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Athelstan was born to a Northumbrian family that could not afford to have another child. Vikings season 6 airs Wednesdays on History and Thursdays on Amazon Prime In History’s hit series Vikings, Athelstan (George Blagden) has earned a special place in the hearts of fans. Blagden also went on to explain the need for characters to be “appealing.” The object is to entertain and not to show a documentary on the lives of the Vikings. He even participates in raids and enjoys his new life to the fullest. One of the most popular characters on the History Channel’s Vikings is undoubtedly the monk Athelstan, who finds himself torn between the Viking and Christian worlds, and his loyalty to his own people and his friendship with Ragnar Lothbrok. He is considered the first king of all England, something Ecbert aspires to be in the show, and one of its most important. This battle is also credited with being an important moment in the creation of the idea of English nationalism, with an English identity emerging among the soldiers and subjects of Athelstan. Athelstan lives with the Vikings and is introduced to their way of life. The Athelstan that we see in Vikings was named for King Athelstan, the first King of England from 927 to 939. He’s one of the most unique and special characters in the series. But he was able to create the first Christian chapel in Denmark, in Hebedy, in 860. But this is not before Athelstan returns to England for a short period of time to work in the service of King Ecbert of Wessex, translating Roman texts that the king has found. He was also an extremely pious man, translating the Bible into English and supporting the growth and development of monasteries. Æthelstan or Athelstan was King of the Anglo-Saxons from 924 to 927 and King of the English from 927 to 939 when he died. He starts to worship their gods and appreciate their culture. This causes conflict among Ragnar’s supporters, in particular with Floki, who is very committed to the Viking gods and sees the threat posed by Christianity. Named for an important English king, there were Christian monks that would have experienced many of the things that we see Athelstan encounter on screen. On the show, Athelstan claims to have learned the tongue as a missionary, and this is possible. When the Vikings raided, they had no problem raiding churches, monasteries, and other religious places that the Christian community considered sacred and untouchable. Unlike Ragnar and his sons, this Athelstan does not appear in the sagas, so he is a character that has been invented for the show. His story highlights important themes from the Viking period. Read on to learn more. But, aside from the name and general piety, and a connection between Athelstan and King Alfred, it is hard to see much of the Athelstan character that we see on Vikings in this English monarch. “In historical records that they were Far from being the father of Alfred, Athelstan was actually his grandson, the son of King Edward the Elder and his wife Ecgwynn. Required fields are marked *. Athelstan adopts the Viking ways as his own and he experiences the beauty of his newfound world. It is also known that Christianity caused conflict in communities as followers of the Norse religion and new Christian religion battled between themselves. “About taking liberties, we are in the business of But while Vikings celebrates and offers a realistic vision of the Viking world, its entertainment not a documentary, so you can only expect so much. We know that the missionary Willibrord was active in Denmark from 710, where he was treated respectfully but found few converts. He can see the value in their ways and beliefs, and so becomes torn between his commitment to his Christian faith and his desire to fully become part of his new community. When Sweyn succeeded to power following the death of his father, he then went on to destroy Christian churches in England when he invaded there. The Vikings quickly retook control of York that same year and held it until 954. this whole story of this monk and what happens to him, I can’t ruin anything, While it was not the very first Viking raid on English soil, it is often considered the start of the Viking age in England as it hit the heart of the Northumbrian nation in a sacred space. really have to find that balance between entertaining and respecting history, This Athelstan also had an edge as he already spoke the Viking dialect, crediting missionary work in the area for this knowledge. He never married and had no children. Are you disappointed that he is not a real historic figure named in the sagas? Eventually, Athelstan found happiness, great freedom, and joy in serving the father of his church, Saint Cuthbert. Nevertheless, the people of Wessex did not seem