The Last Kingdom: Seven Kings Must Die is a British historical drama film directed by Edward Bazalgette, written by Martha Hillier, and based on the The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell. It is a sequel to the The Last Kingdom television series. Alexander Dreymon reprised his role as Uhtred of Bebbanburg.
It was released by Netflix on 14 April 2023. It is intended to act as the conclusion to the series and the story.
* * *
[thumping music playing]
[folk pop music playing]
[Finan] For a hundred years, there was chaos in our lands.
War between Saxons and Dane invaders.
And war between men who wanted to be kings.
My lord, Uhtred, son of Uhtred, born a Saxon, but raised a Dane, had brought about a fragile peace.
But as King Edward’s health faltered, trouble spread.
And while most of the country was sworn to the Saxons, Uhtred’s land of Northumbria was not.
And enemies were keen to exploit this.
Wolf! [grunts] Wolf!
Destroy the settlement. Leave no sign we have landed.
[warrior] Anlaf, we have the spy.
Behold my child.
Behold the daughter of Anlaf.
You look ridiculous.
It is how they dress, Father.
If I’m to hide amongst them, I must appear…
Is King Edward dead?
But each breath could be his last.
Then we chose our moment.
A king dies, Saxons always turn on each other.
Pass this news to all kings who hate them.
Tell them I have crossed from Irland and wish to make allies.
Return yourself to Winchester.
Play with them.
[guard] No. Stay back.
[soldier] Find the queen!
[Aldhelm] Lady Eadgifu, the traitor Aelfweard has sent men to take you and Prince Edmund into protection.
I have no wish to be a hostage.
Can we fight them?
Not without Aethelstan.
Well, surely, my guards can…
Loyalties are shifting and factions forming.
It is not certain who supports us.
We should flee with your son whilst we can.
[Eadgifu] I will not forgive this.
Nor forgive Aethelstan for leaving us exposed.
Damn him for his absence.
Come, Edmund. We are leaving.
[soldier 1] Where’s the queen?
[soldier 2] Move! Look everywhere!
[Edmund] Mother, what’s…
[Eadgifu] Sh. Quiet.
[Pyrlig] We got word.
Aethelstan has gone on pilgrimage to pray for his father’s health.
Then find him and tell him of his death.
Then strike him, from me, for he swore to protect us.
[Aldhelm grunts] Come. There’s no time.
[Pyrlig] Where will you go?
[soldier] They’re in here!
[Aldhelm] Go! Go!
[Eadgifu] Uhtred betrayed my husband.
Are we sure this is wise?
Uhtred was like a father to Aethelstan. He can be trusted.
We go to the last kingdom.
[ethereal music playing]
[Finan] He stood in front of the army, and he said, “Release the arrows!”
And an arrow went right through his head.
[Finan] Oh, that was something.
But then, the battle for this place certainly sticks in the memory.
[Finan] Hey. Cnut.
He was a proper… cock!
Then there were the horse-killers. Oh, they were deadly.
What was his name?
Bloodhair. And what was her name? She of the curses?
Do not remind me. [belches] Skade!
Now, she was moon touched.
Another one who thought she was a seer. It didn’t go well for her.
I am telling you, my dream was a prophecy. Three nights I have had it.
And what is your dream, Ingrith?
[Finan] Don’t get her started, Lord.
Hear my words. “Seven kings must die.”
Seven kings and…
[dark music playing]
All stand for the queen!
And my most noble friend, Lord Aldhelm.
What brings you this far north?
I come seeking refuge with my son.
Edward, rightful king of these lands, has died.
Then my heart grieves.
I’d hoped to reconcile.
One down, six to go.
No! I do not like it.
Northumbria recognizes the new king, Aethelstan.
Do not assume Aethelstan will be king.
Who is supporting Aelfweard?
[Aldhelm] The ealdormen of Wessex.
Of course. Still claiming Aethelstan’s a bastard?
Yes. Aelfweard has the wealth of Wiltunscir behind him.
Our spies in Aegelesburg say he’s there, openly recruiting mercenaries.
We will go to Aegelesburg and seize him before he is at full force.
We would prefer your guard.
My offer gives Aethelstan the time to go to Winchester to be crowned, and we avoid a clash of armies.
I swore an oath to protect Aethelstan…
And of course, you are a man of your word.
Yet your oath to swear your lands to the king remains unfulfilled.
Your husband showed himself hostile to those of Danish blood.
As such, he was not the right man to unite England.
If he had been, England would be united.
[Aldhelm] But now things can be different.
Aethelstan can be the king to fulfill the Saxon dream.
If he chooses to swear…
I swore an oath of loyalty, and it stands.
If Aelfweard is buying mercenaries, he will be looking for men from all parts.
Do you think we can still execute an ambush?
If it is for Aethelstan, then yes.
If he does not fall asleep.
Once. I fell asleep once.
Are you certain this is better than a band of young fighters?
I hear you do little these days but feast and hunt.
I will not send young men to do a task I swore to do myself.
[disconcerting music playing]
[Finan] Come on, you little…
Come on! Come on.
[Finan] Stop it now.
Osbert! What news from our borders? Do the Scots behave themselves?
Yes, Father. There are rumors Wolf-Warriors landed near Derwent.
Why are you carrying your sword?
We’re riding to protect Aethelstan from his brother.
Then I will come.
Any fight of yours is mine.
Stay here and protect your birthright.
