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The Saxons

  • Deadly Decadent Court: The Court of Mercia, plagued with dynastic squabbles and where everyone is murdering everybody else.
  • Enemy Mine: The Viking raids give the Saxons a threat greater than each other for them to worry about.
  • Hufflepuff House: The four kingdoms that don't figure in the show as of the fourth season: East Anglia, Essex, Kent, and Sussex.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: During their time, the Anglo-Saxons were fairly devout Catholics. This seems especially evident in Northumbria.

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Kingdom of Northumbria

    King Aelle of Northumbria
Played By: Ivan Kaye

"Who are these barbarians, these savages? Why have they come to torment us?!"

The king of Northumbria. Boisterous and warlike by nature, Aelle is nonetheless unprepared for the fury of the Northern raiders and finds himself outplayed and outfoxed at every turn by Ragnar Lothbrok. His own brother slain at Ragnar's hand and his armies broken on the Northman's blades, Aelle swears unremitting vengeance upon the Viking.

  • Adipose Rex: Introduced feasting and does much more feasting afterwards.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: After being curb stomped by the Ragnarssons, he desperately attempts to bribe them to spare his life. They don't go for it.
  • Beard of Evil: Evil insofar he opposes the protagonists and throws (often his own) people to die horribly in viper pits.
  • Big Bad: In Season 1, he is the secondary antagonist at first and serves as the antagonist in England, while Haraldson is the primary and Norweigan antagonist. He takes over the role of primary antagonist after Haraldson's death (in Season 1, at least, he's later demoted to secondary antagonist).
  • Blood Knight: Has a particular taste for bloodshed.
  • Blunt "Yes": This exchange;
    Aelle: There is one further condition; I would ask that you or one of your companions agrees to be baptized into our faith. That way, I can make peace with a friend and fellow Christian and not an enemy.
    Ragnar: You want one of us to become Christian?
    Aelle: Yes.
  • The Bus Came Back: He returns later on in the season, making common cause with King Ecbert.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Inflicts this upon Ragnar before finally killing him.
  • Composite Character: On the show Aelle becomes the maternal grandfather of Alfred the Great, thus he is combined with Oslac, Alfred's historical maternal grandfather. Considering that his daughter is named Judith and that Alfred's step-mother was Judith of Flanders this makes Aelle in a whole a composite character of Aella of Northumbria, Oslac and Charles the Bald.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The snake pit. According to Ragnar Lodbrok's saga, he had this, so Truth in Television.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He has his moments of sardonic wit, especially with incompetent underlings.
    "You look terrified my Lord Wigea. What, have you lost your faith? Are you no longer certain that God shall raise you up from the grave? Personally? I hope He does not and leaves you there to rot."
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Seems to have some affection for his wife and son as well as for his brother.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He looks positively disgusted when Princess Kwenthrith poisons her own brother right in the middle of a feast, in front of everybody.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Ivan Kaye's voice is badass.
  • Historical Domain Character: He really existed.
  • Jerkass: A completely unpleasant man in all respects who treats underlings and family like dirt when it suits him, throwing a man to a snake pit for failure and telling his own daughter she's a bad wife and mother and he'd gladly allow her husband to beat her into submission.
  • Karmic Death: A man who relishes giving people Cruel and Unusual Death ends up on the receiving end when the Ragnarssons give him the Blood Eagle.
  • Large and in Charge: He has quite an imposing figure, befitting his position.
  • Large Ham: "My lord Wigea, that is a counsel of despair. Are these pagans not men like we are?! Do they not bleed when they are cut?! OR DO THEY HAVE WINGS AND TONGUES OF FIRE?!"
  • No Indoor Voice: Whenever Aelle feels like he wants to make a point (or whenever he's agitated), he starts shouting every single word that comes out of his mouth.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: He didn't do any fighting in Season 1. However, he gets a go at it in Seasons 2 and 4.
  • Oh, Crap!: When he realizes the Great Heathen Army is, well, a Great Heathen Army.
    Northumbrian Bishop: God help us.
    Aelle: I don't think He can.
  • Put on a Bus: Since most of the action in the second season takes place in Scandinavia and Wessex, we don't see or hear anything of him in the first half.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • He takes into account the opinions of his entire court, no matter how disparate they are, when trying to find a solution to the Norse raiders. He also lets messengers freely into his court and listens to their information closely.
    • It continues in Season 2, when in a surprising aversion of Revenge Before Reason, he agrees to Ecbert’s plan to make peace with the Norsemen and employ them as mercenaries in Mercia, in spite of his oath of vengeance against Ragnar.
    • In Season 4, he has lost this after Character Development. He resents Ecbert for his illicit affair with his daughter and betraying him in the Mercian affair. Aelle rejects aid from Wessex which costs him his life.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: In his relationship with Ecbert, he's the red oni: bloodthirsty, loud, and boisterous, in contrast to Ecbert's milder and calculating personality.
  • Revenge: Makes a declaration of vengeance regarding Ragnar at the end of "A King's Ransom". He finally gets it in Season 4, but ends up falling to this trope.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: He is heavily involved in the defense of Northumbria and England in general. At several points he personally leads his men into battle.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: When Athelstan speaks of him in "Dispossessed", it's with admiration. However, we see him in "Burial of the Dead" as being a cruel ruler with a taste for torturous deaths.
  • You Have Failed Me: Pulls this on one of his captains who fails to defeat Ragnar, by throwing him into a snake pit. Mark the pit well, for it will be the cause of many bad things that will befall him.


