The Kingdom of Wessex
Alfred & Family
As the King who dreamt of uniting the separate kingdoms of England, Alfred has integrity and true gravitas. Where Uhtred is gallant and daring, Alfred is a thinker and master strategist, yet troubled by poor health. A man of great wisdom, he is committed to the power of the written word and the spread of Christianity. Learned, pious and cautious the responsibilities of leadership rest heavily on Alfred's shoulders, but his faith and inner strength are forever tested by his habitual infidelities. Despite these vulnerabilities he remains determined. Even Uhtred, who first sees Alfred as a humourless nit-picker, grows to admire the man who will become known as King Alfred the Great.
- Badass Bookworm: Alfred is a frail man due to his illness, but he's an extremely intelligent and skilled Manipulative Bastard. He sees straight through Uhtred and is perhaps the only character on the show who completely fails to be intimidated by Ubba.
- The Casanova: Alfred's not the most dashing, but he's a charming and powerful man with a weakness for women. After becoming king, he tries to shed his womanizing ways and ultimately succeeds.
- Deadpan Snarker: Occasionally gets a good line in.Odda The Elder: I pray my own wife might say the same. (about being Happily Married)Alfred: Oh I imagine she does, she so rarely sees you.
- The Fettered: Although outwardly confident in his dealings, he's privately more conflicted by his faith, the law and his weakness for women. Later in life, he's tormented by his struggles to unite England and worries over both his legacy and his unfinished work.
- The Good King: Alfred has devoted his life to defending Wessex against the Danes and uniting the kingdoms of England. He takes his duties very seriously, though the measures he'll take to achieve his goals put him very much into Good Is Not Nice territory.
- Good Parents: He clearly loves his children to pieces and is absolutely devastated by his baby Edward's illness. This is a trait that he and Uhtred have in common, hinting that deep down, they're Not So Different.
- Disapproves of Aethelwold for his fornication, despite the fact that he sleeps around at least twice as much. In fact, he can hardly muster the will to remain when Aethelwold satirically points this out during his penance.
- Alfred regularly manipulates the people around him, up to and including his closest friends and allies. Yet he always seems genuinely galled whenever any of these same people are less than forthcoming with him, even if it turns out they had a good reason for it, and he does not like being misled or told half-truths.
- He never misses the opportunity to mock the Danes for their heathen mysticism, despite being a staunch Christian whose own beliefs are, by such a standard, equally absurd.
- Ill Girl: He's a male-example, being physically quite frail and he needs to be careful to maintain his health. This worsens in Season 3, ultimately ending in his death.
- Historically it's thought that Alfred had Crohn's Disease, which the series follows that implication by showing Alfred is frequently afflicted with stomach pain.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Alfred is a bit of a dour prick but he means well, both for his family and his kingdom.
- Kick the Dog: After Uhtred threatens his life and deserts Wessex after being pushed too far, Alfred had Uhtred's children taken and baptised, knowing full well it will infuriate their father. When Uhtred confronts him about it in their final meeting, Alfred admits that it was done in the heat of the moment to spite Uhtred and it's an act he's not proud of.
- Love Makes You Dumb: At least Odda feels his love for his daughter weighs too heavily in his decisions as king.
- Manipulative Bastard: Identifies Uhtred's motivations and character, then promptly plays him like a harp. This comes to bite him in the ass however in Season 3 where he pushes Uhtred too far to the point that he leaves Alfred's service and in turn cause a chain reaction of events that nearly ruins Wessex.
- Manly Tears: In Season 3, after his attempt to get Uthred to swear loyalty to Edward backfires and Uthred apparently abandons Wessex for the Danes once and for all, Alfred tells everyone he wishes to be alone. He then weeps for the loss of his friend and greatest ally.
- Never My Fault: Has a mild case of this when it comes to his conflicts with Uhtred. Hes always bitching about Uhtred refusing to accept his authority, despite the fact that Alfred has (repeatedly) coerced Uhtred into serving him. He also doesnt understand why Uhtred wont give him the respect he feels hes due, even when Alfred often takes thinly-veiled swipes at Uhtred for being a non-Christian, and for his Danish upbringing and family.
- Noble Bigot: Hes prejudiced against pagans, but hes still a good guy. Hes certainly this compared to his wife, whos just a mean-spirited zealot.
- Not So Different: To Uhtred. They're both Good Parents, both singleminded in the pursuit of their goals, both The Fettered, both utterly ruthless when required to be and both have a weakness for beautiful women.
- Overprotective Dad: Or as he describes it "apprehensive."
- Pet the Dog: In his final meeting with Uhtred, he admits he has never forgotten nor stopped being grateful to Iseult for saving the life of Edward as a baby, genuinely surprising Uhtred, who'd assumed Alfred had forgotten her.
- The Spymaster: He takes the maxim of 'know thy enemy' to heart, with information so extensive that it astonishes Uhtred and impresses Guthrum.
- However, he's not infallible in this regard, as the Danes steal a march on him, nearly destroying Wessex.
- Took a Level in Kindness: After being humbled by being driven into the swamps of Athelney, then accepting the tonics of Iseult (which greatly relieve his illness) and her healing of his son and finally seeing the lengths Uhtred goes to in order to protect him and his family, he gets nicer and lets go much of his antipathy to paganism.
- This appears to have been largely forgotten by the midpoint of series 2, where Alfred is still unable to bring himself to trust Uhtred largely because Uhtred is not a Christian, even though Uhtred has proven his loyalty in other ways many, many times over. Alfred would rather put his faith in a relatively unknown Christian like Aethelred of Mercia than in the tried and tested pagan Uhtred.
