All About The Blood Eagle | The Ultimate Sacrifice to the God Odin!

Blood Eagle

The blood eagle | The punishment of the Viking gods

The Vikings are known as a civilization of ruthless barbarians. Commonly described as ruthless beings with inhuman practices, their reputation is however largely exaggerated by medieval historians.

However, in every story there is some truth! Viking barbarity is reflected in certain rituals and bloody practices used at that time: the blood eagle is a perfect example.

The blood eagle is an ancestral Nordic execution rite of incredible cruelty and atrocity. Considered the ultimate punishment one can suffer, it is reserved only for the most sacrilegious. This explains why only a few historical figures, barely counting on one hand, were victims of this tragedy.

Do you want to know why this method of execution is so much in the news? Was it really used to avenge Ragnar's death? To untangle the true from the false, we make you discover the history, the origin and the meaning of the famous blood eagle!

The origin of the blood eagle: divine punishment!

All About The Blood Eagle | The Ultimate Sacrifice to the God Odin!

The blood eagle is not an insignificant execution ritual. Indeed, in all Scandinavian literature, it has claimed only four victims, but not the least.

Sometimes described as a rite of execution, sometimes depicted as a sacrificial ceremony, the theatrical and brutal nature of the ritual makes it a singular punishment that is not found in any other culture. Even today, it remains a real mystery, both for the public and for historians.

The cruelty of this practice is highlighted in various cinematographic works, in particular the series Vikings, and raises many questions among viewers:

  • Why does such a practice exist?
  • What sacrilege had to be committed to deserve it?
  • Which historical figures were subjected to this punishment?
  • What is the origin and meaning of this rite?

Even today, we do not have all the elements in our possession to answer all these questions. Nevertheless, in the course of this article, we will try to demystify this Viking phenomenon that is as brutal as it is intriguing.

The blood eagle: myth or reality?

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The historical Viking sagas describe in detail the course of this ritual, an act of unparalleled cruelty. During the blood eagle, the victims are kept alive throughout the ordeal, while the ribs on the side of their back are broken. One by one, they are sliced and detached from the spine, then spread apart to expose the lungs of the sacrificed.

In some cases, the punishment goes further: the ribs, lungs, and sometimes even the intestines of the condemned are pulled out to form bloody wings. It is from this horrific image that the famous name derives.

In spite of all these appalling details, the historical veracity of this Scandinavian torture is still debated. There is no historical evidence to prove that it was actually practiced during the Viking era or that it was a purely literary invention.

Indeed, the Nordic references on the blood eagle are not numerous, and the rare sagas which exist all go back to the time which follows the Christianization of Scandinavia.

A rite of execution or Odinic sacrifice?

All About The Blood Eagle | The Ultimate Sacrifice to the God Odin!

It is known that the Vikings have never been choirboys. After each victory, they tortured their enemies and offered them to the god Odin. One of these rituals was that of the blood eagle, the most terrible of all. The mere suggestion of it would cause entire villages to flee!

The Viking sagas all agree on its cruelty, but there are still some discrepancies on its modalities as well as on its real value between the different sources:

  • In the Haralds saga hárfagra and the Orkneyinga saga, it is a ritual of sacrifice to the god Odin. After each conquest, the Vikings sacrifice their enemies in order to obtain Odin's blessing;
  • In the Ragnars saga Loðbrókar, the Gesta Danorum and the Knútsdrápa, it would be a means of revenge. In this case, it was used by Ragnar's sons to avenge the murder of their father by King Ælle of Northumbria;
  • According to the Reginsmál and Orms þáttr Stórólfssonar mythical sources of Viking legends, the blood eagle is even used by divine creatures.

In addition to these differences, these same sagas do not describe the course of this operation in the same way. In some of these sources, notably the Reginsmál, the Ragnars saga and the Gesta Danorum, the ribs are not incised. An eagle is carved into the back of the victim, and salt is sometimes thrown on it.

In any case, the Irish historian Alfred Smyth supports the historicity of the blood eagle. He states that it is clearly a rite of human sacrifice in the name of the Viking god Odin.

The blood eagle, a pure literary invention?

In an article published in 1984, Roberta Frank describes the blood eagle as "the bird that never would have been. The article, Viking Atrocities and Scaldic Verse: The Blood Eagle Rite, questions the very existence of such a ritual.

Since the Viking sagas were mostly written after the Christianization of the Nordic countries, she states that the authors misinterpreted the ancient scaldic verses. According to her, this mistranscription of the Reginsmál stanza is due to the kenning (a particular syntax) of the word "eagle".

In addition to this, Roberta goes on to describe the Reginsmál as "an enigmatic and allusive story that is difficult to interpret. Unfortunately, being the only source from the Viking era to attest to its existence, it is very difficult to establish its veracity.

Roberta's explanation is that the practice is simply a reference to leaving the remains of enemies face down on the battlefield, so that carrion can tear and shred their backs.

A Christian myth to demonize the Vikings?

Many other historians support the theory that the blood eagle is pure invention. Worse still, it would be a myth created by Christians, sworn enemies of the Vikings, with the sole aim of demonizing them.

In addition to Roberta Frank, two other historians, David Horspool and Ronald Hutton, agree that it is a creation purely designed to induce a sensation of maximum horror.

According to them, it is simply a Christian myth with no historical basis that results from :

  • The misunderstanding and misinterpretation of ancient Norse verses ;
  • To which are added details of stories of Christian martyrs and heroes, which would be at the origin of this atrocious torture rite.

In fact, by comparing certain features of the blood eagle with certain Christian stories, the myth theory remains plausible. Let's take for example the story of the death of Saint Sebastian, who had the sides of his back shredded by arrows, who was abandoned and in a second time devoured by scavengers.

The meaning of the blood eagle

The eagle is a bird that is closely linked to Odin. A symbol of power and dominion of the heavens, it refers directly to the father of the gods and protector of the worlds designated as the "eagle god". It is undoubtedly for this reason that many historians consider the blood eagle as a ritual sacrifice to the god Odin.

The Orkneyinga saga reinforces this theory through the legend of Torf-Einarr. According to this ancient story, the Viking hero offered his enemy Hálfdan as a sacrifice to the god Odin to celebrate his victory.

On the other hand, other examples suggest that this was a method of revenge, especially for his father. The popularity of this hypothesis is mainly due to the story of the death of King Ælle of Northumbria, which is mentioned repeatedly in the literature.

The victims of the blood eagle

Although he marked history by his atrocity and barbarity, the blood eagle will have claimed only 4 alleged victims in total. What doesn't help matters is the fact that some of them are fictitious, so the stories could be fabricated in every way.

In addition to two Viking legends, there are only two very specific cases where the punishment was actually used:

  • The revenge of Ragnar's sons on the instigator of their father's murder;
  • The sacrifice to the god Odin of Hálfdan háleggr with the long leg by Torf-Einarr.

The legendary revenge of the sons of Ragnar

All About The Blood Eagle | The Ultimate Sacrifice to the God Odin!

The legend of the revenge of Ivar the Boneless and his brothers is the most popular historical example of the application of the blood eagle for the sole purpose of revenge.

Ragnar Lothbrok, thirsty for power and driven by a deep desire to expand his lands, sets out to conquer England. His pride plays a bad trick on him, and he unfortunately falls into a trap set by King Ælle of Northumbria. Condemning him to a horrible death, he throws him into a snake pit to make an example of him to anyone who tries to invade his territory.

Having naively triggered a violent rage in the Viking camp, he does not suspect what awaits him in return. Thus, the response of Ragnar's sons was not long in coming! For the punishment that their father undergoes, there is only one torment capable of equaling or surpassing it in terms of violence and aggressiveness: the blood eagle! The king soon succumbs under the hands of the merciless Ivar the boneless.

King Ælle of Northumbria is undoubtedly the most famous victim of this abominable punishment, and the first to have endured such an atrocious death. The story of this bloody vengeance appears in many historical sources, in particular the Tale of the Sons of Ragnarr, which tells the story of the English king who dared to defy the Scandinavians.

This story has become a true example of Viking fury. It was used in various film adaptations, including the 1958 American masterpiece "The Vikings" which was strongly inspired by it. Decades later, it is the series Vikings that will shock the viewers once again, by repeating the scene of this ritual in its every detail.

The sacrifice of King Hálfdan son Harald

The second historical use of the blood eagle sanction does not occur until a century after Ragnar's death. With the Nordic kingdom in the midst of a power struggle, his death marked the beginning of the division of the Scandinavian people.

Governed by Harald of the Fair Hair, his many sons, including Hálfdan, competed for the throne and the succession of power. Hálfdan began by dominating the Nordic countries, then colonized and chased the jarl Torf-Einarr from his lands. Wanting to further humiliate the jarl, he kills his father without mercy to this innocent man who is not involved in the conflict.

Determined to avenge his father, Torf-Einarr prepares an army to fight Hálfdan the following fall. Through his determination, he succeeds in defeating the prince and capturing him alive.

Inspired by the story of the revenge of Ragnar's sons, he decides to inflict the blood eagle on Hálfdan, but he does not stop there. This ritual is meant to be an offering to the god Odin, and represents in the eyes of the orphaned Jarl the triumph of good over evil.

