Historical drama. When spies infiltrate the Cumbraland army, Uhtred must rely on his troops to protect him from a perilous attack.
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This programme contains some violent scenes and some scenes of a sexual nature.
'I, Uhtred, son of Uhtred, travelled to Cumbraland, where a holy man
-'dreamed of a slave who would be king.'
-Is it you?
-I am Guthred.
'I visited the Danes in the guise of a dead horseman,
'and ensured Guthred's release.
'Over the remains of a blessed saint, he was crowned king.'
Build an army and I will command it.
Your sister is pretty.
The cocksure, long-haired fool there, he's a pretender, I'm sure.
'In Eoferwic, the Saxon people rose up against their invaders,
'the brothers Erik and Sigefrid.
'I know the brothers will seek revenge for what they lost,
'and that Kjartan the Cruel will not rest
'in his search for the dead horseman.'
Uhtred Ragnarson...is mine.
'Destiny is all.'
I see the new king is keeping you busy.
He is. I do not know you.
Where will I find the man Uhtred?
Lord Uhtred will be that way,
with the king's guard, and the king,
and half the townsfolk starved of interest.
Clapa's a bear.
A big, angry bear. Should we call a halt?
Not at all. With a little luck, a blow will land.
All he's doing is showing off his feathers.
I believe the lady feels the same.
They usually do.
Even his scars are handsome.
Not every sword stroke is a kill!
A kill is something you must fashion.
Whether man against man, or within a shield wall.
Anything below the knee is vulnerable.
A strike to the ankle won't kill you,
but it'll open the door.
And Death himself will step through that door.
So don't do what Clapa has done, don't overreach.
Do not make almost half of your body a target.
Fetch me water.
We're looking for Uhtred, the commander of the king's army.
We're here to offer our swords.
To whom do you belong?
We serve the Dane, Earl Brynjar.
We're settled north and east of here.
I know of Brynjar.
Well, I am Guthred, I'm King of Cumbraland.
No, no, no! If you are here to join me, there's nothing to forgive.
Brynjar's not with you?
My lord is an old man now.
He sends you here, why?
He's worried the like of Kjartan will take his land.
If King Guthred is against Kjartan, then we're with him.
Excellent. Truly excellent.
-You must be Uhtred.
There's ale and food on the cart, if you're hungry.
We must eat, Father, before the food disappears.
They look like good men. Fighting men.
You should bring them into your household guards.
Fill your bellies.
You've come far?
I am to become a Christian.
Like my father before me, I am to be baptised.
It does you no harm, Lord. I've been baptised twice.
-It's water and words.
Also, I was thinking that I should marry a Saxon.
Well, to show that Cumbraland and Northumbria are for both people.
That is good. Good thinking.
I would choose Hild.
I like her.
But I need someone younger.
Somebody who's ready to pup.
You should be with Hild.
No. I should not.
I've seen you look at my sister.
Well, she attracts the eye. What can I say?
Gisela has value.
As do I.
Lord, we should march on Eoferwic as soon as we're ready.
While it's still in Saxon hands and before the brothers return.
Hm. I will speak with the abbot.
Lord, the abbot is an abbot.
I am a warrior, you're a king.
The abbot and his dream is the reason I am king.
I will speak to the abbot,
and my sister shall do her duty.
Finish this for me, Clapa.
May I sit?
-Are you a Christian?
-No, I'm not.
I would sit here to please the abbot, but...
..now I find there's...there's peace here.
-I am disturbing you.
I was thinking about my brother,
and how he now believes he is my father.
-He is the king.
-I do not belong to him.
He thinks otherwise, but I will not be his gift.
And you believe you will have a choice?
I will...not...be his gift.
I have my own mind.
The Abbot Eadred dreamt my brother to be king,
but it was not his idea to offer a ransom.
It was not his idea that we should go to Alfred for silver.
-It was you?
That all said, without you, Lord,
my brother would not be free.
It's my fate.
You should call me Uhtred.
The abbot and your brother will hear of us sitting alone together.
May I ask...
..should you hear that I am to be offered as a bride,
please advise me?
What will you do?
I will decide...whether to stay or to leave.
And go where?
I have perhaps said too much.
You may call me Gisela.
I am to tell you your horse is sickly, lord.
One cry and you're dead.
My lords Kjartan and Sven send their greetings, Uhtred Ragnarson.
We have a long journey ahead of us.
And you will only see half of it.
The Danes - the ugly Danes who were sat there, when did they leave?
I'm allowed to take an eye.
Which one would you like to keep?
The blue one.
I swear I'll kill you before we reach Kjartan.
I look forward to seeing you try.
