Sunday, 23 December 2018

THE LAST KINGDOM renewed for fourth season

Netflix have renewed The Last Kingdom for a fourth season, as announced by the cast in an amusing video.

The BBC commissioned and began airing The Last Kingdom with a well-received first season back in 2015, co-produced with BBC America. For Season 2 BBC America dropped out as co-producer and was replaced by Netflix, who also started showing the series worldwide on the their platform, where it picked up a much wider audience. The BBC decided to pull out after the second season but Netflix picked up the show and it returned last month with a higher budget, more episodes and the strongest critical reception to date.

The TV series, set in the late 9th and early 10th centuries, follows the adventures and misadventures of Uhtred of Bebbanburg, a Saxon noble boy who is captured by Danes and raised as one of them. After the death of his adopted Danish family, he finds himself torn between his Danish and Saxon heritages, but eventually swears his sword to King Alfred of Wessex, a pious and godly king who believes it is his destiny to unite the seven Saxon kingdoms together as one: England. Alfred and Uhtred have a complex relationship, with Uhtred saving Alfred's life on several occasions but Alfred struggling to create a Christian kingdom when his greatest warrior refuses to convert to the cross.

The TV series is based on The Saxon Stories, a series of novels by historical fictional writer Bernard Cornwell. The series is planned to expand across 14 novels (eleven of which have been published), which in total will follow Uhtred and the fate of Wessex from Alfred becoming King in 871 all the way to the Battle of Brunanburh in 937, when the fate of England is finally decided; Uhtred will presumably be in his eighties in the last novel of the series. The series is loosely based on real history, with the caveat that the historical Uhtred actually lived a century after the fictional one.


Gabriele Campbell said...

Is it sure that the series will go all the way to Brunanburh? I know Cornwell considered it, but I never saw a confirmation.

It would be cool, though. In that case I'll maybe find the courage to ask Cornwell if Uhtred can get a cameo in my novel featuring that battle. :-)

Adam Whitehead said...

Yes. On his recent Q&A on his website he says there will be three more books (he's almost finished #12 and that should be out in 2019), with the last one depicting Brunanburh.

Benge said...

Perhaps this is as good a place as any to ask but what is the significance of brunanbruh? To me it mostly seems like footnote along the path of the Danish conquest of England (happening within 100 years of brunanbruh) and then the conquest by the Normans a hundred years after that.

If the isles had not been christened by king Alfred they certainly would have by the Danes or the Normans.

Gabriele Campbell said...

Cool. I haven't been on his site for a while; should remedy that. Uhtred deserves to fall in battle, not die a straw death, as the Vikings called it.

Ja D said...

That was quick. Great news.

Adam Whitehead said...

Brunanburh was the battle that allowed the Saxons to unify England (although, after 150 years, it was no longer a Saxon land but a mongrel one with elements of Saxon, Danish, Irish and British blood) and created the idea of a single English state. Yes, the Danes may have done the same or the Normans much later, but they didn't. Cornwell has also argued that the victory when it happened also ensured the descent of the modern English language came from Anglo-Saxon rather than the Danish/Norse language of the time.

Gabriele Campbell said...

I came across that battle while doing some research on the German Ottonian Emperors. One of them, Otto I (aka Otto the Great) had been married to a half-sister of King AEthelstan, Eadgyth, in AD 930. The Ottonians or Liduolfings had not been around long, so a marriage to a granddaughter of Alfred the Great improved their prestige. Also, both AEthelstan and Otto - as well has his father Heinrich the Fowler who was still alive at the time - had a common enemy in the Danes.

Since I'm a research rat, I went down that hole, being interested in Medieaval English history as well, and came across the Battle of Brunanburh where I found a plotbunny - one of several that eventually gathered into the Sichelstein Saga (which will feature two famous German battles as well, Riade and Lechfeld).

The son of Otto and Eadgyth, Liudolf, would later cause his father a fair amount of trouble. After Eadgyth's early death, Otto remarried Adelaide of Burgundy and made the eldest son he had with her (another Otto) his heir, to the detriment of Liudolf who was Not Happy about that development.

The Battle of Brunanburh also features in the Old Norse Egils Saga. Egil Skallagrímsson and his brother Thorolf fight at the side of King AEthelstan; Thorolf falls in the battle.