Athelstan: Biography Of The Real Person And History In Vikings

Athelstan (894-939), grandson of Alfred the Great, was the first great king of England. After the death of his father he took the reins of Mercia and, after the disappearance of his brother, he also ruled in Wessex. He was a dominant figure capable of destroying all Viking and Scottish forces.

By winning the Battle of Brunanburh she was distinguished as a great leader throughout the British Isles. She became known as a godly man. He amassed great wealth and built several churches in the kingdom. She had great control over the administration and the legal system.

Biography of the historical Athelstan


Athelstan was born as a result of Edward the Elder’s marriage to his first wife, Ecgwynn. Many historians do not know the lineage of Ecgwynn, but they assure that it was more the concubine of Edward.

After giving birth to Athelstan his mother died and the child was left in the hands of his paternal aunt, Ethelfleda. It is known that she was a tall and handsome boy and her grandfather gave her thousands of jewels and gave her other gifts of high value. Athelstan completed his education at the court of Mercia and later entered the Military school. When his father died, he took control of Mercia.

Thrones of Mercia and Wessex

After their father’s death in 924, his sons occupied the thrones of Mercia and Wessex. Ælfweard ruled Wessex and Athelstan Mercia. His brother died at 16 days.

Athelstan was crowned in 926 at a location on the Wessex-Mercia border. Despite the coronation, the people of Wessex continued to harass him, even threatening him with death.

Influences with weddings

He succeeded in getting his sister to marry Sihtric in 926 and with this he succeeded in preventing both kings from invading their territories. Sihtric however died a year later and Athelstan invaded and attacked the region.

Several kings surrendered and Athelstan managed to take command of all of northern Britain. In 937 the Vikings attacked him and tried to bring down his kingdom, but Athelstan was victorious at the famous Battle of Brunanburh. He married his sisters to influential rulers in order to continue to politically control the surrounding kingdoms.

Legal system and sanctions

He developed an advanced legal system to deal with petty crime, fraud, and oppression. A large number of these laws have been found in documents from the 10th century. Their laws were based on the Carolingian laws of the time of Charlemagne.

He imposed strict penalties, such as death, for crimes that were prevalent in his day. He was very compassionate to the poor, and even declared that all the lords had to pay an annual fee to help the poorest.

Church support

He had great respect for the Church and donated money for the construction of various monasteries. He was also a collector of art, works that he gave to various churches in order to gain their support.


He died in 939 in Gloucester at the age of 45. Although most of his family was buried in a mausoleum in Winchester, he preferred not to be buried there because he had suffered fierce opposition from that town.

He chose Malmesbury Abbey where other cousins ​​of his were and as a support both to the abbot there and to the place. Although his achievements might pale next to those of his grandfather Alfred the Great, he was regarded as one of the great kings of the Anglo-Saxon dynasty.

Athelstan in the Vikings series

Athelstan is a young Anglo-Saxon who was a monk and is taken by Ragnar as a slave. Her faith is divided between the Christian and the pagan world. Despite having vast knowledge of the Bible and handling language very well, he is seen as innocent speaking with others, with the most powerful.

Season 1

Athelstan has been present since this first season in the Vikings series. The monastery has been taken by the Vikings and they take him as a prisoner. He begs to be spared his life and suddenly begins to speak their native language, which Ragnar is shocked.

When Ragnar asks him where he learned it, Athelstan replies that in the monastery they are encouraged to go out and spread the word of God on their travels.

Ragnar thinks that Athelstan can be very useful if he speaks, he can have very valuable information for the raids of the Vikings. Later it is seen how Ragnar makes him drunk in order to extract information from him to reveal the location of some cities.

The slave Athelstan

Arriving in Scandinavia, Earl Haraldson is surprised by the great loot that Ragnar has arrived with. However, he tells Ragnar that each member of his crew take only one item, as the rest will go to the Count. Ragnar chooses Athelstan as his slave and brings him home, while his children tease the man for his long hair.


That first night, Athelstan tries to sleep in vain while Ragnar and Lathgertha have sex. Later they come to Athelstan and invite him to join them, but the boy says that he cannot because he has taken vows of celibacy and, furthermore, his God would punish him because he would know about his sin. Ragnar and Lathgertha pay little attention to it and continue to love each other.

Take care of children

Ragnar prepares for his next foray in the company of Lathgertha, so they will leave the children in Athelstan’s charge. Björn is angry because he doesn’t want a slave to send him; For his part, Gyda has no problem with it because he is very close to the priest. When Ragnar and Lathgertha return, the former appears to be more of a problem and a threat to Haraldson.

Haraldson attacks everyone

Haraldson sends his men to Ragnar’s house to attack him and his family. Lathgertha flees to a boat with the children and Athelstan while Ragnar repels the attack. After she goes to reunite with her family, but falls from the cliff into the river, then Athelstan will launch to rescue her.

Later they all sail to Floki’s house. At Floki’s house they heal Ragnar’s wounds. Ragnar’s allies are contacted and arrive there. For their part, Floki and Athelstan talk. Floki asks him about the Christian faith and about the Christian creation story and he tells her about the Norse creation.