The blood eagle in Viking mythology

A complete review of Viking mythology only brings up two characters who would have undergone this torture. These fictional legends would have preceded the story of Ragnar's sons, and would probably have suggested this method of torture to them.

The Reginsmál and Nornagests þáttr tell how the Viking hero Sigurd takes revenge on his father's murderer "Lyngvig". Sigmund, Sigurd's father, is a central character in Norse mythology.

The Orms þáttr Stórólfssonar cites the second time this ritual is used. According to the legend, an evil giant named Brúsi kills a minor Norse deity "Ásbjörn". To avenge the death of his brother, Ormr made this giant undergo the worst torment, that of the blood eagle.

Harald I | The story of the first Viking king of Norway


Harald with the beautiful hair | The mysterious story of the Viking king of Norway

Brave and valiant Viking, Harald Hárfagri is the first king to have reigned over all of Norway. An intrepid warrior, his story remains one of the most unusual in Scandinavian civilization.

Embodying all the values of the Nordic kingdom, he is one of the most valiant characters of the Viking era. His story is a striking example of perseverance, and his legend still fascinates the minds.

But who is King Harald really? How did he manage to conquer such vast territories? And above all, what is the story behind these victories? In this article, we reveal everything about the 1st Viking king of Norway.

The story of Harald: 1st Viking king of Norway

Descendant of a noble Nordic lineage, and son of the legendary Viking Halfdan the Black Gudrødsson, Harald is destined to have a grandiose future. However, his life will not be merciful, because he will know a tumultuous course strewn with unusual misadventures.

Indeed, the historical sagas depict Harald with the Beautiful Hair as the true founder of the Kingdom of Norway. He was the first Viking king who unified and ruled over all these Nordic lands. However, since the historical sources concerning Harald are very few, there are still grey areas on the history of this sovereign.

Thus, according to Norwegian historians, two versions are possible:

  • Harald would have ruled only the eastern coastal region of Norway, as well as some small kingdoms scattered throughout the country. This version is mainly attested by the Historia Norvegiæ, a medieval Norwegian source.
  • According to Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla, he was simply a "surprising" king. In all likelihood, he conquered the entire Norwegian territory after a long series of heroic battles against the local jarls.

Moreover, although it remains controversial, this 2nd version is attested by two Scandinavian poems written by the famous poet-scalde, Þorbjörn Hornklofi. The first poem, "Haraldskvæði", tells of the life of King Harald, while the second, "Glymdrápa", tells of all the battles he fought.

Even though these are only slight variations, historians have found great changes in the Norse stories about Harald.

That is why, before talking about the heroic journey of Harald with the Beautiful Hair, we must go back to his origins. So, without further ado, here is how the story of the first great king who unified Norway began!

The origins of Harald Hárfagri

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Harald Hårfagre is the son of a powerful warrior and Viking king of Norway, Halfdan the Black Gudrødsson. Like Harald, his father had an eventful childhood that made him a noble ruler.

Indeed, at the age of one, Halfdan the Black's father was murdered, making him a king marked by war crimes. This led him to take on the role of ruler at the age of 18 to reconquer the neighboring kingdoms and impose peace.

Thus, during his conquests, he took control of several small Norwegian kingdoms such as Vestfold, Oppland, Raumarike or Hedmark and Vingulmark.

Although his goal is noble, he quickly realizes that one life will not be enough to achieve this goal. This is undoubtedly the reason why he decides to get married.

However, during the same year and by the greatest of misfortunes, his first wife and his eldest son are killed. Halfdan, determined to leave behind a noble heir to rule his lands, remarried shortly afterwards. He married Ragnhild Sigurdsdatter, who gave him his legendary son Harald Hårfagre in the year 850 AD.

The youth of the future king of Norway



As misfortune never comes alone, Harald sees his life take a tragic turn, strangely resembling that of his father. On his way back to the Oppland kingdom from a banquet held to celebrate the conquest of Hadeland, Halfdan tragically loses his life.

According to the stories, Halfdan fell through the ice of the Randsfjorden lake and drowned. Saddened by the terrible news, Harald, who was only 10 years old at the time, was thrown into the cruel world of royalty.

Not even having time to mourn his father, he finds himself obliged to take the throne at the age of only 10. On top of that, he was not even allowed to bury his father's body because it was divided into four by the jarls of the enemy kingdoms.

Harald inherits his father's territories and is forced to take on a role that is beyond him. Still very young, he is deeply marked by the conflicts between jarls and Viking kings of Norway. This is probably the origin of his lifelong dream and ambition: to unify Norway!

Thus begins the legend of King Harald and his long journey to glory.

The legendary king of Norway: Harald with the beautiful hair

Harald Hárfagri did not always have his famous epithet "with beautiful hair", which has long made his glory. According to Snorri Sturluson, he was a very ambitious king who wanted to reunite war-torn Norway. To this end, he promised himself that he would not cut his hair again until he achieved this ambition.

And so begins the legend of Harald with frizzy hair!

Harald the fuzzy-haired conqueror of Norway

The first great victory of the young king was when he managed to eradicate a revolt in the kingdom of Oppland. At that time, his kingdom was still limited to the southeastern part of Norway. Driven by the enthusiasm of youth, he thought he had become a great ruler among the Vikings.

However, he quickly put his feet back on the ground when a princess refused his marriage proposal. It was not just any princess, since it was the daughter of the great king Hordaland, Gyda Eiriksdottir.

According to the sagas, this lady of unparalleled beauty was not impressed by Harald, who had no prestigious title. She refused the marriage proposal and asked him to come back once he became king of all Norway.

Harald, having fallen madly in love with this princess, is more than determined to unify the 30 kingdoms of the country. To this end, he vows not to cut or comb his hair during a long quest that will last 10 years.

A decade later, Harald had achieved the feat of defeating all enemy kings. In the face of such determination and unparalleled bravery, some of the jarls pledged their allegiance to him.

However, after such a long period without hair, her beautiful hair had become horribly thick and messy. This earned him the nickname of Harald with frizzy hair during a battle that marked the turning point in his history: the battle of Hafrsfjord!

The battle of Hafrsfjord

Harald I | The story of the first Viking king of Norway

After signing a pact with the jarl of the kingdom of Lade, Haakon, the young ruler could launch the conquest of western Norway. There follows a series of prodigious victories of Harald.

In front of his exploits and fearing to lose their lands, the jarls of the West of Norway join together to face him. This will lead to the greatest war of the Viking era, the naval battle of Hafrsfjord, near Stavanger, in 872 AD.

This battle will see the greatest armed forces of that time confront each other. On the one hand, the frizzy-haired Harald, with the terrible Viking warriors "Berserker" in his troops, and on the other hand, the alliance of the Viking chiefs of the West.

According to the poem Haraldskvæði and the saga of Heimskringla, this event marks the turning point in the unification of Norway. Indeed, Harald's victory at Hafrsfjord is described as the greatest and bloodiest of his battles.

Thus, this glorious victory marked the beginning of the reign of Harald I, king and ruler of a unified Norway.

The epithet of Harald with the beautiful hair

Harald I | The story of the first Viking king of Norway

Now that he was the undisputed first ruler of Norway, Harald had to have a name and a hairstyle worthy of his rank. And since he was no longer bound by his lifelong promise, Harald cut and brushed his long blond hair. And so he became known, forever, as Harald with the beautiful hair.

After that, he asked for the hand of the princess Gyda, who accepted to marry him, as she had promised him ten years before, and thus became Harald I of Norway. In addition to that, this marriage allowed him to extend his control to several Danish regions.

During his 83 years of life, Harald with the Beautiful Hair will have many wives and children. According to the sagas, he had up to 7 wives and more than 20 children among Eric I "Bloody Axe" and Haakon I "the Good".

Harald with the Beautiful Hair, Ist king of Norway, is a Viking character at the same time fascinating and surprising. Courageous and persevering, he left his mark on an entire country, while his prestigious line of Viking kings, the Hårfagre dynasty, shaped the entire Nordic history.

Harbard | The Story of the Mysterious Ferryman of Viking Mythology


As if to maintain a secret rule, all ancient mythologies mention an old sage with mysterious interventions. He appears as if by magic on the path of the hero of the story. Among the Vikings, it is Harbard, the legendary ferryman, who occupies this role. Although he is far from the stereotype of the thoughtful old man, he serves the same purpose in Norse mythology.

To this day, the origins and significance of this character are in doubt. That said, there is no shortage of theories, something we will discuss at length on today's article.

Without further ado, let's play detective and find out together who Harbard, the fantastic Viking ferryman, really is!

History and origin of Harbard

In Viking mythology, Harbard is an old wanderer. He is a ferryman who crosses the river and tells the crossers one of his many tales.

Underneath his unpleasantness and rough demeanor, he hides a great deal of benevolence and wisdom. On many occasions, he shares this knowledge anecdotally or cryptically, so that only the most deserving can enjoy it.

His name, Harbard, means "grey beard" in Old Germanic. One might think that this nickname is harmless, and that it only reflects the physical appearance of this character. Nevertheless, the choice of words is far from being anodyne, and would be a little more complex.

