“If England is to be God’s kingdom and people, they cannot rely on the strength of a heathen.” That was Lady Aelswith’s retort at Alfred after he pardoned Uhtred just before his death. Lady Aelswith, portrayed by Eliza Butterworth, is the one queen and, of course, queen mother that has no place for Danes in her heart.
However, her blind trust in Christians may have led to her death since her fate is unknown after Aethelhelm poisoned her in the Season 4 finale. While she is a strong woman with a big heart, she has done bad things that hurt many people on both sides of the Danes vs. Saxons conflict of The Last Kingdom.
10 Advising Alfred To Kill Uhtred
Alfred always knew he needed Uhtred and that he could trust him although he wanted to control him rather than be his friend. Aelswith, on the other hand, believed that everyone who didn’t subscribe to her faith should die. When Uhtred interrupted Alfred’s prayer, Aelswith immediately recommended death as the punishment, which was rather harsh even for her.
The peak of her hatred for Uhtred came when she finally managed to convince Alfred to sentence Uhtred to death after he was accused of plundering a monastery. The eventual duel to the death with Leofric left Winchester vulnerable to Guthrum’s attack as everyone gathered to watch Uhtred and Leofric fight each other.
9 Agreeing To Aethelflaed’s Marriage To Aethelred
Aelswith is a good mother and has proved to be very protective of her two children since the first season of the show. However, her choice of marriage matches has always been poor. When she saw Aethelred’s name on Coewulf’s letter, she didn’t even care to look into his background.
As far as she was concerned, being a good Christian was enough for Aethelred to make a good husband. Aethelflaed ended up suffering at the hands of an abusive man that didn’t care about her. Sadly, Aelswith never asked her daughter whether she was happy in her marriage, which raises many questions about her competence as a mother.
8 Rejecting The Plan To Rescue Uhtred
Aelswith’s hatred for Uhtred was more intense than her hatred towards other Danes like Haesten. Yet, this didn’t make a lot of sense to viewers since Uhtred had helped Alfred retake his place on the throne. When Uhtred got captured by slavers after being betrayed by Guthred, it was time for Winchester to repay his service by rescuing him.
When Hild and Beocca came with the news of his capture, Winchester wasn’t very willing to save him. Aelswith was among those who advised Alfred against sending his men to save him, claiming he may have crossed the seas and could not be saved. She also chastised Aethelflaed for showing concern for Uhtred’s well being.
7 Advising Alfred To Kill Aethelwold
Aethelwold was a bad penny that didn’t seem to fit anywhere, but he was still Alfred’s family, and family has to be protected. Aelswith always hated Aethelwold as she saw him as a threat to Edward’s ascension to the throne. In Aelswith’s mind, everyone she didn’t like deserved to die, and Aethelwold was not an exception.
When he returned from his adventures in the Dane lands, Aethelwold had lost everything and should have been given some room to redeem himself. Even if they wouldn’t accept him back in the palace, advising Alfred to kill his brother’s son was evil of Aelswith.
6 Rescinding Alfred’s Pardon For Uhtred
Alfred’s last moment with Uhtred was his best throughout The Last Kingdom. He finally confessed how much he had needed Uhtred and why he couldn’t thank him enough. Knowing what was at stake, Alfred pardoned Uhtred for the bogus crimes that had caused their fallout in the first place.
Aelswith couldn’t see just how much her children and Wessex needed Uhtred. All she saw was the chance to finally send all heathens out of Winchester, beginning with Uhtred. In the end, Edward saw sense in his father’s pardon and set things right.
5 Trusting Aethelhelm
Lord Aethelhelm is not the good Christian father figure Aelswith hoped for when she agreed to Aelflaed’s marriage to Edward. She entrusted him with Edward’s future after Alfred’s death and sent the rest of Alfred’s advisors out of Winchester too.
Aethelhelm is ambitious and only interested in Aelflaed and her children getting to keep the throne. He turned into a threat to Edward and schemed a way of doing away with Aelswith poisoning her in the end. While Aethelhelm’s evil nature is not her fault, her complacency around him has allowed him to prosper.
4 Breaking Up Edward’s First Marriage
Edward loved Ecgynn and their two children, but Aelswith wouldn’t have any of it. It still a mystery how a whole prince in Winchester got married and had two children without Alfred knowing about it. However, when Aelswith decided to get a perfect match for Edward, she should have considered his feelings.
He confessed his love for Ecgwynn, but Aelswith dismissed him and forced him to marry Aelflaed. Edward is obviously unhappy in his marriage with Aelflaed, and she doesn’t seem interested in helping him rule either, which is a total disaster for Winchester.
3 Sending Beocca Out Of The Palace
Father Beocca (Ian Hart) was the best advisor to Alfred and Uhtred, and managed to keep the two working together despite their differences. He believed in Alfred’s dream of a united England and still hoped that Danes and Christians could still live together as neighbors.
Aelswith seemed to be the only person in Winchester that didn’t like Beocca, though. When Alfred died, she ordered Beocca to leave the palace and not advise Edward. Her dislike led to Beocca agreeing to accompany Uhtred on his doomed expedition to Bebbanburg, which led to his death.
2 Lying To Ecgwynn
Aelswith discovered her mistake when she realized that Aelflaed and Aethelhelm were not the great Christian friends she had hoped they were and decided to meet Ecgwynn. While the gesture was good in itself, it would have been better if she apologized for what she did to the poor woman.
Being forced out of your marriage, into a nunnery, and having your children taken away from you is the most inhumane humiliation a mother can face. Aelswith only tortured her further by lying to her and giving her only a short time with her son, which couldn’t heal anything.
1 Sending Pyrlig To Wealas Secretly
Aelswith’s Mercian roots came to life in her redemption during season 4 of The Last Kingdom, but it also exposed her weakness. She was right in approaching Hywel to ask for an army to help Aethelflaed defeat Cnut, but she needed to ensure that Edward gets the credit in the end.
Hywel humiliated Edward after the battle. It hurt his ego so much, leading to his long stay in Aegelsburg to redeem his reputation, which allowed Sigtryggr and Brida to take Winchester hostage. She should have consulted Edward to come up with a common solution.
NEXT: The Last Kingdom: 5 Times Uhtred Saved Winchester (& 5 Times Winchester Failed Him)
Star Trek: The 10 Worst First Contacts, Ranked
About The Author