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Lord Vortigern is a King of Britain during Medieval times, he was in the time of Merlin, before King Arthur. Lord Vortigern is the first human antagonist Merlin faces. He is the usurper king and a tyrant.

Historical Vortigern

Lord Vortigern is a complete nihilist, and doesn't bother about compassion, he says many people think before they act, he acts before he thinks. Lord Vortigern is ambitiously trying to build a castle, but every time it is completed, it falls. Lord Vortigern finds out he needs Merlin and Merlin sees the downfall of Lord Vortigern's empire because he sees that there is a river underneath the castle, and two dragons underneath representing the Normans and the Britons, and the red and white dragons, respectively, fight and the red one conquers. Lord Vortigern loses to the Normans but is eventually succeeded by his son. He used Constans, son of emperor Constantine, as his puppet king until he betrayed and killed him.

MERLIN (1998 film)

In the film, Lord Vortigern is shown as the first antagonist. He kills his predecessor, the King Constant, and betrays him by ambushing him in his castle and Constant, knowing he has been betrayed, says "I curse you all" before Vortigern kills him by decapitation. Then Vortigern picks up the crown through narration by Merlin that says "sometimes the crown led to another... even worse." Vortigern is now the evil warlord of Britain and uses his hatemongering to enslave thousands and he hates the opposing Normans. He drives many out of Britain and then he manages to have no enemies, apart from Lord Uther who landed with a Norman army. Lord Vortigern is a nihilist, but he is seduced by the power of Queen Mab, who urges him to win because he is a tyrant and will make her power stronger. Lord Vortigern commands Merlin to come to solve his problem of why his castle always collapses and he shows him the dragon prophecy of the Normans winning. Then, Lord Vortigern is informed Uther has arrived. He prepares for the battle and almost converts to Mab in the process, but refuses to completely. Mab's sister the Lady of the Lake gives Merlin Exaclibur, to fight Vortigern. Merlin also gives the frozen lake as a battle site. Then he and Vortigern face on opposing sides to fight. Vortigern comments to Uther that he is a traitor and has changed sides. During the battle, Vortigern is approached by Merlin who says he will kill him. He smashes the frozen ice with Excalibur, causing a shocked Vortigern to sink into the lake to drown to death.