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To battle! For Christ, for Wessex and for England!

–King Alfred to his men, "Hell"

The Battle of Marton, also called the Battle of Meretum, is a decisive military engagement in Season 5 of Vikings. Following the arrival of King Harald's forces in Wessex, King Alfred decides to give battle and following the advice of his new military counsellor Ubbe , chooses the site of the battlefield. Ubbe's subtle strategy, which was to corner the Viking army on a burnt field, which was then set ablaze, giving the Norse army practically no escape on the rear, and the Saxon forces' determination, led to a decisive Viking defeat. However, the battle came at a certain cost for the Saxons, with the death of Bishop Heahmund and the disappearance of Lagertha.

The Battle

King Harald, following his arrival in England, increased the size of his army through his alliance with Jarl Olavsonn, King Ivar's lieutenant in the Northumbrian and Viking stronghold of York. The Viking army, upon its arrival in Wessex, numbered close to 1 500 warriors, many of them veterans of the Great Heathen Army's victorious campaign a few years earlier. King Harald was confident of his triumph, telling Ubbe the day before battle that he commanded a formidable army. Before battle, King Harald gained a new ally with King Ragnar's son with Queen Kwentrith, Magnus, who despises the Christian faith and the Saxons for exiling him during his youth.

The West Saxon army, reinforced by its decisive success over a Norse Viking army at the Alre River, was full of confidence and bolstered by new fighting skills inspired by their Viking allies and most notably by Ubbe. The latter inspired King Alfred to fight as a king for his crown and taught him how to fight. He also made Alfred choose the site of the battlefield and make use of catapults, which he saw being used by the Franks when they defeated King Ragnar's forces at the Battle of the Seine. Ubbe had the Viking army trapped on a scorched battlefield, deprived of any vegetations or cover, which was then set ablazed by torches. The flames covered the length of the battlefield and the rear of the Viking forces, making an ecape nigh impossible. The Saxon army outnumbered the Viking forces, totalling close to  2 000 men, most of them infantry, while the cavalry was led by Bishop Heahmund. The Saxons also had the advantage of using catapults, which threw flamed boulders on the Viking army, inflicting important casualties.

After their leader's speeches, both armies rushed forward to meet, the Saxon army being led by Bishop Heamund at the head of the forces. As the two armies collided into each other, vicious hand to hand fighting emerged. Jarl Olavsonn was one of the first to fall, being struck by two arrows. Gunnhild tried to round up some fleeing Norse troops while Ubbe took down several men with his axe and sword. Magnus showed some fighting skills too, taking down the West Saxon standard bearer while being inhabited by a battle fury. Meanwhile, King Alfred managed to take down a couple of Vikings before being pushed to the floor by a Norse warrior, only to be saved by his brother Prince Aethelred who shouted "long live the king" to the latter. As the fighting ensued, Bishop Heahmund slaughtered dozens of enemy warriors with his usual fighting skills, before, in a moment of respite, being struck by several arrows under Lagertha's surprised eyes. The latter took a sword cut to the leg, as she watched her him being finished off by Gunnhild. King Harald watched as his troops began to give ground, many Viking warriors being slaughtered by West Saxon soldiers. Harald then gave the order to his surviving troops to retreat, leaving the West Saxon victorious.  Gunnhild, meanwhile, was forced to surrender to Bjorn who defeated her in single combat.

Aftermath

The battle was heavy with consequence for the Viking army. Not only did King Harald lost a third to half of his army, but also his new ally Jarl Olavsonn, with whom he planned to overthrow King Ivar in Kattegat. Harald is no longer in a position of strength to attack either Wessex or Kattegat, thereby fulfilling his plan of becoming king of all Norway.

The West Saxon, despite suffering relatively moderate losses, was deprived of its best warrior wiith the loss of Bishop Heahmund. Furthermore, Lagertha disappeared from the battlefield, leaving King Alfred with one less important ally. However, this decisive victory renewed the Saxon fighting spirit and determination, saving Wessex once more and King Alfred's crown.


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