Kingdom of Wessex

     King Ecbert of Wessex
Played By: Linus Roache

"Now it is our turn to deal with these pagans. But deal with them we shall."

Claiming descent from one of the leaders of the Anglo-Saxon invasion, the King of Wessex is widely reputed to be a formidable man. Having learned the ways of politics at the court of Charlemagne, and the ways of warfare during his conflicts with the other kingdoms, Ecbert will need all of his strategic skill to deal with the new threat of the Norsemen.

  • Amazon Chaser: In the second season, he sleeps with Princess Kwenthrith, who is seemingly more bloodthirsty and noticeably more open sexually than all the other Saxon women shown in series, then quickly becomes infatuated with Lagertha in the third season — a lot of the reasons he enumerates have to do with how badass she is.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Even though he is shown having sex with women and enjoying it, the way he looks at Ragnar's naked body during their bath has a decidedly sexual component. Not to even mention his obsession with Athelstan.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: When he realizes that Athelstan has been killed. It's even worse when he sends Ragnar to Aelle to be executed — he subjects himself to an open-footed walk along a rocky beach and is implied to have fasted since Ragnar's death.
  • Bathtub Scene: He appears to be quite fond of his Roman bath, and can often be seen lounging in it, or even discussing military and political strategy in it. He may have picked this up from being fostered at Charlemagne's court, as the Emperor was said to be fond of taking baths.
  • Big Damn Heroes: After Athelstan is crucified, Ecbert arrives and orders him to be cut down, saving his life. However, his motivations may not have been entirely altruistic.
  • Book-Ends: He is introduced in his beloved bathtub, and this is where he dies.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: King Ecbert frequently expresses worldviews that are very ahead of his time, such as his compassion and understanding for Pagan religions.
    • Except that he mercilessly has an entire Pagan settlement slaughtered when their presence on his land is no longer necessary for his ambitions, making it clear that his broad views have a lot more to do with understanding than compassion.
  • The Chessmaster: He seeks to use the Vikings against his other enemies in England.
  • The Comically Serious: The show makes quite a few amusing scenes by contrasting his serene, regal nature with overall debauchery and bizarreness present around him (namely in King Aelle and Kwenthirth).
  • Cultured Badass: He actively seeks to preserve the writings and legacy of the Romans.
  • Death by Irony: All his life he tried to be a Roman emperor, reading their manuscripts for strategy, surrounding himself with Roman art, and frequently using a Roman bath. He ends up committing suicide Roman-fashion by cutting his wrists in his bath.
  • Dirty Old Man: Dude's laying the moves on his daughter-in-law for fuck's sake.
  • The Dreaded: His reputation is widely known, and feared, throughout England.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: He expresses great admiration for the achievements of the Romans, and owns various pieces of their artwork and sculptures.
  • Genre Savvy: Ecbert is extremely quick to catch up with the Viking way of thought, and plans accordingly.
  • Heroic Lineage: He's a descendant of Cerdic, and he himself will become the grandfather of Alfred the Great. Well, adopted grandfather, at any rate.
    • It should also be noted that according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Cerdic had a direct line of descent to Woden, the Saxon vision of Odin. This only makes the similarities between Ecbert and Ragnar all the more striking.
  • Historical Domain Character: Clearly based on the historical King Egbert of Wessex who had a very successful reign, conquering or otherwise subjugating most of the other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms to briefly become the dominant monarch in what would become England. While Egbert could not retain this dominance over all of the kingdoms, he did fight and win battles as late as the last year of his reign when he was in his late 60s (for the time, reaching that age was quite the feat itself)!
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: In real life, he was a fairly successful king who laid the foundation for King Alfred the Great's pseudo-unification, but in the show he's straight up nearly unbeatable in politics.
