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representing stock historical figures accurately, you’d see them picking their Far from being the father of Alfred, Athelstan was actually his grandson, the son of King Edward the Elder and his wife Ecgwynn. Everyone there is shocked at the brutality, and some of the monks are taken back as slaves, including Athelstan. On the show, Athelstan claims to have learned the tongue as a missionary, and this is possible. 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. In History’s hit series Vikings, Athelstan (George Blagden) has earned a special place in the hearts of fans. 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. 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. 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. but he’s completely based on this historical figure.”. He’s one of the most unique and special characters in the series. He also focused on converting nearby Swedish communities, again with generally little success. He never married and had no children. 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. real-life monk,” Blagden revealed. “Well, Michael [Hirst] has actually based Athelstan on a He finds comfort in religion and remains torn between his two religions for years. Required fields are marked *. Few characters on Vikings have had as tortured a journey as Athelstan. 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 thought that the more than 30 skeletons found during an excavation in Oxford in 2008 belong to this massacre. What do you think of Athelstan from Vikings? Modern historians regard him as the first King of England and one of the greatest Anglo-Saxon kings. However, it was probably not Ragnar that conducted the raid, as it is a little bit early for him. 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. There are stories of free Vikings dying to protect their thralls. However, Athelstan always feels conflicted inside between his differing religions. We know that the missionary Willibrord was active in Denmark from 710, where he was treated respectfully but found few converts. really have to find that balance between entertaining and respecting history, Read on to learn more. and one survived, and one of them became part of the Viking culture. Are you disappointed that he is not a real historic figure named in the sagas? He is considered the first king of all England, something Ecbert aspires to be in the show, and one of its most important. 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 was also an extremely pious man, translating the Bible into English and supporting the growth and development of monasteries. He is actually known for successfully battling against the Vikings. 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. 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. He even participates in raids and enjoys his new life to the fullest. Scandinavia from the first Viking raid on Lindisfarne, and the other two died His story highlights important themes from the Viking period. His friendship with Ragnar is also an important plot point of the show, and kept many fans engaged. 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 Athelstan that we see in Vikings was named for King Athelstan, the first King of England from 927 to 939. At a very young age, he was placed in a monastery at Lindesfarne. But that does not mean that his story lacks historic meaning. So, at the end of season three Floki murders Athelstan. Your email address will not be published. Blagden revealed during an interview whether Athelstan is based on a real person. When the Vikings raided, they had no problem raiding churches, monasteries, and other religious places that the Christian community considered sacred and untouchable. Blagden says Michael Hirst, the creator of the series, does a great job of getting the “balance” between history and entertainment right. It is not a stretch to imagine some Christian living in Viking territory being slain as a result of their beliefs. Living in the monastery also saved him from possibly dying of fever like the rest of his fa… Over time, Athelstan and Ragnar become very close friends who are more like family. Athelstan is based on a real historical figure, which may be surprising news to fans who love the character so much. The short answer to that question is no. Nevertheless, many of the monks were killed, or taken back to Viking territory as slaves. He’s got 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 spoke on Athelstan’s historical identity, which is actually based on a monk from the pages of history. He had never married and had no sons, so he was succeeded by his brother Edmund. Vikings: Is Othere The Real Athelstan? However, there was an Athelstan around that time, and it was the grandson of Alfred the Great. “You But Elfweard died just three weeks after his father, leaving the kingship of Wessex vacant. 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. The Athelstan that we see on Vikings, played by George Blagden, is an English monk at Lindisfarne in Northumbria. Eventually, Athelstan found happiness, great freedom, and joy in serving the father of his church, Saint Cuthbert. Unfortunately, Athelstan died just two years later in 939 at the age of 45. which Michael [Hirst] does brilliantly.”. Later in the 820s the monk Ansgar is attested in Denmark during the reign of Harald Klak. The Viking raid on the Lindisfarne monastery is a real historical event from 793. 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. 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. 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. Missionaries were active in Scandinavia from the 8th century, though conversions were few until the 10th century. 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. Athelstan is an eager monk when Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) comes to Lindisfarne in the first-ever raid on England. 2020 Showbiz Cheat Sheet, All Rights Reserved. “In historical records that they were He had learned to forget about himself and has devoted his life to Christianity. this whole story of this monk and what happens to him, I can’t ruin anything, 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. © 2020 Norse and Viking Mythology [Best Blog] – vkngjewelry | Theme: Your email address will not be published. The Athelstan that we see in Vikings was named for King Athelstan, the first King of England from 927 to 939. So, the reaction of Floki and other characters to the Christian influence of Athelstan also rings true. 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. RELATED: ‘Vikings’: George Blagden Reveals Why Ragnar Saves Athelstan. Three monks were abducted from Lindisfarne and one of them “became part of the Viking culture,” according to Blagden. The Vikings quickly retook control of York that same year and held it until 954. We want there to be lots of fun and really appealing characters, and if we were just 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. 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. Athelstan succeeded to the throne of Mercia upon the death of his father in 924, with Wessex going to his brother Elfweard. Unhappy with this change in power, the York Vikings and the Scots combined forces to invade England in 937. Athelstan finds truth in both of his religions, which leads to all sorts of internal conflict for him. He’s constantly searching for purpose and eventually he turns back to his god when he meets his death. He was succeeded by his half-brother, Edmund. Athelstan was born to a Northumbrian family that could not afford to have another child. Witnessing Athelstan's struggle after being taken as a slave by Ragnar was, for many, one of the most interesting journeys in Vikings. He’s one of the most unique and special characters in the series. 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. It is also known that Christianity caused conflict in communities as followers of the Norse religion and new Christian religion battled between themselves. He starts to worship their gods and appreciate their culture. 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. He was the son of King Edward the Elder and his first wife, Ecgwynn. Athelstan, in alliance with the King of Dublin, defeated the combined Viking and Scottish forces, earning him great respect as a ruler across Europe. Athelstan lives with the Vikings and is introduced to their way of life. He is taken as a prison by the Vikings when they raided the monastery in 793. But is the character that we see in the Vikings series real? 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. Trading thralls was an important part of the Viking economy. Athelstan adopts the Viking ways as his own and he experiences the beauty of his newfound world. However, Athelstan also has the advantage that he can share that information with Ragnar because he speaks the Viking tongue. This Athelstan also had an edge as he already spoke the Viking dialect, crediting missionary work in the area for this knowledge. 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. Athelstan then turned his eyes on Scotland, invading their territory and forcing their King Constantine II to pledge allegiance to him. In History’s hit series Vikings, Athelstan (George Blagden) has earned a special place in the hearts of fans. He also teaches the people around him about Christian ideas, and Ragnar becomes particularly interested in them. “About taking liberties, we are in the business of 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. 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. 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? 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. 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. Vikings season 6 airs Wednesdays on History and Thursdays on Amazon Prime 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). peering through, it was recorded that three monks were taken back to nose or going to the bathroom or doing daily things…,” Blagden continued. Athelstan retook the city, bringing all of England under English control, his own. 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. But he was able to create the first Christian chapel in Denmark, in Hebedy, in 860. ‘Vikings’: George Blagden Reveals Why Ragnar Saves Athelstan. Far from being the father of Alfred, Athelstan was actually his grandson, the son of King Edward the Elder and his wife Ecgwynn. entertaining, so we don’t want to make Vikings a documentary. The real Athelstan fought off invading Vikings throughout this reign, most notably at the Battle of Brunanburh in 937.

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