In reality, it is one of the nicknames attributed to the god Odin, lord of the pantheon of Nordic deities. Indeed, the ultimate deity of the Nordic pantheon is attributed a multitude of epithets, some of which are used to describe his physical appearance. This is one of the first elements that would indicate that Harbard is none other than the god Odin.

But let's not jump to conclusions! Let's first look at the other clues that could help us decide.

Harbard's intriguing adventures in Viking mythology

Harbard is the ferryman of the Elivágar. This is a group of rivers coming from Hvergelmir, which is said to be the origin of the world. In this respect, he had a very crucial mission, because he was in charge of crossing the rivers and orienting the passers-by. Several historical sources attest to these facts and open a window on this emblematic character.

The story of Harbard and the god Thor

Harbard | The Story of the Mysterious Ferryman of Viking Mythology

In Germanic mythology, the story is told of the crossing of the god Thor. Back from his adventures with the giants, he called upon Harbard's services in order to cross one of the rivers of the Elivágar. Great was his surprise when this one started to provoke him.

In addition to questioning his bravery and exploits, the old man boasted of his merits, and minimized his own. At the end of their exchange, he refuses to take it and Thor leaves furious.

Here, we highlight the dichotomy of these two characters. On the one hand, we have Harbard, devious and full of himself, testing the limits of his interlocutor's patience. On the other side, we have Thor, temperamental, but faithful to his values of honorable warrior.

Legend has it that he left so abruptly that he did not even notice that it was his own father, the god Odin. Another lead that points in this direction!

The poem Hárbarðsljóð

Harbard | The Story of the Mysterious Ferryman of Viking Mythology

Taken straight from the Poetic Edda, Hárbarðsljóð, which means Harbard's Lai, retells the story of Harbard with the Viking god of thunder, but with a few details. Thor intends to return to Asgard after a long stay in Jötunheimr, but everything does not go as planned.

Indeed, this time it is a more explicit quarrel, where the two characters indulge in insults and rudeness. As soon as Thor asks for his help to cross the river, Harbard retorts:

"Who is this boy of boys

Who stands beyond the strait?

He answered:

Who is that young man of the young men

Who calls across the wave?"

Although Thor is known for his anger and strong temper, he offers him a meal if he agrees to accompany him to the other side. Harbard refuses and says that he has been asked to wait for noble passengers. He then starts to criticize his appearance, to call him a vagabond and to make fun of his clothes.

Afterwards, he asks Thor what feats he was able to achieve. When he tells him about the battles he has fought with the giants, Harbard ridicules him, and talks about his many love affairs and sexual conquests. The teasing doesn't stop there, and he goes so far as to accuse his wife, Sif, of adultery.

A behavior worthy of the god of deceit and malice. Another interesting theory that we will look at below.

Harbard's appearances in the cult series Viking

Harbard | The Story of the Mysterious Ferryman of Viking Mythology

Harbard, played by Kevin Durand, makes his big appearance in the famous series Vikings during its season 3. With so many events taking place, fans were not expecting such a mysterious character to make an appearance.

Even before his arrival in Kattegat, this character was already generating general intrigue. Indeed, he is first seen in a strange dream of Siggy, Helga and Queen Aslaug holding snow in a bleeding hand. For many, this is an indication of his divine origin and the crucial role that this character will play.

As soon as he arrives, he wins Aslaug's favor by curing her son Ivar's ailments simply by touching him. Presenting himself as a wanderer who only has his stories, we realize that he is hiding his game.

This theory will be confirmed when he leaves the village by evaporating in the mist. This scene confirms the suspicions of the viewers, and the divine nature of Harbard.

But, it is not for all that the last time that we see him in the series!

Indeed, he will make his appearance again in season four. After many upheavals, Aslaug is now alone and distraught and finds in Harbard the emotional support she was missing.

But Harbard is known to be a womanizer. True to form, he provokes general indignation when he sleeps with almost every woman in Kattegat.

Mad with rage, Aslaug goes on a rampage and confronts Harbard before he disappears as suddenly as he came. For many, this is proof that this is a trick of the god of mischief Loki.

Who is really Harbard? - Analysis of the most popular theories

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Now that we've covered all the bases, it's time to take a look at the popular theories about Harbard's identity. This subject has long been debated by historians, and the Vikings series has revived it.

At the heart of the controversy, we come to disentangle the true from the false. Rather Odin, or rather Loki? Here is everything you need to know about it.

Theory 01: Harbard represents the god Odin

First unbeatable argument: the nickname! Indeed, the god Odin is often referred to as an old bearded man with greying hair. This detail does not go unnoticed, since it is the first argument that is presented every time.

But this track does not stop there! If we analyze in more detail the meeting of Harbard and Thor as it is related in the Germanic sources, we go even further in this direction. Far from relying on cunning, the old Norse smuggler uses manipulation and ingenuity to flunk the god of thunder. Likewise, his friendly and benevolent exchange shows that he is a character quite similar to Thor.

Moreover, many of the war and battle merits that the old man boasted about were actually those of the god Odin. This would be the reason why the efforts of the master of Mjollnir did not impress him.

Theory 02: Loki turned into Harbard

Many historians have long argued that Harbard is the god Loki in disguise. To this end, the greatest argument for this theory is also drawn from his encounter with Thor. During the latter, Harbard boasts of his exploits in love and his many conquests.

In Viking mythology, this trait is almost characteristic of the character of Loki. Indeed, the latter likes to boast and expose his romantic prowess. Moreover, the god of mischief also accused Thor's wife of cheating on him.

Another important argument is a revelation made by Harbard in the poem Hárbarðsljóð. He claims to have witnessed Thor's fight with an ice giant, but only Loki was with him at the time.

Final Verdicts

Nowadays, it is accepted by learned societies that Harbard is in fact the god Odin in disguise. Despite the controversies of the past years, the arguments lean more towards this version of the facts.

What gives us the illusion that he is Loki is mainly the scriptural liberties of the Vikings series. This is how our little investigation ends and closes this debate once and for all.

Who is Torvi? | All about this Viking Warrior 


Who is Torvi? Is she a real Viking queen?

Iconic character of the series Vikings, Torvi is a Viking warrior with a very striking background. Making her appearance in the 2nd season, this strong-willed woman will conquer the hearts of the fans throughout the seasons.

Despite this, her story and her evolution will not always be unanimous. Indeed, we reproach the directors for not having given Torvi the role of heroine that she deserves.

That's why we come back in this article on the history of the famous Ubbe's wife. And we will take the opportunity to answer the famous question that is burning in our minds: did Torvi really exist, or is she a fictional character?

The story of the famous Viking warrior Torvi

Who is Torvi? | All about this Viking Warrior 

We discover for the first time Torvi, played by Georgia Hirst, in season 02 of the series Vikings. Presented as a young princess, we attend her wedding with Jarl Borg. The latter is a formidable Viking warrior and the main antagonist of the season.

As expected, she quickly becomes one of the favorite characters of the fans of the series. Especially since she has a very captivating narrative arc and a story full of twists. Indeed, the destiny is not going to be lenient towards Torvi.

Throughout the series, we follow the progression of this endearing woman who becomes a key character in the Vikings series. In this regard, she transforms from an abused and powerless young queen into a Skjaldmö, a true Viking warrior.

However, before becoming this valiant warrior and Lagertha's right hand, she will have to go through a long journey. We must warn you, the rest of the article will contain important revelations about the series, so Spoiler Alert!

The tragic death of Jarl Borg

Who is Torvi? | All about this Viking Warrior 

Jarl Borg is Torvi's first husband with whom she will have her eldest son Guthrum. Unfortunately for him, he will never have the chance to know his father who will perish in atrocious sufferings.

Indeed, after Borg announced that he wanted to take his revenge on Ragnar and King Horik, he embarked on a merciless war and succeeded in invading Kattegat, the native village of the Viking king. However, the response of Ragnar and Lagertha, accompanied by their son Björn I, was not long in coming.

Although she was still very young at the time, Torvi had a bad feeling. She begs her husband not to lead this fight and tries to reason with him. Despite this, Borg goes ahead and falls into Ragnar's trap. He finds himself obliged to flee for his life, just as the young queen had predicted.

Despite his victory, Ragnar is more than determined to get revenge. He wants to get rid of the threat of the Jarl at all costs. To this end, he invites Borg and Torvi to Kattegat, making them believe that he wants to form an alliance.

The night they arrive, King Ragnar Lodbrok sends men led by Rollo and Floki to capture them. Although he decides to spare Torvi, who is pregnant at the time, she is forced to witness the gruesome execution of her husband. Thus, Ragnar inflicts on Borg the worst torture of the Nordic traditions, the ritual of the Blood Eagle.

A surprising transformation into a Viking warrior

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After the terrible death of her first husband, Torvi finds herself unprepared. Alone and powerless, she meets Lagertha for the first time. In contrast to Torvi, Lagertha possesses a strength and determination worthy of the Valkyrie. This meeting with the Viking queen will mark her forever.