- Zig-Zagged In Season 3. The differences between them reach a boiling point and their relationship becomes worse than ever with Uhtred outright leaving him for the Danes. But ultimately played straight when his immense guilt over it eventually leads to the pair reconciling during his final days.
- True Companions: For all their antipathy and Teeth-Clenched Teamwork at times, at the end of the day, Alfred and Uhtred recognise they could not have accomplished as much as they have without the other.Alfred: To Uhtred, the true Lord of Bebbanburg. A man whom I will never understand, but without whom, I would not die a King.Uhtred: Alfred was the man I could never be, a man I never wished to be. He was a man I loved and despised in equal measure, but it was never less than an honour to serve him! He was my King!
Alfreds wife Aelswith is fiercely loyal, and protective of her husband and king. Pious, haughty, and acerbic, she is an unpopular figure in Alfreds court. Aelswith takes an immediate dislike to Uhtred, who she sees as a threat to her beloved husband.
- Adult Fear: In Season 2, having her daughter abducted and held hostage by Danish raiders. Even Uhtred sympathises with her over it.
- Beware the Nice Ones: As doting as she appears to be, she shows a shocking viciousness when it comes to dealing with pagans of any stripe. She pushes openly and eagerly for Uhtred's death, despite him being an ally.
- Break the Haughty: She goes through this during Episode 7 of Season 1 as a result of the conquest of Wessex and the illness of her baby son, Edward. She goes through this again in Episode 10 of Season 3, after seeing Edward forgive Uhtred and welcome him back into the court of Wessex, in full view of the citizens of Winchester.
- Evil Is Petty: She's even mean to her blameless servants.
- The Fundamentalist: To Aelswith, the purity of the Christian faith must be held above all else. Because of this, she loathes all pagans, focusing her hatred on Uhtred after he enters Alfred's service. Towards the end of Season 3, this is taken Up to Eleven. She fiercely defies her family's wish to forgive Uhtred, prepares to dismiss Beocca for his association with pagans (Uhtred and Thyra in particular) and tries to cause a Miscarriage of Justice to ensure Uhtred's banishment or, preferably, execution. All this in the face of an imminent attack by a Danish army, which Aelswith believed can be defeated through faith alone. These actions demonstrated that she prioritizes her faith over common sense, justice and even her own family.
- HeelFace Turn: A downplayed example, but in Seasion 4 Uhtred voluntarily relinquishing the throne of Mercia to Aethelflaed finally makes it clear to her that Uhtred is a friend to Alfred's vision of an England, not an enemy.Aelswith: My husband saw things in Uhtred none of us understood.Pyrlig: Lady, we all understood it. I think it was just you that didn't.
- Happily Married: For all her sourness, she clearly loves Alfred. She forgives him for his infidelities and contrary to her Ice Queen exterior, is very affectionate with him in private when he returns after a time away.
- Holier Than Thou: She considers herself to be above just about everyone, and her religious fervor only seems to increase when she's ordering someone's death.
- Jerkass: Aelswith is self-righteous, snobbish, short-tempered and rude to just about everyone. She's a little softer around her family, but even to them she can be condescending and controlling.
- Jerkass Has a Point: She makes a good point in that Aethelwold will be a serious threat to Edward's claim to the throne of Wessex.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: When her party and Uhtred's are ambushed by Haesten, she offers no resistance and tells Stiorra not to fight their captors.
- Mama Bear: She is frenzied with worry when her son is ill. She also fusses over Alfred during his stomach pains.
- Murder by Inaction: Averted. When news reaches her about Uhtred being sold into slavery, her first act is to try to persuade Alfred to do absolutely nothing. When Aethelflaed tries to speak up on Uhtred's behalf, she is angrily silenced by her mother. Fortunately, Alfred consents to sending a small team led by Ragnar Ragnarson to rescue Uhtred.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Her urging her husband and son to make closer ties with Aethelhelm in Season 3 have resulted in him effectively usurping her position as the monarch's chief advisor and Edward having little to no interest in any advice she has to offer. Father Beocca even points out when she laments her circumstances that the situation is entirely her own fault.Beocca: You cannot invite a serpent into the garden and then act surprised when it slithers upon the ground.
- Not Now, Kiddo: She has a tendency to do this when her children call her out on something. She especially does it when they're trying to defend Uhtred.
- Pet the Dog: When taken captive in Winchester, she tells her captors that Aethelstan and Stiorra are Danes taken as slaves so that the children will be treated better. Brida sees through it, but Aelswith deserves credit for trying.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: She is openly disdainful of anyone who doesn't share her faith to the same extent, especially pagans. She's deeply hostile towards even pagan allies like Uhtred and she seems incapable of not saying something horrible to or about them whenever they're mentioned.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Season 4 shows a more sympathetic side to her. She realizes the selfishness of tearing apart Edward's original family for personal gain and finally begins to show Uhtred some respect.
- Ungrateful Bastard: She has always hated Uhtred and constantly looks for opportunities to kill him, despite the fact that he has served Wessex faithfully many times over and even saved the lives of her own children, Edward and Aethelflaed.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: During Alfred's final days, Aelswith takes a more direct role in ruling Wessex and her attitude towards pagans begins to rub off on a few of Winchester's less scrupulous citizens. Thyra is sexually harassed by a racist Saxon thug who later followed her to her house and burned it to the ground, with Thyra herself still inside. After this, a grieving Beocca realizes that Aelswith's religious intolerance would eventually destroy the Wessex that Alfred worked all his life to build, resulting in him begging Uhtred to not abandon Wessex.