No good comes of sitting waiting for a birthright.
So you train the horses and you teach that boy how to defend himself.
No one likes the third son of a dead king.
Will you swear our lands to Aethelstan?
I must honor my word.
Northumbrians will be sad to lose their pagan lord.
Look at this little bastard.
Are we ready?
[Sihtric] He’s complaining about his saddle.
Says his arse gets sore.
[Finan] Didn’t say arse. I said my back.
[Ingrith] I made you this.
And one for each of you.
Men who sit on cold earth find the cold earth calls for them.
Once again, she shows herself a seer.
Lord, it was nothing.
Tell it again.
“Seven kings must die,” Lord.
“And the woman you love.”
I’m no king, and I have no woman.
It means nothing.
[Aldhelm] Lord Uhtred.
I told my son to train yours.
While you are here, take Wassa as your serving woman.
Make this fortress your home.
I wish to say one thing of Aethelstan.
He is not quite the carefree boy you raised.
He has grown very much into his faith.
The Brotherhood of Oswald exert great influence.
I have scared off such men before. For some reason, monks find me terrifying.
[foreboding music playing]
[Uhtred] Let’s go play kingmaker.
[Finan] Once again.
[Aethelstan] My father? No, that cannot be.
I thought God had given him the winter.
[Pyrlig] Lord Aethelstan, you should make haste to Wessex for coronation.
Your brother gathers men.
Establish yourself at Winchester before he raises an army.
We will leave when God commands us to leave, Father Pyrlig.
And that command has not been given.
Return when you have prayed.
[Aethelstan] Do I depart?
[Ingilmundr] Only the book has answers.
You have been guided to the Book of Matthew, verse 157.
“Then Jesus went thence and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.”
God wants you to fight.
Oh. Thank you, lady.
[sentry] Halt. State your business here.
We heard a man is looking for fighters.
We come to make some coin.
This place has fallen to shit.
[Uhtred] Edward left it to decline.
I’m glad Aethelflaed is not here to see it.
Word has spread.
[Sihtric] I swear I’ve fought half these men.
[Finan] This is not someone trying to recruit.
This is preparing for a battle.
[Uhtred] That is the youth Aelfweard.
Go see what men know of his plans.
[man] I’ll show you a sword!
Is that amber in your sword?
How much do you want for it?
[Uhtred] Go home to your mothers.
[teen 2] Edgar! No.
Do you speak to me, friend?
Your pardon. I thought you were Wilfrid.
A great man I fought with at Tettenhall.
Wait, you were at Tettenhall?
My father was there.
Who do you fight for now?
Saxon names are much alike.
The Aelf who marches on Wessex?
You haven’t heard.
No one’s marching on Wessex.
I’m told the new plan is to lure Aethelstan here.
Aethelstan is on his way.
Aelfweard challenged him to battle, and he’s accepted.
Why would he agree to that?
Because he’s young, and they’ve baited him.
They plan to snare him between the gate and men hidden in the hills.
Then we take control before he arrives.
We can’t seize this town with just us, Lord.
We do not need to seize the town.
[eerie music playing]
[Finan] Hey! Can I tempt you to play for money, friend?
[Uhtred] Tie them up and secure the bolt. Stay low until Aethelstan arrives.
[Finan] If there’s a bed, it’s mine.
[eerie music continues]
[Uhtred] He’s here.
[guard in distance] Raise the alarm! Soldiers approach the southern gate!
[Aelfweard] Come no further! Aegelesburg is loyal to me now.
We do not negotiate with bastards.
Nor do we surrender.
You’ll have to starve us out.
I am not foolish, brother.
I assumed you would place a trap.
Perhaps delay me here until your forces could attack at rearguard.
Show him what’s left of his men!
[Aethelstan] You can yield now, or we destroy the gate and kill all your men.
The gates will hold. No yield will come.
[Aethelstan] Then you will be destroyed.
Get ready to open the door.
[Aelfweard] I am the rightful king. Your mother was a whore.
All good men know it. You have no allies.
I’m Uhtred of Bebbanburg.
[Uhtred] You know me as a man who speaks the truth, so hear me when I say, for the common good, stand down.
My men control the gate. You’re outnumbered on all sides.
Let this end with peace.
[Aethelstan] Give yourself to me, brother.
Then it is over.
[somber music playing]
Forgive me for my failings, and give comfort to my mother’s kin.
Tell them of my exile and how we sought to honor our discarded bloodline.
[men] For Wessex!
Lord Uhtred, open the gate.
[Aethelstan] God chose me rightful heir.
[intense music playing]
Leave no enemy alive!
[Finan] Lord, stop this madness!
[Sihtric] Get back! Hide!
[mercenary] I submit! Please don’t…
[mercenary] Please, show mercy!
Stop! They’re surrendering!
[man] Lord! Lord, help us!
Stand down your men.
[Aethelstan] Uhtred, why are you here?
[Uhtred] To stop this. Your enemy has surrendered.
Halt your men.
Let him approach and call a halt.
[guard] Yes, my lord.
What happened to you?
What happened to you?
You had no need to kill your brother.
I did, or in time, he would return.
You dishonored your word.
I did not.
I told him to yield. I did not say he would survive.
It was never our plan to let him live. Lord, reverse the order.
We are close to routing them.
Hired men have no quarrel with you.
You were right not to seek his help.
You kill 100 fathers, you give 300 sons a reason to defy you.
