‘The Last Kingdom’ Author Bernard Cornwell Is Related to the Real-Life Uhtred

Was Uhtred of Bebbanburg a real person? See how a real-life historical figure inspired his distant descendant, the author behind ‘The Last Kingdom.’


Mar. 27 2022, Published 1:55 p.m. ET

Alexander Dreymon as Uhtred in 'The Last Kingdom'
Source: Joe Alblas/Netflix

Alexander Dreymon as Uhtred in 'The Last Kingdom'

With Netflix currently streaming the fifth and final season of The Last Kingdom — while filming the feature-length sequel Seven Kings Must Die — fans are curious to know if Uhtred of Bebbanburg was a real person.

After all, The Last Kingdom is a historical drama based on the Saxon Stories book series by Bernard Cornwell, which was inspired by real-life events.

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The show follows Uhtred (Alexander Dreymon), a Saxon warrior raised by Vikings, as he ventures to claim his birthright as the heir of his ancestral home of Bebbanburg.

And as it turns out, Uhtred of Bebbanburg is fictitious but based on a real-life historical figure from Bernard’s family tree.

Uhtred is a fictional character inspired by the real-life Uhtred the Bold, author Bernard Cornwell’s ancestor.

Alexander Dreymon as Uhtred in 'The Last Kingdom'
Source: Adrienn Szabo/Netflix

In writing Uhtred’s story in The Saxon Stories, Bernard was inspired by the life of Uhtred the Bold, an Earl of Northumbria who ruled from Bamburgh Castle between 1006 and 1016, according to RadioTimes.com.

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Bernard told The Guardian in 2015 that when he reconnected with his biological father in his 50s, he found a family tree and discovered he was related to that Uhtred. “[The family tree] went all the way back to the 6th century,” the author said at the time. “They were the Lords of Bebbanburg [Bamburgh Castle] in Northumberland. There was an Uhtred. … We know sod all about [Uhtred]: We have his signature on the charter.”

He went on: “Even though Uhtred didn’t exist as I have written it, there is always that big story [of Alfred and his son Aethelstan] in the background … I always wanted to tell the story of how England came to be. The moment I met my real family, I thought: ‘S—t, somehow this family survived the coming of the Danes, the Vikings, all the way through to King Canute, there was a family connection.”

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Uhtred “faces his greatest enemies” and “suffers immeasurable loss” in Season 5.

In a synopsis for Season 5, Netflix says that The Last Kingdom picks up years after the events of the fourth season, with King Edward (Timothy Innes) still trying to unite the Saxon Kingdoms, per his late father’s wishes.

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Meanwhile, the truce between the Danes and the Saxons is being threatening by an invasion of the former and a rebellion of the latter. Uhtred, for his part, is tasked with protecting Edward’s illigitmate son, Aethelstan (Harry Gilby), the future king of England. But Lord Aethelhelm (Adrian Schiller) wants Edward’s other son, Aelfweard (Ewan Horrocks), to inherit the crown.

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“We follow Uhtred as he faces his greatest enemies, and suffers immeasurable loss, on his quest towards fulfilling his destiny,” Netflix adds. “Meanwhile, Edward treads a fine line between peace-keeper and authoritarian as he battles to bring together the fractured Kingdoms of the land. In a surprising twist of fate, Uhtred discovers that the quest to unite England may well be linked to his own personal destiny.”

All five seasons of The Last Kingdom are currently streaming on Netflix, but the streaming service has not yet revealed the release date for Seven Kings Must Die.

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