The six and a half centuries between the end of Roman rule and the Norman conquest sure was an important period in English History. We witness the emergence of England as a kingdom with its English identity. Some vigorous kings and other nobilities also reigned during this period. And Netflix has beautifully portrayed it in the historical drama, The Last Kingdom, with season 5 being the last one.
The drama chronicles the story of Uhtred of Bebbanburg (Alexander Dreymon). During the course of five seasons, he serves King Alfred the Great, and later on, his son Edward the Elder. Adapted from Bernard Cowell’s The Saxon Stories, the story follows true historic characters, but with a fictional touch. For the history freaks and die-hard fans of the series, here we have explained how the show has deviated from the true anecdotes in history.
Uhtred of Bebbanburg is a real person with not so real story
We see that in The Last Kingdom season 5, Uhtred of Bebbanburg attempts to reclaim his ancestral home. Apparently, Cornwell has some ancestral roots attached to Uhtred the Bold (historical counterpart of our protagonist) that inspired him to create this story.
Uhtred the bold was Ealderman of Northumbria and ruled from the castle of Bamburgh, or Bebbanburg as we know it. Further, the series is set a centennial before his reign. According to historians, Uhtred the bold had Scandinavian blood. But the series tells something different. The Danes raised our protagonist after his father’s death. The intention behind this was to establish the tension between the Danes and the Saxons. Dreymon’s character is also partly inspired by Ealdred I of Bamburg. Seemingly, there are historical connections between Ealdred and Edward, which is reflected in the series.
The Danish army did not invade Jovrik’s borders as depicted in The Last Kingdom season 5
We see how Brida cruelly castrates Uhtred’s son after swearing revenge against him. She then takes down his daughter in Barbaric style. However, historical shreds of evidence prove that around the time when Brida takes over, Jorvik (ruled by Uhtred’s daughter) was just a growing city, ruled by Regnall.
Although Ivor the boneless did establish York as the capital city of Vikings; It was not until 927, when Æthelstan attacked the city. The Last Kingdom accelerates this history to stealthily advance Edward’s dream of a unified England.
Sigtryggr’s wife in the show is not the same person in history
Yes! While Sigtryggr marries Uhtred’s daughter in the show, his historical counterpart tied the knot with a sister of Æthelstan in 926, to establish peace with Anglo-Saxons. Furthermore, the fifth season of the series introduces us to Sigtrygrr’s brother, Rognvaldr.
His character is partly based on Ragnall ua Ímair, the Danish King of Northumbria, and the Isle of Mann in the tenth century. Historically, Ragnall died in 921, and Sigtrygrr ruled on Jorvik thereafter. The series parts its way with history by inverting their reigns. In the show, Sigtryggr dies and Edward appoints Rognvaldr as Jovrik’s ubiquitous king. This is done to entwine Uhtred’s and England’s destiny.
The Last Kingdom differently portrays Æthelstan’s upbringing
The Last Kingdom season 5 majorly emphasizes the politics involved in the succession of Edward’s crown. Both in history and in the series, Æthelstan is Edward’s only son from his first wife, Ecgwynn. Due to her contemptible birth, he was sent away along with his sister. Well, here comes the twist.
Although Æthelstan had not-so-sweet relationship with his father both in fiction and reality, Uhtred didn’t nurture him historically. Instead, it was his aunt and uncle, Æthelflæd and Æthelred, who educated him. Nonetheless, strengthening Uhtred’s relationship with Edward’s son was a smart move indeed.
All in all, although the characters are inspired by the real historic entities, their story is somewhat fictionalized to give an edge to the protagonist of Netflix’s The Last Kingdom. Did you like the series? Do let us know in the comment section.