Now’s the time to unify.
Uhtred may be right in this matter.
I speak only as a man who has made mistakes before.
I’m Uhtred of…
I know who you are.
[Aethelstan] Uhtred, this is Lord Ingilmundr.
A great commander and a great friend to me.
Then a friend to me.
Why the Danish name?
Born to a Dane, but raised a Saxon.
I found Christ through the works of Alfred, and indeed through the writings of your son in Rome.
You must be proud of him.
He is a true scholar.
I’m just the fool who made him.
Ingilmundr holds the garrison at Thelwael on the Wirral.
He knows many of the people we knew from Rumcofa.
Good people. I should like to see them again.
[Ingilmundr] Yes. Perhaps after you’ve sworn Northumbria to the new king.
Honor your word.
Swear to Aethelstan what you denied his father.
Cede your lands and make England whole.
As you say, it is the time for unity.
[dramatic music builds]
I will swear to a king, and you are not yet crowned.
Nor will I kneel to you covered in blood.
I will renounce my lands in the Great Hall at Winchester.
It doesn’t need to be done with ceremony.
But Uhtred is a man of his word.
Come to Winchester.
Heal the wound.
[Ingilmundr] How did he know we were coming here?
[Aethelstan] He’s always found a way to protect me.
Perhaps he has friends who keep one eye on you.
[chuckles] My mother was the same.
It’s touching, how you still defer to him.
He’s been steadfast a long time.
And noble that you trust him.
Given all that went on with your father.
[Constantin] Which boy prevailed?
Killed his brother in cold blood and will now claim the Saxon crown.
[Constantin] Then it’s settled. Any word on renewal of the treaty?
Lord, we’ve had word of something else.
The Dane, Anlaf, seeks a meeting.
The one who eats the flesh of men?
An assembly with you, and the kings of Man, Shetland, and Orkney.
I will not be the lone Christian lured to meet Dane kings.
They might offer something of interest.
Seek to renew a peace with Saxons.
Edward kept the truce. We have no reason to think his son will not.
[Domnal] I’ll send word.
[Anlaf] His own flesh, put to the knife.
He is more brutal than you suggested.
His heart has hardened.
Which should harden those against him.
Do other kings in Britain hear our call?
They pretend to be deaf to us.
But I know they listen.
Aethelstan will become greedy.
You would know ambition, Father.
Eh, and when my lands are yours, you will know it too.
Return to Winchester.
And bring me word when there’s word to tell.
[Osbert] Father, have you been injured?
Nothing that will not heal.
[Eadgifu] Tell me the news is wrong.
Did Aethelstan turn on his own blood?
Aelfweard did not survive.
Then Edmund cannot return to Winchester.
He will always be seen as a rival.
Aethelstan has always shown great affection for your son.
[Uhtred] But she is right.
He has fallen under an influence.
I shall not leave Bebbanburg until the threat passes.
You’re welcome here as long as you wish.
[Aldhelm] And it will pass.
The duties of kingship will focus Aethelstan’s mind.
But I should return south.
I will assess the mood.
[singing in Latin]
♪ Hallelujah ♪
♪ Hallelujah ♪
[Pyrlig] Almighty and everlasting God, pour out the spirit of thy grace and blessing upon this, thy servant, King Aethelstan.
That, as by the imposition of our hands, he is this day crowned king.
So he may, by thy sanctification, continue always thy chosen servant, through Christ, our Lord.
Grant him the faith of Abraham, the wisdom of Solomon, the courage of David.
[crowd] Vivat Rex!
[heavy music pounding]
[Aethelstan] You were not there.
This moment was all we had talked of.
And you were not there.
I was here.
The call of the scripture always comes first.
You believe that, don’t you?
Yes, yes, of course.
Then you will be a great king of England.
And all will speak of you as they did Alfred.
Does Uhtred stand by his word?
No. Uhtred has not come.
He wishes to remain king in his own land.
May God protect him from his vanity.
But towards you, it is a cruelty.
And I am sorry. Here. Come. Come.
What torture to enact on so kind a soul.
I thought you had both abandoned me.
Of course I would not.
I’m just surprised Uhtred could be so foolish.
You would’ve thought his years would make him wiser.
Perhaps he still sees the boy you once were, and not the man you have become.
[soft music playing]
It’s not Serpent’s Breath, but… it’s lighter, it’s sharper, and it’s got a garnet.
Give it a name.
Uhtred, Sword of Uhtred.
You actually smiled, Lord.
Perhaps losing my sword was a sign that my battle days are over.
A bad time to provoke the king.
[Uhtred] I did not provoke him.
I’m simply giving him time to prove he’s not a tyrant.
“Seven kings must die.” For what?
What did your wife see?
She sees nothing.
[Eadgifu] What do they celebrate?
[Uhtred] The breaking of the horses.
[Eadgifu] Thank Osbert for the care he has shown Edmund.
[Uhtred] He’s part of Bebbanburg now.
You both are.
[Eadgifu] Yes, my son is quite changed.
There was a somberness at the palace that has lifted.
It’s the air here.
Brings out good spirits in everyone.
[Uhtred] You yourself seem happier.
I am, Lord Uhtred.
Some grief has passed, and I feel… more ready for the world.
[peaceful music plays]
[Osbert] Control! Good!
[Ingilmundr praying softly]
Forgive us these sins that we commit.
Will we be forgiven?
Our sin weighs heavy.