No! I need one of them alive!
This night, evil did visit Cumbraland
and it was defeated!
By men who have now proven themselves to be warriors!
This is our first victory
and it will not be our last!
It will NOT be our last!
So let's celebrate!
Cut off their heads, put them in a sack and keep them safe.
I shall make a present of them to Kjartan.
Right, you are far from what I would call warriors,
but you did well.
I am grateful.
I would like to speak to Lord Uhtred.
I would like to serve him.
Now shut your mouth, before I fill it, with my boot!
SHE CLEARS HER THROAT
When do you plan to begin?
When I am drunk.
Have you done this before?
Never, but I know it's best to wait, for the blood to thicken.
I would like to have some of their mail, or leather.
I will earn it...
..by taking the first head.
You can take what you want. Just take it.
No, I will earn it.
-You earned it at the stables...
-I need to become accustomed...
..to how it feels.
We'll be using an axe.
Lords and Earls of Cumbraland, I thank you for showing this
Cumbraland has, over the years,
become a land for both Dane and Saxon.
Together, with the power of the Christian God,
we can achieve great things.
As your King, I have decided
that it's time for our army to march!
Lord, I am Ulf.
Ulf? My father spoke very well of you.
Do you have something to say?
I say we have no enemies in Eoferwic.
Yet there are many foes who will attack our lands when we are gone.
I gave you men to protect my land and the land of my neighbours,
not to abandon it.
I have news brought to me from all over Northumbria.
Our enemies are otherwise occupied.
Is this news or hearsay?
The Brothers are beyond the Tuede.
Kjartan the Cruel is locked within his fortress and Aelfric,
Lord of Bebbanburg, dare never attack an army
that carries the blessed Saint Cuthbert before it.
What of the Irish? What of the Scots?
MURMURS OF ASSENT
What of rogues and raiders?
What of crops in the fields and livestock in the hills?
Lord Ulf, I have recently come from Eoferwic and I tell you there
is great wealth there.
Silver and the rewards of war - horses, swords. Land, even.
Oh, indeed, women indeed! Eoferwic is a sink of corruption,
riddled with sin and lascivious women.
It is a city that will need to be scoured.
Scoured by this holy army! We have the numbers!
God is with us!
We shall become richer in body and soul.
We shall become the masters of Northumbria!
Would you share a jug of ale with me?
Tomorrow, I must return to Wessex.
You should stay. Northumbria is your home.
And Alfred is my King.
You will be safe, travelling? Who will you be riding with?
But they will each be carrying a heavy cross.
I will be safe. I have these.
They are teeth belonging to Saint Cuthbert.
They are a gift for Alfred and my most holy protection.
Do you believe they still bite?
No, Uhtred, I simply believe. Faith is a great comfort.
Promise me you won't do anything stupid.
How can I make a promise that I cannot keep?
Stupid, it's in my nature.
You must be tired of hearing my lessons but here's one more.
You are guided by your heart and it is a good heart,
I pray it never darkens.
The lady Gisela, like Alfred's daughter, Aethelflaed,
has a purpose - a higher purpose than need or want or even love.
I have seen what others have seen, the attraction.
She has her own mind.
King Guthred may consider you a friend,
but the men close to him do not.
Well, that is no hardship.
You may have one ear of the King but they will most certainly have
And as you have witnessed just today, they speak well -
their words have effect.
So, go carefully.
I will say no more.
Do not change. But try to use the mind inside this head.
You can be my priest, at Bebbanburg?
You are in need of a priest, are you?
Only if he is Beocca.
Are the heads are bagged and loaded?
Getting stinking and attracting flies.
Where is Hild the nun? Has she left us?
She is here still.
The body of Saint Cuthbert is coming with us, Lord?
He is to lead...
on the shoulders of the monks.
How are the brave men of Cumbraland?
I won't forget how you came to my aid.
Each of you shall have silver!
But more than that, you have my sword!
He enjoys adoration - such vanity is sinful.
Lord - you should know,
he and the lady Gisela have shared time together.
Where? A field, a barn?
In the chapel, lord.
Should his cock wander and her virginity decide to join it.
Why? Why not put all of my effort into...
HE YELLS LOUDLY
Now do you see, lady?
I do. Yes. Thank you.
I do not wish to see her married.
Time has passed so quickly.
Take comfort that Steapa would kill any man who dared to harm her,
He's as much her man, as he is yours.
Yes, he is.
Should I have him beheaded as a traitor?
I need to go into the woods there.
I need to shit!
I do not wish to fill my breeches!
Halig. Our prisoner requires attention.
I believe Lord Uhtred is hoping you can tell him about Kjartan's fortress.
