realizes that Uhtred loves his sister. Edward always envied Uhtred’s ability to chose his own path, but now he wonders if Uhtred is as imprisoned as he is, unable to escape a life that was imposed upon him. Edward’s tried to find a solution for Merica that respects them and keeps order, but events have turned against him. And now he’s questioning if God wants him to do this. He’s lived in his father’s shadow but now he sees the light. Perhaps Edward should be unifying the kingdoms himself instead of having a child do it for him. Edward tells Uhtred that he’s free to go. He wants Uhtred to return to Ælfwynn, reunite with his sister and keep them safe until the conflict passes. ("Episode 4.7")
Uhtred meets back up with Finan, who reveals that his daughter is insistent on helping Father Pyrlig, as she is as stubborn as her father. Stiorra helps Father Pyrlig distribute the grain among the people, but the villagers become too unmanageable and start fighting over the grain. Stiorra is thrown to the ground and Uhtred and Finan intervene. Uhtred takes control of the situation. While they may have suffered, turning on each other won’t save them. He urges them to work together. He tells everyone to form a line and they will be given what is needed. All the while Edward, Ælswith and Cenric watch from above. With Uhtred’s influence, Ælswith fears he will make the Mercians turn against Edward. And so, Edwards orders Uhtred to be brought before him. ("Episode 4.7")
Uhtred is brought to Edward for his involvement in the riot over the grain. Uhtred simply wanted to bring peace to Aegelesburg rather than another battle. Which will surely occur as the Ealdormen won’t back down, so Uhtred suspects Edward will finish the slaughter the Danes have started. Edward fears he is right. Edward wants to place Uhtred at Aegelesburg as he can forge a path to peace. While the Ealdormen may not be pleased with him, they’ll have to accept it given Uhtred's popularity with the people. Uhtred would be a lord and protector over Aegelesburg just until it becomes less volatile. Uhtred has the respect of the people and they can use that to their mutual advantage to bring peace. If Uhtred doesn’t accept, they will undoubtedly be slaughtered. If he accepts the offer, his reputation will be restored and his men given status and wealth. And in a few years, he will be free to pursue whatever path he wishes. Edward could even give Uhtred the troops he needs to retake Bebbanburg. In return, Edward would be Uhtred’s king and expect his loyalty. He gives Uhtred a day to answer him. ("Episode 4.7")
Uhtred informs Pyrlig of the offer made to him by King Edward to be the Lord of Merica. While he’s right that Æthelflæd will be defended, Uhtred never sought such power. Pyrlig argues that this is perhaps what makes Uhtred the best man. He doesn’t have such ambition. Pyrlig questions what’s holding Uhtred back. Uhtred swore he would never give his loyalty to another Saxon king. Pyrlig advises Uhtred to take the offer as it is a path to peace. ("Episode 4.7")
Uhtred has made his choice. He tells Edward and Ælswith that he will accept the deal so long that he can rule as his own man. Edward explains that he never wanted to control Merica. He only wanted peace. And so they come to an agreement. ("Episode 4.7")
Æthelflæd sees Uhtred headed towards the monastery and expresses her displeasure with him accepting to be Lord of Mercia. She doesn’t believe he’s right for the role. Mercia needs someone more diplomatic, who can rebuild the kingdom and forge alliances. She fears that people will see him nothing more than a tyrant imposed by Wessex. However, Uhtred fears that the next Lord may banish Æthelflæd. If he’s ruler, Mercia will protect her. ("Episode 4.8")
Father Pyrlig comes to discuss Uhtred’s baptism. The Lord of Mercia must be Christian. Some of the Ealdormen wish to witness Uhtred’s baptism in person. Uhtred reluctantly agrees despite getting baptized by Father Beocca twice before. ("Episode 4.8")
Uhtred is baptized by Father Pyrlig in front of the Edward, Ælswith, Aldhelm, Ludeca, Burgred, and the other Ealdormen. Ælswith explains that it’s not that she doubts Uhtred, but rather the fact that he held a blade to Alfred’s throat and threatened to kill him. Young Uhtred watches angrily before leaving. Pyrlig then calls Edward forward. Uhtred undresses and goes under water to be baptized. ("Episode 4.8")