Yes, it does.
But remember, God holds us in the balance.
Every sin can be weighed against an act of faith.
Grow the faith and the sin is diminished.
What if the shadow of sin obscures the faith?
Perhaps return to your grandfather’s vision for England.
Perhaps now there is an urgency to bring the pagans to light.
Will that cleanse me?
Well, surely the greater the lands, the greater the faith.
Go beyond what Alfred dreamed of.
Look to the islands God made, not the countries ordained by men, and bring all to Christianity.
So when you are judged, you will be found in balance.
And thus may accept both the sin… and the conquest against it.
[determined music playing]
[Eadgifu] What do you talk of?
Oh my faith, Lady. I cannot lie.
The ladies here care for Lord Uhtred and wish keenly he would find a woman.
Well, they shall be sore of heart.
The widow of a king will not marry a lord.
I shall have to be more careful in how I conduct myself.
It is not the gossips you should fear, Lady.
This peace may not sustain.
Lord Uhtred has snubbed the king.
The women Uhtred has affection for become a target for his enemies.
[Uhtred] What have you learnt?
Aethelstan has claimed Eoferwic.
He says since Rognvaldr is dead, there is no king, so it belongs to him.
They see me as their lord now. Aethelstan knows this.
He is demanding all come with tribute.
Not just Saxon chiefs, but all kings of Britain.
All the mainland and all the outlying islands.
Declare yourself king here.
Like your forebears.
No. This is Aethelstan.
If he chooses the wrong path, I must tell him.
[foreboding music playing]
“There went out a decree that all the world should be taxed.”
You owe no tribute! Return to your villages.
Uhtred! Calm yourself.
Pyrlig? What is this tribute?
He says it is to build churches, but, please, there are spies everywhere.
Tell your arseling apprentice he’s badly misjudged the mood of Scotland.
You seem upset.
We came to renew our treaty.
Instead, we’ve been left waiting for days, only to be told we are supplicants.
I would be careful.
We’ve had other offers of alliance.
Why is Aethelstan doing this?
He says to unite Christians.
And in his prayers, he talks much of atonement.
Atonement? For what?
The death of his brother, the bastardy of his parentage?
I do not know.
Lord Aldhelm and I try daily to dissuade, but there is talk of conquest and forced baptism.
Where is he?
The Devil’s Stones.
He thinks he fights the devil.
[Uhtred] This is madness. Aldhelm.
These stones have stood for generations.
They are an insult to God, apparently.
Is that Owain, King of Strathclyde?
[Aldhelm] Aethelstan wanted him to witness it.
They were built by his forebears.
He is seeking to humiliate powerful men?
[Uhtred] King Hywel.
He dares ask submission from Wealas?
After all you did for Mercia?
What choice do I have, Uhtred?
He took my son to Winchester.
He is keeping your son hostage?
You take the son, you take a future king.
Now I am forced to follow his bidding.
I will tell him this cannot stand.
King Hywel, I swear, Wealas’s faithfulness will not be spat on.
Our poets spoke this.
That a Saxon would break us all to build their country.
This is not just a Saxon country.
Aldhelm, get me close to him. I will stop this.
[guard] Halt. Stay back.
[Aldhelm] Step aside! The king requested Uhtred speak with him.
[Uhtred] Lord King,
let me speak with you alone.
[Uhtred] You should not have stepped on my land.
You should not have broken your word, humiliated me, as you humiliated my father.
I’m trying to make you see you’re on the wrong path.
You do the bidding of Ingilmundr…
I do the bidding of the Lord.
Do you really seek to convert Danes?
Did I teach you nothing of respect?
Many Danes welcome the Lord.
Those in my court thank me for it.
Many do not wish it, and you know this.
Aethelstan, you’ve always known it.
Even Alfred respected this.
I have more to atone for than Alfred.
Who tells you this? Ingilmundr?
Does he tell you you are damned without his guidance?
For I’ve seen before men under the spell of those who claim to know the gods.
He has been a great friend to me.
Aethelstan, hump who you wish, but do not fall under the influence of those who seek power…
Who makes such vicious claim against me?
Who tells such lies?
It has not been talked of.
Lord Aldhelm, does he spy for…
What has been said, by who, and for how long?
No one has said anything. I care not for that, but for you.
Aethelstan, you are a kind man, but you are tenderhearted, and Ingilmundr is seeking power for himself and for his brotherhood.
Lies. Lies and ignominy.
There’s no ignominy. He just turns you from your kin.
And you are turned from your king!
You seek to be one yourself.
Lord, they consecrate the ground and would request you to give the blessing.
Yes, of course.
Let us leave the King of Northumbria to think on his errors.
I have no dream to be a king.
Only to protect you.
Like you ran to protect him in Aegelesburg and ended up being beaten by boys?
Should he really take counsel from a man who loses his sword to a child?
Northumbria needs a lord with lust for battle.
There are rumors Anlaf has arrived and will come Viking.
Do not think he will spare you just because you follow the same gods.
Keep him here a night and make him swear at dawn.
In time, you will come begging for his help.
As all fathers fall, and all sons take their place.
[disconcerting music playing]
Lord Ingilmundr has declared you an enemy of God to incite his followers to kill you.
Aethelstan would not allow it.
Which is why Ingilmundr seeks to keep his hands clean of it and has left the camp.
To go where?
[Aldhelm] This way.
Go up and around. There’s no guard.
