The last couple of episodes have focused on the political tools that AEthelstan had at his disposal. Marriage alliances, fostering, dynastic cults and diplomatic entreaties were all powerful pieces moving on a huge dark age chess board. And the thing I want you to realize about these things is first, that they took time. A strategic mind - a mind like AEthelstan’s - would see the long game and set his moves accordingly knowing they wouldn’t fully materialize for years to come. The second is that these tools were highly cultural. There’s nothing inherently political about marriage or fostering until a people make it so. By examining the tools that political actors wield we learn something important about the culture and society that underlies it. What it values, and how it prioritizes people and things.
And all of these slow, important tools are working constantly in the background throughout AEthelstan’s reign.