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Vikings: Did Athelstan really exist?

athelstan -

Vikings: Did Athelstan really exist?


Is Athelstan from Vikings real?

George Blagden reveals why Ragnar saves Athelstan .

George Blagden, who plays Athelstan, attended WonderCon in 2013 and participated in a round table discussion and Collider reported the queries and answers.

Buy the Real Viking Cross of Athelstan


He talked about the historical identity of Athelstan, which is actually based on a monk from the internet pages of history.

Three monks were abducted in Lindisfarne and one of them "became part of the Viking lifestyle," according to Blagden.


A monk in real life," Blagden revealed. And one of them survived, and one of them became part of the viking lifestyle. But it is entirely based on this historical determination. »

Athelstan Vikings Actor


George Blagden is a British actor born December 28, 1989 in London. He plays the role of Athelstan in the Viking seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4.


  • 2015 : Versailles (TV show): Louis XIV
  • 2013: Vikings: Athelstan

Why is Athelstan so important in Vikings?

The hero of Vikings is unquestionably Ragnar Lothbrok, this semi-legendary warrior of the IXth century who, from his small town on the Scandinavian shores, placed the local kings under his yoke and pushed his invading raids to the kingdoms that would form England and France.

Around the man played by Travis Fimmel gravitate adjuvants not always very frank of the necklace (his (ex)wife badass Lagertha, the brother relegated to the shadow Rollo, the mystic Floki ...) and enemy power figures.


In the middle of this gallery of characters, the priest Athelstan does not stand out at first glance.

His (luminous) interpreter, George Blagden, has no more space on the screen than the others, he is only credited in the middle of the credits and is often placed in the background on the promo posters.

Yet he is the central character of the series, whose season 3 has just ended. And on the fate of this key role could depend the rest of the show. Analysis.

He is the mediator between the Vikings and the spectator.

Captured in the second episode during a raid after the sacking of an English monastery, the Christian monk Athelsan is taken against his will to the Vikings with whom he will have to learn to live.

Even if he is never in the position of narrator, it is through his gaze - sometimes frightened, sometimes admiring - that we discover the Viking people.


In episode 9 of season 1, he accompanies the Vikings on their decennial pilgrimage without knowing that he is in the group's sights to be the victim of a human sacrifice (from which he will eventually be spared).

In this quasi-anthropological painting of a cult where voluntary and calm servitude reigns over the Nordic death row inmates, he is the stranger with whom the average viewer - not very much inclined to commit suicide in the name of a god - can identify.

As time passes and the audience assimilates the workings of this Scandinavian society, Athelstan will become less of an intercessor than a Viking himself.


It makes the junction between the different powers

The series describes a world in the midst of religious change, where Christianity is spreading across Europe like wildfire, where Nordic polytheism is resisting, and where Roman paganism tinged with ancient philosophy remains a hidden model.


Athelstan is a Christian priest who will be seduced by Viking beliefs but goes back and forth with Christianity: big dilemma, big case of conscience for the character. He will pay dearly for this "double faith": accused of apostasy by the soldiers of Christ, the monk turned Viking will be stigmatized (in the first sense of the term, in the form of holes in the hands) and crucified.

Yet he will survive these abuses, rescued by the King of Wessex, Ecbert, who will make Athestan his personal priest. Prisoner or martyr, the character of Athelstan survives thanks to his diplomatic character and his spirit fundamentally shared between two cultures.


Used as a negotiator or interpreter, he is a precious asset courted by the powerful. It is under his gaze that friendly relations between Vikings and English (resulting in exchanges of agricultural equipment and fluids between Lagertha, proclaimed head of the clan by her troops, and King Ecbert) were fostered for a time.

Tossed from one clan to another, between Wessex and Scandinavia, shared between several allegiances, would Athelstan eat at all the racks to save his skin? No, because his loyalty to Ragnar, whether close to him or at a distance, is one of the main threads of the character.

He reveals the main character

It all started on a not very healthy basis between the warrior who would become king Ragnar and the monk Athelstan, the former making the latter his prisoner, even carrying him around at the end of a rope.

Ragnar was very interested in the unknown spiritual world to which Athelstan opened, and he soon treated him as a free man.

We then witness a relationship colored by the Stockholm syndrome where Ragnar's ancestry weighs heavily: he spared the one who should have become his victim and showed him friendship, and Athelstan will love him for it.


The suzerain-vassal bond will gradually evolve into a balanced relationship. If Ragnar teaches Athelsan how to fight, Athelsan saves his friend's life several times. There is no ascendancy of one over the other regarding faith: respect is mutual.

Ragnar will little by little show him a total preference, even kneeling down to pray according to the priest's beliefs, and showing him the highest degree of trust.

Everything could have gone wrong: finding his faith in Christ again in the middle of season 3, Athelstan got rid of his Viking rags and threw into the sea, in a moment of transcendence, the bracelet that Ragnar had given him and which symbolizes their bond.

A gesture that could be taken as a betrayal against the main character - lord and master, let us recall - but which will be accepted by the latter, proof that Ragnar considers Athelstan as his equal and even superior to himself.

It is difficult not to glimpse the contours of a loving feeling in Ragnar's unfailing attachment to Athelstan.


Both characters are interested in women (even the monk will break his vows of chastity to frolic with a princess) and no sexual allusion is raised between them, but what the fiction does not say, the fan fiction suggests: some spectators have made small drawings of the two characters in equivocal positions (google is your friend).

And the teasing way Ragnar's interpreter has of groping the character of Athelstan in an interview will not contradict this interpretation. Did you say bromance? 

Does Athelstan die in Vikings?

In the middle of season 3, Athelstan is murdered by Floki, who has always seen in the figure of the monk the instrument of Christianity's victory over the Nordic gods.

Intended to punish Athelstan's supposed role in the misfortunes that struck the Viking community (King Ecbert came to decimate a Viking village, shattering any alliance between peoples), the gesture of poor Floki is also the result of a frustration that has become almost pathological, that of a jealous man who could not bear the pre-eminent place that Ragnar gave in his heart abroad to the detriment of his brothers.


If the death of the Viking monk was a hard blow for the fans, it is a testimony to the (claimed) love that Michael Hirst, the creator of the show, has for the character.

It is after having fully regained his faith that the priest, freed from his religious paradoxes, is executed in a kind of epiphany. His presence, overhanging, resounds moreover still after death.


He leaves behind him a bastard son (and one more bastard in the universe of historical series, one!) who will have a capital importance in the history of England and a void in Ragnar's heart and identity ("Nothing will be able to console me from now on," declares the warrior to the corpse of his friend).

For it was much in his friendship with Athelstan that the specificities of Ragnar, an iconoclastic man, who was as open to another world as he was greedy for power, were revealed.

The last scene of season 3 obviously plays in the cliffhanger: Ragnar accuses Floki of having killed his friend.

The questions are numerous; what awaits poor Floki in season 4? And what will become of Ragnar?


The man who has sailed between life and death after invading Paris - a dream city that the stories of Athelstan had sublimated - seems to be sinking into deep water, more isolated than ever, and ready to hand over the baton to his eldest son.

It is rumored that Bjorn will be at the center of season 4. A new era for Vikings?

Why did floki kill Athelstan?


A merciless war broke out between the Vikings and the Christians within the village itself, resulting in the death of Athelstan, killed by Floki's hand.

Ragnar, in mourning, will decide to attack the famous capital of Francia, Paris, a city said to be as legendary as it is impregnable.


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