- Was Too Hard on Him: After at the beginning in Season 4, after Father Beocca tells her a few hard truths and Aelswith responds by having him barred from court, she ultimately comes to the realisation Beocca was right and asks Father Pyrlig to bring Beocca to her so she can try and reconcile with him. Unfortunately, Pyrlig tells her that Beocca has left Winchester with Uhtred and has no intention to return.
Alfreds oldest nephew, Aethelwold would have taken Alfreds place as King if it werent for his age, and so holds a grudge against Alfred.
A little younger than Uhtred, Aethelwold has led a sheltered life, and is an immature, petulant rebel, who wants to stake his claim on the throne.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Integrity and courage have never been Aethelwold's grandest virtues, so it's little surprise when he begs for Uhtred to spare his life. It doesn't work.Aethelwold: Please, Uhtred, I will go far from here, anywhere you wish!Uhtred]]: You will go to Hell!
- Big Bad: Of Season 3. It's his machinations that drive many of the plots, even if he sometimes gets played himself and occasionally wavers between this and Big Bad Wannabe.
- Character Development: Unfortunately, he develops from merely an immature, selfish person into a conniving, dangerously ambitious man. He does a lot of growing up, eventually learning to manage his vices in favour of playing a much longer game. By Season 3, he's become a genuine threat to everyone.
- The Corrupter: The Danes he allies with see this as about the only use he has for them.Ragnar the Younger: What exactly is your worth?!Aethelwold: Exactly.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Ethandun proves that he can actually fight, although he's really not much of a physical threat otherwise.
- Deadpan Snarker: He's very quick with a witty comment.Ceolwulf: Each time I talk of swords and spears and yet you insist of speaking of unions...and of...Aelswith: A cup of water for Lord Ceowulf? A cup of water?Ceolwulf: (Promptly dies of a heart attack)Aethelwold: I think perhaps a hole in the ground.
- Dirty Coward: He has no compunction about using dirty tricks to survive, be it begging or humiliating himself or abandoning others to save his own skin. In Season 3, Aethelwold kills Ragnar Ragnarson in his sleep out of fear that Ragnar would kill him for turning Uhtred firmly against the Danes. In the final battle, when he sees Uthred coming to kill him to avenge Ragnar, Aethelwold tries to flee the field, and when finally caught, desperately begs for his life.
- Dumbass Has a Point: When Beocca asks Uhtred why he is not returning with them to Winchester after the disastrous attack on London that resulted in Aethelflaed's capture, Aethelwold points out that Alfred has made it clear Uhtred is persona non grata at court.Beocca: Uhtred, where are you going?Uhtred: I'm going home to Coccham, where Alfred has ordered me to remain, and where I left my wife!Beocca: But the King may need you!Aethelwold: The King, in his wisdom, has all but banished him, Father Beocca.
Aethelwold: (looking at chests of silver for Aethelflaed's ransom) They pay for the swords that will slay them.
- He also agrees with Odda the Elder that it's foolish to pay a ransom for Aethelflaed to Siegfried and Erik when they'll just use it to finance an army for the invasion of Wessex, and when Alfred tries to defend his actions by saying Aethelwold's father would have done the same thing, Aethelwold points out that, given how much of a disappointment he was to Aethelred, that would be highly unlikely.
- Eye Scream: Alfred sentences him to lose an eye for conspiring with the Danes.
- Hate Sink: By Season 3, especially after the way he killed Ragnar, Aethelwold loses all his humourous and redeeming features, becoming absolutely loathsome in process. That and along with being a cowardly piece of crap, watching Uhtred kill him was immensely satisfying.
- Hidden Depths: While initially portrayed simply as a drunken lech, he shows a remarkable talent for playing to a crowd and to everyone's surprise, for fighting, when he's finally put in a battle (and afterwards, he comes off as considerably more mature). He's also very perceptive of others, and is perfectly capable of seeing that Odda the Younger is attracted to Mildrith. He's still a drunken lech, though.Aethelwold: I'm an educated man. I simply enjoy hiding it.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Uhtred, having seemingly accepted Aethelwold's plea to go into exile in exchange for his life, tosses Aethelwold a bag of what he claims is silver to pay for his voyage. The second Aethelwold catches it, Uhtred stabs him in the heart through the bag (it contained Thyra's blood instead, Uhtred having been told for Ragnar to reach Valhalla, his killer had to die by a blade marked with the blood of either Ragnar or one of his family)
- Kick the Dog: Killing Ragnar in his bed, unarmed, and taking his sword when he tries to reach for it, thus barring him from entry to Valhalla.
- Large Ham: His "I love tits" monologue is proof of that.
- Like Father, Unlike Son: From what we see and hear of Aethelred, he was intelligent, just and valorous. Aethelwold, by contrast, is a slimy, cowardly weasel who only cares about himself.Beocca: [to Aethelwold, disgusted] Your father would be ashamed of you.
- Malicious Slander: After he is punished for conspiracy by having an eye removed, Aethelwold spreads malicious rumours about Alfred's family in an attempt to destabilize Winchester in preparation for a Danish attack.
- Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Jokingly invoked by Aethelwold's own father.Aethelred: I'm not convinced he is my son. If his mother weren't already dead, I'd have her beheaded for adultery!
- Manipulative Bastard: In Season 3, he manipulates events to ensure that Uhtred will not ally with Wessex in the event of Alfred's death. Fortunately for Wessex, Uhtred himself would eventually come around due to the persuasions of his friends and his own conscience, personified by the long-dead Leofric.