Him. That is the man.
What did you speak of with the pagan?
[agitated music builds]
[sentry] Horsemen approach!
[Osbert] Stay back from my gates and tell me who you are.
Lord Ingilmundr, and I come at Lord Uhtred’s request.
He’s delayed in Eoferwic as he renews his vow to the king.
He asked I help protect you.
Protect from what?
There is a rumor of Wolf-Warriors landed near Derwent.
[guard] Open the gate! Open the gate!
[tense music builds]
Do not give the order.
Think on all we have shared.
You’re lost from yourself, Aethelstan.
We fought together…
And despite this, you drip poison against me and plot with Uhtred.
You turned your back, Aldhelm.
Now I turn mine.
[haunting vocal music playing]
[prays in Latin]
[Eadgifu] Lord Ingilmundr, you bring welcome news of Lord Uhtred’s supplication.
Will you journey south with me to let me bear witness to it?
Lady, we have ridden hard to get here. At least let us rest a day or so.
Oh, but I have been trapped in Bebbanburg a good while.
Believe me, you do not want to find yourself here longer than intended.
[horse grunts softly]
They’ve been warned!
We overtook you on the road.
Whatever power you hold over Aethelstan, today it ends.
[Ingilmundr grunts] My sword!
You still believe in Valhalla!
Aethelstan cares for you. I will not divide us further.
Put him below.
Christians amongst you, defend me! Who is your Lord?
Lord Uhtred or the Lord Jesus Christ?
The people of Bebbanburg will not be divided by faith.
Rise up, you fools!
Tell the king the terms of his release.
He makes peace with Northumbria and guarantees the border.
No one is forced to follow his god.
Quite a price.
Will Aethelstan agree?
[Uhtred] Let us hope so.
He seems to discard his friends rather quickly now.
[discordant music playing]
[Ingilmundr] Truly, you bless an unworthy soul.
May God reward your kindness.
[determined music playing]
[Anlaf] Aethelstan turns against his friends.
Succumbs to a wild dream to be a monarch for all your land.
In time, he will come for you, Shetland.
He will take what belonged to your forebears and call it Britain.
He barely sets his foot upon the water. Saxon country folk.
We can repel them.
I’m not talking of repelling, but of meeting conquest with conquest.
[Domnal] Scotland rejects your offer.
We cannot join with pagans to attack a man who’s not threatened us.
Christians do not choose war.
War is coming.
You only have to choose a side.
[Ingilmundr] God be with you.
[gentle music playing]
[Wassa] The stone was rolled away, as in the scripture.
It can only be the work of an angel.
This way, Lord. Come and see the treasures.
What word from Eoferwic?
Does he accept my terms?
I have no news.
Aethelstan is said to have returned to Winchester.
Well, let us take it as a good sign.
Perhaps without his shadow, Aethelstan sees more clearly.
[Sihtric] What trouble brings you out here?
[Finan] The villagers were hunting for pagan silver.
Now they’re saying it’s a miracle.
[Wassa] Make way for the King of Northumbria.
I told you.
They think of you as a king.
[Finan] Do you think they hope to keep half for themselves?
[Sihtric] They likely took it from Bebbanburg in the first place.
[man] You are detained in the name of King Aethelstan.
[sinister music builds]
We’ve been lured here.
[Wassa] Lord, I’m sorry!
I’m sorry, Lord.
The prisoner told me I had to, or I’d burn in the fires of hell.
I will never order to open the gates.
A gift from the king.
Aethelstan did this?
It’s what he does to traitors.
Open the gates or I slaughter your father.
Comply and he will be spared.
Do not open.
I can kill him in front of you.
Do not open!
The choice is yours.
[Uhtred] Osbert! Do not open!
In your absence, Father, I command here.
And I command that we open.
[Sihtric] No, no, no!
[guard] Drop your sword.
Where is Aethelstan?
Bring me the Lady Eadgifu.
[Eadgifu] I can walk.
[Eadgifu] Go on.
[Ingilmundr] You are to be placed in the community on Lindisfarne to protect your virtue.
Did you hump the heathen, Lady?
I confess to have prayed for your excruciating death.
A no, then. You should have tried when you had the chance.
We’re taking your son to my garrison at Thelwael where he will be trained for battle.
No. No. Please.
Your son also.
[Eadgifu] No. Edmund is the blood of Alfred.
He should not be fodder for a shield wall! Please!
[Osbert] I will take care of him.
[Eadgifu gasps breathlessly]
The son of Uhtred stands for Wessex.
[Finan] Hey! Hey!
You, we have a plan for.
[Uhtred] Am I to be drowned in the sea?
[Ingilmundr] I never quite know his mind.
[Uhtred] Do not punish those in Bebbanburg.
His fight is with me.
His fight is elsewhere.
How lucky we have found ourselves so close to the Scottish border.
No, do not invade Scotland. You will lose hundreds of men.
And unleash a war for generations.
The king has no successor to fear for. It makes him strong.
Do whatever you must to protect our sons. Do not fight him. Just capitulate.
Anything else is foolish.
Aldhelm never betrayed you.
All of you betrayed me.
All those I thought as friends.
Swear now, before Bebbanburg, and I will spare your life.
Then you leave me with no choice.
[shrill chords droning]
[bass drum pounding]
Let me offer my…
Take everything from him.
I banish you from my lands to travel the earth and seas alone.
On pain of murder of your son.