It is tall.
Tell him that and you're a dead man.
Then let me speak to him.
He will speak to you when he is ready!
He's a good man.
Drop your sword!
You will fetch Lord Uhtred, tell him I have his man.
Kill me and we are both dead!
Lord Uhtred! Lord Uhtred!
With luck we shall both live.
I could have killed him, lord, made good my escape.
Kill him and you will die slowly.
I asked your man to fetch you, lord!
I do not murder. I wish to bargain.
A life for a life, is it?
My life for my sword. I wish to serve you, lord.
I could have killed both, but I wish to serve you.
You are Kjartan's man.
I'm Kjartan's bastard son who whelped on a slave girl.
And you are Uhtred Ragnarson
and I wish to serve a warrior and a lord, a true lord.
If you believe me to be these things, then put down your sword.
You guarantee my life?
Put down your sword.
Put down your sword.
I can be of use to you, lord.
He's nothing but a heathen - kill him!
No-one is to move!
-Kill him NOW!
-I say no-one is to move!
And no-one is to speak but me! No-one!
What is your name?
I'm called Sihtric, lord.
Please, I'm not loyal to Kjartan and never can be.
You swear your sword is mine?
On Thor's hammer, I do, Lord.
Then you have my protection.
Lord. Thank you. Thank you.
Sihtric is with us now. He serves in King Guthred's army.
He behaves as if HE were King!
So do you need to shit or not?
Tomorrow, lord, I shall ask Halig and three of our snails
to go on ahead, ensure the road is safe.
The road ahead will be both safe and clear.
The blessed Saint Cuthbert's path shall not be blocked.
We are either an army or a church procession, we cannot be both.
We can be both and we are both, we are a holy army.
Unity, Uhtred, shall bring reward. I promise.
He believes himself to be above the church,
above God, even.
Lord Abbot, he is pagan - we do not recognise your God.
He's a lord without land nor men - that makes him dangerous.
Uhtred has shown himself to be loyal.
Are you forgetting how my brother was freed from slavery?
You are flushed, my dear.
A little lovesick, perhaps?
Abbot Eadred, you speak too plainly!
Uhtred is an ealdorman. He has land, in Wessex.
But he's born of Northumbria,
a deposed ealdorman whose ancestors were indeed kings.
He believes himself to be your equal, lord.
Perhaps more than equal.
I will leave if you wish.
I do not wish, but you cannot stay.
And if I'm quiet?
We could both be quiet.
< MUFFLED MOANS
Do you need assistance, Brother Trew?
No. I do not. Thank you.
Lord Abbot, the most holy Saint is safe and covered.
Thank you, Brother.
Well, I will bid you good night.
One other small matter.
I would like you to make a journey, to Bebbanburg -
to Lord Aelfric.
Is Aelfric not our enemy?
He is our enemy solely because he is Uhtred's enemy
and yet he is a Christian.
Can we say the same of the long-haired peacock?
To face the Northmen, to face Kjartan the Dane,
we will need men, God-fearing men.
Lord Aelfric could well provide those men.
I have offered him a bargain, in this letter.
You will bring me an answer.
I will, lord.
May God be with you.
They're coming from the north -
it can only be the brothers, Sigefrid and Erik.
Would you say if it was?
Two of us should remain here and watch.
Two of us should return to Uhtred.
It is not your place to decide what we do.
Lord Uhtred put me in command.
Oh, yes, lord(!)
Hild, you will return to Uhtred.
The two of us?
Clapa, shut your ugly Dane mouth.
That is Erik.
And there is Sigefrid.
I was right, this is not an army. We could attack tonight.
Surprise them in their sleep.
They will know Eoferwic is lost.
Yes. That is the man I set free.
They must have been marching for days.
Now's a good time.
An attack is an option, yes.
It's the only option, lord.
They are waiting to be slaughtered.
There will be no better time to fight than now.
Uhtred, I'm thinking...
We must attack.
Lord, what I'm saying is good advice. We must attack tonight.
Do you not hear me? I'm thinking!
I need to wash away the taste of defeat.
Sigefrid, we are not finished.
Men will come.
We will take Eoferwic back.
The facts are these - Sigefrid and his army is not beyond the Tuede.
It stands between us and Eoferwic.
But it is not an army.
We are more than three times their number.
So we kill them.
No, we do not kill them.
We must consider the battles that lie ahead.
Beyond Sigefrid is Kjartan, beyond Kjartan is Aelfric.
And what you must do, Lord, is win the first and this could be done
this very night.
I have decided that we shall negotiate.
We bargain? With an army so small?