- Never Heard That One Before: His reaction to people like Finan, Beocca and Pyrlig making wise-cracks about his blinded eye.
- Not So Different: He claims to be this to Uhtred, citing the idea that both were wrongfully robbed of their rightful inheritance. Uhtred himself takes a dim view to this.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Initially his status as The Resenter is treated as something of a joke. By Season 3, however, his scheming to gain the throne has become much more sinister and has turned him into a genuine threat.
- Not Worth Killing: Invokes this while desperately pleading with Uhtred for his life. It doesn't work.
- Oh, Crap!: In Season 3's finale, a remark from Brida makes him realise she knows he killed Ragnar. It's also his reaction to seeing a vengeful Uhtred and Brida lock eyes with him across the battlefield.
- Pet the Dog: Aethelwold smuggles a dagger to Odda the Elder so he can commit suicide rather than be executed for treason by Alfred, even though his defying Alfred saved Wessex from Sigefried and Erik. He, along with Odda the Elder, is one of the few people who supports Uhtred in the court of Wessex against Alfred's hostility during season 2.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He gives one to Uhtred before the final battle of Season 3, pointing out that Uhtred has effectively alienated himself from the Danes and that despite all his efforts, the Saxons will never acknowledge nor appreciate everything he's done for them. Judging by Uhtred's expression, Aethelwold clearly struck a nerve.Uhtred: Will you be marching for Edward?Aethelwold: Like Sigebriht, I will be there and I will be praying for a great victory.Uhtred: For Saxon or Dane?Aethelwold: Do you care? You belong to neither. I did once fear you, Uhtred, but I see now you are nothing but a sword, a lump of metal. Yes, you have reputation, but that will fade, and you will die unthanked and forgotten. You will go neither to Heaven, nor Valhalla.
- Relative Button: He uses this to goad Uhtred, by mocking the latter about Ragnar (this is before Uhtred learns Aethelwold was Ragnar's murderer).Aethelwold: Forgive me, Uhtred. I have not offered you my condolences for Ragnar's death. Your brother deserved a warrior's death. I'm sorry you will not see him in Valhalla.
- The Resenter: To his uncle Alfred, who he believes nicked his throne. Seems to get over it by the Season 1 finale. But he becomes this to Edward in Season 3.
- This Cannot Be!: His reaction to his seeming ally Sigebriht's Cavalry Betrayal.
- Villainous Breakdown: Suffers a complete one during the final battle of Season 3 when his seeming ally Sigebriht turns on him and reinforces Prince Edward, Haesten tries to kill him, considering his failure to provide the Danes with Saxon allies one too many, and then he sees a vengeful Uhtred and Brida coming for him.
Edward & Family
Alfred's son and heir.
- A Child Shall Lead Them: By the end of Season 3, Alfred is dead and he is king. Even prior to that, he leads men into battle against the Danes, in support of Uthred.
- Age Lift: Inverted. The real life Edward was 25 when he inherited the throne. Given the way he's treated here, it's obvious he's meant to be much younger.
- Armor-Piercing Question: Alfred gives him one when he protests at his father's willingness to seemingly let Uhtred be killed before attacking Haesten. His response can be seen under Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!.Edward: We cannot stand back and watch them die! I GAVE HIM MY WORD!Alfred: Then what will you do, boy?! You can either bleat, or you can make a decision! What will you do?
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: His first attempt to retake Winchester from Sigtryggr is essentially this. Unsurprisingly, it ends in disaster.
- Big Damn Heroes: Leads Wessex's soldiers into battle to save Uhtred from being massacred by Haesten.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Angrily berates his father for Alfred's seeming willingness to let Uhtred be killed by Haesten's minions before attacking the Danes. In truth, it was a Secret Test of Character to test if Edward would have the courage to take command of the army.
- The Chains of Commanding: He's considerably colder and more stressed out throughout Season 4 due to all the pressures of ruling. After his breakdown in the finale, some of his old self starts to shine through when he asks Uhtred to shelter Aethelstan.
- Freak Out: After Sigtryggr takes his two sons hostage and tells him to choose which one he'll go free, he breaks down screaming in his tent until he can only sob and mutter that he can't for fear of what will happen to the one he doesn't pick.
- Hidden Depths: He's smart and courageous, more than his father gives him credit for. The plan to use Uhtred as bait to lure Haesten into a trap is Edward's idea; after the resulting Saxon victory, when Alfred accuses Uhtred of manipulating his son for his own ends, Uhtred retorts that the plan was Edward's and Alfred would do better to acknowledge his son's bravery and intelligence than use Edward as an excuse to snipe at Uhtred.Alfred: My son has courage, he has proven that...but he has also proven he can be manipulated. You used him for your own ends.Uhtred: No, lord. Your son saw an opportunity to weaken an enemy; the Danes have been halted, they will not march this winter. You do your son a disservice, lord, all to accuse me of manipulation.
- I Gave My Word: He promises Uhtred soldiers of Wessex to attack Haesten and he delivers.
- Like Father, Like Son: He shares his father's weakness for womanizing. He already has two bastard children fathered on a peasant woman.
- Nice Guy: In contrast to his father, Edward is much more openly pleasant and appreciative of Uhtred.
- Oh, Crap!: His reaction to seeing how badly injured Aethelred was at Tettenhall (to clarify, Aethelred barely knows what day it is and thinks Edward is there on business from his father). Edward goes from being about to tear Aethelred a new one for leaving Mercia to the mercy of Cnut to realising he has to start figuring out who's the best option to rule Mercia when Aethelred inevitably dies).
