Who Is Anlaf’s Daughter in ‘Seven Kings Must Die’? Was She a Real Person?

Alexander Dreymon and Agnes Born in Seven Kings Must Die Collage 1

“Five kings escaped the battlefield that day, but their sons … did not,” Finan’s credits said after the battle of Brunanburgh in Seven Kings Must Die, except, Anlaf (Pekka Strang) left a daughter and not a son behind. Anlaf’s daughter Astrid (Agnes Born) was the mind behind Anlaf’s success in planting discord in Athelstan’s kingdoms, yet she didn’t receive much credit for her role in the movie. Astrid was the most impactful female character in the movie, which is why many fans wonder who plays the role and whether she is based on a real person from history.

Anlaf identified his daughter as Astrid at the beginning of the movie when she met him after his army landed in Northumbria. Astrid was a spy in Athelstan’s camp, pretending to be a Christian and dressed like the Saxons to get closer to the king. There is no mention of Astrid being Anlaf’s daughter or heir in official historical records, but the movie character could still be talking about Anlaf’s real-life daughter called Gytha.

The strong woman in Anlaf’s male-dominated camp was impossible to miss because her warmth and energy were a level higher than everyone else on the front lines. Astrid also proved herself as a smart military strategist, issuing commands and leading her father’s army into the war on the battlefield. It is only fair to ask whether the character was based on a real-life sword maiden and whether the real-life Anlaf had such a daughter, so let’s delve into it.

Who plays Astrid in Seven Kings Must Die?

Agnes Born in Seven Kings Must Die Vs The Witcher 1

Astrid is portrayed by the young and talented Norwegian musician and actress Agnes Born. Her first big role on TV came in the Norwegian TV Show Monster in which she plays Jani Van Gebert.

She has been in the acting industry since 2015, with her biggest role outside Norway coming in 2021 when she played Vereena in The Witcher alongside the likes of Henry Cavill and Anya Chalotra.

Her performance in the hit show set her up for bigger roles, and Astrid is one of the best performances of her career so far.

She proved her ability to portray strong female characters in her previous roles and, coupled with her Scandinavian heritage, had everything needed to bring Astrid’s character to life in Seven Kings Must Die.

She made an impression with her ability to switch accents from the very beginning of the movie, sounding like a Viking one minute and then a real Saxon the next.


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Despite her role being supportive at best, Born’s performance was largely the most interesting of any female character in the movie.

Born captured the emotional connection between Astrid and Anlaf perfectly, portraying a strong father-daughter bond that endears Astrid to viewers despite being a villain.

Astrid also comes out as a versatile character, able to adapt to different circumstances and deal with every situation with passion and intensity.

Astrid’s best moment in the show comes just before the end when she charges onto the front lines with her father in a strong display of courage that Born portrays with the intensity it requires.

Was Astrid a real person?

Bernard Cornwells Saxon Stories 1

Anlaf’s (Olaf Guthfrithson) family is not well detailed in most historical accounts, but there is no mention of Anlaf having a female heir called Astrid, although he could have had a daughter called Gytha.

Gytha could also have been the daughter of Amlaíb Cuarán, who ruled Dublin after Anlaf, so there is no clear evidence that Anlaf had any daughters.

There is no mention of Astrid in Bernard Cornwell’s books either, so the character could have been created to boost Anlaf’s potency as a villain.

Details of Anlaf’s heirs are also scanty, and while he probably had a son named Camman Mac Amlaib, he didn’t die in the battle of Brunanburgh.

Bernard Cornwell doesn’t say much about Anlaf’s heirs either, and Astrid is not mentioned in Saxon Stories. In Cornwell’s books, it is actually Anlaf himself who dies on the battlefield.

The addition of Astrid in Seven Kings Must Die gave more diversity as far as the representation of women fighters is concerned.

She was the only woman given a significant role in the main plot leading to the battle and also on the battlefield. She represents the Dane sword maidens, such as Brida from the show, which greatly impacted the development of Uhtred’s story, giving the saga a befitting end.

What happens to Astrid in Seven Kings Must Die?

Astrids death in Seven Kings Must Die 1

Astrid meets her father after he arrives on the coast of Northumbria with his Wolf Warriors in the dead of night and sacks a village.

Astrid is dressed like a Saxon, which Anlaf terms as ridiculous, but Astrid says she has to dress like that to fit in with the Saxons.

After giving her father the news of Edward’s imminent death, Anlaf instructs Astrid to tell all the other kings in the region that he has arrived and wants to ally.


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Astrid is clearly her father’s trusted spy from the way he addresses her. She is also so good at hiding herself that Anlaf’s men fail to recognize her when she comes to the camp.

Astrid is later seen identifying Lord Aldhelm of Mercia to soldiers after he helped Uhtred escape Ingilmundr’s captivity and attempted assassination.

On the battlefield, Astrid stands next to her father, commanding the Anlaf’s army as they charge at the Saxons led by Uhtred and Athelstan.

Astrid gets shot in the chest by an arrow while charging onto the front lines, and while she falls down, her father holds her in his arms.

Her death causes Anlaf to lose direction on the battlefield, sending all his armies to charge at the Saxons in anger and rage, eventually allowing Uhtred’s plan of a surprise attack from behind Anlaf’s lines to work.

What happened to Anlaf in real life?

Anlaf in Seven Kings Must Die

Anlaf was the real-life king of Dublin in the 10th century who led an alliance of armies against Athelstan and got defeated. Still, he survived and later became king of Northumbria after Athelstan’s death.

He claimed Northumbria to be part of his kingdom since his father took control of it briefly in 927 AD before losing it.


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Historical accounts suggest that he actually caught Aethelstan by surprise with his large army after uniting with Constantine of Scotland and other lesser kings and chieftains to form a large army behind Athelstan’s back.

His reputation as a warrior earned him the title of the King of the Danes in Irland before he died in 941. He appears to have died of natural causes because there is no record of him dying on a battlefield.

In Bernard Cornwell’s books, Anlaf doesn’t survive the battle of Brunanburgh, unlike the movie version in which he loses his perceived heir instead.

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