Rule number one for surviving the viking ‘Great Army’ invasion of 865 — don’t give the enemy a reason to shoot arrows at you. Somehow, King Edmund of East Anglia missed the memo, both in real life and in the Netflix series The Last Kingdom.
One such character is Judith, a virtuous and dutiful Northumbrian princess. She weds Aethelwulf, son of King Ecbert and prince of Wessex, in an arranged marriage. While there isn’t smoldering chemistry between the two, they seem more or less accepting of the arrangement. Until Athelstan enters the picture.
Records state that she would dress the wounds of both animals and people with the help of potions concocted from dried herbs gathered by moonlight. She cured servant girls with stone-worn knees, forestry men who suffered from the elements, and farmers with wounded livestock. Residents throughout the Forest held her in high esteem.
Before the advent of modern medicine, smallpox was a devastating disease. It killed about three out of every ten people who contracted it. It also left survivors gruesomely scarred. Variolation had been practiced for quite some time in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, but 18th-century Europe was resistant to jump on the bandwagon. This was despite huge outbreaks that killed hundreds of thousands of people, including a few reigning monarchs.
When author Bernard Cornwell discovered that among his distant ancestors was an ealdorman named Uhtred who held Bebbanburg, he decided he wanted to weave that into his story. The Uhtred who lived held court in the early 10th century, over 100 years after The Last Kingdom’s events, and nothing much is known about him. Our fictional hero’s remarkable upbringing and adventures are just that — fiction. But we like to think the real Uhtred had his fair share of escapades, too.
The Netflix series The Last Kingdom is often compared to Game of Thrones, and for good reason — both are inspired by real British history. But while GoT took the War of the Roses as a loose template for the War of the Five Kings and threw ice zombies, dragons, and dire wolves at it, The Last Kingdom traces fascinating true events by focusing on legendary figures who really lived, weaving a bit of believable mysticism in along the way.
Not long after that, she led her troops in a campaign against the Danes at Derby and was victorious. The following year she took Leicester without a fight, and shortly after that York declared allegiance to her. Aethelflaed was quickly amassing the forces to take on anyone, including her brother, King Edward.
Things start heading downhill from the moment Catherine arrives on English shores. After a long, arduous, peril-laden journey, Catherine is ill-tempered and exhausted. She wants nothing more than to retire and have a bath. Margaret, who is among the welcoming party, has her own ideas for what Catherine should do. It doesn’t take long for the haughty young Spanish princess to make a poor impression on the great Tudor lady.
Boudica and Dany both represent ruthless female leaders who rebelled against those who wronged them without mercy. They took no prisoners. It’s estimated that Boudica’s armies killed as many as 70,000–80,000 people.