02x01 - Episode 1

I am Uhtred, son of Uhtred.

I was born an Ealdorman of England.

Our ancestors took this land, and you will die for it, if needed.

I saw my father killed in battle and my uncle steal his lands.

I was taken by the invaders...

first as a slave and then as a son to Earl Ragnar.

That was my family, my life...

young Ragnar, my brother, and Brida, my friend.

Until my family were murdered by Kjartan the Cruel

and his one-eyed son, Sven,

and my sister taken hostage on the eve of her wedding.

I fled to Alfred, the Saxon king of Wessex.

I fell in love with a pagan queen, who saw my sister in a vision.

Uhtred, she lives, and is being held in the North.

In the year at Ethandune,

I fought alongside King Alfred

to defeat the Danes, and drove them from Wessex,

but at a great price.

Uhtred Ragnarson, I have a gift for you.

Your queen!

Peace was secured with hostages, Brida and Ragnar,

and by the Danish earl's baptism and acceptance of the Christian God.

As for Uhtred, the godless?

My path led North,

to blood feuds, to revenge...

and to Bebbanburg.

Destiny is all.

No mercy!

No mercy!


Lord, are the ideas suitable?

I have tried to show both courage and sacrifice.

Faced with a fearsome enemy.

But I do not see God.

He was there, within us all.

Praise Him.

Word of the victory is being spread throughout the land.

People will hear that it was God-given.

He was amongst us.

Aethelflaed, with me, before you hurt him.

Yes, Mother.

The Witan is full to brimming.

Every Ealdorman and his brother is here to bask.

Not all of them deserving.

Wessex is safe.


But, Ealdormen, to keep Wessex safe, we must now look beyond its borders, to Mercia, East Anglia, to Cornwalum, Wales and to the North, to Northumbria and to the once great and holy city of Eoferwic, where now, Christian men and women suffer under the dark rule of the Danes.

There are two Northmen, Sigefrid and Erik, two Godless brothers with a voracious appetite for land, silver, slaves and war.

I want it known...and I want them to know...that God, Alfred and the Ealdormen of Wessex are watching.

The day of reckoning will come!


Make way, make way.

Is this the palace of King Alfred?

Halt! Stand back from the king's guard.

I have a letter that he will wish to read.

You must let me pass!

In all too soon a time, Aethelflaed will be old enough for betrothal, then marriage.

- You require a list of suitors, Lord?
- I do.

They must be a match for my daughter, her mother, for Wessex and my idea of a united land.

In which order, Lord?

Oh, do not ask me, my friend.
I pray I never need to choose.

OUTSIDE: I have business with the king.

Lord, forgive my interruption, may I introduce Brother Trew.

Lord, I am honoured.

Brother Trew has travelled from the North.

Cumbraland, in the west of Northumbria.

He has a letter that tells of a vision and a prophecy.

From the heavens, Lord, I swear.

The abbot Eadred of Cumbraland did dream of the likeness and this likeness did speak to him.

The likeness was of Saint Cuthbert.


Speaking directly from heaven.

The abbot tells of Cuthbert's instruction within the letter.

Lord, for the Saxons and Britons in the North, there is an urgency.

We are lost, we are, in general, ruled by Danes, we are in need of a Christian saviour.

This saviour is Guthred.

A man who is a lowly slave and who himself must first be saved.

At the behest of the blessed Cuthbert.


The doors are open to the elements, Brother Trew, nothing more.

It can be done, Lord, it can be arranged... with your help and guidance.

And you shall have it, Brother Trew, I'm sure.

Father Beocca, I will send for you when I have read the letter, which I shall do immediately, do not wander.

No, Lord.

Influence beyond Wessex, Odda.

Heaven sent.

Come on, move on.

Move on.

Come on.

- Good day.
- It is, Sister.

Your sword.

It is not your sword.

You may keep the silver you will have taken, but not the sword.

You will turn and run, girl.

I have killed... and I will kill again, I'm sure.

But hopefully not today... girl.

Morning, Lord. She did the very same thing to me.

- We're leaving.
- Argh!

Could you not have shook me awake?

It's time for you to stop drinking and whoring

- and to do what we set out to do.
- I'm wet!

Your sword has been stolen, Lord, along with your silver.


I have recovered Serpent-Breath and when you are able to stand,

I shall return her. We will be leaving.

I will decide when we're leaving!

I am Uhtred, son of Uhtred.

I will not be schooled by a nun!

She's not wrong, Lord. You have been drinking whole fields of barley.

Nor will I be lectured by an arseling!

If you're drinking to forget Iseult, you do her no favours.

Her memory should be cherished, not lost in a fog of ale and bosoms.

My sword.

Are we to ride to Northumbria, or to the next inn and the next jug of ale?

What am I to do in Northumbria with an army of two, a nun and a rag-arse?

A loyal rag-arse.

Prepare yourself.

To do what?

Kill Kjartan and the men who surround him?

You can begin to carry yourself as a lord!

Or we can return to Winchester?

No, we cannot return to Winchester.

Did she not say that your path led North?

Thank you.

Forgive me, Lord.

Please, Lord.

May the gods protect you on your quest.

What do you know of my gods?

Nothing, Lord. I meant no insult.

Sigefrid, leave him, he's just a priest.

Come on, brother, we have Scots to kill.


The city, we leave in your hands.

It's ours, it must remain ours.

I will ensure it.

You have enough men, keep them sober and do not kill for the fun of it.

No, Lord.

You do me a great honour, Lord, though I wish I was going with you.

Remember, what we need more than silver is women!

Red-haired women!

To the shield wall that awaits us!

To the joy of battle!

And to the blood of the Scots!

Ah, Father Hrothweard, we've been waiting for you.

I will serve.

We must rise up.

Every day we hear stories of what has happened in Wessex.

The brothers have, this very moment, taken their army North.

They will be gone for months, perhaps.

There is no better time than now.

We must take Alfred's lead and kill every b*st*rd Dane and Northman in Eoferwic....in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

I'm not saying grace!

It is a battle cry!


Come on.


Danes would not slaughter Danes like this.

If there is slaughter, Lord, and there appears to be slaughter, why do we ride towards it?

We are curious.

Fight the Dane!

Test your sword-craft!

Do battle with a turd, directly from the devil's arse!

You can cut him, but you cannot kill him!

And if he kills you, then so be it!

More fool you!

Hit him!

Hit him!

Hit him!

Go on, hit him!


Lord, we are Saxons, it's none of our business.

If it is a fight you want, it can be with me.

This is Lord Uhtred of Bebbanburg and of Wessex!

It's sport, Lord, a pastime.

Your sport is over.

Pick up your sword.

Pick it up.

Lord, this man belongs to me.

He's my prisoner.

He was left in command.

Is it Valhalla you want?

In time, Lord.

- Freedom would be my first choice.
- Who do you serve?

The brothers, Sigefrid and Erik.

They've gone to fight the Scots.

I beg you, Lord, he will be my income.

Halig, give this piece of weasel sh1t a coin.

A coin, Lord?

- He would be my income for a year!
- No more word, I'm warning you!

- Leave now.
- What?




State your name and your business!

You keep the company of a nun, yet look every piece of you a Dane.

My business is my own and not that of a priest.

He's Uhtred of Bebbanburg, Father.


You are the Uhtred?

Who served with Alfred at Ethandun?

I am.

Praise Him.

Praise God! It is a sign!

You know of Ethandun?

Not only do we know of this battle, Lord, we have risen because of it.

And just days ago, Alfred has sent his very own priest.

You killed all the Danes that ruled Eoferwic?

We have.

All those that did not flee.

The holy city of Eoferwic welcomes you.

We will give you food and shelter and thanks, Lord Uhtred.

God bless you.

We take care of the horses... and then I find Alfred's priest.

We carry it all, we must.

But what guarantee do we have that he will not steal Alfred's silver?


But that's the risk we have to take.

Have you been stealing from Alfred, Father Beocca?


Oh, my goodness, Uhtred!


What a joy it is to see you!

And for me to see your hairless head!

I have been praying that our paths would cross.

This is a sign, God's will.

Brother Trew, this is the man I've been speaking about.

And here he is! In our time of need, he is here!

We are travelling North with Alfred's blessing and silver.

It is a ransom to be paid to free a slave... but he is no ordinary slave.

This man is marked to become a king of Cumbraland.

His name is Guthred.

A Dane?

But a good man, a man of God.

The spirit of Saint Cuthbert has decreed that Guthred shall be king.

A prophecy.

Oh, my good lord.

He appeared in a dream to the abbot Eadred of Cumbraland.

He named Guthred as king of both Saxons and Danes.

How many men is that?

Hundreds, thousands, perhaps.

- Warriors?
- Some, yes. Of course.

Alfred would not be content with... this man being solely king of Cumbraland.

Well, yes, Alfred would wish for Guthred's influence to spread across the whole of Northumbria.

Including here, in Eoferwic.

Come with us.

Help us to free Guthred, protect the ransom until it is delivered, and I'm sure that we'll be rewarded.

Your bargain is with whom?

A slave master.

The village in which we are meeting sits on land that belongs to someone from your past.


Kjartan's land will be full of men, warriors.

Father, who's protected you so far?

Do you have no guard?

We have gathered a group of sickly men, who suffer with the White Riff.

Leprosy is a terrible curse.

Put these poor creatures in a cart and no man dare approach.

No-one can imagine the treasure sitting beside the disease.

Your king, Guthred...

Kjartan would be his enemy?

He would. It was Kjartan's men killed his father.

Guthred himself was captured and sold as a slave.

Then he would be prepared to raise an army against Kjartan?

He would be an ally, I'm sure.

As I'm sure Uhtred is, but one man, against many...

No, no, Uhtred is more than just one man, and he is here for a reason.

I have come to wish you goodnight, Lord.

Rest well.



I have been thinking of Northumbria.

Eoferwic is the great city of the North.

To make it Saxon once again would bring hope.

It would be a beacon.


A fortress, from which all Danes of the North could be challenged... and England grows.

Should you not be sleeping, Lord?

Yes, I should be sleeping.

I've always intended to ask about the amber on the hilt of your sword.


Is it decoration, or something more?

It was given to me at my birth by my father... to remind me of who I am.

Who you are, Lord... is defined by what you do, and what you have done has given you reputation.

Reputation is not a shield.

I think Father Beocca asks too much.


No, it's fate that I am here.

It was fate you drenched me in water,

set us on our way.

Kjartan will have men at this village, no doubt.

But he and his one-eyed son, Sven, they murdered my family, and they must be faced.

And I have my sister to find.

Are you certain she still lives?

Iseult was certain.

Then you should sleep.


I would sleep easier lying next to a woman.

Shall I fetch another bucket, Lord?

We move!

Can you smell the northern sea, boy?

The Northumbrian air?

I smell it and I feel it, Father.

- It feels like home.
- That it does.

I'd prefer you not to look at me, Lord.

Is it wrong that I look? You have beauty.

And you have an appetite I do not wish to satisfy.

I'm with you, Lord, because I'm safe with you.


I would like you to teach me how to fight.


Skill. The Danes call it swordskill.

Then, I would like you to teach me swordskill.

To help you kill men who stare?

No, Lord.

To protect myself and those I care for.

Yourself included.

I give to you my heart, my soul and I ask in return...

We are being followed.

You are aware of this, I'm sure. I am.

We are?

By whom?

Men belonging to Kjartan.

They are the shepherds, we are the sheep.

- Then it is a trap?
- It is.

You will enter the slave market alone.

- And then what happens, death?
- I will follow.

I will be with the lepers.

- You will not be at our side?
- No.

Your purpose here is to protect us.

Do they ride?

You wish to know if the lepers can ride?

- Mm.
- I have no idea!

Beocca, what is this nonsense?

If we are to save Guthred and live to see him crowned king, then the slaver and whoever sits with him must fear me.

They will not bargain.

And I am but one man.

So they must fear me and I will choose how.

Beocca, I will need you to play your part.

MAN: Move on!

Move it!

You like this one, huh?

He's fast and very hard-working.

Bring another one!

This one. One of my best.

You like him? He's very strong.

Very young.

Something for you, huh?

MAN: Horsemen approaching!


It is my friend, the silver monk.

And with guests.

And a woman.

How pleasing.

I have forgotten your name, silver monk, but not our price.

Do you have it?

Do you have our man Guthred?

I have your man. Of course I have your man.

Then I will see him.


You will give me the silver, now.

She looks strong.

- I like that.
- The woman is not part of the price.

Good strong legs... to hold on to my arse.

I wish to see Guthred. Guthred!

Make yourself known!

Guthred of Cumbraland!

Can you hear me?

I will decide when you see your man.

You will give us the ransom and you will give it now.

You will do everything I say.

You will come down from your horse, girl.

Too old to keep.

- Take off your skirts.
- I will not.

Lord, there are horsemen missing.

- What are you saying?
- Men are missing.

I counted five more horses than are here.

They must be hiding, Lord.

Priest... is my man correct?

There are further horsemen?

He is correct, Lord.

But these horsemen, they came from nowhere and asking us to where we were travelling and we prayed that they would leave us, vanish.

You wanted rid of them?

Believe me when I say this, they were not of this world, Lord.

They were not men, like you and I are men.

What do you mean, they are not men?

Well, why are you doing that?

This... signing your god.

We were asking his protection, Lord, from the horsemen.

If they're not men, what are they?

Please, to speak of them may summon them.

From where?

- You tell me nothing.
- Can we not simply give you the silver and be on our way, Lord, please?

There is nothing to fear but the lies of a priest.

I know it.



Oh, dear God in heaven, it is him.

It is who?




We come for your souls!

- Your souls.
- Who are you?

I am Odin's messenger to command.

I come from Corpse Hall.

You are Sven Kjartanson?

You will answer me!

What do you want with Sven Kjartanson?

I've been sent to take the souls of both Kjartan and his son.



No man shall move, or Sven Kjartanson will die!

You will all hear me!

All of you must leave this place.


Or with one touch of my horsemen, you will be cursed!



You are going nowhere, but to the devil himself.

I should kill you now.

I should take you piece by piece.

No, please, spare me.

Odin would forgive me, I'm sure of it.

I will be a changed man. I...

You will never change!

- You cannot change!
- Lord!

Lord, I beg you.

That he fears you is enough.

Let him take that fear to Kjartan.

May we free the prisoners, Lord, search the pens for a friend, the king?

You may.

I have no business with you.

Thank you, Lord.

We shall leave this place, just as soon as we have found him.

It will be for the best.



We are looking for Guthred of Cumbraland,

- son of Harthacnut.
- I am Guthred.

- How can I help you?
- Lord...

Is it you?

We have found you.

You have, it seems.

Who are you?

Find your way home in darkness.


Hear me!

Hear me now!

A silver coin to any man who will untie me!

Two coins.


And my father's thanks!


Who is there?

Name yourself.

If you are on this land, you will know who I am.

You will know not to harm me.






The priest tells me it is you I must thank for my freedom.

I did not raise the ransom.

A ransom was not paid, it goes back to the church.

Some coins should go to them, the lepers.

Without them, we'd all be dead.

As I am apparently now a king, I shall see they are rewarded.

This is for you.

The king brings me food.

Did Alfred not feed you?

You know of Alfred?

Aye, every Dane in the land knows of Alfred.

And while a slave, some of the men recently captured, they spoke of Ethandun.

They spoke of Uhtred... how he broke a shield wall.

You should pay a skald to write a song.

Hm! I did that in Mercia.

I was drunk and the song was tuneless.

I am indebted.

My words have no tune, but they're sincere.

You have brought me back to life.

- Then you owe me.
- I do.

I do.

Serve me.

- Serve you?
- Er, join me.

A king needs a commander.

Well, think on it...

Uhtred of Wessex.

I'm of Bebbanburg.

Yes, you are. You are.

Is it your intention to build an army?

Oh, last night I was still a slave.

Build an army and I will command it, but only if it's your intention to go against all the lords of the north Kjartan.

But also the brothers and the man who stole my land.

My own uncle!

That, I owe you...

Uhtred of Bebbanburg.

Now I must get used to who I am.


Why would a dead horseman ride with sickly lepers?

- Were they dead, too?
- I did not ask.

He need ride with no man.

He's dead.


Father, it was as I say. I know what I witnessed.

How are we to kill a dead man?

Cut him into pieces. Tiny...

- It's a trick! He's a lie!

Go shut her up! Your bitch!

It did not appear to be a trick.

Everything I've said is true.

You, Fiske... do you believe this horseman is back from the dead?

Yes, Lord, it seemed that way.

Then you believe he was sent by Odin to take my soul?

Well, he arrived with a priest and a ransom?

Yes, Lord.

- But no silver was paid?
- No, Lord.

Still, they took their man.

We find the slave.

We find the lepers.

And we find the priest.

Together, they will tell us all we need to know about this horseman.

Dead... or otherwise.


You are not welcome here.

You are never welcome here.

My father asks for you to keep the hounds quiet.

Thyra... if you do not comply, he will have them killed again.

And again, you shall bring me pups.

He will have men hump you.

I tell you every time... you do not need to live like this.

You don't need to eat and sleep with hounds.

It is my wish.


I dream of you... as you were.

I dream of nothing but the fire.

My wedding necklace... do you like it?

If any love for me remains inside your shrivelled heart, then take out your knife and kill me.






So you know of the Northmen Sigefrid and Erik?

They have gone to Alba to fight the Scots.

A mistake.

Yes, they will lose numbers.

The men they left at Eoferwic have been slain.

It's open and unguarded.

Only my second day as king of Cumbraland, already you wish me to become king of Eoferwic?

Why wait?

The brothers will return, weakened or not.

I'd rather they remain outside the walls of Eoferwic.


Lord, the Roman wall!

We follow the wall all the way to Cumbraland.


And then, Uhtred, we prepare to take Eoferwic.

Your king!

Your king, he is coming!


Your king!

He will be here soon.

Be sure to greet him.

Make him feel welcome.

The abbot... where is the abbot?

Brother Trew.

- Lady Gisela.
- You appear to have news.

Lady, I do. Great news!

- What?
- He's here.

- Who?
- Your brother, the king.

He lives?

Oh, he is well and he is near, very near.

I must inform Abbot Eadred.

Lord Abbot... he is here.

They believe you to be the king, Lord.

Then let him be the king.

King for the day.

- Thank you, King!
- Thank you.

Thank you and may God bless you all.

Uhtred, that is almost blasphemy.

Thank you all for taking the time to greet the king.

You will stop this nonsense.

Beocca, they love me!

Because they have no idea what a fool you are!

Be careful, priest, or he will have your head.

Not before he feels my boot!

And may I present to you Queen Hild of the water bucket, scourge of slavers and once thrown out of the nunnery!

I was not!

The Lord tells lies and all too easily.

I will be the first to greet him formally.

- You will all wait upon my word.
- Yes, Lord.

Lord King!

Lord King!

Lord King, I am the abbot Eadred.

Abbot, no...

It is I to whom the blessed Saint Cuthbert appeared in a dream, a glorious dream.

- Abbot, please...
- He showed me your face... and he called you King.

Thank you.

Are you sure... that it was not this face here that you saw?


Guthred... it is you!

I didn't dare to believe it.

I didn't dare.

It is the truth.

This is Guthred.

Yes, of course. Of course!

Now I see the true likeness.

Forgive me, Lord.

I have the eyes of an old man.

Lord King, I am the abbot Eadred.

And it is I to whom...

- the blessed Saint Cuthbert...
- Abbot Eadred...

I have been told of your dream.

You... must be a most holy man.

You have truly been blessed.

I have, my Lord, it is true.

But let us waste no more time.

We have waited long enough already.

Lord, you shall be crowned king this very day, this very moment!

The king, whom I promised, son of the great warrior Harthacnut, has arrived!

The king, who shall lead us all, both Dane and Saxon, against the evil that resides in Northumbria... is here.

With this sword, the sword of Cumbraland, and with the grace of God, may you find the strength to lead and inspire all men.



And now, Lord, we shall enter the church for the royal oath, which shall be sworn upon the corpse of the blessed Saint Cuthbert himself.


He is here?

In his entirety.

God in heaven...

I never thought I would see the day.

Is it him, Father?

It is.

years after his death, he remains whole.

A sign of the depth of his holiness.

Oh, most holy Cuthbert... guide us and lead us and bring us to your glory, in the name of him who died for us.

- Amen.
- ALL: Amen.

See how the flesh is uncorrupted.

A miracle.

You will take his hand, Lord... and swear your oath.

Uhtred... you are the commander of my household troops.

You will be beside me.

Uhtred, you will kneel.

Take his hand, Lord.

God and the blessed Saint Cuthbert have given us this day a king.

A king who shall raise an army and that army shall march in his name and all evil shall be expunged!

This... you swear.

I swear.

Vivat Rex Guthred!

ALL: Vivat Rex Guthred!

Vivat Rex Guthred!

Vivat Rex Guthred!

Vivat Rex Guthred!

Vivat Rex Guthred!


Or do I now call you Lord?

You can call me whatever pleases you.

Very well, Lord Goose sh1t, I am about to retire.

- Hild will stay with me.
- Yes.

It is so good to see your crooked little face again.

It is so good to see that you are still a fool.

- Sleep well. Sleep well.
- Goodnight.

Sleep well, Lady.

Do not get overly drunk, Lord, for tomorrow you teach me sword-skills.

And maybe one day I shall save your life.

Your sister is pretty.

Uhtred, I believe you would find a goat in a skirt to be pretty.


The cocksure long-haired fool over there.

Is he a danger?

- To whom, Abbot?
- To each one of us, and to our purpose.

Although he lacks humility, Uhtred is the reason we are alive.

Ah, he gave you protection out of the goodness of his heart, did he?

What does he want with Cumbraland and with our king?

He wants Bebbanburg, his ancestral home.

And it's in the king's gift to help him.


He will need to be watched.

He's a pretender, I'm sure.


You have men in Northumbria still?


Most have settled, but they are mine to call upon and I have men in East Anglia, with Earl Guthrum.

His name is now Aethelstan.

That may be his Christian name, Lord.

But to us, he's Guthrum... the weak.

To seek peace is not a weakness.

The battle of Ethandun was ours to win.

Only with peace can you build.

Only with peace can a people grow.

Grow fat?

Grow as one, Brida.

It is true that, in parts of the North, Saxon, Dane and Briton now live side by side, do they not?

Oh, they do, but it is the Danes that rule.

Though warlords must now look elsewhere for war, to Ireland and Alba.

War is how a man makes his wealth.

I disagree.

War is how a man takes his wealth, Earl Ragnar, it is the land and trade that makes it.

And for the land and trade to flourish, there must be peace.

To be Viking is a way of life.

To be Viking is a way to die.

And there are many Danes, I believe, who want more from life than death.

Lord... you are never more alive than when you sail a ship onto a new shore.

Oh, on that we are agreed.



I have news of the slave, Guthred.

He's been made a king, of Cumbraland.


It is true, Lord, we heard it from traders.

Where are these traders?

We heard the same story three times, five times...

We heard it three times.

This Guthred is now a king.

- What of the dead horseman?
- Lord...

King Guthred is building up an army... made up of both Danes and Saxons.

And the commander of this army is just that... both Dane and Saxon.

His name is Uhtred.

- Are you certain of this?
- Yes.



If the king of Cumbraland is building an army, you will join him.

If you get the chance, you can kill the king.

But you will bring his commander back here, to me.

- Take his eye.
- Yes.

You can take his eye... but I want him here and I want him alive.

I will take him piece by piece.

I will make him suffer.

Uhtred Ragnarson...is mine.