Aethelwulf (Old English for "Noble Wolf") was the brother of King Aelle. He was a respected warrior and commander and had been known to command Northumbria's armies in battle in the name of his brother.


Season 1

In "A King's Ransom", Aethelwulf has just arrived upon being summoned by his brother. King Aelle asked him to lead his forces to battle and meet the Viking warriors whom they were expecting to come and raid their lands again.

A proud man, Aethelwulf would not accept advice from his brother's soldiers. Instead of immediately attacking the strange men, he decides to camp close to the vikings. In their sleep, the vikings attack, easily overpowering them and capturing their men. Ragnar uses Aethelwulf to bargain with the king, and although at first it seems like the king wants his brother back enough to agree to Ragnar's terms, Aelle tricks the barbarians in the end, thus sealing his brother's fate. Aelle's gamble fails and the Northumbrian host is crushed at the Battle of the Tyne.

When Ragnar tells Aethelwulf of his brother's doing, he tries to convince Ragnar to let him talk to Aelle, telling Ragnar that he cannot kill him because he is the only one he can bargain with the king. Ragnar proves him wrong when he kills him and delivers his corpse to Northumbria.


  • Aethelwulf means 'noble-wolf'.
  • As the king's brother, Aethelwulf would have held the title of Ealdorman (literally: 'elder-man'), which was an early Anglo-Saxon equivalent title of 'Earl'.
  • Hlaford is the Anglo-Saxon origin of 'Lord'.


Season one appearances
Rites of Passage Wrath of the Northmen Dispossessed
Trial Raid Burial of the Dead
A King's Ransom Sacrifice All Change