→Anglo-Saxon and Danish History and Culture
==Anglo-Saxon and Danish History and Culture==
[[File:Winchester 13.jpeg|thumbnail|left|300px|Figure 1. Modern day Winchester, which served as the main capital of Wessex in the Anglo-Saxon period.]]
The first episode focuses on the
Danes invasion of Northumbria. During the first episode, Ultred's father and his army are slaughtered by the Danes soon after arriving. The first episode portrays the Anglo-Saxons as unprepared for war with the Danes and too dependent on their priests. There is some truth to this, the Anglo-Saxon army lacked professional warriors and the show states that the Danes believed the English were primarily farmers. In the first battle of the show, the Anglo-Saxons lost the battle because they were incapable of defeating a Danish shield wall. However, the Anglo-Saxon armies most likely were capable of properly forming a shield wall and they would not have been completely confounded by it. The show ignored this reality because it allowed the lead character, Uhtred, to teach the Anglo Saxons later in the season to both form and defeat a shield wall. In this case historical accuracy was sacrificed to create a more compelling story.<ref>For more on Anglo-Saxon fighting methods, see: Lavelle, R. (2010). <i>Alfred’s wars: sources and interpretations of Anglo-Saxon warfare in the Viking age</i> Woodbridge: The Boydell Press.</ref>
The Last Kingdom has done very credible job depicting Danes and Anglo-Saxons. While the Danes have often been
to referred to as Vikings ; the show makes it clear that they were more than just Vikings. The Danes willingness to settle in England demonstrated that unlike actual Vikings, they did did not want survive simply by raiding. The Danish characters make it clear that they left Denmark because it was inhospitable to farming.<ref>For background on the Danes, see: Jones, G. (2001). <i>A history of the Vikings</i> (2nd ed). London ; New York: Oxford University Press.</ref>
The Danes were
also shown as more fun-loving then Anglo-Saxons. The Anglo-Saxons could best be described as solemn, pious and fairly dreary. This difference results from the conflicting faiths of the Danes and Anglo-Saxons. The Danes at this time were polytheists and Anglo-Saxons were Christian. The series often depicts these cultural differences between the Danes and Anglo-Saxon and the resulting war between these societies as broader conflict between the Christian faith and the Danish gods. The character of Uhtred is used to demonstrate this dichotomy. Uhtred, an Anglo-Saxon, prefers company with the Danes, but he later swears an oath to Alfred, king of Wessex the last remaining Anglo-Saxon king.
The Danish beliefs did not involve a strict moral code like Christianity. At times, this loose moral code allowed the Danes to be more playful than the Anglo-Saxons, but this lack of moral code also has a dark side. In one scene, the Danes killed the East Anglian king, Edmund, with a volley of arrows after he was captured. The Danes were testing whether Edmund's god was as powerful as he claimed. <ref>For more on Edmund, see: Pinner, R. (2015). <i>The Cult of St Edmond in Medieval East Anglia</i>. Woodbridge, UK: The Boydell Press.</ref> Not only did this event occur, but Edmund was canonized for it. Other Anglo-Saxon leaders are shown as tortured and murdered when captured. The Danes were fairly ruthless when they captured Anglo leaders, but the accurately depicts that some would be spared if they cooperated with the Danes and provided them with food, silver and land.