In season 03 of the series, Torvi begins a new journey, this time with her second husband Erlendur, son of King Horik. This adventure leads her to make an alliance with an Earl named Kalf. Ragnar then invites them to join the future raids he will lead on the kingdom of Francia.

Around a banquet, she meets Björn Côtes-de-Fer and announces her decision to join the Viking warriors. This is the beginning of Torvi's surprising transformation into a Skjaldmö, a true Viking warrior.

This does not leave Björn indifferent and he falls under the charm of the young queen. And so, during this same evening, they will have a passionate relationship that will turn their lives upside down!

The union of Torvi and Björn

Who is Torvi? | All about this Viking Warrior 

Soon after their arrival in Paris, Torvi and Björn get closer and closer and they become lovers. But their story will not remain a secret for long, because Erlendur will soon discover the pink pole.

Jealous and mad with rage, he takes the decision to kill his wife's lover. In addition to sending mercenaries in pursuit of him, he will force Torvi to kill Björn herself, or else her son Guthrum will be in danger.

Her abusive husband pushes her into a corner. So, in a final conformation, she reveals everything to Björn, threatening him with a crossbow. Despite the situation, Björn declares his love for her under the malevolent eye of Erlendur, who is just waiting for her to shoot him.

Only, with these words she finds the courage to break free from Erlendur's grip and turns around to shoot an arrow through his heart. This decision marks the greatest turning point in Torvi's character. She buries her weaknesses forever and becomes an exceptional Viking warrior!

Very soon after the raids on Paris are over, Torvi and Björn get married and start a family.

The new chief of Kattegat

10 years later, we discover that Torvi and Björn have two children, an older son named Hali and a daughter Asa. In addition, Torvi becomes a Viking chieftain and the right hand of Lagertha, who once marked her.

From the 2nd to the end of this 4th season of the Vikings series, Torvi has come a long way. Fans have become very attached to this young woman with the heart of a lion. However, the show is not done with this character yet.

In the fifth season, Torvi and Björn decide to separate. To everyone's surprise, she conquers the heart of another of King Ragnar Lodbrok's sons, Ubbe Lothbrok. They marry and then convert to Christianity to strengthen the Viking alliance with the kingdom of Wessex.

However, season 6 of the series turns out to be less lenient with Torvi. Upon hearing the terrible news of the death of her mentor and friend Lagertha, she returns to Kattegat. Only, at her arrival her daughter Asa announces her the murder of Hali. Since a tragedy never comes alone, Torvi will witness the drowning of her daughter during a storm at sea.

The absence of Lagertha leaves a huge space for Torvi's character who becomes the new warrior leader of Kattegat. Despite a surprising development, fans feel that Torvi has never found her place among the other protagonists of the series.

But before we tell you about it, we must first answer the major question: is Torvi a historical character?

Is Torvi based on a real character?

We know that the suspense will have lasted too long, but at the risk of disappointing many of you, Trovi is an entirely fictional character. Indeed, he is one of the few characters in the series to have no historical basis and to be based on no real Viking.

Thus, Torvi comes directly from the mind of Michael Hirst, the creator of the series. Through Torvi, he wanted to bring to life a representation of the everyday Viking woman. He then made her the embodiment of a legendary warrior from Viking mythology, the Skjaldmö.

Indeed, for a long time the existence of female warriors in the Viking civilization has been controversial. However, a recent genetic test on the skeleton of a Viking leader discovered in the tomb of Birka reveals that it is actually a woman.

In addition to this, it should be noted that the Norse sagas do not mention the names of the wives of Bjorn Ironheart or those of Ubbe Ragnarsson. One wonders if Torvi is in fact the incarnation of all the forgotten Viking women warriors of Scandinavian history.

In any case, the character of Torvi, although criticized, could well be more truthful than we think.

Why has Torvi never found her place in the Vikings series?

Despite her important impact on the show, many fans reproach the character of Torvi for not having been better exploited. Indeed, except for her decision to kill her second husband Erlendur, she has not had any real impact on the events of Vikings.

In fact, this can be explained by the simple reason that Torvi is completely fictional. It is quite normal that Michael Hirst, the creator of the series, may have hesitated to give her a more important role in order not to steal the spotlight from real Viking characters. Especially if we know that the actress who plays this role is none other than his daughter Georgia Hirst.

Nevertheless, Torvi will have made us live real strong sensations throughout the series. We think of the multiple moments when she saves Bjön's life or the time when she offers to sacrifice herself to joined Lagertha to the afterlife.

In short, Torvi is a very poignant character in the Vikings series. Throughout her heroic journey, we quickly forget that she is fictional as she embodies the true Viking woman so well.

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Freydis Eiriksdottir

Discover the incredible story of Freydis Eiriksdottir

Although the Viking civilization was forged by great men, the fact remains that Nordic women played a crucial role. In this respect, the Viking women warriors also made the battlefields tremble, especially the famous skjaldmö. And of all these women warriors, the story of Freydis Eiriksdottir is probably the most surprising.

Famous daughter of Erik the Red, she does not delay to walk on the steps of her father. Still very young, she participates in the discovery of Vinland and acquires the notoriety of terrible warrior. However, her ruthlessness will turn against her since it will give her the reputation of a traitor.

But before we get to that, let's start by uncovering the story of the amazing Freydis Eiriksdottir. Find out how she went from a heroine to the forgotten traitor of history!

The Freydis legend: the skjaldmö with explorer's blood

Freydis Eiriksdottir | The Viking Warrior with Explorer's Blood

Freydis is the youngest daughter of the famous Viking chief Erik the Red. This great explorer is the Viking who founded the first Nordic colony outside Europe in Greenland. Only, before becoming the king and the Viking hero adulated by all, he was exiled from his native country.

Known to have a very angry character, Erik the Red committed an unforgivable act within the Nordic civilization. Indeed, after having killed a Viking, he was banished from his village in Iceland. During this period of 3 years, he embarked on an expedition to Greenland that will forever mark the history books.

It is during this journey that he met his only wife Thjodhild Jörundsdóttir, with whom he founded a humble family in Greenland. Thus, Freydis will grow up rocked by the exploits of her father.

In addition to bequeathing to her the precious legacy of an explorer, Freydis also inherits her father's unstable and unpredictable character. Although this strong temperament will earn her the glorious title skjaldmö, the shield-wielding Viking warrior, it will ultimately lead to her downfall.

Who is Freydis Eiriksdottir?

Born in the year 970 AD, Freydis Eiriksdottir is the daughter of Erik the Red, but is not from his wife Thjodhild. In reality, this last one will give him only three sons Thorvald, Thorstein and the famous Leif Erikson.

Moreover, the name of Freydis' mother remains unknown to this day. That is why historians assume that she is an illegitimate daughter of Erik Thorvaldsson and therefore she is only the half-sister of Leif Erikson.

Nevertheless, she had a relatively quiet childhood and grew up in the same household as her brothers. She even got along very well with her father and her older brother Leif. The proof is that her name "Eiriksdottir" means in Old Norse: Erik's daughter.

Thus, over the years, she became a woman of strong character, even more courageous and fearless than the strongest Viking warriors. This is undoubtedly the reason why her husband Torvald is portrayed as weaker and less vigorous compared to Freydis.

In this respect, we find the first legend of Freydis in the saga of Erik the Red during the Vinland expedition. While she is 8 months pregnant, she does not hesitate to accompany her brother Leif Erikson and other prestigious Vikings.

Although this adventure marks the beginning of Freydis' story, her tale remains one of the most mysterious in Viking mythology!

The story of Freydis Eiriksdottir

Freydis Eiriksdottir | The Viking Warrior with Explorer's Blood

The mystery surrounding the history of Freydis is due to the fact that she is only mentioned a few times in the Nordic sagas. Indeed, although she comes from the prestigious lineage of Erik the Red, we only find her traces in two Nordic historical sources with very different accounts:

  • The Saga of Erik the Red: it is a saga that traces the life of this hero. Written in the 13th century, we discover for the first time the 3 sons of Erik and his only daughter Freydis. This book focuses mainly on the adventures of Erik and those of his eldest son Leif. In this version, Freydis plays only a minor role.
  • Grænlendinga saga : this book does not only focus on Erik the Red. It also tells the stories of the different Viking characters who participated in the discovery of Greenland and later of North America. We discover in this saga that Freydis participated in all the expeditions to Vinland.

Whatever the version, it is clear from these sagas that Freydis has a very temperamental nature. Indeed, she is described both as a brave warrior who can be very angry and ruthless.

Discovering Vinland and the New World


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Growing up alongside his brothers and father, Freydis developed a taste for adventure and navigation. Thus, in the year 1001 AD, Leif Erikson, goes in search of blessed lands in the West. This is how he discovered a region that would correspond to Canada today, contrasting in every way with the climate and nature of the Nordic countries. He named it Vinland, because he found vineyards as far as the eye could see.

Three years later, his sister joined him on a new expedition. Only, unlike him, she did not come as a pacifist. Following unsuccessful trade, a conflict broke out between the Vikings and the Amerindians called "Skrælings". According to many historical sources, the Freydis temperament was a major factor.

During this fight, the Skrælings quickly gained the advantage thanks to their new tools and weapons. Indeed, frightened by the noise of the catapults of their opponents, the Nordic warriors will flee.