The brothers and their men,
they are a useful addition to our own numbers.
Why do you insist on inviting strangers into the household guard?
And what of the silver?
I have made my decision!
A message has been sent.
It will mean less silver.
Ulf, it will mean more silver - from Eoferwic, Kjartan and Bebbanburg.
Bebbanburg and what lies within it belongs to no man but me.
You are for yourself, it would appear.
Gisela, I would like you beside me at the negotiation.
Uhtred, mine is the only voice that the brothers shall hear.
We should be fighting, not talking.
I'm Erik, this is my brother Sigefrid.
I am King Guthred.
How did you enjoy your war with the Scots? You look tired.
You have a name?
I'm Uhtred, of Bebbanburg. The Danes know me as Uhtred Ragnarson.
You are the man who killed Ubba?
Thank you. We have benefitted greatly from Ubba's death.
He has not been mourned.
Danes, Northmen and Saxons.
Priests, pagans - a strange mix.
You might not know this, but, in your absence,
all Danes and Northmen in Eoferwic have either been killed or fled.
Eoferwic will be mine.
There will be no fight - none.
Unless it's with Sigefrid and Erik.
I will fight you and I will win.
Then why are you talking?
The King is a man of the one true God -
his preference is that we come to an agreement.
It will need to be a handsome agreement.
Make your offer.
In exchange for peace, in compensation for the loss of Eoferwic,
I will offer you a fortress, at Dunholm.
Kjartan is at Dunholm.
Yes. We will join together and we will take it.
Kjartan's land will become your land.
You offer nothing.
Dunholm is too strong, it cannot be taken.
What I am offering you, Sigefrid, is life, life as an Earl!
The only way to defeat Kjartan is to deny him food and freedom.
We, my brother and I, have considered this often.
You would need to surround him with men, with defences,
and deny him what he needs to live.
Yes, all your men would need to be fed and remain sober, for months.
It would take too much time and too many men, some hundreds of men.
But it can be done?
There are other ways.
It CAN be done, yes.
Then that is what we do.
Lord, this is not a plan that can be decided upon quickly.
There are other ways!
Uhtred, as the King explained earlier, you do not have a voice...
I will say what's on my mind and clearly!
This plan can never work - there are other ways to defeat Kjartan.
It seems everyone is wrong but you, Uhtred Ragnarson.
Do we have a plan, KING Guthred?
we have a plan and we have an agreement, do we not?
In addition to Dunholm, how many women will you be offering?
None. Most definitely, none.
Your hair is unbound, lady. You do not have a husband?
My sister will marry when appropriate.
Excellent. Well, hopefully, we will be bonded for a long, long time.
Once we are settled, Lord,
there are matters I would like to discuss, privately.
Of course - just as soon as we're settled.
See the power of the blessed Saint, Lord.
In carrying him before you,
he has given you this city without a single drop of blood being shed.
All that is required now is that we praise him.
Will you join me in prayer, my Lord?
I will, Abbot Eadred. I will.
Kjartan's fortress at Dunholm - you will tell me of the weaknesses.
There are none, Lord.
Lord, there are no weaknesses.
There are always weaknesses.
I will see for myself.
Uhtred, I believe, is a threat to your crown -
a threat even greater than the brothers.
No! No, I do not see that.
I am indebted to Uhtred.
Lord, we are all in his debt.
But in helping to free you, did he not also act for himself?
He believes himself to be above each one of us
and he is loved by the men - they will follow him.
I have to say, I worry that Bebbanburg
will not be enough for such a man.
He's a warrior. Warriors crave war.
Whereas we know that Bebbanburg is quite enough for his uncle.
If it were not for Uhtred, we would have no quarrel with Aelfric.
None. The opposite would apply - he would be an ally.
As for the plan to lay siege to Dunholm - I do believe it to
be sound, but it will require many further men, and they must be
men who will not be tempted to join either Sigefrid or Uhtred.
-May I suggest, Lord, that you summon Christian men?
Christian men, yes, of course. But from where?
Allow me to think on it, Lord.
Let us both think on it.
He is a warrior now - my nephew?
He is, Lord, with reputation. Fearsome reputation.
-He talks of me?
Wants to tear me apart, no doubt?
That is the impression he gives, Lord, yes.
Your King's intention regarding Bebbanburg is what?
The Abbot Eadred, who advises the King, is for peace.
-However, the abbot is on one shoulder,
-your nephew is on the other.
-And Uhtred wishes me dead.
He will not rest. I know it. I've always known it.
We fear he covets not just Bebbanburg, Lord,
but the whole of Northumbria.
As is the way with Danes.
Tell your King, tell the Abbot - I am open to an alliance.
