Seven Kings Must Die (2023) Ending Explained – Who are the seven kings in the prophecy?

Seven Kings Must Die Plot Summary

Seven Kings Must Die follows the events after the final season of the Netflix show, The Last Kingdom. After King Edward dies, his sons Aethelstan and Aelfward end their truce with the latter eyeing the throne. With Aethelstan’s claim as king being questioned, threats crop up from around England. The Dane Anlaf decides to ally with all of his enemies to invade and take the country for himself.

To fulfil his dream of a united country, Uhtred decides to come out of retirement and help Aethelstan. However, the easygoing boy he raised is not the same person anymore as his tyrannical decisions make it easy for his enemies and difficult for Uhtred.


Why is Aethelstan’s claim to the throne questioned?

As the eldest son of King Edward, Aethelstan has the strongest claim to the throne. However, Aelfward, the second son is the legitimate son of Edward with his first queen Aelflaed. Aelfward and the people of Mercia believe Aethelstan is an illegitimate son and born out of wedlock to Ecgwynn.

This is because even though Edward married her in secret, their marriage is annulled against their wishes and she is sent to the nunnery so that he can marry Aelflaed.


Why does Aethelstan clash with Uhtred?

With Uhtred raising Aethelstan, the boy always saw him as a father figure. And while he was taught to respect every religion and culture, as he grows up in Seven Kings Must Die, he forgets all of Uhtred’s teachings as he turns into a staunch Christian believer thanks to the scholar Ingilmundr. He poisons the boy king’s mind with the belief that God wants him to fight and create a kingdom based on blood and war.

This leads to Aethelstan killing his half-brother Aelfward even after he surrenders which angers Uhtred who only wants peace and unity. Ingilmundr also turns him against Uhtred by making him seem that he is keeping an eye on Aethelstan to betray him one day. He reminds him that the Dane warlord often clashed with Edward while conveniently leaving out the reason which was Edward was against the Danes, Uhtred’s people. 

When Uhtred delays pledging Northumbria to Aethelstan to unite England, Ingilmundr claims that he never will as he sees him as a child and wants to be king. It is seen that Aethelstan has fallen in love with Ingilmundr. However, Ingilmundr claims that the act of sleeping together is sinful. To reduce their sin, they need to have greater faith. And the best way to do that is by converting all the remaining pagans aka the Danes in England.

It would also fulfil Alfred’s wish for a Christian England. Ingilmundr tells him not only to focus on England but start a crusade against all the pagan islands as he shows him a map of Northern Europe. So when God judges Aethelstan for his sins, it will be balanced out by all the good he has done i.e., converted pagans into Christians and spread the word of god.

An added bonus is that this will also increase Aethelstan’s territory as he will end up conquering all the pagan nations he includes in his crusade. Encouraged, the King orders tribute from everyone in the name of building churches and raids Scottish villages. 

He also destroys pagan motifs like the Devil Stones which belonged to the kingdom of Strathclyde and there are talks of forced baptism. Aethelstan even hangs Aldhelm as he believes he betrayed him by freeing Uhtred. Uhtred tries to stop him but he doesn’t listen. Aethelstan tries to get him to pledge his fealty but when he doesn’t, he banishes him.


Who are the seven kings in the prophecy?

In the beginning of Seven Kings Must Die, Finan’s wife, Ingrith dreams of the prophecy, “Seven kings must die. And the woman you love.” He thinks with Edward dead, six kings are left. Uhtred doesn’t think much of it since he is no king and he doesn’t have anyone he loves. He, however, realises that with Aethelstan under Ingilmundr’s influence, he may become a tyrant and fulfil the prophecy.

When Anlaf attacks Northumbria, Igrith is killed. Finan realises when she said the prophecy aloud, the last part was meant for him. Uhtred loses hope as Anlaf takes over Bebbanburg but Finan believes in the prophecy and the death of the enemy kings even more so now that one part of it came true.

With the death of Edward, Danish King Anlaf of Irland decides to ally with other kings and invade England. He is clever and prepared as he plants his daughter Astrid in the court of Aethelstan. Meanwhile, Ingilmundr turns out to be a Dane and is his spy. His plan to help Aethelstan’s crusade is a ploy as it will force the other kings to join with Anlaf and attack. 

King Constantin of Scotland refuses to join Anlaf at first as he had a good and peaceful relationship with Edward. However, after Aethelstan raids and burns his villages unprovoked, he decides to join the alliance.