However, Freydis is the only Viking who has the courage to stay on the battlefield. While she is 8 months pregnant, she continues the fight and repels an entire tribe of Skrælings.

The female warrior engages in a unique scene, to say the least. She brandishes her sword and strikes her chest while screaming Viking war songs in rage. Against all odds, this terrorizes the Indians and concludes the battle in favor of the Vikings.

This is how Freydis saves her people from a real bloodbath and becomes a skjaldmö.

Freydis the traitor

It is disappointed and full of bitterness that Freydis and the rest of her expedition return to Greenland. Jealous of the success of her other brothers overseas, she despises the leader of her group, Thorfinn Karlsefni.

She organizes an alliance with two Icelandic brothers, Helgi and Finnbogi, to organize a new voyage to Vinland. From the start, they agreed to bring 50 men each, and then to share the gains equally. Freydis had asked her brother, Leif, to give her houses to establish a base from which they could move.

Unfortunately, the young Viking warrior was not entirely faithful to her partners. Right from the start, she fell behind in gathering more men than the others, and getting the upper hand on the rest. Once she arrived, she chased away the shippers from her team who had already settled in, on the grounds that as Leif's sister, she deserved it more.

And things don't stop there. When it was time to return, she planned a whole staging to take the earnings of the two brothers. She knocks herself out to complain to her husband that her cronies have turned against her.

Her husband suspects her scheme, but she threatens to leave him if he does not avenge her. A massacre occurs on the scene, and only five women are spared. Taken by a fit of rage, she decides to leave no witnesses, and finishes them off with her own hands. Moreover, she dares any member of her team to tell what had happened, under penalty of terrible reprisals.

In the end, Freydis believes she has committed the perfect crime, but the rest of the story does not necessarily go in her favor.

The fate of Erik the Red's daughter

According to the legends of Norse mythology, nothing good ever happens to a Viking who breaks his word. But Freydis in her arrogance did not intend to keep her word from the beginning.

After the massacre she committed and yet another failure to found a village in Vinland, she returned to Greenland with her brother. Knowing his sister, Leif suspects that there is something wrong with her story. He decides to torture three of the men to reveal the truth of her betrayal.

Although he was angry, Leif could not bring himself to condemn her. So he decides to spare her, but predicts that Freydis and all her descendants will pay the consequences of her actions.

Only, one cannot be certain that fate has reserved for Freydis or her offspring. Indeed, no saga mentions her or her descendants after this episode. Perhaps this is proof that Leif's prophecy has come true!

The role of Freydis in the cult series Vikings

Freydis Eiriksdottir | The Viking Warrior with Explorer's Blood

After the death of Ragnar Lodbrok, his sons embark on a quest to exact their revenge on King Aelle of Nuthermeberie. After winning the famous battle of York, the great Viking Army takes many prisoners and slaves, including a beautiful and mysterious young woman. This is how we discover Freydis for the first time in season 5 of the series!

Although this representation is far from the historical character of Freydis, her role is no less colossal in the Michael Hirst series. From a slave to a queen, discover how she will bring about the downfall of King Ivar the Boneless

However, this was without counting on the Vikings series that brought this amazing warrior back to life in a whole new light. Without further ado, let's discover who Freydis is in Vikings!

Lover, wife then traitor of king Ivar

Freydis is presented for the first time to Ivar as a slave to be sacrificed to the gods. Calm and without any anxiety, she obeys Ivar's every order and ends up seducing him by flattering him. She whispers to him that after such a glorious victory, he must be the chosen one of the gods. Bewitched by her charm and her words, Ivar frees Freydis without ever knowing her name.

However, he is far from suspecting that this decision will completely change his future!

Shortly after Ivar's victory against Lagertha, he meets the mysterious young woman again. This time, she finally reveals her name to him as Freydis, which looks strangely like the goddess Freyja. Ivar sees a sign from the gods, he asks her to become his confidante and decides to marry her.

This is how Freydis goes from a slave to a true Viking queen. However, an unfortunate fate awaits this brave and wise woman!

The unfortunate death of Freydis in the Vikings series

Ivar the boneless is one of the most complex characters of the series. Crippled and mistreated by fate, a new drama awaits him. Unable to procreate, Freydis does not hesitate to sleep with one of his servants to have a child.

The misfortune falls on the couple when the child is also born with a disability. Not wanting to repeat the mistake of his father, Ragnar Lodbrok, Ivar kills his newborn child to spare him a life of suffering. But Freydis goes into a rage and decides to take revenge on the murderer of his only son.

This is how season 5 of the series takes an unexpected turn. Motivated by his revenge, Freydis bequeaths himself to Björn Ironheart to kill Ivar. In a season finale full of twists and bloodshed, Freydis confesses his betrayal.

In the most intense scene of Vikings season 5, Ivar strangles him while crying. This time the roles are reversed and just like when they first met, he whispers to her that she will love him forever.

In any case, Freydis remains a colorful Viking character who has marked Nordic history. In spite of actions described as awful, this Viking is one of the first explorers and skjaldmö in history. Can we really judge her for trying to fit into such a brutal society!



Is Athelstan based on a historical character?

Athelstan, Ragnar Lothbrok's loyal companion, is a key character in the Vikings series. A monk, then a slave, who is finally reborn as a Viking, this protagonist will have won the hearts of all fans.

In this regard, have you ever wondered if the character of Athelstan is real? Did he really exist?

Beware of spoilers, the answer to this question might surprise you! George Blagden, the actor who plays Athelstan in the series, revealed in an interview that he is indeed based on a real person.

Without further ado, we take a look at the historical side of the famous character from the Vikings series. As a bonus, find out what his relationship is with the great ruler of England, King Athelstan!

The story of Athelstan: a monk with a Viking heart

Athelstan - the Story of the Mythical Character of the Viking Series

Among all the protagonists of the Vikings series, Athelstan is the only character to have conquered the hearts of all the fans of the series. Indeed, many consider him to be a pillar of Viking history.

Not surprisingly, he owes this very special place to his unique character. Both touching and very human, this Christian monk finds comfort in his new Viking identity.

Although he embodies the dream of many to become a Viking, this decision will cost him more than he can imagine. To this end, he will be tormented for many years between his Christian part and his new Nordic doctrine.

Although this choice is not of any respite, it is what allows him to become the faithful companion of Ragnar. At his side, he will discover his new identity as a Viking.

With this introduction to Athelstan out of the way, it's time to get to the heart of the matter: the historical truth about this character.

The origins of Athelstan according to the Vikings series


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Athelstan, whom you all know from the Vikings series, is played by the talented George Blagden. He is an English monk who was taken prisoner during one of the very first Viking raids.

This attack on the monastery of Lindisfarne in Northumbria in the year 793, marks the beginning of Ragnar Lothbrok's adventures, and of an unsuspected friendship!

Once brought back to Scandinavia, he becomes the slave and servant of Ragnar and his family. However, he shows incredible courage and perseverance that will make him an indispensable member of the house of Lothbrok.

Indeed, Athelstan had two trump cards up his sleeve, both of which were surprising to say the least:

  1. Indeed, he had great knowledge about England and the strategic places in this country. This information will prove to be very valuable for Ragnar who already had plans for his conquest.
  2. However, Athelstan's greatest asset was his perfect command of the Norse dialect. In fact, he had already done missions in the north as a missionary for the church. Remember this detail, it will prove to be very important later on.

It is mainly for this reason that he could so easily integrate the Viking civilization. Against all odds, he adopts the values, beliefs and way of life of the Scandinavian people as his own. He even participates in raids with his rescuer and faithful friend Ragnar.

Thus, Athelstan discovers the beauty of the Viking culture, but remains torn between his Christian faith and his desire to be fully part of his new people.

Is the character of Athelstan real?

We will disappoint many of you, but the short answer is: NO!

Unlike Ragnar Lothbrok or his legendary sons, Athelstan is not mentioned anywhere in the Norse sagas.

He is therefore a character who was entirely invented for the series. However, this does not mean that he is not based on real historical facts.

Moreover, it is useful to know that the Nordic sagas and books relate the exploits of great Vikings. Heroes who do not have a Scandinavian origin are very rarely mentioned.

However, the story of the one we know as Athelstan was mentioned in the pages of Viking history. Therefore, two true elements from the Norse stories inspired this character:

  • In the first place, its name comes from a ruler who marked the whole Viking civilization. One could say that he is the real historical Athelstan. The two characters share many features and characteristics. Patience, we'll tell you more, further down in the article.
  • The second element is the mention of three monks captured during a Viking raid. According to these same historical sources, one of them had abandoned his Christian beliefs and became a true Northman!

Therefore, it is very logical to ask how much historical truth there is in Athelstan's account.

Is there any historical evidence of its existence?

Well, we've already spoiled the answer for you. In fact, we owe this surprising revelation to the actor who plays Athelstan in the Vikings series at WonderCon 2013!

George Blagden claims that Athelstan's historical identity is based largely on a little-known monk from Norse history. Indeed, according to Blagden: "legend has it that of the three monks abducted from Lindisfarne, only one of them will become part of Viking culture."