    • The real Egbert was no slouch, though. Towards the end of his life, when he was in his late 60s (positively ancient by the standards of the time), he crushed a Cornish-Viking alliance at Hingston Down, which ended the independence of the Kingdom of Dumnonia (Cornwall and Devon) once and for all.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The real Egbert, as far as we know did not wipe out an entire Northman village of innocents and then pin down on his fellow noblemen. We also have no record of Ecbert being as Machiavellian as the show character.
    • The real Egbert could be considered heroic if this were a different series, especially due to his exile after his father's death and subsequent return to Wessex with Charlemagne's support to confront those who'd exiled him.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: His after-the-fact justification for slaughtering the Viking settlement: "The right idea at the wrong time."
  • Magnificent Bastard: He and Aethelwulf pull off a master plan to rid themselves of the Pagan settlement and pin it on the nobles who had questioned his rule earlier.
  • Not So Different: Both he and Ragnar are men of great ambition and cunning, with dreams of greater glory for their people. Athelstan even claims that the two have much in common.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Ecbert apparently delivered a Curb-Stomp Battle to King Horik, slaughtered most of his warriors, and forced him to flee Wessex. But all of it entirely off-screen.
    • Not to mention his defeat of the Mercian Ruling Council and his ascension to the Mercian throne by forcing them to sign documents before having them executed. Again, offscreen.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He is just and fair to his subjects. He even listens to what Athelstan has to say, despite him being a traitor to both the nation and his Faith.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The blue oni in his alliance with Aelle: calm, understated, and serene, in contrast to Aelle's more vivid personality.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Embodies the trope in every appearance of his, either politically or militarily.
  • Secret Keeper: Most of the Anglo-Saxons believe that a race of giants inhabited Britain before them, but Ecbert is well aware that the "giants" were actually the Romans. He's also well aware that many of the clergymen and commoners would find his fixation on the pagan Romans to be sinful, and therefore only reveals this knowledge to people he can trust.
  • The Strategist: He orchestrates the Anglo-Saxon counter-offensive, and delivers some brutal defeats upon the vikings.
  • Trickster Mentor: Ecbert is this to Alfred. He drinks water while Alfred drinks wine without telling him that he is drinking water as a means to tell Alfred to think for himself.
  • The Unfettered: When he says "he'd sup with the devil to achieve his earthly goals" he isn't exaggerating one bit.
  • Unknown Rival: King Horik thinks that he and King Ecbert are locked in a death feud between two mighty monarchs. King Ecbert doesn't even seem to be aware that King Horik exists — he blames Ragnar for Horik's ambush and slaughter of his envoys.
  • Villain Decay: Is hit with this during Season 4B, fueled by the death of Ragnar. That does not stop his from pulling one last magnificent bastard moment on the Norsemen.
  • Villain Team-Up: He makes an alliance with King Aelle for the defense of England, as well as to divvy up the troubled Kingdom of Mercia between themselves.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: He's the first among the Saxon kings to give the Vikings serious trouble, even forcing King Horik to leave Wessex altogether.
  • Why Are You Not My Son?: Is not too fond of his son and very obviously prefers Athelstan to him. Forcing him to acknowledge Athelstan's son from an affair of his daughter-in-law as his own, and on top of that making her his own mistress, is a testament to this.
    • Tear Jerker ensuses when Aethelwulf begs his father to tell him that he loves him and Ecbert only stares blankly at him.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Subverted in that this isn't a plan that he's come up with on his own, nor is he completely willing to go through with and that Ragnar is actually pulling a Thanatos Gambit. He and Ragnar facilitate Ragnar's death in a way that will hopefully allow Ecbert to ultimately claim Aelle's kingdom of Northumbria once Ragnar's sons come to seek revenge for their father's death. Unbeknownst to Ecbert, Ragnar encourages Ivar to direct his anger towards Ecbert as well.