Let none feed or clothe him, lest become my enemy.
Before this mercy vanishes.
[music builds dramatically]
[Hywel] Turn back. There is still time.
The Scots are no threat.
This will damn you, Lord King.
[Hywel] To save us from the pagans can be a just endeavor.
But to turn on other Christians is ungodly.
[Hywel] Your men do not want this fight.
[Aethelstan] Well, perhaps I need better men.
Perhaps I should summon your son.
Aethelstan has attacked settlements in the lowlands.
He cannot raid us without reply.
Do I tell Anlaf you are ready to meet with him and the other kings?
Uhtred the Daneslayer.
You killed my cousin Gelf at the battle of Beamfleot.
[echoes]…the battle of Beamfleot.
Send word we have found him.
I hated Gelf.
[echoes] Gelf, Gelf…
Take him to the king.
[Uhtred] Where are you taking me?
[woman] To the very north of these islands.
[rhythmic music playing]
[Uhtred] What do you give thanks for?
For the great battle to come.
Tell the jarl we’re here with the King of Northumbria.
[Uhtred] All folk of Shetland?
[woman] Some of Man and Orkney join us.
With their kings. [chuckles]
[Anlaf] Is this who they claim?
The King of Northumbria?
[Constantin] Aye, it’s him.
I am no king.
But you could be.
Sit. You are amongst friends.
[Uhtred] You join with pagans?
Aethelstan has taken an axe to the truce.
A truce you brokered.
What he has done in the villages of the lowlands…
Is it worse than his cruelty in Irland?
Tales to spread fear.
[Constantin] We had no choice but to defend ourselves.
We did not start this.
How did you find me? Who’s your spy?
We have many spies. We know many things.
[Constantin] We know Aethelstan has banished you.
And we know he gets humped like a woman.
That may be customary to you pagans, but as a Christian, it cannot be endured.
He endures it often, from what I hear.
As a man who shares our enemy, we ask you to join with us, Uhtred, in our alliance.
Stand against the tyrant.
I’m heartsick of battles.
What has become of the warrior? Do you no longer yearn for Valhalla?
Do you know the prophecy, Uhtred?
The ancient prophecy of my people?
All of Britain will unite against the Saxons, push them into the Kentish sea, return the feals to the line of Arthur.
The vision of an old man.
So it must be true.
We Northumbrians also have a prophecy.
“Seven kings must die.”
That holds no fear.
Each man here has a son to take his place.
[Owain] Seven kings die, seven will, in that moment, be made.
[Anlaf] It’s true.
If you make a child, your kingdom stands beyond you.
A kingdom ravaged by war, yes.
[Constantin] Then there is another way to consider.
If you wish to save many from bloodshed.
Kill one man only.
Kill the king who has attacked us all.
Return to him in… supplication.
Seize the moment.
Save many lives by simply taking one.
[Anlaf] The alternative, of course, is war.
Seven kings against one.
If Aethelstan wanted to unite the tribes of Britain, he has succeeded.
[triumphant music playing]
[Anlaf] Why do you seek us here?
Your part is to keep Winchester aroused.
You let Uhtred go free. Why?
I sent him away.
To kill your friend, the king.
Well, he will be killed in the attempt.
Uhtred has skills you do not.
He attacks Aethelstan. Aethelstan attacks him.
It barely matters.
Either way, we face in battle men whose spirits have been broken.
Ingilmundr, go to the West. The time is near.
Astrid, watch our friends in Northumbria.
[ominous music playing]
[Aethelstan] I did not think I would see you again.
In the name of my son, I beg forgiveness.
Let me kneel to you.
Then I lift your banishment.
Give me a sword and then leave us.
Go on, then.
I swear this on my son’s life.
Hear this as an oath.
Ingilmundr is a spy.
He’s working with Anlaf to ally British kings against you.
It is true. I saw him in Shetland.
He told Anlaf’s warriors to track me. They tried to turn me…
He is in Thelwael with your son!
He told them things of you.
He still follows my gods.
For now, you have an advantage.
Ingilmundr does not know he has been discovered.
[Aethelstan] No, he would not betray me.
If anything, I have betrayed him.
He is a man of God, and I am a sinner!
He has convinced you of this to provoke your campaign.
To unite your enemies.
Aethelstan, please see this. This alliance he has gathered is too large.
Your lands will be overrun.
No! You lie!
This is all lies!
Aethelstan, please hear me.
Why would I lie to you?
Get out. Get from my sight! Guards!
[guard] You dog! On your way.
[Sihtric] We search every forest, every valley.
[Finan] And here he is, back in the lap of luxury.
We heard you needed us.
Truly the gods smiled at me to give me such friends.
[Finan] Let’s find ourselves an alehouse, make a plan.
Who told you I was here?
[Sihtric] She said you called for us.
Did you not send for us, Lord?
She said you needed us.
And requested a guard.
Danish girl, serves in Aethelstan’s court.
Finan, I sent no word.
No command for you to leave Bebbanburg.
[unsettling music playing]
[Sihtric] Stay here and guard the gates.
[man] Yes, Lord.
[Uhtred] This is Anlaf’s doing.
[Sihtric] Lord, where are they all?
[Eadgifu] When news reached us of the attack and torture here, the abbess sent us to help the injured.
But we cannot get to the injured.
Where… Where is she? Where’s my wife?
“Seven kings must die,” Lord.
“Seven kings and the woman you love.”