It was the creator of the Vikings series, Michael Hirst, who discovered this story when he was looking through the historical archives. According to Blagden, "two of the monks died, but the one who survived was supposed to be Athelstan.

Unfortunately, George Blagden did not want to reveal more details about this intriguing legend at the time, so as not to spoil the story. Nevertheless, you know we can't leave it at that!

A multi-faceted character

Athelstan - the Story of the Mythical Character of the Viking Series

Earlier in the article, you were asked to remember Athelstan's major asset. Indeed, in the Vikings series, Athelstan claims to have learned the Viking language as a missionary. Well, it's quite possible!

Indeed, from the 8th century onwards, many missionaries were active throughout Scandinavia. Although there were very few conversions to Christianity, this does not prevent these men of religion from mixing with the Viking civilization.

Not surprisingly, two missionaries left their names in the Nordic civilization:

  • The missionary Willibrord: what is known is that he was active mainly in Denmark, from the year 710 AD. Although he was a foreigner, he was treated with the greatest respect by the Vikings;
  • The monk Ansgar: as for him, he was active a century later in 820 AD. Unlike his ancestor, he will concentrate his efforts on the Swedish communities. This was not in vain, since he founded the first Christian chapel in Scandinavia, in Hedeby, in the year 860.

Thus, Athelstan is based on a real missionary monk, saved by his mastery of the Viking language. It is not very difficult to understand why this historical character quickly made a place for himself in the Viking ranks!

The Vikings series, a delicate balance between entertainment and historical facts

Athelstan - the Story of the Mythical Character of the Viking Series

Although after his revelations you might question the character of Athelstan, the truth is quite different. Indeed, this character is one of the closest to the historical reality of this era.

The goal of the Vikings series is above all to entertain the viewer, and not to be a "real documentary" on the Vikings. That's why the characters in the series have to be captivating and appealing.

George Blagden, the actor who plays Athelstan, praises the skill of series creator Michael Hirst. He says, "He does a great job of balancing the historical part with the entertainment."

For example, these kinds of scriptural liberties can be found in the stories of many other characters in the series. Examples include:

  • The meeting and friendship of Floki with Ragnar. In reality, more than half a century separates these two characters. In fact, they did not live in the same era and never crossed paths.
  • The rivalry between Ivar Ragnarsson on the one hand, and Lagertha and Björn I on the other, has no historical basis. On the other hand, Ragnar's sons have always had a very good relationship.

So, although the Athelstan you knew in the Vikings series did not really exist, his character remains very realistic. His historical dimension rings true with the age of the Vikings.

A story very close to reality!

For the Vikings, churches and monasteries were always easy targets for attack. These places of worship often had a lot of "sacred" or "untouchable" wealth, but not for a Viking!

Thus, the Viking raid in 793 AD on the monastery of Lindisfarne, marks the beginning of the great Viking era. Although this was not the very first Viking raid on English soil, it was a true historical event.

However, Ragnar did not lead this raid, because at that time he was not yet born. Nevertheless, this does not change the fate of the men and women captured during these attacks: they are brought back to Viking territory to become slaves.

As with Athelstan, slavery was commonplace in Viking culture. It may come as a surprise to some, but the slave trade was vital to the Viking economy.

This did not mean that the Vikings were merciless towards them. Just as we see with Athelstan in the series, many slaves become very close to their new Viking family. Some Vikings may lose everything to protect their slaves.

This is for example the case of the great explorer Erik the Red who is banished from his village for the murder of another Viking. The motive of this crime would be none other than to avenge one of his slaves, who had become his faithful friend.

It was also very common for the Vikings to give slaves their freedom. Indeed, this is what Ragnar does for Athelstan in the series. In return, he demands her loyalty to him and his family.

Thus, Athelstan is more than just a fictional character, he embodies the fate of many people who lived in the Viking Age.

Why does Ragnar save Athelstan in the Vikings series?

You already know part of the answer. In addition to being a potential slave, he has mastered the Viking language. But beyond that, Athelstan is essential to Ragnar's development.

Indeed, over time, Athelstan and Ragnar become friends and brother-like. Both characters learn a lot from each other.

Athelstan does not remain indifferent to Viking beliefs. He fully embraces this culture and begins to worship the Norse gods with Ragnar. Although this pushes him towards an inner conflict, he finds truth in both religions.

However, Athelstan instills the principles of Christianity in the people around him. Ragnar, who is very close to him, is particularly fascinated by this religion, which he ends up adopting. This Christian part of him that he has never been able to abandon will lead him to his ruin.

To tell the truth, Floki earns him an unparalleled hatred. Spoiler alert, he kills him coldly in season 3 because of his Christian influence on Ragnar.

The real Athelstan of Nordic history

Athelstan - the Story of the Mythical Character of the Viking Series

The Athelstan we all know so well is actually named after an English ruler from Northumbria, King Athelstan. He was the first king to rule all of England from 927 to 939 AD.

Unlike the series, he is not Alfred's father. Indeed, the real Athelstan is actually the son of King Edward the Elder and Queen Ecgwynn.

Although he was long out of the history books, historians consider him to be the first king to unify all of England. You'll soon make the connection with Ecbert's aspiration to become one in the Vikings series. Moreover, he is one of the few kings to have fought and successfully defeated the Vikings.

Named after a very great English king, Athelstan is the witness of a whole Viking era. His character and his story, which are not lacking in meaning, shed light on the lesser known side of the Viking civilization.

Athelstan is the character through which we discover the Viking culture. Both fascinating and brutal, we learn about the workings of this civilization through the eyes of the only character we can truly relate to.

The Ultimate Guide to the Mjolnir Necklace Meaning | Viking Heritage

The Ultimate Guide to the Mjolnir Necklace Meaning

If you are a fan of Norse mythology or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you may have come across the Mjolnir necklace. This iconic piece of jewelry has gained popularity in recent years, and it is often worn as a symbol of strength and power. In this ultimate guide, we will explore the history and meaning behind the Mjolnir necklace, its cultural significance, and how to incorporate it into your personal style.

What is the Mjolnir Necklace?

The Mjolnir necklace is a pendant that is shaped like the famous hammer of Thor, the Norse god of thunder. It is also known as the hammer of the gods and is one of the most recognizable symbols of Norse mythology. The Mjolnir pendant is often made of silver or other precious metals and can be worn on a chain or cord around the neck.

The History and Mythology of Mjolnir

In Norse mythology, Mjolnir was crafted by the dwarves and given to Thor by his father Odin. It is said to be one of the most powerful weapons in all of the Nine Realms and can summon lightning and thunder. The Mjolnir was so important to Thor that he even named his goat-drawn chariot after it.

The Mjolnir also had symbolic significance beyond its use as a weapon. It was a symbol of Thor's power and protection, and it was often used to bless weddings and other important events. It was also used to hallow or consecrate important places, such as temples and burial grounds.

Cultural Significance of the Mjolnir Pendant

The Thor hammer necklace has become a popular symbol of strength and protection in modern times, particularly among followers of Asatru, a modern revival of Norse paganism. The necklace is often worn as a symbol of faith and pride in Norse heritage.

The norse hammer necklace has also gained popularity among fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where it is wielded by the superhero Thor. The necklace has become a popular accessory among fans of the films, particularly those who identify with the character's bravery and heroism.

How to Wear the Mjolnir Necklace

The mjolnir hammer necklace is a versatile piece of jewelry that can be worn with a variety of outfits. It can add a touch of edginess to a casual outfit or be paired with more formal attire for a unique look. When choosing a chain or cord to wear with your Mjolnir necklace, consider the length and material to best suit your personal style.

If you are looking to incorporate the necklace into your personal style, consider wearing it with other Norse-inspired jewelry or clothing. This can help create a cohesive look and show off your appreciation for Norse mythology.

The viking mjolnir necklace is a powerful symbol of strength and protection with a rich history and cultural significance. Whether you are a fan of Norse mythology or simply appreciate the unique style of the necklace, it is a versatile accessory that can be worn with a variety of outfits. By understanding the history and meaning behind the Mjolnir necklace, you can wear it with pride and show off your appreciation for this iconic symbol.



Floki Vilgerðarson | The explorer who discovered Iceland!

The Vikings, these warriors that nothing and nobody can stop, are also known to be great explorers. They have always been outstanding sailors and navigators. Many Vikings have sailed all the seas, and have forever shaped the history of humanity. One of these iconic Viking explorers is none other than Floki Vilgerðarson.

Floki is one of the greatest navigators the Viking civilization has ever known. A powerful warrior, a keen explorer and a revolutionary ship designer, Floki quickly became a Viking of renown. He remains a key Viking figure to this day.

To find out how this Viking became a true legend, we reveal in this article the true story of Floki Vilgerðarson. Get ready to discover the origins of this Viking hero!

The story of Floki Vilgerðarson: did he really exist?

Floki Vilgerðarson | The Story of the Incredible Viking Explorer | Viking Heritage

Floki Vilgerðarson really existed, and his story is told in a historical work that describes the discovery and colonization of Iceland "the Landnámabók". Unfortunately, little is known about the origin and the beginnings of Floki.

