In Vikings, King Ecbert Ealhmunding is the ruler of Wessex whose ambition leads him to annex the kingdom of Mercia, making him a dual-king. He is also the man who not only has a relationship with Ragnar’s ex-wife Lagertha but also the man who hands him over to King Aelle to be killed. Apart from his cold and calculating ways, King Ecbert has some of the best dialogue too.

On the show, King Ecbert’s remarks tend to be influenced by a number of factors, such as his analysis of religion, his mixed feelings for Ragnar Lothbrok, and his desire to be the most successful Anglo-Saxon king. Whether his words are mean or encouraging, they never fail to be thought-provoking.

10 “You Vikings Emerge From The Womb With Only One Thing On The Mind… How To Die.”

The final conversation between Ragnar and King Ecbert is an emotional one because it happens before Ragnar is subjected to one of the most brutal kills in Vikings. Ragnar requests Ecbert to do him the honor of sending him to the afterlife since he considers him as the only man worthy enough to cause his demise. The king laughs off the idea.

It’s the only moment where audiences see Ragnar resigned to fate. He lost two of the most important battles in his life and his sons have their own ambitions now. At this moment, it makes sense for him to want to die and go to Valhalla. However. Ecbert doesn’t understand why Vikings are ever so eager to die. To him, and Christians in general, life holds much more meaning since there is no guarantee of entry into heaven.

9 “We Are No Longer Equals. You Must Get Used To It.”

King Aelle is furious when King Ecbert is crowned King of Wessex and Mercia. He thought they had an agreement to divide Mercia equally between them but Ecbert has taken everything for himself. Ecbert doesn’t care and he makes that clear in the most arrogant way possible.

Aelle is undoubtedly one of the worst kings in Vikings and Ecbert betrays him because he considers him pea-brained. He has no intention of working with him in the long term. They might both be kings but Ecbert is right about them no longer being equal. Mercia by itself is much bigger than Aelle’s kingdom of Northumbria. After the annexation of Wessex and Mercia, Ecbert has become all too powerful.


8 “He That Increases Knowledge Increases Sorrow.”

Still, in the final chat between Ragnar and King Ecbert, the Anglo-Saxon ruler laments how knowing too much has made him wiser but more miserable. He specifically hates that he is in a position where he is forced to decided Ragnar’s fate.

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King Ecbert lifts these words from the bible, the book of Ecclesiastes. Ecbert and Ragnar have always been more of frenemies than foes and having known so much about the Norse pantheon through Ragnar, Ecbert regrets that he has to give him a death sentence. He has come to see him as a man from whom he can learn a lot.

7 “A Hostage Of The Highest Value Is The Safest Hostage.”

Athelstan gets crucified by the bishop when he gets captured by the Anglo-Saxons and just as he is about to be stabbed with a spear to finish him off, King Ecbert suggests sparing his life. His reasons are clear.

Ecbert knows that Athelstan is very valuable to Ragnar. Up until that point, the Saxon-Viking negotiations appear to have stalled and Ecbert understands that with Athelstan as a pawn, the violent Vikings can be reasoned with. It works since Ragnar and Ecbert become close because of Athelstan. Ecbert also acquires much knowledge by grilling the former monk.

6 “Stones Are Much Easier To Wear Than Earth.”

King Ecbert becomes infatuated with Lagertha the very first time he sees her. He begins courting her and eventually gives her a necklace made of precious stones as a gift. The gift is accompanied by a flirtatious pronouncement.

The Anglo-Saxon ruler is attempting to show Lagertha that a life with him will be much more interesting than the life of farming that she is used to. With him, she can enjoy the finer things in life without having to work too hard. Ecbert’s unique pick-up line works since Lagertha ends up sleeping and the duo form one of the best relationships in Vikings.

5 “I Would Sup With The Devil If He Would Show Me How To Achieve My Earthly Goals.”

King Ecbert feels a little guilty after giving Judith the ring that once belonged to his dead wife. He goes to church to pray, telling God how he feels he is destined for purgatory. However, he is not entirely remorseful. He confesses that he would choose the devil’s side if such a decision would give him more success.

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In this rather odd prayer, Ecbert opens up on just how much his ambitions are important to him. It isn’t the first time that the king is doubting whether God will really help him. During a previous conversation with Athelstan, he also points out that the Romans were very successful yet they were pagans, suggesting that he might be considering shifting loyalties to a different god.

4 “They ‘ve Expressed A Desire To Argue, So We’ll Argue First.”

Eager to come to some form of understanding with the Vikings, King Ecbert suggests trading hostages. He will give his son Aethelwulf if Ragnar gives Athelstan. The members of his inner circle think the Vikings are barbaric and can’t be negotiated with, but Ecbert figures it’s the best time to talk to them.

This particular moment shows why Ecbert is deserving to be the ruler and why those in his inner circle are not. His judgment is better. If he were to listen to those around him, an agreement would never be reached with the Vikings hence there would be more bloodshed than there needed to be.

3 “If There Were No Gods, Everyone Would Do Anything And It Wouldn’t Matter.”

Befriending Ragnar is one of the best things King Ecbert does in Vikings and it leads to interesting intellectual debates. Another tête-à-tête between the two involves the importance of gods. Ragnar wonders if gods are really necessary.

Ecbert is debating from the angle that religion makes people disciplined. Without it, people won’t hesitate to commit evil acts because they’d be aware no punishment would come to them. The lines between good and bad would be blurred. That the debate is started by these two characters is fitting since they’ve both always questioned their respective religions.

2 “Tell Me Now, If You Dare, That I Do Not Deserve To Be King Of Wessex.”

At first, the nobles of Wessex aren’t on board with King Ecbert’s plan to give the Vikings farmland. They confront him, asking for much more from them in return? Why isn’t he converting them to Christianity or asking for their cabinetry secrets?

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Even though he always has a calm demeanor, Ecbert is intimidating enough to dissuade anyone from turning against him. He not only has a lot on his mind but he also knows what he is doing so he doesn’t need anyone doubting him. He has a right to be confident in his own leadership since he hardly makes a wrong move.

1 “The More Complicated A Person Is, The More Interesting He Is. But At The Same Time, The More Dangerous He Is.”

King Ecbert says these words to Judith after learning that she is attracted to Athelstan. She loves how mysterious the monk is but Ecbert is predicting that it won’t end well.

The Anglo-Saxon ruler’s declaration is true when applied in real life. However, in this instance, it mostly stems from jealousy because he has found himself attracted to Judith too on certain occasions. The extent of his attraction is revealed when he asks her to be his mistress as payment for the protection he offered her. Though she agrees to this, it’s obvious that her heart belongs to Athelstan.

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