     Prince Aethelwulf of Wessex 
Played By: Moe Dunford

King Ecbert’s son and heir to the throne of Wessex.

  • Arranged Marriage: With Judith of Northumbria, King Aelle’s daughter.
  • Ascended Extra: There is little historical (or legendary) record of his life as a Prince (only a few token notes he fought for his father). The show, however, makes him a much more pivotal figure as Prince of Wessex and a badass. His character in the show is introduced as a minor guest star. By Season 4, he is one of the major starring characters.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Prince of Wessex and a major badass in the battlefield.
  • "Awesome McCool" Name: Aethelwulf means "Noble wolf".
  • Badass Family: His father is the first real threat the Vikings have encountered in England, and his son will prove to be an even bigger headache for them. And Aethulwulf is no slouch himself.
  • Big Damn Heroes: As Ragnar is facing the last Mercian forces, the battle seems utterly hopeless and the Vikings are massively outnumbered and outgunned. Cue Aethewulf and his archers emerging from a hill and shifting the balance of the battle.
  • Chest Insignia: Aethelwulf has a distinctive cross-shaped mark on his chest armor.
  • Culture Clash: Out of the Saxons the most antagonistic towards the Northmen, viewing them as unruly savages who worship a false god. Despite this, he's still willing to cooperate with them.
  • Deadpan Snarker: See Tall, Dark, and Snarky.
  • Decomposite Character: His historical position of father of Alfred the Great is given to the completely fictional Athelstan.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Prince Aethelwulf, a fierce warrior-king and survivor of numerous battles against the Northmen, gets done in by an allergic reaction to a bee sting.
  • Foil: He serves as a Foil of sorts to both Bjorn and Erlendur, as they are both young sons of powerful, scheming rulers, but they fight for distinctively different sides and hold different morals.
  • The Fundamentalist: The scene he slaughters innocent men, women, and children is capped off with him declaring he did it all for the Lord Jesus Christ, kneeling and praying.
  • Good Parents: Despite the strained relationship with his wife after her infidelity — and knowing that Alfred isn't his son — he's still a good and caring father to the boy, acting as his bodyguard and escort on pilgrimage to Rome. When Alfred is older, he even tells Aethelwulf that he's proud to have a father like him.
  • Heroic BSoD: After the Anglo-Saxon coalition is defeated by Ivar and Hvitserk and Heahmund is captured. And it's gut-wrenching.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: In history, Aethelwulf did not slaughter an entire innocent village with no provocation. And while in reality he was very religious, the show seems to amp this up to violently fundamentalist levels.
  • Jerkass: He suggests sending Athelstan as an emissary, as he believes the Norsemen wouldn't kill him. He makes it clear, however, that he wouldn't really care if they did.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: On the other hand, he's a good husband, a loyal son, a brave warrior, and in general a pleasant man as long as you are not a Pagan.
  • One Steve Limit: King Aelle's brother was also named Aethelwulf, but he is slain before this Aethelwulf shows up.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Poor Aethelwulf. His whole life is this trope. He's a fine warrior on the battlefield and is not a particularly bad ruler of Wessex, and his loyalty and commitment to his family and kingdom is admirable, but he constantly finds himself being outmatched by EVERYONE around him in some way, from Ragnar, Athelstan and Ivar, to his own father, royal successor and even bishop. His father King Ecbert, before his demise, speaks with Aethelwulf and is unable to say it when his son asks him "do you love me?" Ecbert couldn't say it because unlike Ragnar, who's way of thinking was so ahead of his time and had a special frenemy relationship with Ecbert, or Athelstan, who was the "holiest man he'd ever met", Athelwulf was so unremarkable in every way. He also spent a lot of his reign as king being outsmarted and outwitted by the also intelligent and devious Ivar the Boneless, and consistently having his authority undermined and under threat from the Bishop Heahmund, who believed he wasn't effective enough as ruler (though, in fairness, Aethelwulf did manage to catch on and actually put the bishop in his place, in that instance). It was clear he lacked the intellect, strategic planning and cunning that his father had in spades. Even in death, he succumbed to this trope, as his successor was Alfred the Great (Athelstan's son rather than his own), who went on to be far more influential and efficient, and a much bigger name than he ever was.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Aethewulf's very devout, and a major badass as well.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Subverted. Aethelwulf is a fierce warrior prince and later king who fights as a Frontline General, but when he's the royal in charge his soldiers more often than not leave the battlefield by the cartload. Every time he has held a top-level command against a comparable force, he has always been routed and easily defeated - more specifically, without the benefit of his father's tactical acumen, Aethelwulf has been repeatedly upstaged by Ivar, a teenager.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Seems to enjoy teasing Athelstan with sarcasm.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: He isn't particularly enthusiastic about working with Ragnar to win back Kwenthrith's throne, but manages it.
  • The Unfavorite: If there is a choice to be made between Aethelwulf and literally ANYONE else, Ecbert will choose the person that is not Aethewulf. Especially notable in that Aethelwulf is Ecbert's only son.
  • Warrior Prince: Both a warrior and the actual prince of Wessex.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: He wants his father's love and respect and feels he has neither. Just see the unfavorite section above.
    • It goes to the points where Ecbert actually uses his approval as a way to manipulate him.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Norse settlement he leads the slaughter of included young children. During said slaughter he actually went out of his way to have an archer shoot down a fleeing boy who couldn't have been more than 6 years old.
  • You Are in Command Now: Ecbert hands the throne off to Aethelwulf before his suicide.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Figuring out his wife's infidelity with first Athelstan, then Ecbert drives him into the arms of Kwenthrith.