The only known historical facts about Floki, apart from the account of his exploration of Iceland, are :

  • The circumstances of his birth: Floki would have been born around the year 830 AD in Norway;
  • The name of his parents: his father was called "Glamur" while the full name of his mother would have been "VilgerdHörða-Káradóttir";
  • He has royal blood: according to some sources, he is the descendant of a fallen dynasty of jarls. She is from the Norwegian province of Hedemark.

The character of Floki became very popular thanks to the series "Vikings". However, the series is only partly inspired by these historical facts to give life to this mythical Viking personality. There are many differences between the real Floki and the one in the series.

To help you sort out what is fiction and what is reality about Floki Vilgerðarson, we tell you the surprising story of this Viking navigator.

The origin of the name "Floki Vilgerðarson" or "Hrafna-Flóki

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Floki's name "Vilgerðarson" is a matronym, which means that it was passed on to him by his mother. "Vilgerðarson" would be the combination of Loki's mother's name "Vilgerð" and the suffix "arson" which means son. Thus, Vilgerðarson can literally be translated as "Vilgerd's son".

As for Floki's nickname "Hrafna", he acquired it during his expedition to Iceland. According to some accounts, he would have been equipped with 3 ravens to carry out this voyage towards this icy land. It is at this time that one gives him the honorary title of "Hrafna Floki" which means in old Norse "Floki with the raven" or "Masters of the ravens".

In the Viking civilization, the raven symbol is sacred. This title has a very special meaning. It honors its holder and means that he would :

  • A Viking close to the gods: in Viking folklore, ravens are one of the symbols of Odin. His two ravens, Hugin and Munin, watch over the nine worlds and are Odin's eyes and ears. Hugin represents thought, while Munin is a metaphor for "memory";
  • A person who can guide lost souls: the ravens that fly over the battlefields guide the souls of the Vikings towards Valhalla. Floki, on the other hand, guides his comrades to a new and more fertile land, and would thus be similar to the raven.

Is Floki inspired by the god Loki?

Floki Vilgerðarson | The Story of the Incredible Viking Explorer | Viking Heritage

There is no doubt that Floki was very intelligent. After his family was dethroned from the power of the Hedemark region, he wanted to find a new land for himself and his people. So he set out to build a brand new type of Viking ship. His final creation will be a boat that can both withstand the roughest seas, and cross the narrowest rivers.

His intelligence, quick thinking and sometimes even cunning have earned him many comparisons to the god Loki. This is especially true since in the Vikings series, Floki is endowed with mystical powers. For many fans, Floki would be a god, but not just any god: he would be the god Loki!

This theory, very popular among fans of the series, unfortunately has no historical basis. Indeed, the name "Floki" does not come from "Loki", despite their similarities. It means "heroic Viking" in Old Norse.

The history of Floki according to the "Landnámabók

The Landnámabók means "The book of the colonization". It tells the story of the discovery and colonization of Iceland by the Scandinavians. On the list of great Viking explorers who colonized Iceland is the name of Floki Vilgerðarson.

It is in this manuscript that we discover that during his expedition, Floki took with him all his family. Indeed, Floki was accompanied by his wife and his two children. This one was well and truly alive, and was called "GróBjornsdottir". As for his two children, they were named Oddleifur and Þjóðgerður.

In the Landnámabók, Floki knew exactly where he was going: an unexplored island far north of Midgard. His main reason for going there is :

  • The hope of a better life away from a Viking kingdom in peril;
  • The promise of fertile and cultivable land for his family and all his companions;
  • A new beginning for these Vikings exhausted by wars.

In contrast to the Vikings series, it is only after he loses his wife "Helga" that he decides to go on this blind expedition. Nothing holds him back in Kattegat, and he trusts the Viking gods to guide him to a new destiny!

However, in both versions of the story, he uses ravens to show him the direction of the land. Whether in sorrow or in necessity, Floki remains a very ingenious and surprising character.

The discovery of Iceland by Floki

The discovery and colonization of Iceland is one of the best documented events of the Viking Age. There are two major historical sources:

  1. The Landnámabók: it is a manuscript which relates in detail the colonization of Iceland. It was written between the end of the 9th century and the beginning of the 10th century. It not only recounts the discovery of Iceland, but also lists all the settlers, including Floki and his companions.
  2. The Íslendingabók: This book is mostly taken from the Landnámabók. It means in Old Norse "The book of the Icelanders". It was written around the 12th century, and tells mainly about the Christianization of Iceland.

In addition to Íslendingabók, there are four other versions of Landnámabók that tell the story of Floki Vilgerðarson.

The first Viking pioneers

Floki Vilgerðarson is not the first Viking explorer to discover Iceland, but actually the 3rd. Indeed, the very first explorer to have discovered this new land was a Norwegian Viking named Naddodd. In the year 830, during an expedition to the Faroe Islands, located between Norway and Iceland, Naddodd gets lost at sea and goes further than expected.

His incredible journey leads him to an unknown land, which he names "Snaeland" or "land of snow". He landed on the east coast of this island and spent a year there before returning to Norway. This region is now called "Reyðarfjörður".

Several years after Naddodd's chance discovery, a second Viking tried to find this virgin land. In the year 860, Garðarr or Gardar Svavarsson sailed around the land and discovered that it was actually an island separated from the world by the sea on all sides. He renamed it "Garðarshólm", which means "Gardar's island" in Old Norse.

On his way back, Gardar dropped off a Viking named Nattfari with his entire family north of Garðarshólm. They are the first settlers of Iceland!

Floki and the name of Iceland

It is only in the year 868 that Floki Vilgerðarson sets out to discover Garðarshólmi. Not knowing the exact location of this mysterious island, he takes with him three ravens to better guide him and act as scouts.

Floki could not mount this expedition alone. He needed a crew, but could not afford one. All he had to look forward to was a virgin land, fertile and free. So Floki, along with his wife and children, embarked on this journey accompanied by other Vikings such as :

  • Thorolf (Þórólfur) is a farmer who can no longer provide for his family. The changes in the region have affected his business and his source of income;
  • Herjof and Faxe (Herjólfur and Faxi): two men exiled from the big cities. They wanted to escape the war that raged between the Viking and Christian religions.

After passing the Faroe Islands, Floki frees one by one the three crows he brought back with him:

  • The first one, does not even leave the boat and immediately turns around, returning to their starting point;
  • The second one flew away in the direction of the Faroe Islands and finally came back to the boat, without much help;
  • The third raven was the right one. He flew to Garðarshólmi or Snaeland and directed them to their destination!

After sailing a long distance to the west, Floki and his crew see land. It is a bay that will be named "Faxafloi" in honor of Faxe, which means Faxe's bay.

Floki Vilgerðarson and all his companions set up camp on the east coast of this island. Only, the winter is harder than expected and Floki finds himself stuck in the snow and ice. Frustrated, he gives it the name of "Iceland" which means "land of ice". He is the first Viking explorer to spend such a long period in Iceland.

The return to Norway and the death of Floki

Neither Floki nor his crew were prepared for the harsh winter that awaited them in Iceland. As soon as the weather became milder, they returned to their home country Norway to prepare a new expedition.

The news of the discovery of Iceland spread very quickly. When asked, Floki always answers that it is a poor and uninteresting land. But his companions Herjof and Faxe compare Iceland to a plain in the kingdom of the Asgard gods "Idavoll".

Floki Vilgerðarson returned to Iceland shortly afterwards to spend the rest of his life with his family. It was around this time, in the year 874, that the first expeditions of Viking settlers to populate Iceland began.

Did Floki and Ragnar Lothbrok know each other?

Floki Vilgerðarson | The Story of the Incredible Viking Explorer | Viking Heritage

Floki is one of the fan-favorite characters in the Vikings series. To the dismay of fans, Floki has certainly not met Ragnar Lothbrok and even less his sons. Indeed, the legendary Viking king Ragnar would have died around the year 840, while Floki was only born in the year 830.

In addition to this, the historical and legendary sources that tell of the exploits of Ragnar and his sons do not mention Floki or his eventual meeting at any time. Whether in Ragnars saga loðbrókar or in the Gesta Danorum, Floki is a great absentee.

All this means that Floki was never Ragnar's most faithful companion. He never sailed with Björn I to the Mediterranean and even less helped Lagertha or Ivar the Boneless in their wars and fights.

The historical facts belie these facts, and give more value and merit to the expedition that Floki leads in Iceland. By his ingenuity, he succeeded, alone, to become a great navigator in spite of the constraints and the absence of resources. He was able to carry out all his adventures successfully.

Rollo | The First Viking Duke | Viking Heritage


Rollo or Rollon of Normandy | The Christian Viking King !

The Viking civilization shaped the western world through its almost invincible Viking warriors. Many legendary Viking heroes have made this people the most valiant in Europe. One of these mythical names is none other than the Viking leader Rollo.

Rollo, or Rollon, is a mythical Norse Viking who marched and conquered much of Europe. After many conquests, he finally settled permanently in the western lands of Francia. First, a renowned Viking warrior, then a Christian king of Europe: this historical figure has always been an emblematic Scandinavian figure.