The next king to ally is Strathclyde whose Devil Stones were destroyed to humiliate him. He also happens to be a Christian and is scandalised by the rumour that Aethelstan likes men which is enough reason for him to defeat him. Anlaf also ropes in the kings of Orkney, Man and Shetland. 

The last and seventh king ends up being Uhtred, even though he never officially became the king of Northumbria. After he is banished by Aethelstan, Anlaf saves him and asks him to join their alliance. Uhtred refuses as he believes England would fall back to the Dark Ages if Aethelstan is dethroned and goes back to him.

In the climactic battle of Bebbanburg between the six enemy kingdoms and Aethelstan, the princes of Scotland, Strathclyde, Orkney, Man and Shetland are killed — the five kings who were never crowned making them the five of the seven kings from Igrith’s prophecy. With Edward being the sixth king, Uhtred believes that he is the seventh king who will die after being severely injured in the battle. 

However, viewers can interpret the death of Astrid, Anlaf’s daughter as the seventh king to die. Since Vikings also have female rulers, she could very well have been his heir, making Uhtred safe from the prophecy. This argument is further strengthened as we never actually see him die.  


How do Uhtred and Aethelstan reconcile?

After Uthred sees Ingilmundr in Anlaf’s camp he goes to Aethelstan and pretends to bend the knee. Once they are alone, he tries to tell the king that Ingilmundr is a spy but Aethelstan doesn’t believe him. Aethelstan goes to Wirral which was under Ingilmundr’s control and sees for himself that those loyal to him are killed and the rest have left to march on with Anlaf.

He finally believes Uhtred but says it is his punishment to face the six kings alone for being led astray and sinning. Uhtred still believes in him and decides to help him fight the battle.


How are the six armies defeated?

The attack begins with some foreplay as the six armies of the alliance send in arrows and Uhtred’s men ambush them with blades in the ground. The fight begins and the six armies are confused with Uhtred’s tactic of retreating with their shield wall every few minutes.

Constantin spots Aethelstan and the enemies rush in almost breaking the wall. Aethelstan spots Ingilmundr and tries to get to him, almost ruining the plan. Someone kills Astrid and furious, Anlaf also charges in. Once every soldier of the six armies engages with the shield wall, Uhtred gives the signal.

Turns out half of their army was waiting behind the enemies and ambush them from behind. As several of the princes die, the British kings sound their retreat and leave Anlaf alone. Ingilmundr finally faces Aethelstan and they fight. Uhtred tries to run to him but is attacked from all sides.

As he falls, he sees Ingilmundr beating up Aethelstan. But he gains the upper hand and has his soldiers take him away. Uhtred again tries to go to him but is stabbed near his heart while a wounded Pyrlig watches from afar. Uhtred falls and scrambles for his sword so he can go to Valhalla before he blacks out.

The battle ends as Anlaf also finally retreats. With all of the princes of the five British armies dead, the kings abandon him as he requests a ship to go back home. Meanwhile, Sihtric and Finan search for Uhtred and find him barely awake. 

As for Ingilmundr, Aethelstan takes him to the middle of the forest and asks if anything they shared was ever real. Ingilmundr says he did grow fond of him but his love for his people was stronger. Aethelstan is sad that he chose Ingilmundr over his own people and orders his death.


Does Aethelstan become king of a united England?

As everyone heads to Bebbanburg, Uhtred is heavily wounded. Everyone waits for him to recover and prays for him. Uhtred finally wakes up and they cheer. As they recount what happened, Finan thinks the prophecy was wrong as only 5 future kings died. Uhtred counts Edward and himself in it and they grow disheartened.

He says he wants to finally fulfil his promise and Aethalstan goes to him. He thanks him for being there for him and forgiving him. Uhtred then makes him a deal – to never marry and have children so there is no more bloodshed so that his brother, Edmund can be his undisputed heir. It may also have been to spare Aethelstan from marrying a woman since Uhtred knew he loved Ingilmundr.

Aethelstan agrees and Uhtred pledges Northumbria to him making him the king of united England. He then hears a sound and as he opens the door, he sees Valhalla with his fallen loved ones like Brida and Earl Ragnar. At the end of Seven Kings Must Die, Uhtred looks back and sees his son, Osbert and the rest looking at him and he stands in the middle in pain.

 

Read More: Seven Kings Must Die Movie Review


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