     Princess Judith of Northumbria 
Played By: Sarah Greene (Season 2), Jennie Jacques (Season 3 and onwards)

The daughter of King Aelle and wife of Prince Aethelwulf.

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Like the other female characters on the show, she isn't "aged" through the use of makeup. As of season 5, she looks more like Alfred's older sister than his mother.
  • Arranged Marriage: With Prince Aethelwulf, King Ecbert's son.
  • Ascended Extra: Has a larger role in the third season than she does in the second, and by Season 4 she is literally the Team Mom.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Kills Kwenthrith before Ecbert can be assassinated.
  • Break the Cutie: Judith is mutilated and publicly shamed as a punishment for her affair with Athelstan.
  • Composite Character: Of Alfred the Great's mother Osburh and his stepmother Judith of Flanders.
  • Ear Ache: As punishment for her affair with Athelstan, Judith has one of her ears sliced off. It was supposed to be both ears and her nose, but she stopped it by naming Athelstan as the father.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: How she sees killing Kwenthrith to save Ecbert and later on her own oldest son to secure Alfred's reign.
  • Important Haircut: She keeps her hair in a sideswept style that hides her mutilated ear since she seems to regard that as a moment of shame. She finally lets her hair down and shows off the side with her ear once Alfred takes the throne, since that has always been her life's ambition.
  • Offing the Offspring: She kills Aethelred because she feels he's a threat to Alfred's rule. She doesn't take any pleasure in doing so, as we see shortly after.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Her dark hair brings out the paleness of her skin, while her beauty draws both Athelstan and Ecbert to try to get into her bed.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: She's the beautiful daughter of King Aelle.
  • The Un-Favourite: Implied when Aethelwulf says that there is no love lost between Judith and her father.
    • Also between her own two sons. She clearly prefers Alfred.
  • Your Cheating Heart: With Athelstan, with whom she conceives a child. Later with Ecbert, her own father-in-law.

     Alfred of Wessex 
Played By: Conor O'Hanlon

The son of Athelstan and Princess Judith, he is destined to become the legendary Alfred the Great.