If King Guthred were to raise an army against Kjartan, I would
be prepared to add to that army. My business with the Danes
has long since finished.
In return, I shall require the head of Osbert.
My nephew's name is Osbert.
There shall be no more talk of Uhtred. He's not the heir -
The head of Osbert.
Thank you, Lord.
It is one of ours, Lord.
The flesh is rotten, but I know it, I'm sure.
Go to the others!
It seems they're all men we know, my Lord!
Tekil! Is he amongst them?
There are only seven heads.
There are only seven heads - who is missing? Fiske!
The last one is Tekil!
It's him. It's the Dead Horseman.
Do you believe you deceive me?!
I know who you are - I know exactly who you are!
I will have your soul, Kjartan!
Face me! Face me like a man!
You asked to speak and then you disappear.
To breathe, Lord, nothing more.
We have had a disagreement. That is past now, I hope.
You command my army and you are my friend.
But I am King.
Yes, but you cannot be a friend to all men.
There are times, Lord, when you must be ruthless.
You speak of Sigefrid and Erik.
I do. They should have been dispatched to Corpse Hall.
Now they think you're weak. Men must fear you.
Do men fear Alfred? He is a good man.
They fear his displeasure, yes.
Fear is a beast I must use.
During my incarceration as a slave, fear lived within me. Often.
It is a feeling that never leaves you. It scars.
It humbles a man.
I do hear you, Uhtred.
May I say more, Lord?
I, er, I wish to be seen as Sigefrid's equal.
-Like the brothers, I am a Lord of the north.
I could easily become your rival.
I ask that you make peace with me.
I ask that you offer your sister in marriage.
The attraction, it is reciprocated, I expect?
She feels the same?
She does, I believe.
You have been spending time with her?
We've spoken, yes.
Then, there can be no argument.
I hereby officially now see you as a rival.
A threat to my crown.
-Thank you, Lord. Thank you.
GRUNTING AND YELLING
That's enough! Hold them fast!
-What are you doing?
I wish to see the King!
-No, Hild, put down your sword! Put it down now!
-What shall I do, Lord?
-You do nothing.
Hild! My sword! And find Gisela!
-Is it true they have taken Uhtred?
Out of the way, this is God's work.
-Then you must help him! you are his only hope!
Guthred! Guthred, whatever your plans, change them.
You are to be sold.
We're to be sold?! Why? Lord, we are YOUR army! We saved you!
It's not lost on me that while you gave me my freedom,
I am now taking yours.
-You will become a slave, Uhtred.
-And Halig with you.
-No! No, you have no argument with Halig,
-let him go free.
-No, Lord. I will stay beside you.
Guthred, let him go free. I beg you!
You see? This is the reason why you're being caged.
You inspire loyalty. You inspire loyalty from my men.
Guthred, I gave you my word, my sword.
But what I need is 200 swords!
I need 200 men, and that is your worth.
200 Christian men of Bebbanburg!
My Uncle Aelfric?
He asked for your head, but slavery will be enough, I'm sure.
It would be better to kill me, but you lack the courage.
Kill me. Sword in hand.
-My sister would never forgive me.
Guthred, you should kill me, or I will return, I swear!
Guthred! You should kill me!
He is lost, Hild. I do not readily see how I can help him.
-Hild, he could be across the seas by now.
It cannot be true - he is Uhtred.
Lord, I will search for him.
For how long, Beocca?
For as long as is necessary. For a lifetime. Why not?
Beocca, the task is near impossible, and with respect, it is beyond you.
-He is lost, Father.
Father, it is Uhtred. He kept us safe in the...
He did not abandon us and we should not abandon...
You will be silent now!
My dear, it is not that I wish to abandon him,
it is how do I find him?
Lord, what of his brother, Ragnar?
Would he not wish to find Uhtred?
And he is more capable than Father Beocca.
-Ragnar is a hostage!
-And a man of his word.
Could he not remain a hostage whilst outside of Winchester?
Earl Ragnar. I have a task for you.
And you alone.
Move it! Move!
You are no longer a warrior.
You belong to me now.
When spies infiltrate the Cumbraland army, Uhtred must rely on his troops to protect him from a perilous attack. He rides as the dead horseman once again, and Kjartan's thirst for revenge grows ever stronger.
Hild goes on a journey of self-discovery as she considers exchanging her life as a nun for that of a warrior and Guthred's efforts to emulate Alfred's conciliatory tactics backfires when his indecision and lack of ruthlessness weakens the Saxons' position.
When affection between Uhtred and Gisela reaches new heights, Uhtred's enemies close in and he suffers a grave betrayal.