keen on Athelstan, and it took him several months to have himself named king of Wessex as well. He’s got He’s one of the most unique and special characters in the series. ‘Vikings’: George Blagden Reveals Why Ragnar Saves Athelstan. Over time, Athelstan and Ragnar become very close friends who are more like family. We want there to He had never married and had no sons, so he was succeeded by his brother Edmund. The real Athelstan fought off invading Vikings throughout this reign, most notably at the Battle of Brunanburh in 937. Importantly, there he also forms a romantic connection with Judith, the daughter-in-law of King Ecbert, with whom he fathers the child Alfred, who goes on to succeed Ecbert as king. entertaining, so we don’t want to make Vikings a documentary. This resulted in the St Brice’s Day massacre on Friday 13 November 1002, when King Athelred ordered the execution of all the Danes living in England. George Blagden, who plays Athelstan, participated in WonderCon in 2013 and he took part in a roundtable talk and Collider reported the questions and answers. He was succeeded by his half-brother, Edmund. So, the reaction of Floki and other characters to the Christian influence of Athelstan also rings true. “You Few characters on Vikings have had as tortured a journey as Athelstan. It was very common for the Vikings to take men and women captured on their raids home to Scandinavia to work as slaves, called thralls. Far from being the father of Alfred, Athelstan was actually his grandson, the son of King Edward the Elder and his wife Ecgwynn. representing stock historical figures accurately, you’d see them picking their The purpose of Ubbe and Torvi’s journey to Iceland is learn what happened to Floki , who was last seen in the series entering a cave and getting trapped as the cave was inside an active volcano. Unhappy with this change in power, the York Vikings and the Scots combined forces to invade England in 937. His friendship with Ragnar is also an important plot point of the show, and kept many fans engaged. Athelstan retook the city, bringing all of England under English control, his own. Your email address will not be published. Athelstan then turned his eyes on Scotland, invading their territory and forcing their King Constantine II to pledge allegiance to him. However, there was an Athelstan around that time, and it was the grandson of Alfred the Great. Athelstan finds truth in both of his religions, which leads to all sorts of internal conflict for him. Living in the monastery also saved him from possibly dying of fever like the rest of his fa… Vikings: Is Othere The Real Athelstan? “Well, Michael [Hirst] has actually based Athelstan on a He spoke on Athelstan’s historical identity, which is actually based on a monk from the pages of history. Everyone there is shocked at the brutality, and some of the monks are taken back as slaves, including Athelstan. Three monks were abducted from Lindisfarne and one of them “became part of the Viking culture,” according to Blagden. However, it was probably not Ragnar that conducted the raid, as it is a little bit early for him. He also focused on converting nearby Swedish communities, again with generally little success. Othere made his debut in season 6’s episode “Resurrection”, where Ubbe and Torvi were introduced to him by Kjetill Flatnose (Adam Copeland) in Iceland. © 2020 Norse and Viking Mythology [Best Blog] – vkngjewelry | Theme: Your email address will not be published. nose or going to the bathroom or doing daily things…,” Blagden continued. It is thought that the more than 30 skeletons found during an excavation in Oxford in 2008 belong to this massacre. At a very young age, he was placed in a monastery at Lindesfarne. Whether someone like Athelstan would have had such a privileged place among the Vikings is questionable, as is the question of whether he would have been able to gain the trust of an English king like Ecbert having spent so long with the Vikings. Athelstan succeeded to the throne of Mercia upon the death of his father in 924, with Wessex going to his brother Elfweard. However, Athelstan always feels conflicted inside between his differing religions. As well as being the king that forged England into a single country, Athelstan is considered to have been an excellent administrator, centralizing government functions and leaving behind many legal texts. Thralls that lived in the household would quickly have become close to the family, working alongside them, as we see Athelstan do on the show. Blagden says Michael Hirst, the creator of the series, does a great job of getting the “balance” between history and entertainment right. peering through, it was recorded that three monks were taken back to Later in the 820s the monk Ansgar is attested in Denmark during the reign of Harald