  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: As a young child, the Pope himself crowns Alfred as a Consul of Rome during his pilgrimage visit to the city.
  • Bash Brothers: With Aethelred.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Alfred shares Ecbert's lack of fear of the Northmen, not at all finding it strange when Ragnar hugs him when first meeting him, and even playing a chess game with Ivar during the latter's imprisonment.
  • Happily Adopted: Aethelwulf is a very good and loving parent to Alfred, who adores his adoptive father in return. He does tend to stifle a little under what he sees as Aethelwulf's inability to change.
  • Heroic Bastard: In the show, he's the illegitimate son of Athelstan, instead of Aethelwulf's biological son.
  • Historical Domain Character: One of the most revered in English history.
  • Ill Boy: Alfred was sickly as a child and that continues into adulthood. This becomes a plot point as the court nobles wonder if someone who gets seriously sick on a regular basis can rule effectively.
  • Important Haircut: Cuts his hair short upon the eve of going into his first battle after becoming king to show he's starting to mature as a ruler.
  • Like Father, Like Son: So far, he appears to take after his birth father in both appearance and demeanor, as shown by his acceptance of Ivar and Ragnar. All it took was one glance for Ragnar to recognize Alfred as being Athelstan's child.
    • Forms a close friendship with Ubbe in the latter half of Season Five, which is quite appropriate since Ubbe looks and acts the most like Ragnar when he was at his most compassionate and understanding.
  • My Beloved Smother: Alfred begins to chafe under his mother as she still tries to control things behind the scenes after he becomes king. Played for Drama when Judith deliberately poisons his brother while he's unconscious from an illness, ensuring that he doesn't get a say in what's about to happen.
  • Nice Guy: Alfred shows nothing but respect and kindness to the crippled Ivar, setting him apart from almost everyone else in Ivar's life. And when the latter is due to leave Wessex, Alfred gives him a chess piece as a friendship token, leaving Ivar more than a little confused by Alfred's compassion.
  • Odd Friendship: With Ivar. Just like their fathers before them, one would not expect a Viking and a Christian prince to get along so well, but the pair are shown playing a game of chess together and Ivar is obviously touched by the black chess piece Alfred gives him as a token of their friendship.
  • Marked to Die: Bjorn, once Alfred finds out his arranged marriage wife had a one nighter with him.
  • Parental Favoritism: King Ecbert makes no secret of the fact that he dotes on Alfred more than his biological grandchildren, which is historically inaccurate as the real King Egbert had died a few years before Alfred was even born.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Like both his parents, he's pale-skinned and dark-haired and quite easy on the eyes.
  • The Strategist: Alfred's shown to be a formidable chess player during his time spent with Ivar, foreshadowing their future clashes — both literal and intellectual — on the battlefield.
  • Tragic Keepsake: After Ragnar's death, Alfred receives Athelstan's pendent cross while Ivar receives Ragnar's arm ring.

     Bishop Heahmund 

The warrior bishop of Sherborne.

  • Annoying Arrows: Averted. Though it's a sword stab that finishes him off, from the moment he's shot with his first arrow, it's clear he's dying.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Fine with breaking the first commandment, in a church, with a prince of the church.
  • Cool Sword: Shown to wield one In-Universe. Ivar admires it because the metal never seems to dull no matter how many people he kills with it. It's such a signature weapon of his that it is buried with him.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In his very first scene, he officiates a funeral and consoles the widow, only to immediately cut to him having vigorous sex with her while the camera pans to a sword and armor in a rack next to the bed. In one fell swoop he is introduced as a man of God, a womanizer, and a warrior.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Heahmund's decision to side with certain people sometimes seems at odds with his actions or words. First, he's with the English, then Ivar, and then Lagertha, and then seems to switch right back to the English after he takes Lagertha's forces to England. One theory is that he's a consummate liar, telling whoever he's siding with what they want to hear in order to survive longer, not unlikely considering how often he's surrounded by pagans or people who really don't seem to like him.
  • Hero Antagonist: Guy's got his hangups, but it's hard not to sympathize with him considering the Vikings under the Ragnar brothers have invaded his homeland and are going from town to town slaughtering innocent people.
  • Implacable Man: When his forces come under assault at York he just stands there, unperturbed with neither helmet nor shield as arrows rain down around him.
  • The Jinx: It's subtle, but it's become apparent that whatever side he fights for in a battle ends up losing. It turns ironic as the only time he ever fought in a battle where the side he fought on actually won was the battle he died in.
  • Historical Domain Character: Based on a real life bishop who fought the Vikings.
  • Made a Slave: After the Norsemen defeat the Saxons decisively at York, Ivar makes him his Athelstan.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: He portrays himself as an absolute zealot with no middle ground. The insanity facade cracks a little when he devises a plant to starve the vikings out of a stronghold. He hand waves it as a devine vision, but he’s really just a very good tactician. In fact, he gets away with a lot, including what amounts to treason, by describing it as “God’s will.”
  • Sexy Priest: Heahmund is a very attractive man and the fact that he is a bishop doesn't preclude him from taking advantage of itnote .
  • Worthy Opponent: Ivar considers him one to the point of granting Heahmund his horse when Heahmund's horse is killed in battle.