Uhtred and Pyrlig arrive for the Witan, where Edward, Aldhelm, Burgred, Ludeca, and the other Ealdormen await. Æthelflæd and Ælswith watch from above. Ludeca takes lead. They must choose a leader to defend. One who will stand shoulder to shoulder with their allies in Wessex. Edward assures them that Wessex has no desire to influence Witan. He only wants to maintain the bond. Ludeca explains that Uhtred has both defended Wessex and Mercia. He also only holds the position until a younger Ealdormen can come of age and Lady Ælfwynn is old enough to marry. There are no objections from the Witan and Uhtred is crowned king. Despite the Witan accepting him as their Lord, Uhtred believes there to be someone better suited to rule. As his first act as Lord of Mercia, Uhtred relinquishes the throne in favor of Æthelflæd. Edward and the Ealdormen argue that Æthelflæd can’t rule because she is a woman. However, Ludeca explains that it was never a rule that women can’t take the throne. King Offa’s widow ruled for years. Æthelflæd proposes a solution. She will swear an oath that as long as she is Lady of Mercia, she will remain chaste. Still, Edward is very much against his sister ruling. With Witan’s support, Æthelflæd takes the throne. ("Episode 4.8")
Aldhelm tells Uhtred that while his reign was brief, he served Mercia well and they now have the ruler they need in Æthelflæd. Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric enter the monastery to inform Uhtred and Aldhelm that King Edward’s guards have taken control of Aegelesburg. Æthelflæd reminds them all that Mercia and Wessex are allied. She would like to speak to her brother, but Pyrlig explains that Edward is at prayer and doesn’t want to be disturbed. ("Episode 4.8")
Uhtred questions the whereabouts of the Mercian Guard. Ludeca explains that they are leaderless without Eardwulf and the fyrd is disheartened and scattered. Æthelflæd tells Uhtred and Aldhelm to restrain themselves until after she’s had a conversation with Edward. Uhtred and Aldhelm agree that Æthelflæd is not safe and should flee Aegelesburg, but she refuses. Uhtred orders Finan to stay with Æthelflæd and guard her quarters. He then tells Sihtric and Osferth to follow him. They mean to ensure that Æthelflæd won’t have to rely on Edward’s goodwill for her survival. ("Episode 4.8")
Uhtred, Osferth, and Sihtric return with a fyrd. Æthelflæd now has enough men to fight Edward. She tells them to remain calm as she will not sacrifice a single Mercian life unless it’s necessary. The fyrd will remain outside, but she has no doubt that Aegelesburg will soon be in Mercian control once again. She then orders Edward and Cenric to open the gates for Uhtred as there’s no need for conflict. ("Episode 4.8")
Pyrlig informs Uhtred that his son has left for Wessex to return to his church. Uhtred asks if this is because of the baptism. Pyrlig explains that God simply called him away. Uhtred wonders if he’ll return. ("Episode 4.8")
Uhtred tells Æthelflæd that he’ll be leaving for Coccham. Seeing her in Aegelesburg everyday and not being able to be with her would be too painful. She starts to cry and tells Uhtred she will miss him, giving him one last kiss goodbye. He tells Æthelflæd that he will always answer Mercia’s call with her on the throne. Later, Uhtred, Finan, Stiorra, Osferth, and Sihtric gather at the tavern, unsure of their next move. Eadith pays for their next jug of ale in exchange for them allowing her to travel with them when they leave Aegelesburg. ("Episode 4.8")
Uhtred, Stiorra, Eadith, Finan, Sihtric, Osferth, Æthelstan, and Pyrlig hold up in Thatcham, where they set up camp for Ælswith, who will offer prayers of thanks on their behalf when she arrives in Bedwyn. She explains how God worked through Uhtred and how he did not give up his throne to Mercia on his own. And for that, she would always be grateful. She hopes that Uhtred will be willing to help her to accomplish the goal that her husband started. However, Uhtred has his own children to look to. ("Episode 4.9")
Uhtred tells Stiorra that they’ll be in Bedwyn by tomorrow. Then they will go to Coccham. Stiorra remarks that Coccham is small and she’d rather go to Winchester. The group, with the exception of Eadith, who hides behind the trees, suddenly finds themselves surrounded by Hæsten and his men. Hæsten informs Uhtred that Sigtryggr has landed from Irland and he wants all Danes to follow him. Sigtryggr and Brida have captured Winchester, where Hæsten plans to take Ælswith, Æthelstan, and Stiorra. Hæsten orders his men to tie Uhtred and his men to trees so that they may die slowly. ("Episode 4.9")
Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, Sihtric, and Pyrlig are tied upside down from a tree and hung by their feet. Hæsten orders two of his men to stay behind to ensure they die. Unbeknownst to them, Eadith watches from within the trees. Sihtric appears to be suffering the worst. Suddenly, they hear the screams of a woman off in the distance. One of the two remaining Danes goes to investigate and is is killed by Eadith. The second Dane comes looking after him. While he’s gone, Eadith frees Sihtric and Pyrlig. As she frees the others, the two of them kill the remaining Dane. Father Pyrlig will return to Aegelesburg to inform Edward while the others head to Winchester. ("Episode 4.9")
Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, Sihtric, and Eadith arrive outside of Winchester. They see for themselves that the Danes have conquered the land and have strengthened their defenses. They plot to find a way inside. Eadith volunteers to sneak in with the villagers. She will find out where they captives are being kept. ("Episode 4.9")
Uhtred, Finan, Osferth, and Sihtric lay low outside of Winchester as they wait for Edward and his army to arrive. However, Uhtred’s men grow tired of waiting. They’re looking for the man who used to run head first into battle to lead them. Uhtred reminds them how he lost Beoccain Bebbanburg because of his haste, so now he’s trying a more cautionary approach. ("Episode 4.9")
Uhtred and Finan watch as they dispose of a body outside of the kingdom and start to discuss of this as a possible way of entry. Suddenly, Edward, Pyrlig, Cenric, and the Wessex Guard arrive and charge towards the kingdom, but the gates are shut before they can enter. Edward’s strategy is foolish, and he inevitably falls back as his men are killed. Brida and Sigtryggr watch as they retreat. Edward warns them that soon they will be surrounded and massacred if they don’t surrender. Uhtred hides himself with a shield and approaches Edward while remaining concealed. He tells Edward to fall back, but Edward sends his men to attack. ("Episode 4.9")
Winchester has been under siege for 30 days. What’s left of the Wessex army has camped out near the kingdom. Pyrlig has tried to convince Edward from staging another attack, setting fire to the kingdom, but he won’t listen. And so, Uhtred tries to talk him out of it as burning the land and the people inside is not the answer. Edward fears that he has no other choice, he does this and in time Winchester will rise again. Uhtred suggests they try to speak with Sigtryggr but Edward refuses. Aldhelm arrives to report that Æthelflæd has taken Eoferwic and the Danes there have submitted to her rule. She now travels south with her army. ("Episode 4.10")
Uhtred and Pyrlig continue to try and convince Edward against burning the kingdom. However, each hour they wait is an insult to Edward’s father. Young Uhtred arrives after hearing of Stiorra’s capture. Young Uhtred looks to his father and asks what he would do in Edward’s position. Uhtred says he would break much like Edward as it is unnatural for a man to chose between his children. Should that happen to them, young Uhtred would like for his father to pick Stiorra, as he will be able to defend himself. ("Episode 4.10")
Aldhelm suggests choosing Ælfweard as his legitimacy isn’t in question, but Edward refuses to choose one son over the other. Pyrlig questions what else Sigtryggr must want. Uhtred knows that Sigtryggr wants him dead, so he proposes that he give himself up as Sigtryggr might want the man who has come to be known as the Dane Slayer. And Brida will also want revenge for her imprisonment at Wealas. Should Uhtred not return, Edward assures him they’ll speak of his name for ages to come. ("Episode 4.10")
Uhtred approaches the kingdom on his own and calls out to Sigtryggr, much to Hæsten’s surprise, as he was under the impression that Uhtred was dead. Uhtred tells Sigtryggr to send out both of Edward’s children and he will walk into Winchester alone. Hæsten admits that what Uhtred says is true. They’ll never be able to truly conquer Winchester while he lives. Sigtryggr agrees to make the exchange. Uhtred enters Winchester as Æthelstan and Ælfweard exit, running into Edward’s arms. ("Episode 4.10")