Klak. But Elfweard died just three weeks after his father, leaving the kingship of Wessex vacant. But, while the Athelstan that we see in the Vikings series may not be named for or based on a specific personage similar to himself, his character rings true for the historical period. He’s constantly searching for purpose and eventually he turns back to his god when he meets his death. Athelstan is an eager monk when Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) comes to Lindisfarne in the first-ever raid on England. There are stories of free Vikings dying to protect their thralls. real-life monk,” Blagden revealed. The former Christian monk starts to seriously doubt his faith once he is confronted with a reality completely different from the one that he knew. So, at the end of season three Floki murders Athelstan. Witnessing Athelstan's struggle after being taken as a slave by Ragnar was, for many, one of the most interesting journeys in Vikings. 2020 Showbiz Cheat Sheet, All Rights Reserved. but he’s completely based on this historical figure.”. Unfortunately, Athelstan died just two years later in 939 at the age of 45. The short answer to that question is no. The Viking raid on the Lindisfarne monastery is a real historical event from 793. But that does not mean that his story lacks historic meaning. He is actually known for successfully battling against the Vikings. Athelstan then turned his attention to York, which had been occupied by the Vikings since it was conquered by Ivar the Boneless in 866, as we see on the show. It is not a stretch to imagine some Christian living in Viking territory being slain as a result of their beliefs. RELATED: ‘Vikings’: George Blagden Reveals Why Ragnar Saves Athelstan. Athelstan, in alliance with the King of Dublin, defeated the combined Viking and Scottish forces, earning him great respect as a ruler across Europe. Speaking of raids, Athelstan is a fictional character as there’s no record of a Christian monk kidnapped by the Vikings (let alone one that became Ragnar Lothbrok’s best friend). He finds comfort in religion and remains torn between his two religions for years. Blagden revealed during an interview whether Athelstan is based on a real person. What do you think of Athelstan from Vikings? Missionaries were active in Scandinavia from the 8th century, though conversions were few until the 10th century. Athelstan is based on a real historical figure, which may be surprising news to fans who love the character so much. It was also quite common for Vikings to emancipate their thralls, as we see Ragnar do with Athelstan on the show, demanding loyalty in return, which had to be maintained for at least two generations. He was the son of King Edward the Elder and his first wife, Ecgwynn. It is not difficult to see why Athelstan would have been a prized slave for a man like Ragnar, as he had intimate knowledge of the territory that Ragnar planned to raid. and one survived, and one of them became part of the Viking culture. In History’s hit series Vikings, Athelstan (George Blagden) has earned a special place in the hearts of fans. Modern historians regard him as the first King of England and one of the greatest Anglo-Saxon kings. But is the character that we see in the Vikings series real? Nevertheless, many of the monks were killed, or taken back to Viking territory as slaves. When King Harald Bluetooth of Denmark converted to Christianity, he was opposed by his son Sweyn Forkbeard, who despite being baptized with his father opposed the spread of Christianity. Scandinavia from the first Viking raid on Lindisfarne, and the other two died Trading thralls was an important part of the Viking economy. The Athelstan that we see on Vikings, played by George Blagden, is an English monk at Lindisfarne in Northumbria. which Michael [Hirst] does brilliantly.”. The Athelstan that we see in Vikings was named for King Athelstan, the first King of England from 927 to 939. He was taken back to Scandinavia by Ragnar Lothbrok as a slave, and quickly became an indispensable member of Ragnar’s household, not least because of his knowledge of England, the land that Ragnar had his eyes on. He had learned to forget about himself and has devoted his life to Christianity. be lots of fun and really appealing characters, and if we were just He is taken as a prison by the Vikings when they raided the monastery in 793. Or are you happy that he embodies a person that could have lived in Viking times and reflects the type of experience that person may have had? He also teaches the people around him about Christian ideas, and Ragnar becomes particularly interested in them. However, Athelstan also has the advantage that he can share that information with Ragnar because he speaks the Viking tongue.

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