Every man is to help move it.
You, up above.
[Finan] Can anyone hear me?
[Uhtred] Watch for signs of Anlaf’s men.
We tried to help, but all we could do was comfort them.
Uhtred, Ingrith said they threatened to return.
We must secure ourselves.
Not until we rescue those within.
When did you speak last?
About three days ago.
[Finan] Get the rope up there!
[Finan] Come on!
[melancholy choral music playing]
[in anguish] No!
[choral music continues]
[Uhtred] I brought this on them.
What they suffered is on Anlaf’s account.
You cannot let this break you.
We are broken.
We have no allies. We’re lost.
Then we must find the courage to defend Northumbria from their return.
If we endure and keep them at siege, we will give those in other parts of England time to prepare.
Whatever we suffer protects those we are apart from.
[Sihtric] She’s right, Lord.
Osbert can cross the Irish Sea, get to…
The Irish Sea?
We must find the fastest horses. I think Anlaf is hoping to turn all eyes here.
To lure Aethelstan.
But they will land where they have men. Ingilmundr holds a garrison in the Wirral.
With… With our sons.
[frenetic music playing]
[Osbert] Something’s underway.
[man 1] I’m ready.
[man 2] Take care.
[Osbert] Get in the cart.
Those of you with swords to your throats face a decision.
A thousand ships are heading towards these shores.
Some have already landed.
Within a week, Saxon boroughs will be overrun.
Join us and fight the tyrant Aethelstan, or die.
For King Ed…
[Osbert] Keep still.
[man] This way!
[woman] Yes, sir. I believe so.
We saw them, but they got away.
There. Far away.
[woman] Yes, my lord.
[Sihtric] No word from Thelwael, Lord.
[woman] Told them all I knew.
Do we finally face defeat?
All the warrior kings that I’ve known, Ubba, Cnut, Bloodhair,
all have faced defeat in the end and have taken others with them.
The fight was always coming, Lord. No warrior dies a peaceful death.
She saw it all. “Seven kings must die.”
We have hope.
In your heart, you never wanted to be a king.
[Eadgifu] Have those fleeing heard anything of my son?
Then until I know for sure, he is alive.
And if conquest is easy, perhaps Anlaf may be satisfied with Mercia.
It is fertile…
[Uhtred] He will not be satisfied.
They come Viking now to extinguish an idea of England.
A dream unites a people who once sought to kill each other.
Without it, we go back into an age of darkness.
[solemn music playing]
We have both lost so much.
But I ask myself… am I alive?
Can you feel it?
[Uhtred] You are alive.
So are you.
So we have hope.
[tense music builds]
[jarring piano chord plays]
I came seeking Ingilmundr.
To prove that you had lied to me.
But you had not.
[Uhtred] We came to search for our sons.
Bring out Osbert and Edmund.
[jarring chord plays]
[Eadgifu gasps, sobs]
[Aethelstan] They hid themselves and were spared the massacre.
[Eadgifu] Lord King, you have my endless gratitude.
[Aethelstan] I’ve not been myself this past year, and truly, truly, I… I pay for my sins.
I face a great alliance at Brunanburh.
All regret is worthless.
Let us speak only of the fight to come.
Osbert, what have you learnt?
They’ve set up camp on high ground.
And they have six armies.
Then seven armies shall meet at Brunanburh.
I do not want you to fight for me, Uhtred.
[Uhtred] Trust I’m on your side…
I know that.
Take your son to safety.
If I do not survive the battle, then succession will be secure.
You cannot fight this alliance alone.
[Aethelstan] Yet I forbid you from taking part.
Take him, Father Pyrlig. Please, take them all.
I’ve dragged you all to this fate.
[Uhtred] Let us serve you.
Aethelstan… this is not a punishment.
I think we both know that it is.
[Uhtred] This is martyrdom.
He will not survive so great a number.
But we have been reprieved.
God is telling us to get to safety.
Your god does not speak to me.
It is not cowardly to spurn a battle that cannot be won.
However this prevails, I will have to know I walked away from danger.
Your battles will come when you become king.
King of where, Mother?
We will fight with the shield wall.
Osbert, are you ready?
I’ve always been ready.
Pyrlig, you once told me that it was my destiny to save England.
Hadn’t seen it quite like this, but then I’m not one for prophecies.
[Eadgifu] What if your destiny is to protect Edmund?
Perhaps he is the one to unite England. He could be the king who was worthy.
No king will form England.
This is what I see now.
Not Edmund or Edward or Alfred. Not even Aethelstan.
Alfred’s dream was of a united people.
And with these men, from all parts, I fought for it.
What if our destiny was not to form England, but to form the English as one force?
Who better than a half Saxon, half Dane to lead men from divided places?
[Uhtred] We go!
I don’t have to call myself English, do I?
[harsh music playing]
To hear that, you’d think they’d won already.
[distant animals calling]
[Uhtred] We should make our way.
If this is to work, we need to be on the front line.
We’ll aim for their left side.
Why the left?
Weaker. Most men fight with the sword in their right hand.
I’ve fought with Uhtred many times. Trust he will find a way.
Where did you find that?
I bought it in Aegelesburg for five pieces.
I will exchange it for this one.
It is worth much more, and it has a garnet.
When I say exchange, I mean you take that one, and I keep this one.
[Uhtred] I am no commander of yours.
I have no authority other than being a man who has fought in many battles.