- Replacement Scrappy: Hinted to be seen as this in universe, much to his fury and resentment.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: He overrides his father's orders to hold position to lead the attack on Haesten and save Uhtred.
- He also stops his mother's efforts to get Uhtred banished from Wessex via a miscarriage of justice, authenticating his father's pardon of Uhtred and welcoming him back into his court.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Partly due to the influence of his father-in-law, partly due to The Chains of Commanding, but King Edward by Season 4 has started to resemble his father in his more ruthless moments.
- Tranquil Fury: Although he hides it well, he is clearly livid that his mother and sister went behind his back to force his hand into fighting against Cnut in a battle that cost a great many men their lives, including Steapa. He also is calm but seething when he confronts Aethelhelm about deliberately misinterpreting his commands to suit him and effectively banishes his father-in-law back to Wessex.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: He clearly wants his father's approval. Even Uhtred sees it and calls Alfred out about it.Uhtred: You do your son a disservice, lord.
- Young Future Famous People: He's just a lad right now but if you know your history, you'll know that he will have a long and prosperous reign as "Edward the Elder" and father of Aethelstan, the first real King of England.
The daughter of Aethelhelm and Prince Edward's young wife.
- Arranged Marriage: Aelswith arranges the marriage solely to have Aethelhelm's wealth and soldiers to back Edward when he becomes king. The couple do seem taken with each other upon meeting, however.
- A Shared Suffering: Something that Aelflaed and Edward find common ground on at the start of their relationship is the fact they've grown up with an extremely overbearing parent.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: She has blond hair and is a rather sweet person initially. The power her father helps her attain in Season 4 makes her haughtier.
- Nice Girl: Compared to her obnoxious father, certainly.
- Averted when she becomes complicit in Aelswith's poisoning.
Edward's eldest son, born from his first marriage (which was annulled on his father's order) and disinherited in favor of his younger half brother.
- Bastard Angst: An odd case, as he technically is not a bastard, but is merely treated as one by Alfred, who desires a more advantageous marriage alliance for his son. As such, the marriage between Aethelstan's peasant mother and Edward is annulled, she is packed off to a nunnery, and Aethelstan is quietly sent away from court, treated very much as if he were illegitimate.
- Founder of the Kingdom: Not yet, but he is destined to be the first king to rule over a completely united England.
- Young Future Famous People: His introduction makes who he will become abundantly clear by subtitling him as 'Aethelstan, First King of the English.'
Beocca is Uhtreds fathers priest, and as such has seen Uhtred grow from boy to man and knows his true birth‐right. Pious and devout, but with a wry sense of humour, Beocca is also a clever and strategic thinker, whose opinion Alfred values. In fact, Beocca goes on to become one of Alfreds most trusted advisors. Ever hopeful of turning stubborn Uhtred from his pagan ways, Beocca maintains a strong paternal affection for his wayward charge.
- Adaptational Badass: Unlike his book counterpart Beocca is much more physically able in the TV series, lacking many of his physical deformities such as his club foot and palsied eye. He also managed to throw a spear from the fourth rank in the Saxon lines and over the Viking shield wall for Uhtred to catch on the other side. Not a javelin, but an infantry spear!.
- Age-Gap Romance: He falls in love with Thyra. One of the reasons a relationship doesn't start sooner is that he's uncomfortable about how he's old enough to be her father. Or much older brother, as he puts it.
- Badass Boast: Delivers one in the final battle to Skorpa after he presents Iseult's severed head to taunt Uhtred.Beocca: You will be struck down by my spear! And you will spend eternity in the fires of Hell!
- Badass Preacher: He is a deeply devout man who takes his role as a priest very seriously. However, when need arises he will not shy away from violence and at the Battle of Ethandun (Edington) he is in the thick of fighting, throwing Uhtred the spear that he uses to kill Skorpa.
- Prior to this, he laid down some serious smack-talk on Skorpa after the Dane had tried to torment Uhtred with details of how his adopted sister was being raped by Sven (unbeknownst to either of them, Uhtred already knew) and after Skorpa told him that he'd seek him out personally in the coming battle, basically said, Bring It.
- Beware the Nice Ones: He's generally a nice guy, but when he's pushed too far, he's terrifying: He beats the shit out of a racist, mysognist thug who has been harrassing Thyra, and threatens Aethelwold multiple times for his constant attempts to manipulate events in the leadup to Alfred's death. When Aethelwold's manipulations directly lead to Thyra's death, Beocca just barely stops himself from actually murdering the guy with an axe.
- Brutal Honesty: Despite treating Uhtred better than most Christians, he still thinks he'll go to Hell. Though, to his credit, he doesn't place the blame on Uhtred but Aelfric for driving Uhtred from his home to begin with.
- Carry a Big Stick: His weapon of choice in season 2.
- Due to the Dead: Does this in Episode 8 when he tells Uhtred the priests have restored Iseult's mutilated body so she can be given a proper burial. When Uhtred replies that she would want a funeral pyre, Beocca respectfully assures him it will be done.
- Deadpan Snarker: From time to time, usually directed at Uhtred or Brother Asser.
- Heroic Sacrifice: During the botched attempt to reclaim Bebbanburg, Beocca jumps in the path of a bolt aimed for Uhtred's son, saving the boy at the cost of his own life.
- Odd Friendship: With Thyra. Seeing her for the injured creature she is, Beocca approached Thyra calmly, confidently, winning her trust by showing no fear and presenting no threat, assuring her that her suffering is over, promising to help her through her trauma and complimenting her on her strength to have endured such abuse for so long.