The new earl

Ragnar sends Floki to Haraldson’s house to challenge him to a fight to the death and define who will be the new earl. The challenge is accepted and days later Ragnar is fighting with Haraldson. Although Ragnar is wounded he is capable of killing Haraldson, which makes him worthy of being the new earl.

Athelstan has observed how Ragnar killed Haraldson, his personal guard and his son-in-law. The crowd surrounds Ragnar, who rises in victory. Athelstan attends Haraldson’s funeral and then accompanies the Lodbroks to their new home, the house of the new earl. During this time Athelstan learns the Norse legend of Ragnarok and others.

Later Ragnar meets with his fellow Norsemen and he as always is by his side to care for him and to accompany Lathgertha with her pregnancy.

No longer christian

Athelstan observes Lathgertha’s work as queen. He worries more when she has a miscarriage and worries about what Ragnar might think upon his return, as he had been prophesied that he would have many children. A year and 18 months later Athelstan rants about Christianity and tells the Vikings that she shares their beliefs.

Ragnar later confronts him about what the Bible says about pain. He tells her that they are going on a pilgrimage to Uppsala, a sacred place for the Norse people, and asks if he wants to join them. Before leaving, he goes to Ragnar’s house to review some passages from the Bible that he has, already very worn out. In Uppsala they ask him if he is still a Christian and Athelstan again denies his religion.

The ritual in Uppsala

Athelstan observes all the pagan rituals and Rollo gives him hallucinogenic mushrooms. He goes through the camp observing the rituals and is approached by Haraldson’s daughter, who kisses and washes him.

The seer takes him to the main temple and Athelstan denies Christ three times. Later he learns that he has been brought to Uppsala as a sacrifice and takes up the cross and escapes from the temple. Later the seer tells Ragnar that Athelstan is still a Christian.

He returns with the Vikings to their homes while Ragnar goes to Götaland. A plague attacks, but Athelstan survives. Later he learns that one of Ragnar’s daughters has died from the plague and is very distressed. Watch the funeral Lathgertha prepares for his daughter and how the cream.

Season 2

Knowing the fate of his daughter Ragnar wants to fight against Borg and his traitorous brother, but finally manages to bring peace. Bring Ragnar back to his brother Rollo and get him saved in court by bribing a pagan priest.

Ragnar confesses to his family and Athelstan his affair with Princess Aslaug. Later she arrives pregnant and creates tensions within the family and malaise in Athelstan. Lathgertha finally abandons him.

Distrust of Floki

Four years later Athelstan has converted to Viking paganism, although Floki does not believe in that conversion. Also, accompany Ragnar on his first foray. On their way to England, a storm takes them by surprise and directs the Viking ships to an unknown island.

There they are ambushed by soldiers. Athelstan helps kill some soldiers and is rewarding Ragnar with a trust bracelet. Athelstan investigates the captured English and discovers that there are Vikings in Wessex, and that their king is cruel during battle.

Athelstan kills

The Vikings continue their journey to Wessex and raid an abbey church. Athelstan stumbles upon a Bible and contemplates it. A monk surprises him and asks him not to steal anything. He threatens him with crucifixion and in those Floki arrives. He ties the bishop to a pole and shoots arrows at him. Finally Athelstan kills him and Floki no longer doubts him.

Ragnar gathers his closest friends to go and reclaim his lands, although Athelstan wants to stay in England with Horik. This creates friction between the two, but ultimately Ragnar doesn’t let him stay.

Athelstan is tired from all the looting and death; discovers a Bible and has a vision of a crucifixion. Later they are ambushed and Athelstan is captured and crucified, although the King of Wessex, Ecbert, asks his people not to kill him as he can be very useful.

Ecbert takes care of Athelstan

Ecbert cares for him and heals his wounds, even asking Athelstan for advice. He has visions with bleeding Bibles, with the Virgin Mary and a devil’s beast. He attends mass, but spits out the body of Christ, which shows that paganism has worked in him.

Athelstan continues to grow up next to Ecbert, until he takes him to the crypts to show him some ancient documents in order to translate them. They are written about battle strategies. After a battle between Saxons and Vikings, Athelstan discovers Rollo badly injured and cares for him and heals him.

Ecbert then sends Athelstan to negotiate with Ragnar. Later Athelstan falls in love with Judith and she becomes pregnant. After the negotiations, Athelstan chooses to go with his friend Ragnar. During a celebration Athelstan mocks Floki and tells him that it is because of him that Rollo is unhappy. He is later seen playing with Ragnar and Björn.

Season 3

Athelwolf destroys the Viking settlement in Wessex. Floki thinks it has happened because the Vikings have cooperated with the Christians. He even accuses Athelstan of conspiring with King Ecbert.

In this season it is discovered that Judith of Northumbria gave birth to Athelstan’s bastard son. Ecbert orders Athelstan to raise the son as his own. The boy’s name is Alfred, who will later be known as King Alfred the Great.


  1. BBC (nd). Athelstan (895-937). Recovered from
  2. Editors, (2019). Athelstan Biography. Recovered from
  3. Eledelis (2013). Vikings series characters (III): Athelstan, Aelle of Northumbria, Svein, Knut, Gyda, Helga, Torstein, Tostig and King Horik. Recovered from
  4. FANDOM (sf). Athelstan. Recovered from
  5. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (nd). Athelstan. King of England. Recovered from

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *