real-life monk,” Blagden revealed. Athelstan finds truth in both of his religions, which leads to all sorts of internal conflict for him. Witnessing Athelstan's struggle after being taken as a slave by Ragnar was, for many, one of the most interesting journeys in Vikings. What do you think of Athelstan from Vikings? However, it was probably not Ragnar that conducted the raid, as it is a little bit early for him. nose or going to the bathroom or doing daily things…,” Blagden continued. 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. Vikings season 6 airs Wednesdays on History and Thursdays on Amazon Prime He had learned to forget about himself and has devoted his life to Christianity. It is not a stretch to imagine some Christian living in Viking territory being slain as a result of their beliefs. 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). Athelstan is an eager monk when Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) comes to Lindisfarne in the first-ever raid on England. But that does not mean that his story lacks historic meaning. He starts to worship their gods and appreciate their culture. Athelstan lives with the Vikings and is introduced to their way of life. 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. 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. However, Athelstan always feels conflicted inside between his differing religions. He also teaches the people around him about Christian ideas, and Ragnar becomes particularly interested in them. 2020 Showbiz Cheat Sheet, All Rights Reserved. ‘Vikings’: George Blagden Reveals Why Ragnar Saves Athelstan. representing stock historical figures accurately, you’d see them picking their He was the son of King Edward the Elder and his first wife, Ecgwynn. 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. He’s one of the most unique and special characters in the series. “In historical records that they were RELATED: ‘Vikings’: George Blagden Reveals Why Ragnar Saves Athelstan. Required fields are marked *. Missionaries were active in Scandinavia from the 8th century, though conversions were few until the 10th century. Athelstan retook the city, bringing all of England under English control, his own. He’s constantly searching for purpose and eventually he turns back to his god when he meets his death. 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. Everyone there is shocked at the brutality, and some of the monks are taken back as slaves, including Athelstan. Later in the 820s the monk Ansgar is attested in Denmark during the reign of Harald Klak. Athelstan then turned his eyes on Scotland, invading their territory and forcing their King Constantine II to pledge allegiance to him. He never married and had no children. He finds comfort in religion and remains torn between his two religions for years. 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. Athelstan was born to a Northumbrian family that could not afford to have another child. really have to find that balance between entertaining and respecting history, When the Vikings raided, they had no problem raiding churches, monasteries, and other religious places that the Christian community considered sacred and untouchable. He is actually known for successfully battling against the Vikings. The Viking raid on the Lindisfarne monastery is a real historical event from 793. 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. The real Athelstan fought off invading Vikings throughout this reign, most notably at the Battle of Brunanburh in 937. 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. Scandinavia from the first Viking raid on Lindisfarne, and the other two died “Well, Michael [Hirst] has actually based Athelstan on a Trading thralls was an important part of the Viking economy. Blagden says Michael Hirst, the creator of the series, does a great job of getting the “balance” between history and entertainment right. 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. He even participates in raids and enjoys his new life to the fullest. 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. Nevertheless, many of the monks were killed, or taken back to Viking territory as slaves. We know that the missionary Willibrord was active in Denmark from 710, where he was treated respectfully but found few converts. 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. Unfortunately, Athelstan died just two years later in 939 at the age of 45. But Elfweard died just three weeks after his father, leaving the kingship of Wessex vacant. Living in the monastery also saved him from possibly dying of fever like the rest of his fa… We want there to Unhappy with this change in power, the York Vikings and the Scots combined forces to invade England in 937. 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. which Michael [Hirst] does brilliantly.”. “About taking liberties, we are in the business of 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. The Athelstan that we see in Vikings was named for King Athelstan, the first King of England from 927 to 939. However, there was an Athelstan around that time, and it was the grandson of Alfred the Great. There are stories of free Vikings dying to protect their thralls. The Athelstan that we see on Vikings, played by George Blagden, is an English monk at Lindisfarne in Northumbria. Over time, Athelstan and Ragnar become very close friends who are more like family. On the show, Athelstan claims to have learned the tongue as a missionary, and this is possible. The Vikings quickly retook control of York that same year and held it until 954. He’s one of the most unique and special characters in the series. His story highlights important themes from the Viking period. The Athelstan that we see in Vikings was named for King Athelstan, the first King of England from 927 to 939. Eventually, Athelstan found happiness, great freedom, and joy in serving the father of his church, Saint Cuthbert.
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