- Papa Wolf: Verbally and spiritually towards Uhtred (when it comes to physically, Uhtred can more than look after himself), warning him of Aelfric's intention to ransom him in order to kill him, swiping the deeds to Bebbanburg on Uhtred's behalf, constantly standing up for him in Alfred's court (even when Uhtred's less than appreciative of this) and unhesitatingly declaring that if Uhtred is as soulless as Brother Asser claims, then he will be Uhtred's soul and intercede with God for him.
- Parental Substitute: He treats Uhtred like a son and has been looking out for him since he was a young boy. Uhtred even subtly calls him his father to his face in Season 4 and views his death as losing one of the last family he had.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Delivers a short but cutting one to Aethelwold in Season 3, berating him for the fact his attempts to manipulate the power struggles for his own ends as Alfred comes closer to death are encouraging violence and unrest.Beocca: This rotten air that fills Winchester is because of you and the likes of you! Wessex is a land for all tribes to live in peace! Your father would be ashamed of you.
Aelswith: Did I not have you removed from the court, Father Beocca?Beocca: Yes. Another one of your rash judgements.Aelswith: It is unwise to remain somewhere you are not wanted.Beocca: And yet you choose to remain here too.
- He delivers another one to Aelswith in Season 4, shutting down her haughty attitude by reminding her that Edward just barely tolerates her presence at court.
- Undying Loyalty: As covered under Papa Wolf. He has issues with Uhtred but loves him like a son despite his faults.
A tenacious fighter who left the thrill of battle in favour of a life in the church, Pyrlig is a gregarious priest experienced in matters of both love and war. Uhtred takes a shine to him, and the two find themselves side-by-side as ambassadors for Alfreds cause in matters of the grave political severity.
- Badass Preacher: Pyrlig might be a priest, but put a sword in his hands and he's a demon. Uhtred tricks Sigefried into making the captured Pyrlig fight for his freedom, which Sigefried is only happy to do by setting his most formidable warrior against the prisoner priest he's been tormenting. Every one of the Danes are shocked when Pyrlig soundly defeats said warrior without even killing him. Sigefried is so impressed he tries to get Pyrlig to join him.
- Dark and Troubled Past: He implies every so often that he has a pretty blood-soaked history, and he got those fighting skills from somewhere.
- Deadpan Snarker: He's very snarky indeed, even when confronted with likely death.
- Defiant Captive: Even while a prisoner of Sigefried and Erik, Pyrlig never stops giving them lip.
- Enemy Mine: He's a Briton, not a Saxon; the Saxons are to him what the Danes are to the Saxons. The only reason he fights alongside the Saxons is because the Danes are even worse.
Alfreds formidable warrior, whose duty is often to keep an eye on Uhtred on behalf of the king. Though ferocious in battle, he is a patient tutor and trains Aethelflaed in swordskill.
- Double Agent: Sent by Alfred to serve Uhtred, with orders to kill him if he threatens the peace.
- Fire-Forged Friends: While Steapa initially distrusts Uhtred and vice versa, both men learn to respect each other during battles in which they have to watch each other's backs. While he still isn't exactly Uhtred's friend, Steapa would gladly follow him into battle and not harm Uhtred if he can help it, though his loyalty to the royal family of Wessex always comes first.
- Screaming Warrior: He attempts to teach Aethelflaed to do the same, to little avail.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: To Finan.
- Undying Loyalty: To Alfred and Aethelflaed.
- Your Head Asplode: In the Battle of Tettenhall: as he attempts to protect King Edward, he is knocked down by a horse and a Dane smashes his head with a mace before he could even get up.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: At Aethelhelm's command, he savagely beats Uhtred to try and force him to give up Aelfwynn's location. Cenric clearly doesn't like what he's have to do, but obeys his lord.
- The Dragon: He serves as one to Aethelhelm.
- Punch-Clock Villain: He doesn't particularly relish his role, but does as he's told without question.
- Shoot the Messenger: What kills him; Cenric delivers a demand from Edward that Sigtryggr's army withdraw from Wessex or the Saxons will spare no one when they storm the city. Brida responds by filling him with arrows.
The Bishop of Winchester, Erkenwald is a powerful and ambitious man who, while recognising Uhtred's use in defending Wessex, is distrustful of his influence over Alfred and Edward, and is more than willing to assist Aelswith in her vendetta against Uhtred. He is loyal to the king and Wessex, but Erkenwald is not without his own plans.
- Corrupt Church: Not as bad as some examples, but still there. Uhtred is less than amused to find Erkenwald and his priests feasting on Coccham's winter supplies when half the village is starving.
- The Dragon: To Aelswith. As Alfred's illness grows worse and she starts trying to assume power, Erkenwald more and more becomes Aelswith's mouthpiece.
- Fantastic Racism: He's not as bad about it as some of his cohorts in the Church, but he's certainly not adverse to it. The fact he goes along with Aelswith's attempts to exile Uhtred out of no more reason than prejudice proves that.
- Jerkass Has a Point: He's admittedly got a point that Uhtred's track record is hardly a glowing endorsement of him.Uhtred: I am not an enemy of the King.Erkenwald: Even if that were true, what you are is a most dangerous ally.
- Nerves of Steel: He flatly refuses to compromise his faith and remove the cross hung at Coccham, even when Uhtred threatens to make a gift of Erkenwald and his fellow priests to Skade.