Ælswith, Æthelhelm, and Ælflæd are escorted out their prison and taken to Brida and Sigtryggr. He reveals that Edward couldn’t choose between his sons, and he has given them Uhtred in his place. Uhtred is surprised to see that Brida is pregnant, as he did not know when he allowed her to be captured by the Welsh. She orders for Uhtred to be tied to the crucifix in the marketplace. However, Sigtryggr wants Uhtred taken to the hall first. He assures Brida she will have Uhtred when he’s done. Lastly, he has the captives taken to the chapel and fed. As Æthelhelm is being taken away, he bargains with one of the guards. ("Episode 4.10")
Sigtryggr enters the hall and attacks Uhtred, but Uhtred doesn’t believe that Sigtryggr is actually trying to kill him. Sigtryggr has been reading Alfred’s chronicle and Uhtred isn’t mentioned. Uhtred explains that Alfred didn’t want it known how much he owed to a heathen. Sigtryggr then reveals that he knows that Stiorra is his daughter, and she has been well taken care of. She’s told Sigtryggr much about Uhtred, such as how he’s lost his home in Bebbanburg. This interests Sigtryggr as he too lost his home, and so that puts them in common ground. Sigtryggr wishes to strike a bargain, and he doesn’t trust Edward to do so. Sigtryggr wants peace and land. All they have to do is get Edward to agree to a meeting and argue terms. Unbeknownst to them, Hæsten eavesdrops on the conversation. Brida catches him and demands to know what he knows. Hæsten reveals that Sigtryggr seeks a truce, which means better for them all. However, Brida sees this as a betrayal. Brida takes Uhtred’s sword and throws it over the kingdom’s walls. ("Episode 4.10")
The Wessex and Mercian armies breach the front gate to Winchester. Where Brida and the Danes await. Uhtred and Sigtryggr reach the courtyard, where the battle has erupted. Uhtred tells Edward to stand down. He does so after some convincing, as does Sigtryggr. Afterward, Uhtred, Æthelflæd, Edward and Sigtryggr go to the hall to negotiate. Sigtryggr wants Eoferwic, which Æthelflæd only just recaptured. Edward offers East Anglia, but Sigtryggr only wants Eoferwic. Uhtred then leaves to find Stiorra. ("Episode 4.10")
While searching for his daughter, Uhtred is attacked by Brida. Uhtred refuses to kill Brida or her child. Brida states that it’s not Cnut’s child, but hers alone. And he will be loyal to her like no man ever before. She will breed to him a hate of all Saxons. Uhtred disarms Brida and tells her that she will be killed if she continues to fight, but Brida isn’t afraid to die. She tells Uhtred to either kill her, or she won’t stop until she’s his undoing. Uhtred spares Brida and tells her to leave while she can. ("Episode 4.10")
Edward and Æthelflæd return from the hall and tell Uhtred that they’ve struck a bargain with Sigtryggr. He will take Eoferwic and agree never to enter Wessex, Mercia, or East Anglia. Lastly, he wants to take Stiorra. Which Edward and Æthelflæd did not refuse. ("Episode 4.10")
Uhtred reunites with Stiorra, who tells him that she’s willing to go with Sigtryggr. There’s nothing for her in Coccham. Uhtred isn’t destined to be the Lord of Coccham any more than she’s meant to live a small life there. They follow where the Gods lead them, and they’re sending Stiorra to Daneland. She wishes to live amongst her mother’s people. She pleads with her father to let her go. ("Episode 4.10")
Edward reveals to Uhtred that his mother is ill and that she can no longer care for Æthelstan. He looks to Uhtred to take care of the child. He will need guidance and protection. Bringing him into the palace would create a major strife. Edward wants Uhtred to teach Æthelstan how to be a warrior, all he knows of the Danes and Northumbria. Sigtryggr has shown them that there are ways to take land without fighting for them. ("Episode 4.10")
Uhtred and young Uhtred watch as Stiorra leaves with Sigtryggr and the Danes. Young Uhtred suggests that his father was being guided. He then gives Uhtred a hug and tells him of his plan to return to his church. Young Uhtred hugs Stiorra goodbye before he leaves. Uhtred then leaves Winchester with Æthelstan. ("Episode 4.10")
In his youth, Uhtred is described a restless child, resisting his education and playing with armour and the harp. After his capture by the Danes, his restlessness is shaped into a warrior's fierceness.
