The Last Kingdom explained: Is Sigtryggr based on a real person?

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The Last Kingdom is an Anglo-Saxon series based on a series of novels called The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell. The historical drama series follows Uhtred of Bebbanburg (played by Alexander Dreymon), who is torn between helping the Saxons and the Danes. In season four, the Viking warlord Sigtryggr (Eysteinn Sigurðarson) attempted a siege on Winchester and fans are keen to know if he is based on a real person.

Is Sigtryggr based on a real person?

Sigtryggr was introduced in season four of The Last Kingdom when he saved Brida (Emily Cox), who was being held as a slave by the Welsh King.

Brida tried to convince him to attack Winchester, as she had a personal vendetta against Uhtred, but Sigtryggr did not want to risk losing his men.

However, after a while, he came round to the idea, and he and Brida led a raid on the Saxon kingdom, holding some of King Edward’s (Timothy Innes) family as hostages.

Sigtryggr was not like other Vikings when it came to battle tactics, as he was open to negotiation, having taken a liking to Uhtred’s daughter Stiorra (Ruby Hartley).

He prevented Brida from harming Stiorra, and even reasoned with Uhtred, who wanted a compromise instead of using violence.

Eventually, Sigtryggr agreed to end the attack on Winchester, but only if he was allowed ownership of some smaller lands, and he could take Stiorra with him.

Uhtred reluctantly agreed, but he could see how Sigtryggr had an affectionate side, and he knew his daughter would be in safe hands.

Fans became fascinated with his character as he was not like any other Viking warrior they had come across, and there is evidence to suggest he could be based on a real person.

Sitric Cáech, whose first name is Sigtryggr in Old Norse, was a Viking leader who ruled over Dublin and Viking Northumbria in the 10th century.

Like Sigtryggr in the TV series, he struggled to come to terms with where he felt most at home – Ireland, Scandinavia or Northumbria.

Historical texts suggest he may have been kicked out of Dublin in 902 before going on to rule some parts of England under Danelaw.

In the year 917, he was believed to have returned to Dublin and he was able to recapture the land, becoming king.

Three years later he left Dublin to head to Northumbria, where he led raids on Cheshire and Davenport against Edward the Elder.

The Vikings and Anglo-Saxons eventually came to an agreement when he married the sister of Aethelstan, the Anglo-Saxon king.

In the TV series, Aethelstan (Caspar Griffiths) is still a child, but he is being trained by Uhtred to become a strong warrior so he can take over the crown when his father Edward dies.

His character also appears in The Saxon Stories, and he is portrayed as the brother of Ragnall ua Ímair – another Viking leader of Northumbria.

Not much is known about the warlord’s death, but the Annals of Ulster said he died at an “immature age”.

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According to Totally Timelines, Sigtryggr was born in Dublin around the year 895 and he was the grandson of Viking warlord Imar.

Imar is believed to have been compared to Ivar the Boneless, who went to Ireland and later disappeared from historical records.

Sigtryggr is thought to have been 32 when he died, and he had spent his life trying to discover where he belonged after two Irish chieftains kicked him out of Dublin.

Sigtryggr and his brother Ragnall led separate raids in Ireland, and later Northumbria, where Ragnall was ruler. After he died, Sigtryggr took up the role as the Northumbrian leader.

He did not get on well with king Edward the Elder, and started taking land owned by Edward. When Edward died, Sigtryggr came to an agreement with his heir Aethelstan, and for a time reverted to Christianity.

But in the year 926, it is believed he renounced the religion and went back to Paganism. He died the following year in 927.

Netflix described the character Sigtryggr as “The Thinking Person’s Dane” who was sent away from Ireland. They said: “Less motivated by plunder than by settlement, he uses modern, unprecedented tactics to acquire territory. Peace becomes possible, but not without shattering the lives of those around him.”

The show’s executive producer, Nigel Marchant, described Sigtryggr as echoing Uhtred’s character as he is torn between his Irish and Danish roots.

Vicky Delow, a producer, said Sigtryggr was a “cool, calm and collected” character unlike other Danes in the series.

Fans have become fond of his character and they are intrigued to find out more about his relationship with Stiorra, as well as his upcoming run-ins with Uhtred.

The Last Kingdom is on Netflix now

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