Ealdorman of Wiltunscir, a wealthy and powerful landowner in Wessex who marries his daughter to Edward, Alfred's heir.
- Ambition Is Evil: Aethelhelm is very eager to see his family ascend to the greatest heights imaginable, and will stop at nothing to see it happen.
- Evil Chancellor: To Edward. Aethelhelm often purposefully misinterprets Edward's orders to benefit himself, such as imprisoning a political rival.
- Get Out!: After Edward finds out Aethelhelm has been deliberately misinterpreting the king's commands to suit him, Aethelhelm swiftly finds himself banished back to Wessex.
- Jerkass: Never misses a chance to be rude to whoever he's speaking to. Even when it's the king of Wessex himself.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: After he is taken captive and Sigtryggr asks if he wants to fight or yield, Aethelhelm grudgingly surrenders to save lives. He, along with his daughter and grandson are spared, but Brida leads the invaders in massacring his men.
- Manipulative Bastard: Aethelhelm is a natural schemer, whispering poison in Edward's ear and guiding him down a mercilessly pragmatic path.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Once he learns about Edward's children from his abolished marriage, he not so subtly suggests to Aelswith they be taken care of. Despite contemptuously dismissing them as bastards just moments before, even she seems disgusted.
- Obnoxious Inlaws: His daughter seems like a nice girl, but unluckily for Edward, her father is a condescending ass.
- Pet the Dog: He holds the hand of a dying young Wessex soldier during the Dane invasion of Winchester.
- The Rival: To Aelswith, with both of them currying for Edward's favour.
- Talking Your Way Out: Tries to negotiate with Brida when Winchester falls and he is taken captive, offering to make her a rich woman. Unfortunately, Brida isn't interested in anything he has to offer.
Odda the Elder
The Ealdorman of Devonshire, father of Odda the Younger and one of Alfred's most powerful and respected lieutenants, Odda the Elder is one of the most powerful and influential noblemen in Wessex, and one of the few not immediately indisposed to be hostile to Uhtred.
- The Alcoholic: His love for wine is commented on by multiple characters.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Takes his own life rather than be executed by Alfred
- Conflicting Loyalty: Between Alfred, his King, and Wessex, his Kingdom.
- The Consigliere: Serves this role to Alfred.
- A Father to His Men
- Everyone Has Standards: To the point he is willing to kill his treacherous son for allying with the Danes and disparaging Alfred in public.
- Handicapped Badass: Takes a serious axe wound at Cynuit in the middle of Season 1. Though he survives, his recovery leaves him housebound for the rest of the Season.
- Honest Advisor: Not afraid to make his thoughts known to Alfred, even when it might upset him.
- Pet the Dog: He supports Hild in trying to convince Alfred to send a rescue mission to find Uhtred, and advocates Ragnar be freed from captivity to lead it.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Compared to his odious son, certainly.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Odda delivers a stinging and accurate one to Aethelred in Season 2 after Aethelflaed's capture, calling him an arrogant idiot who has jeopardised all Saxon kingdoms with his stupidity in putting her at risk.
- To Be Lawful or Good: His dilemma in Season 2. Either obey Alfred or do what he believes necessary to keep Wessex safe. He chooses the latter.
- The Spock: Certainly does not let emotion weigh into his advice, even if it costs his own son.
- Took a Level in Kindness: He's a lot more sympathetic and supportive of Uhtred in Season 2, after being mildly dismissive of him in Season 1 (though not to the extent of his son).
- Undying Loyalty: To Alfred and especially to Wessex, his arc in Season 2 is driven by the conflict between these.
Odda the Younger
Odda the Younger lives in the shadow of his respected father but has few of his qualities. Slippery, dishonorable and morally corrupt, he wants the quick and easy path to power. Odda has particular contempt for Uhtred, and is jealous of his marriage to Mildrith. His ambition leads him into deep waters.
- Arch-Enemy: He's Uhtred's main political enemy during Season 1. Odda despises Uhtred for being raised a Dane, gaining the trust of the King and marrying Mildrith; he expends a great deal of energy into undermining Uhtred at every opportunity.
- Dirty Coward: He never gets his hands dirty and seems to be in constant fear for his own wellbeing; when it comes to battle, he prefers to run and only argues if he's well-protected by others. It doesn't stop him from taking credit for the victories of others.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Despite his many faults, he genuinely cares for Mildrith and offers her sanctuary.
- Evil Is Petty: Odda is an absolute jackass in every aspect of his life; he even steals from Uthred and Mildrith's wedding dowry. He later tries to have Ubba's body cut into pieces, out of pure spite and bigotry.
- Hypocrite: When Guthrum's army invades Winchester, Odda orders the soldiers to hold their ground and fight, and yet he is one of the first to flee the city.
- It's All About Me: He only seeks to elevate himself and his ego.
- The Resenter: His envy of seemingly every other living creature is one of his defining traits. In particular he resents Uhtred for a multitude of reasons.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: He's executed by his own father, no less, for abandoning Alfred and trying to ally with Skorpa.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Guthrum and Ragnar's army storms Winchester, Odda is one of the first to run for it.
- Virgin-Shaming: Gets this from Uhtred.Uhtred: You should know that Mildrith is a joy to plow.Odda: [disgusted] You're a heathen.Uhtred: [smirking] And you are a virgin.Odda: No, I'm not! [storms off]Leofric: Yes, he is.
