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Facts About Uhtred The Bold: Ealdorman Of Bamburgh And Inspiration For 'The Last Kingdom'

Updated November 15, 2018 6.1k views10 items

Uhtred of Bebbanburg from the BBC/Netflix show The Last Kingdom never existed, but Uhtred of Bamburgh was a huge inspiration for the character. He lived and fought during the 10th and 11th centuries CE. The real Uhtred the Bold dabbled in medieval politics and intrigue.

Uhtred united Northumbria under his leadership, but the region fell apart when Thurbrand the Hold and Cnut the Great offed the lofty leader in 1016. Uhtred's family continued to dominate Northern England, though, and they eventually avenged their fallen kinsman. 

  • He Gained Land Because Of His Great Prowess

    After Uhtred's victory at Durham in 1006, King Aethelred II of England gave the warrior his father's earldom. Furthermore, the king gave Uhtred additional land in Bernicia along with the title of Earl of York

    In effect, Uhtred the Bold essentially ruled all of Northumbria.

  • He Took A Second Wife

    In the interest of strengthening political and diplomatic ties in the wake of his 1006 victory at Durham, Uhtred renounced his first wife to marry Sigen, the daughter of a wealthy man from York. This marriage produced two more children, Eadulf and Gospatric.

    The marriage contract included a provision that Uhtred would kill Sigen's father's rival, Thurbrand. However, he never made good on that promise.

  • He Shifted Allegiances Often

    In response to the chaotic political landscape of 11th-century England, Uhtred changed loyalties frequently. When Sweyn Forkbeard, the King of Denmark, invaded England in 1013, Uhtred swore loyalty to him. Aethelred II fled to Normandy in a panic, but when Sweyn died unexpectedly in 1014, Aethelred returned to rule.  

    Uhtred offered his loyalty and service to Aethelred next, fighting those who wanted to keep him from the throne. The Northumbrian ealdorman fought alongside Aethelred's son, Edmund, on behalf of the restored king. But while Uhtred was campaigning in the south, Sweyn's son, Cnut, ransacked the north. 

  • He Had To Swear Allegiance To A King He Once Fought Against

    King Aethelred II died in April 1016 and was succeeded by his son, Edmund Ironside. Many in England swore allegiance to Cnut, though. Edmund and Cnut engaged in a series of battles for control of England. Edmund claimed the southern areas; Cnut took the northern locales. When Edmund died in November 1016, Cnut claimed kingship over all of England.

    Uhtred fought against Cnut, first for Aethelred II and then for Edmund Ironside, but he allegedly attempted to swear fealty to Cnut when he had no other choice.