‘The Last Kingdom’: Why Eardwulf Tries to Manipulate Aethelred in Season 4

In season 4 of The Last Kingdom, fans are introduced to a number of new characters. One of the most memorable of those is definitely Eardwulf (Jamie Blackley) who tries to constantly manipulate Aethelred (Toby Regbo). Read on to learn why he does this and how it all works out for him in the end. There are spoilers ahead for season 4 of The Last Kingdom.

Who is Eardwulf?

Jamie Blackley as Eardwulf in 'The Last Kingdom'
Jamie Blackley as Eardwulf in ‘The Last Kingdom’ | Adrienn Szabo/Netflix

Eardwulf is from a disgraced noble family. He’s been trying to climb his way back to the top and it doesn’t matter who he has to kill, hurt, or manipulate to get there. He even goes so far as to use his sister to influence Aethelred. He somehow manages to become the commander of all of Aethelred’s troops along the way.

Why Eardwulf tries to manipulate Aethelred so much

Eardwulf wants what his family used to have, and that’s influence in Mercia. He gains the respect of the soldiers he commands but somehow finds it difficult to gain Aethelred’s respect, who lashes out at anyone, especially Eardwulf.

Eardwulf wants to gain as much influence and power as possible and he knows he can only achieve it by manipulating Aethelred. He even kills a messenger when he doesn’t like what he hears because he knows it will anger Aethelred.

Eardwulf kills Aethelred when he feels power slipping from his grasp

Aethelred sustains a pretty bad head wound in battle and barely makes it back to his home alive. He’s on the verge of death and everyone is scrambling to choose a successor. Somehow, the choice falls on Eardwulf by King Edward of Wessex (Timothy Innes).

When Eardwulf goes to tell Aethelred that he’s has been chosen and he’ll be marrying Aethelflaed’s (Millie Brady) daughter to seal the deal, Aethelred isn’t having any of it. He openly tells him that won’t be happening and Eardwulf decides it’s the perfect time to tighten Aethelred’s head bandages until it kills him.

His sister helps bring him down

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Eadith (Stefanie Martini), who has witnessed her brother’s cruelty and unimaginable acts, is his final undoing. When Eardwulf and his men catch up to Eadith, she tells his troops to check the bag he carries around his neck. Inside is Aethelred’s ring and proof that Eardwulf murdered him. He leaves in disgrace, but soon finds himself allied with the Danes. He convinces them that going to Winchester is the perfect thing to do.

What happens to Eardwulf?

He’s with the Danes with they take Winchester. On one occasion, he’s drunk and goes to Stiorra (Ruby Hartley), Uhtred’s (Alexander Dreymon) daughter. He tells her he wants revenge and he acts like he’s going to sexually assault her. He then hits her, but Sigtryggr (Eysteinn Sigurðarson) comes in and hits him instead. Stiorra reveals that Eardwulf killed Aethelred while he laid helpless wounded in bed. Sigtryggr has Eardwulf publicly executed for his “ambition.” He’s stabbed in the shoulder and it’s honestly a gruesome death.

Eardwulf died for “his ambition” and it was his undoing in the end. He tried to manipulate Aethelred, but that wasn’t enough to give him the power and influence he craved.