A trusted Saxon, warrior Leofric is Odda the Elders military man. Weathered and worldly, Leofric is straight talking, uncomplicated, but far from stupid. Leofric initially dislikes Uhtred, who he renames Arseling but a close bond is soon struck between crude curmudgeonly Leofric and fellow warrior Uhtred. Their friendship is put to the test in the course of the series, as is Leofrics loyalty to his Saxon leaders.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: In the books, he's described as being fairly squat and ugly. Here, he's tall, dark and fairly handsome in a weathered sort of way.
- The Conscience: By season 3, he is long dead but he manifests in Uhtred's mind as the voice calling for him to maintain his loyalty to Wessex and the Saxons, in memory of all they have fought for.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: He gets hit in the neck by a Dane's axe and slowly and painfully bleeds out.
- Due to the Dead: After Leofric's death, Uhtred places his sword in his hand as he would for a Dane warrior and insists he be buried as an ealdorman.
- The Heavy: To Odda the Elder and Alfred.
- Insult of Endearment: He enjoys calling Uthred "arseling", first as a genuine slight but gradually as a term of endearment.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Superficially harsh and refers to Uhtred by an Insult of Endearment, while being more than willing to bounce Aethelwold's head off a table when he's being stupid, he's more patient with either of them than they really deserve.
- The Lancer: To Uhtred, after a fashion.
- Master Swordsman: He is the only warrior in the story who can defeat Uhtred in a fair fight.
- Sarcastic Devotee: To Uhtred. Leofric is a loyal friend, but he's very happy to let Uthred know when he's being an idiot.
- So Proud of You: A posthumous example in his role as The Conscience in Season 3; Uhtred's last sight of him is of Leofric with a warm smile on his face as Uhtred remains loyal to both the memory of Alfred and Wessex.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Uhtred; they constantly snipe and snarl at each other, but they have a genuine bond of friendship. In season 3, this friendship goes a long way to convincing Uhtred to ultimately remain with Wessex.
Ealdormen of Wessex
An ealdorman who formerly served Alfred.
- Dirty Coward: Fear motivates him to abandon Alfred and join with the Danes, whom he believes have a better chance of winning the battle.
- Evil Former Friend: To Leofric, who seems to take his betrayal rather personally and kills him at Ethandun for betraying Wessex.Leofric: Wulfhere! I WILL HAVE YOUR GUTS, YOU TRAITOROUS BASTARD!
- Evil Sounds Deep: He has a very deep voice, and turns out to be much more of a traitorous coward than a badass.
- FaceHeel Turn: He joins the Danes after losing faith in Alfred.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Leofric buries his sword to the hilt in Wulfhere's heart.Leofric: Have that Wulfhere, you bastard!
An ealdorman of Cent, he is loyal to Wessex, but has grievances against Alfred and his son that their enemies seek to exploit.
- A Father to His Men: He is genuinely horrified when Bloodhair starts executing prisoners taken from his lands in retaliation for Uhtred's capture of Skade, telling Alfred he knows all the captives.
- Cavalry Betrayal: He initially promises to do this to Edward in battle with the Danes, but when the time comes, he betrays the Danes and attacks them from behind while they're already under attack from Edward and Aethelflaed.Haesten: That is your man! And he's attacking US!
- The Dragon: To Aethelwold after Alfred's death.
- Enemy Mine: For all his grievances with Edward, at the end, Sigebriht sides with him because Aethelwold and his Danish masters will be even worse for Wessex.
- Redemption Equals Death: He initially plots with Aethelwold to help overthrow Edward, but ultimately decides that Edward is better for Wessex than Aethelwold and his Danish masters and fights for the prince. In the ensuing battle, Cnut kills him with a spear.
- The Resenter: Edward bedded and got the girl he wished to marry pregnant, and Alfred forced her into a nunnery to leave Edward free for a political marriage.
Other Wessex Residents
A spirited and resilient nun, Hild is devout without being sanctimonious, and offers sound advice and loyal support as one of Uhtreds closest companions. The suffering she has experienced at the hands of Danes draws her to a life lived by the sword, as she tries to overcome her trauma.
- Action Girl: She fights at Ethandun and holds her own quite well.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Her name means "Battle."
- Demoted to Extra: She appears in 6 out of 8 episodes in Season 2, 5 out of 10 episodes in Season 3 and only 2 out of 10 episodes in Season 4.
- Good Is Not Nice: She might be fond of Uhtred, but she doesn't hesitate to criticize and nag him when it's required.
- Hidden Depths: Her own admissions hint she may have been a wife and a mother at some point before joining the Church.
- Morality Pet: She's definitely one for Uhtred.Uhtred: You will always be too good a woman for God alone.
- Pet the Dog: She urges Alfred and his advisors to free Uhtred, insists on accompanying Ragnar to find him and helps Uhtred out of his Heroic BSoD after Halig's death and his time in slavery.
- Religious Bruiser
- Rape as Backstory: When Uhtred and the gang are introduced to her, she's being raped by a Dane.
- Unstoppable Rage: She's downright indomitable when she's enraged.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Her reaction when Uhtred kills Abbot Eadred.
- Deadpan Snarker: He has his moments.Selbix: [observing a bunch of Danes going in the opposite direction] Poor wretches.Uhtred: Then what are we, Father?Selbix: We are fortunate, lord. We know God! Though, I grant you, I'm in no hurry to meet him. Let us pray he feels the same way.
- Hope Spot: He seems to be getting somewhere in teaching Guthrum about Christianity...until a messenger relays that Ubba has returned, at which Guthrum promptly, in his own words, dispatches Selbix to meet his god.
- Oh, Crap!: When Alfred selects him to be one of the hostages given to Guthrum as a guarantee of peace.