Some of you I have led before.
Today I stand with you as a simple soldier.
But I ask that, on the field, you once again let me guide you.
Our position on the hill is weak, but the trees to our left give us an advantage the enemy will not see.
We can defeat them if we stay united.
[chilling music playing]
This is one way to clear the ale.
Smell of a thousand armpits.
[Finan] Aye. Maybe they smelled us and ran away.
[Finan] Who touched my arse?
Oh my God!
Rather a lot of them, isn’t there?
[rival soldiers jeering]
How do we face this?
You see these bags?
Give them to the men on the front line. Go.
[Uhtred] Do not raise your shield until you have to.
Stay at ease. Stay relaxed.
And do not show them we are unsettled.
[Anlaf] Here he comes. The tyrant himself.
[Uhtred] Is it done?
Get back as far as you can.
[commander] Shield wall!
[agitated music playing]
Are we ready, arselings?
I have taken their confessions.
When I ask you to give ground, do it.
When you see the trees in front of you, it will be time.
Do you think this will work?
If it does not, we will not be here to see it.
Even before we engage?
[Anlaf] They know they have lost already.
Let’s enjoy it.
I thank God, who I serve with pure conscience.
God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power…
…and of sound mind!
[rhythmic grunting continues]
[Uhtred] Step back!
[commander] Re-form! Charge!
[haunting music playing]
Two paces! One pace!
On my command!
[Finan] Let’s hope this works!
Two paces back!
One pace back!
[Anlaf] They back off. We have them.
Find the king!
[Anlaf] Find the king!
[Sihtric] Go backwards!
Protect the line! Protect the line!
[Finan] They’ll overrun us if we keep giving ground!
What are they doing along the flank?
[Constantin] Send a message that Aethelstan is in front of us!
[Finan] The line’s turning, Lord. We’re coming around!
Aethelstan is on the Scots’ line, Lord.
[Anlaf] Swine wedge!
[Constantin] Anlaf! Stop!
They’re going for Aethelstan!
The wall will not hold!
[Uhtred] Aethelstan, hold the line!
[Finan] How much longer, Lord?
[Uhtred] We’re almost there.
They’re breaking through Aethelstan’s line, Lord!
[Finan] We can’t hold!
[Hywel] Protect the king!
[Finan] Lord, trees!
We’ve turned them, Lord! We’ve turned the line.
[Uhtred] Give the signal!
[runner] Yes, Lord.
Something’s not right.
[Domnal] We’ve been turned around!
[runner] Make way! Make way!
Lord Uhtred orders the signal.
Hunt down their kings!
It’s a trap!
[haunting music playing]
[Shetland] My son!
[cries in anguish]
Fall back! Fall back!
Scots! Fall back!
[haunting vocals playing]
[Uhtred] Aethelstan! [echoes]
[percussive music pulsing]
[choral singing intensifies]
[mournful music playing]
[Finan] Five kings escaped the field that day, but their sons, Orkney, Man, Shetland, Strathclyde, and Scotland, did not.
[Constantin] Each man here has left behind an heir.
Then attack those leaving the field and return for our kin.
[Shetland] Do not be any more foolish, Anlaf.
No more death.
[Anlaf] Orkney, we need to fight!
What is there to fight for?
I need a ship to get back to Irland.
[sorrowful music droning]
Hey. Hey, you.
[Sihtric] Finan! Finan!
[Aethelstan] Was any of it real?
Tell me the truth.
When you find yourself before God, you will have confessed.
I grew fond of you.
But my love for my people prevailed.
I chose you over my people.
Perhaps my gods are stronger than yours.
Then why am I living… and you about to die?
Only fools try to understand destiny.
[gentle music playing]
[singer vocalizing wistfully]
Did my son survive?
[Osbert] And Bebbanburg is ours again.
We will rebuild in stone.
[Eadgifu] There is so much future.
Stay with us, Uhtred.
What of the enemy?
[Finan] The victory is ours.
Five sons of kings lay dead upon the battlefield.
Five kings that will never be crowned.
[Finan] “Seven kings must die.”
The prophecy was wrong, Lord.
With Edward of Wessex, it makes six.
Am I to be the seventh?
I have told the chroniclers to write of your victory, Uhtred.
I have no wish to be written into your history.
I want only to be honored in the feast hall for standing by an oath.
Uhtred, you did not just stand by me.
You stood for me.
You led where I could not.
And you forgave me when I was unforgivable.
You saved the hope of England.
Now in time, it may yet happen.
I said that… if you proved yourself to be the rightful king, I would swear Northumbria to you.
Men have died fighting under the name of the English.
To honor them, England should be formed.
But I have one condition.
You must make an oath never to marry.
So your brother Edmund can take the throne unchallenged.
This oath I shall swear.
Then we submit to you as our king.
Which makes you ruler of Wessex, Mercia, East Anglia, and Northumbria.
And I call my lands England.
Long live the king!
[all] Long live the king.
[Uhtred] Long live the King of England.
Return to your chamber, Lord.
Do not grieve for me.
It was always written that I would fall in battle.
[Finan] You’re not gonna die, Lord.
I would go first, and I’m still alive…
So, destiny is all.
[emotional music playing]
[Finan] Did seven kings die?
The chronicles do not record if my lord Uhtred survived.
But those like me, who knew him, recognize him as the greatest warrior of our age, and a man who made a kingdom.
[ethereal music playing]