Season Four is called Anglo Saxon Ascendancy because we have been seeing mighty kings like Offa, AEthelbald, and Coenwulf acquire vast amounts of power in Britain that enable them to nearly become the first kings of England. Their hegemonies were so big and impressive that we have one Mercian leader getting into arguments with Charlemagne and another claim the title of Emperor.
But we are reaching the end of that era. The Viking armies are coming…. and the great Kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia, which could have functioned as bulwarks against continental aggression 100 years earlier… are collapsing under their own weight.
The line of Ida in Northumbria had largely died out about 100 years ago. The Idingas were fierce and effective leaders… but they also tended to die young, and sometimes without children. And now with their end, the warnings of Bede regarding the weaknesses of the Northern Kingdom are starting to look like prophecy. For the last century, Northumbria has been wracked by civil war, with 5 families enthusiastically murdering each other in their attempt to claim the throne. There are too many kings of Northumbria to count who met an untimely death, many times without kids… And it might lead you to wonder whether the kingdom have been strong enough to stop the Norse invasion if King AEthelred I of Northumbria hadn’t been murdered. Or if any of the other kings and claimants hadn’t been murdered.