     Prince Aethelred 
The son of prince Aethelwulf and Princess Judith.
  • Abdicate the Throne: Gives up the crown in favour of Alfred on his mother's coercion. Yes, it does fall under Artistic Licence – History but there is a heavy implication that Aethelred has an ulterior motive for this.
  • Bash Brothers: With Alfred.
  • Calling The Old Woman Out: Towards Judith. He accuses her, not without merit, that she's always wanted Alfred to be on the throne, even though he's first in line for it.
    • His last words end up being this too.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Historically died of wounds received in battle, poisoned by his mother in the show.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: As he's dying from poison, he looks at Judith and asks her, "What kind of mother are you?"
  • In the Blood: Acts very much like his father Aethelwulf, especially in their hatred and desire to drive all Vikings from their lands.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: He's the leader of the army after Alfred takes the throne.
  • The Unfavorite: Judith clearly prefers her love-child Alfred over Aethelred.

     Bishop Edmund 
Played By: Philip O'Sullivan

The bishop of Wessex, completely subservient to king Ecbert.

  • The Alcoholic: He is quite fond of the sacramental wine.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Embraces the Vikings with his arms wide open and forgives them before they stab him. It's enough to bother Floki who is unused to Christians dying with honor.
  • God Before Dogma: Invokes this when questioned about if it really is fitting for a woman to color bibles. He proceeds to give a rather convincing thesis why this should not be an issue, basing it on the life of Jesus. Not that this was necessarily what he actually thinks, Ecbert was giving him the look.
  • Good Shepherd: from what little is seen of him, he seems like a decent and devout man. He certainly does a fair job of reining Ecbert and Aethelwulf in when the latter two start getting bloodthirsty.
  • Undying Loyalty: Towards Ecbert. He chooses to stay by his side when the Great Heathen Army is approaching which means certain death. This is quite heartwarming for a rather spineless character. It becomes even more heartwarming when Ecbert, upon committing suicide remembers the voices of all of those dear to him. Edmund is one of them. Aww.
  • The Vicar: An older, fat man who mostly plays a comical role.

Kingdom of Mercia

     Princess Kwenthrith of Mercia 
Played By: Amy Bailey

The daughter of the late King Offa of Mercia, she murdered his heir, her brother, and is embroiled in a civil war for control of the Kingdom of Mercia.

  • The Baroness: Of the Sexpot variety.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: She says both her late brother and uncle abused her sexually for years, starting in her childhood.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Like Judith, she has Raven Hair, Ivory Skin. Unlike Judith, years of abuse have turned her into The Caligula.
  • Evil Vegetarian: Believes eating meat is harmful.
  • Freudian Excuse: Sexually abused as a child.
  • Historical Domain Character: Extremely loosely though.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Her historical counterpart was a rather unremarkable Mercian princess, a far cry from the murderous cluster of mental disorders featured in the show.
  • Kick the Dog: She poisons her own brother during a party.
  • Mama Bear: When her son is threatened she becomes the most capable female fighter on the show this side of Lagertha.
  • Out-Gambitted: She tries to revolt against Ecbert while using Ragnar as leverage. Aethelwulf promptly tells her that due the destruction of Ragnar's settlement, that leverage is null and void.
  • Puppet King: Ecbert tries to use her to control Mercia. However, after an attempt to rebel from his control and her overthrow by the Ruling Council, Ecbert dispenses with the pretense and seizes the throne himself.
  • Really Gets Around: Immediately after having sex with King Ecbert, she wants Aethelwulf brought to her room, but settles for doing it with three of Ecbert’s guards.
  • Urine Trouble: Micturates on Ragnar, ostensibly to treat his wounds.
  • The Vamp: She’s willing to use her sexuality to achieve her ends.
  • Villainous BSoD: Her first sight of battle, seeing the Viking-Wessex forces slaughter the Mercians and kill her uncle, Bretwulf, is of pure horror and shock.

