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King Ecbert

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Ecbert of Wessex
Portrayed by Linus Roache
Title: King
Significant Other/s: King Aelle (ally)
Judith (daughter-in-law)
Children: Aethelwulf (son)
Character Information
First appearance: Invasion
Appearance Count: 8

King Ecbert is the worldly and ambitious king of Wessex, whose formative years were spent in the court of the Emperor Charlemagne. An ambitious man of strength, knowledge and the willingness to use those qualities decisively, King Ecbert poses a worthy match for his new foe, Ragnar Lothbrok.

Unlike many of his fellow Christians in Wessex, Ecbert possesses an understanding of a pagan culture like the Vikings, mainly as a result of his fascination with the Romans and their world-view prior to their Christianization. Ecbert appreciates that the Roman gods allowed them rule the world and grasps the implications of that notion. He takes Athelstan into his confidence, sensing that men like his son, the devout Prince Aethelwulf, and his advisor, the Bishop Edmund, would disapprove of his interest in pagan religions and culture.

Having saved Athelstan from a cross - the monk having been crucified for apostasy - Ecbert regards Athelstan as a kindred spirit, and one versed in Latin. The king puts the monk in charge of his treasury of ancient Roman relics and documents left over from Rome's domination of Britain centuries prior. Athelstan is tasked with interpreting and preserving the many scrolls of Roman parchment. From the scrolls, Athelstan conveys to Ecbert detailed accounts of the battlefield strategies of the Roman legions.

Having delved into the military mind of Caesar, King Ecbert puts his new knowledge to use when confronting the latest incursion - the largest to date - by  Ragnar Lothbrok into Wessex, this raid including the forces of King Horik and Lagertha. Allied with King Aella of Northumbria, Ecbert ambushes the advancing Viking horde with a multiple-pronged attack that includes both mounted cavalry and infantry. Confounded by Ecbert's tactics, taking heavy losses, and assailed from all sides, the Vikings are forced to fight their way out of the trap and into headlong retreat. King Ecbert's victory is decisive. In the aftermath of the battle, King Aella expresses surprise at Ecbert's skill as a tactician.

When Aella suggests finishing off the Northmen, however, Ecbert demonstrates his keener political vision, responding that more might be gained by negotiating a truce. Additionally, upon realizing that Ragnar's brother, Rollo, had been wounded and captured during the battle, Ecbert had his life spared and his wounds tended to. Rollo, he realized, was an important and potentially useful captive. Rollo's release is part of the deal later struck between Ecbert and Ragnar that granted the Northmen 5,000 acres of good farming land, as well as a quantity of gold and silver. King Ecbert, in turn, is able to recruit a contingent of Viking warriors willing to fight as mercenaries for Princess Kwentrith in her campaign to rule the kingdom of Mercia.

Trivia Edit

  • Ecbert's name was alternately spelled as Egbert, Ecgbert, Ecgberht or Ecgbriht.
  • King Ecbert of Wessex was a decendant of Cerdic I, a Saxon conquerer that founded Wessex. According to legend, and also asserted in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Cerdic was a decendant of Woden, the Saxon name of Odin. Although the same Anglo-Saxon Chronicle also traces the pedigree of the House of Wessex to the Biblical Patriarchs, and so may be an example of a fabricated lineage.
  • Ecbert was named as the Bretwalda (ruler of Britain) in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle after he conquered the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia from King Wiglaf and received homage from the Northumbrians.
  • Though the series depicts Ecbert as king of Wessex in the approximate year 800 CE, Ecbert was not crowned until 802 CE.
  • In the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" created during the reign of Alfred the Great, King Ecgbert of Wessex was said to have had three children with his wife Redburga; Æthelwulf, Saint Eadgyth of Polesworth, and Æthelstan. Later historians decided that Æthelstan was Æthelwulf's oldest son, rather than his brother.
  • In 825 CE, King Ecbert accepted the submission of King Sigered of Essex (the East Saxons) and annexed the entire kingdom (composed of the modern English counties of Essex, Hertfordshire and Middlesex), adding them to the growing Kingdom of Wessex. This was in the same year that Ecbert had reconquered the Kingdom of Kent, which he had one been the heir to before his father, Ealhmund, was killed by his Mercian rivals in 784 CE.
  • Ecbert was the grandfather of King Alfred the Great, who led the native English resistance against the Danes after they conquered the kingdoms of Northumbria, East Anglia and northern Mercia.
  • Ecbert and his fellow king, Aella of Northumbria, never met in real life and were not even comtemporaries. Ecbert reigned from 802-839, while Aella is believed to have died around the year 867 and was only king of Northumbria for several years at that. The real-life contemporary king of Northumbria for Ecbert of Wessex in the year 800 CE (the setting of Season 2) would have been King Eardwulf (reigned 796-806 CE).
  • Ecbert's father was King Ealhmund of Kent, who was himself the great-grandson of one Ingild, a brother of King Ine of Wessex (reigned 688-726 CE). Ecbert, heir to the throne of Kent and possessing a claim to the throne of Wessex, was forced into exile to Francia after the death of his father. His rival, Beorhtric, gained the support of the powerful King Offa of Mercia to seize the throne of Wessex in 786, while Mercia asserted it's dominion over Kent. Ecbert would eventually be restored as King over Wessex and Kent with the aid from the Frankish Emperor Charlemagne.

Appearances Edit

Season two appearances
Brother's War Invasion Treachery Eye For an Eye Answers in Blood
Unforgiven Blood Eagle Boneless The Choice The Lord's Prayer

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