Alongside him to avenge the elder Ragnar's death, retaking the stronghold of Dunholm in the process. Uhtred uses the name of his foster brother on a number of occasions to hide his true identity from the enemy he is interacting with, such as when going ashore when recapturing Lundene in Sword Song. Outranking all other priorities is his determination to oust his usurper uncle and take his rightful place as Lord of Bebbanburg.
Uhtred does not like breaking oaths and is therefore hesitant if he must take one and his arrogance, although rightly earned through the killing of fearsome Danish warlords, gives some people the wrong impression about Uhtred.
Uhtred shows love for his children, his first son died due to swallowing a pebble and choking and although cold at first, he weeps when it actually hits him. His second son lives well but he shows great love for his daughter, Stiorra, with whom he is always playing, and nurturing. Although he shows a dislike for his first son as he wants to be a Christian and not a warrior. Uhtred is a complex character with his own loyalties constantly being questioned, even by himself, though he is a trustworthy man.
Uhtred dislikes the Scots, but has a grudging respect for their fighting abilities. In Lords of the North, Ivar Ivarsson's army is ambushed and decimated by the Scottish king Aed, after Ivar invades Scotland in response to Aed's men raiding across the Border. Uhtred, when he hears accounts from survivors of the battle, comments, "Ivar's shield wall had held, but I could well imagine the ferocity of that battle. My father had fought the Scots many times, and he always referred to them as devils. Mad devils, he said, sword devils. Howling devils. And Ivar's Danes told us how they rallied from that first attack, and used sword and spear to cut the devils down - and still, the shrieking hordes came. Climbing over their own dead, their wild hair red with blood, their swords hissing."
In the novel The Burning Land, Uhtred again quotes his father, "Dealing with the Scots is like trying to geld wildcats with your teeth."
This list shows the victims Uhtred has killed:
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- Bebbanburg (meaning "Bebba's fort") is now known as Bamburgh Castle in the modern English county of Northumberland.
- Bebbanburg was once the political centre of the kingdom of Bernicia, which was originally the northern-most Anglo-Saxon realm in Britain prior to the unification with the kingdom of Deira in the early to mid-7th century. Bernicia was composed of the modern English counties of Durham, Tyne-and-Wear and Northumberland, as well as parts of the modern Scottish counties of Berwickshire and East Lothian.
- Bebbanburg was first conquered by Ida son of Eoppa, who was a warlord of either Angle or Frisian origin. He took the fortress from the native British/Welsh tribe of the Bryneich (the origin of the name "Bernicia") in 547 CE. Ida is the grandfather of Aethelfrith, the first unifier of Northumbria, and ancestor of the House of Uhtred.
- According to The Pagan Lord book, Uhtred is past the 50 years of age.
- In Sword of Kings, Uhtred is around 70 years old.