‘Vikings’: Why Judith Shouldn’t Be Underestimated

Judith (Jennie Jacques) is the formidable wife of Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford) in History’s Vikings. She was underestimated from the very beginning and perceived as just a way to produce heirs for the kingdom of Wessex. Slowly, people start to understand that this woman is more cunning and smart than most of the men around her. This is Judith, the mother of the next king, Alfred (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), who will go to any lengths to protect her son. There are spoilers ahead so read on only if you are caught up with Vikings.

The daughter of King Aelle

Jennie Jacques
Jennie Jacques | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Judith was originally from Northumbria and has royal blood. King Aelle (Ivan Kaye) is her father and through an arranged marriage, he sought to control her and Wessex itself. Once off on her own, she truly realizes she craves more from life than just to be a wife and have children.

Judith takes a monk for her lover

Judith takes a lover in the form of a monk, Athelstan (George Blagden). Not only is the man a monk, but fans will remember that Athelstan has gone to live with the Vikings with his best friend, Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel). He was once a holy man at Lindisfarne when Ragnar came to raid the place and originally took him as a slave. Judith feels a close connection with Athelstan and quickly falls in love with him.

Judith has Athelstan’s child

Jennie Jacques
Jennie Jacques | Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Judith and Athelstan conceive a child, and this is when the trouble truly starts for her. Athelstan leaves her again to be with Ragnar, and she is forced to birth the child alone and face the consequences. Judith, a strong woman, was going to take the child’s father’s name to her grave. They end up cutting off her ear in punishment, and she proclaims to everyone that it is indeed Athelstan’s child. From here on, the King of Wessex takes her under his charge and protects them both.

The mistress of the King of Wessex

Even though King Ecbert (Linus Roache) orchestrated her punishment, she grows to truly love and care for him. He loves her and Alfred, and they become lovers right under her husband’s nose. He helps her become a painter and work on the sacred texts, something that was once forbidden for women to ever work on. She starts to learn herself and even dares to question her father, King Aelle.

She kills Queen Kwenthrith

Now loyal to King Ecbert, Judith stabs Queen Kwenthrith (Amy Bailey) to death as she discovers her in the process of trying to kill Ecbert. Kwenthrith, pregnant with Aethelwulf’s child, actually thought Judith was her friend after she slept with her husband. “Judith, you have killed twice over,” Kwenthrith tells her as she takes her final breaths.

Judith kills her own son

After Judith’s son Alfred is put on the throne of Wessex, she does everything in her power to keep him there. She discovers that her other son by Aethelwulf, Aethelred (Darren Cahill), has been plotting to overthrow Alfred and put himself front and center for the position of King. Alfred has been sick, and Judith takes it upon herself to deal with the problem. At a dinner with her son, she poisons Aethelred through the wine he drank. “What kind of mother are you?” he asks her before his untimely demise.

Judith weeps for her son but stands by her decision in favor of protecting her beloved Alfred. She will go to any length to protect him and she does. She dies of breast cancer unfortunately and she is mourned dearly by all, including the people. Judith is a central and pivotal character on Vikings that was completely underestimated her entire life.