     Prince Burgred of Mercia 
Played By: Aaron Monaghan

Princess Kwenthrith’s younger brother, one of the leaders in the Mercian civil war.

     Prince Magnus of Mercia 
Played By: Cameron Hogan (Season 3) | Finn and Luca Ryan (Season 4) | Dean Ridge (Season 5)

Ragnar and Kwenthrith's alleged son.

  • Canon Foreigner: To an extent. He has no equivalent from the sagas but he does seem rather similar to the portrayal of Ogier the Dane in Edison Marshall's novel The Viking and to Eric from The Vikings, which is based off of the Marshall novel or rather he did before Ragnar revealed he never had relations with Kwenthtrith.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Gets shot through the chest by an arrow right as Bjorn and Harald retreat, just after affirming to Harald that he is truly Ragnar's son. Harald holds onto him until he dies.
  • Dramatic Irony: Magnus's actions seems to thrive on this trope. Begins to bond with Bjorn when he claims they're both Ragnar's son. What's impossible to tell given the situation with both their mothers is if either of them are even Ragnar's sons at all. But this might very well be why Bjorn accepts him: both of them want Ragnar to be their father.
    • Proclaims that Christianity will eventually be forgotten in favor of worshipping the true Norse gods.
    • He dies minutes after finally deciding that he is truly Ragnar's son and a Viking, turning his back on his English roots for good.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: After coming back to continue on the plot point of there possibly being another son of Ragnar's and having a character arc that saw him torn between the English and Norse sides of his heritage, he unceremoniously dies, not even in the middle of battle, but during a retreat.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: No one seems to even care that he's dead. We don't even see Bjorn react to his death, despite the two having grown closer together. Indeed, Harald is the only one to react to his death, and only for a few minutes because he held him as he died.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Kwenthrith claims he is Ragnar's son but, as Aethelwulf is quick to point out, given her rampant promiscuity the child could be anyone's — and Aethelwulf even questions whether he's really Kwenthrith's, noting that the Wessex nobles left in her court never reported that she was pregnant. Ragnar ultimately reveals he never had sex with Kwenthrith, though he could have been lying to make sure Ecbert couldn't use him as a pawn, making the identity of Magnus's father even more ambiguous. Ubbe has gone on to say that Ragnar told Aslaug that he never had relations with Kwenthrith and Lagertha has attested that Ragnar told her the same. Only Bjorn, the other Ragnarsson whose parentage is in doubt, believes him.
  • Prayer Is a Last Resort: Despite claiming he's turned his back on his English heritage and is truly Norse, when a fierce storm threatens to sink the ship he's on, he calls out to Jesus to save him. This is pointed out by one of the shieldmaidens after they survive, asking how truly Norse he is if he still believes in the Christian god.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: When he meets Bjorn, they definitely look quite similar, perhaps a clue that Ragnar really was his father after all.
  • The Bus Came Back: After no one knowing what became of him after he was forced out of the English court, he suddenly returns incognito upon the day of Alfred's wedding.
  • The Exile: After Ragnar declares that he is not his father, Aethelwulf forces Magnus to leave
  • The Resenter: He's understandably pissed that Ecbert and Aethelwulf unceremoniously kicked him out when he was only a child, but it falls into this territory when he blames Alfred and claims he should have done something to stop them when he was only fourteen years old at the time.
  • The Unfavorite: For all of Ecbert's protestations of loving him like a son, Ecbert had no problem unceremoniously kicking him out to fend for himself the second he found out he wasn't Ragnar's son.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Ivar and Magnus were born a year apart. Yet after the time skip, Ivar is sixteen and Magnus is somehow only twelve.
    • It appears Hirst realized his mistake, for when Magnus comes back, he definitely looks about as old as any of the other teenage characters like Ivar or Alfred on the show.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: He wasn't seen after Aethelwulf and Ecbert kicked him out for almost a full season. Finally shows back up in the second half of Season 5.

     Prince Wigstan of Mercia 
Played By: Declan Conlon
"If you ever supposed that Kwenthrith could play a calming, stabilizing role in this madhouse we call Mercia, then you are as mad the rest of them."

One of the last surviving members of the Mercian royal family. Known first as "W".


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