Edward has many good qualities that are sure to help him with his leadership in The Last Kingdom but he also has many crucial flaws.
At the end of the fourth season of The Last Kingdom, Edward admitted that Sigtryggr had taught him “other ways of acquiring lands that don’t involve fighting.” Those were the smartest words ever said by any Saxon king since the Danes came to England. With Northumbria fallen to the Danes and Sigtryggr ruling Eoforwic, the Saxons need their best leaders now more than ever but is that man Edward?
The whole point is ending up with the four kingdoms under one crown. Alfred hoped that England would only be made of Christians, but that won’t happen. Edward has the task of creating a united England that includes Danes, which he has done well so far thanks to Uhtred’s help. He still has some faults that may prove to be the doom of the Saxons unless he grows up fast enough.
Bad: His Two Aethelings
When Sigtryggr kidnapped Edward’s family inside Winchester palace, Edward couldn’t choose which of his sons he would give up. He obviously loves both Aethelstan and Aelfweard, and of course, as written in the books, Edmund will be born soon.
With Aethelstan handed over to Uhtred, he will obviously be raised as a Dane and thus may not be welcome in Wessex when the succession finally comes. Edward’s two families will therefore end up fighting. Although the books say Aethelstan will eventually be the king, his ascend to the throne may be bloodier than the battles the Saxons currently have with the Danes.
Savior: His Relationship With Uhtred
As Alfred was about to die, he entrusted Edward’s future as the king with Uhtred because he understood the pressure he would face from both inside and outside Wessex. While Aelswith and Lord Aethelhelm don’t trust Uhtred, they understand that there is no way they will live in peace with Danes without his help.
Edward is also smart enough to understand that his powers are limited when it comes to dealing with Danes and that Uhtred is the only man he can trust to save Saxons in England.
Bad: He Is A Poor Fighter
Being a smart leader is important in The Last Kingdom, but if you are to lead men in battle against Danes, you need to be a great fighter. Edward has been brave in battle so far, but he doesn’t have the skills needed to come up with the best battle strategy.
With Sigtryggr in charge of a Dane capital next to Mercia and Northumbria controlled by Danes, Saxons desperately need someone who can be in charge of a battle when the time comes. If Uhtred decides to go North and abandon him, Saxon armies will be sacked in any battle against Danes.
Savior: Negotiating With Sigtrggr
Sigtryggr is the smartest Dane leader in The Last Kingdom since Young Ragnar’s death and will probably bring the elusive peace between Saxons and Danes. Edward was also unwise enough to leave Winchester unguarded for him to take, but he chose the right to negotiate.
A truce with the king of the Danes, who has also become Uhtred’s son in law made the Danes less likely to attack Wessex any time soon. That decision saved not just Winchester but probably all Saxons in the four kingdoms.
Bad: His Faith In Aethelhelm
Aethelhelm is ambitious, and everyone in Winchester knew he would be a big problem for Edward except Aelswith, who tends to trust all Christians. He has since managed to get himself more influence over Edward and is now involved in most decisions in Winchester.
With Aelswith out of his way, Aethelhelm won’t hesitate to make decisions that favor only him, which doesn’t spell good prospects for Wessex and all the Saxons. Edward needs to get another adviser to help him rule Wessex wisely, or else most of his reign will be spent solving internal wrangles in Winchester.
Savior: He Respects Aethelflaed
Aethelflaed has grown into a strong, smart queen for the Mercians and the only other person apart from Uhtred that is able to unite people in England. Edward is not nearly as smart as Aethelflaed, and he seems to have understood that after he left her to take care of Mercia’s affairs.
If Edward keeps Aethelflaed close, Mercia will be one with Wessex, and the union of the crowns won’t be hard when Aethelflaed is out of the picture. Edward keeping the peace with Aethelflaed is the smartest decision he has made so far.
Bad: His Conservative Christian Views
The conservative views of the crown in Winchester may soon prove to be its downfall. England’s future has to involve Danes and Saxons living side by side, and that will not happen if a conservative is on the throne in Winchester.
Edward was told by his mother and Beocca that he was born to be God’s king, which is alright, but he has to find a place in his heart to love Danes too. However, Edward leans too far towards his mother and Aethelhem’s views and does not trust Danes. With such a mentality, he is likely to lead Saxons to war again and again, which will be bad for everyone.
Savior: His Strategic Approach To Alfred’s Vision
Alfred died thinking that his son was not ready to become the king, but he was wrong about Edward. King Edward has proved his loyalty to Wessex and uniting all Saxon kingdoms. King Alfred’s vision of a united England was great, but he never put direction to how he wanted it done when he died.
Edward has given that dream a direction by leaving Aethelflaed as queen in Mercia and entrusting Northumbria with Uhtred as the ward to his som Aethelstan. He has also retained control of East Anglia and Wessex. With his approach, a united England can be achieved without shedding unnecessary blood.
Bad: He Doesn’t Listen To Advice
Edward has been forced to learn how to be king while already on the throne, but he has good advisers by his side; all he has to do is listen. He shocked everyone when he turned down Aethelflaed and his mother’s advice on dealing with Cnut’s invasion of Mercia.
He obviously doesn’t understand how to react when facing a crisis, yet he is supposed to lead Saxons through their worst crisis. He also failed to Listen to Uhtred when he requested his help to retake Bebbannburg, which would have solidified his hold on Northumbria. His failure to listen to advice will make it harder for the Saxons to live peacefully with Danes.
Savior: He Is Willing To Negotiate With Danes
Sigtryggr caused a stir in Wessex worse than what it experienced with Guthrum in the first season. After Guthrum, Wessex grew weary of Danes, and there was little consideration for a peaceful negotiation until Sigtryggr and Brida took over the capital.
Edward then confessed that he had learned how to acquire land without fighting, which is very positive of a Saxon king. With Aethelflaed also less afraid of Danes, the two are likely to reach a consensus with the Danes and end the fighting.