‘The Last Kingdom’: Eliza Butterworth Reveals Aelswith’s ‘Complex and Ulterior Motives’

In Netflix’s The Last Kingdom, fans have seen the evolution of Lady Aelswith, played by Eliza Butterworth. She’s changed so much from season 1 to season 4. She now realizes she can get more flies with honey. Aelswith is an extremely complex character that desperately wants to keep her husband’s dream alive of a united England.

Lady Aelswith changes after her husband dies

Eliza Butterworth
Eliza Butterworth | Dave Benett/Getty Images for LOUIS XIII

Aelswith has come a long way when you compare her in season 4 to the woman she was when her husband first becomes king of Wessex. Aelswith is married to King Alfred (David Dawson) until he dies and she’s left to pick up the pieces.

Once Aelswith’s son Edward (Timothy Innes) is on the throne, things change drastically for her. She shares her husband’s dream for England and she’ll stop at nothing to achieve it. She even defies her son on more than one occasion for the good of Wessex. She starts to realize that she hasn’t always been the kindest person and she changes.

Eliza Butterworth reveals Aelswith’s ‘complex and ulterior motives’

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Winter Is Coming spoke with Butterworth about her character Lady Aelswith. She revealed that she likes to play a character with a “villainous” side. She says these characters usually have “complex and ulterior motives” for doing what they do, and Aelswith certainly does.

“I’ve always really liked playing the more villainous sides, because I just find it more interesting and I don’t think everyone’s a villain just for the sake of being malicious and evil,” Butterworth revealed. “There’s always some complex and ulterior motives to their actions. So with Aelswith, it was that she was being devout to her God and her husband and her kingdom. But through that, she was actually committing some quite terrible things, or at least wishing ill on others. But in her eyes, that was a very, very pure action to take.”

Lady Aelswith changes in season 4

After the death of Alfred, Aelswith is treated with less respect, and her word doesn’t seem to hold as much weight as it once did. However, she does what she can to keep her husband’s dream alive of a united England. She even finds a way to get the Welsh to back the Mercians and secure a victory. Aelswith also openly defies her son’s order to meet him in person in order to give him wise council, and he finally realizes his mother’s worth.

It seems like things are looking up for Aelswith, that is until she finds herself a hostage in Winchester at the hands of the Danes. Lord Aethelhelm (Adrian Schiller) poisons her water and when viewers last see Aelswith, she’s collapsed on the ground. It’s unclear if she will make it and live to see another day. It’s especially sad considering all the good she’s tried to do in season 4.

Lady Aelswith has reasons for doing what she does. She wants to secure the legacy of her people and her husband’s dream in the process. In The Last Kingdom, Aelswith is a more than complex character.