In this article, we are going to tell you the story of Rollo or King Rollon. You will follow the progression of this unique character, starting from his origins as a great Viking warrior, to the moment he becomes the Duke of Normandy.

The story of Rollo: the origins of Rollo the Viking!

Rollo was born around 860 AD in Scandinavia. He was one of the greatest Viking leaders of his time. He feared nothing and no one on the battlefield, and this is part of what allowed him to conquer many parts of Europe.

Rollon gained great popularity when he made an agreement with the Frankish king Charles the Simple. This pact allowed him to found his own kingdom in the west of France, Normandy. During this agreement, he converted to Christianity, renouncing his pagan religion, to be baptized under the name of Robert. He will rule this region from 911, until his death around 930 AD.

From this moment, the history of Rollo takes a radical turn. He goes from a barbaric and savage Viking chief, to the model of the king with great Christian virtues who restores law and order throughout Europe.

This second part of Rollo's life was largely embellished by Christian historians and writers of that time. He became for many a religious symbol. This is one of the reasons why the majority of the accounts of this period ignore Rollo's Viking past.

In this article we will tell you about Rollo's rise from a simple Viking warrior to the title of king and ancestor of great kings of Europe, including the famous William the Conqueror!

The origin of the name Rollo and its evolution

Rollon has had many names over the years. Indeed, because of his many travels and the various cultures he encountered, his first name evolved from :

  • Hrólfr, which is his Viking name in Old Norse. According to the French historian Adigard des Gautries, "Hrólfr" is a combination of "hróð" which means "glory and victory", and "ulfr" which means "wolf" in Old Norse. Hrólfr would thus mean "the glorious wolf";
  • The other, less popular, origin of his name would be the Germanic form "Rolf";
  • Rollo corresponds to the Latinized version, very popular, of "Hrólfr";
  • Rollon, on the other hand, is the French pronunciation derived from the Latin version;
  • In some Norman works, Rollo is simply called "Rou". This pronunciation is the version of Hrólfr adopted in the Norman dialect;
  • After his baptism, Rollo took the name of Robert I, and in other works that of Robert le Riche.

According to the Landnámabók, Rollo had a nickname. He was called Göngu-Hrólfr, which means "Rollo or Rolf the Walker". This is explained by the fact that, with his imposing size, no mount could carry him more than 50 meters. Indeed, according to the same legends, Rollo had a very imposing build, with more than 6,56 feet high and 300lbs. He was even sometimes compared to a giant.

The origins of Rollon


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As with many of the characters in Viking mythology, the story of Rollo includes many semi-legendary accounts. This was customary at the time, as most historians wanted to reinforce the legitimacy of certain royal lines. According to the historian Robert Ferguson, this practice often aims to mystify ordinary men, and to make them mythical and divine beings.

Thus, the exact origin of Rollo is unknown. However, many historians have told his legend:

  • According to Dudo de Saint-Quentin, a Norman historian of the tenth century, Rollo was originally from Denmark, from a family of aristocrats. To reinforce this version, Dudo claims that Rollo is a close friend of a Norse Viking chief "Guthrum";
  • According to the writings of William of Malmesbury, a work written between the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the same noble origin would be attributed to him. However, in this account, Rollo would come from an aristocratic family, but this time from Norway.
  • Later, the Icelandic historian "Snorri Sturlson" supports this version.

The majority of Vikings being of Danish origin, it is the version of Dudo which is the most plausible. Especially since one of Rollo's grandsons, Archbishop Robert II of Rouen, was nicknamed Robert the Dane. Even if the origin of Rollo remains uncertain to this day, it is thus a source of Denmark which is more reasonable.

The exploits of Rollo the Viking chief

Rollo is not the brother of Ragnar Lothbork, despite what the Vikings series suggests. Indeed, Ragnar was born towards the end of the 8th century, around the year 790, and he died in the year 865 in a dungeon in Northumbria. Whereas Rollo was born after the year 860.

Rollo's meeting with Ragnar is therefore unlikely, but this is not the case for his sons. Indeed, Rollo would have led and played a major role in the raids and expeditions of Europe alongside Ragnar's sons, Ivar the Boneless and Björn I.

Rollo's power and authority were not in doubt within the Viking army. The chronicler Flodoard supports Dudo's account, describing Rollo as an outstanding Viking leader.

Because of the wealth of West Francia, the greatest Vikings led attacks to plunder it:

  • Around 858 AD, Bjorn of the Iron Coast led his first attack on this region, shortly before his expedition to the Mediterranean. He was supported in this attack by Rollo;
  • In 876 AD, Rollo led more than 100 ships up the Seine to raid this region. In other accounts, he would have co-led the attack or at least was a decisive pawn in its development;
  • Finally, between the year 885-886, Rollo would have participated and played a principal role in the siege of Paris.

After all these attacks, the only solution left to West Francia was to pay the Vikings to leave their cities. However, this did not stop the Viking leaders from coming back and imposing various taxes on them again.

The agreement of Rollo with Charles the Simple

Charles the Simple, king of the Franks and West Francia, understood that paying the Vikings was not a solution to put an end to their raids once and for all. According to Dudo, it was the king's advisors who came up with the ingenious idea of allying with Rollon, the most powerful of the Viking chiefs, by offering him :

  • A domain and lands of the most coveted in northwestern Francia ;
  • In addition to joining the hand of the daughter of King Charles, Gisla, in marriage to this Viking king.

King Charles' offer was very generous. Only, if Rollo had accepted this agreement, he would have reigned a lasting peace over the whole region of West Francia. The only condition of the king was that Rollo had to be baptized and thus renounce his pagan Nordic religion for Christ.

Rollon, after consulting his Danish Viking chiefs, accepted the agreement, but refused to be baptized. He reproaches the king for offering him infertile and ruined lands. Forced to accept Rollo's demands, King Charles offered him the land of Brittany. Thus, in the year 911 AD, Rollo was baptized, married Gislala, daughter of the king, and became Robert I.

Rollo of Normandy: was he the first Viking duke?

Rollo kept all his promises and worked for a lasting peace between his people and the Franks. There were no Viking raids after 911 AD on Francia. In addition to this, Rollo proved to be a great ally, as he worked on :

  • The improvement of all the lands that were offered to him, in every respect;
  • The reconstruction of the churches and temples that were destroyed during the Viking raids;
  • Not to mention the improvement of the city's defenses, by erecting walls and forts.

All this has earned Rollo, or Robert I, the praise of all Norman historians. Although many historians gave him the title of duke and creator of the Norman duchy, he was in reality only a jarl or count of Normandy. The name of Normandy comes from "Northmen" which means the land of the Vikings, an additional tribute to this key character.

Rollon, the Viking jarl of peace

Rollo rules his duchy like a true Viking chieftain, and works very hard to establish peace and security for its inhabitants. He enforces harsh laws on thieves, killers and even for lesser offenses such as a man dishonoring his neighbor.

Sometimes described as too strict, Rollo's policy proved to be successful, and lasting security was established throughout Normandy. According to some legends, to show the absence of thieves in his duchy :

  • He hangs a gold ring on a tree that has not been touched for more than 3 years;
  • In the township of Heuland, he hangs gold jewels on the Rollon cross that nobody has ever dared to approach.

The prosperity that reigned over this region for more than a century was largely due to the efforts of Rollo.

Other accounts and legends claim that Rollo broke his oath with King Charles. More than ten years after this agreement, these sources tell of Rollo embarking on new raiding and pillaging expeditions. These accounts remain highly contested and controversial among modern historians.

The mysterious death of Rollo

Rollo | The First Viking Duke | Viking Heritage

To this day, there is still some doubt about the circumstances of Rollon's death. The versions differ from one author to another, without providing clear answers on this subject, or even specifying the exact date of his death.

Three hypotheses are retained in modern history. Each one is associated with different facts.

The first one is related by Richer de Reims. According to him, it would be during a siege on the castle of Eu, around the year 927, that Rollon lost his life. This theory is based on the fact that his son, William the Long Sword, took an oath of loyalty to the Normans two years after this incident.

However, some do not agree with this theory. Some historians say that the Viking king complied with the wishes of his son, and that he had surrendered to the Normans during his lifetime.

The second version postpones his death to the year 933. The author of this version, Adémar de Chabannes, states that King Rollo made many sacrifices, both Christian and Viking, before his last breath.

The latest story about Rollo's death says that he lived out his days just before the middle of the 10th century. Its author, Father Anselm, states that the ceremony took place in the cathedral of Rouen so dear to him.

In any case, King Rollon, half-pagan, half-Christian, has marked the history of the Vikings. His reign over Brittany and his numerous exploits make him a memorable historical figure. Viking leader and Norman duke, his time is known to be the peak of the mixing of the Viking people with the rest of the European civilization.

Halfdan Ragnarsson | The Famous Conqueror and Viking King

Halfdan Ragnarsson

Halfdan Ragnarsson | The Legendary Danish King of Dublin

Famous Viking conqueror, Halfdan Ragnarsson has marked the history of Scandinavian civilization. Indeed, he became the most famous Norse warrior of the 9th century by founding the Viking kingdom of York.

Son of the legendary Ragnar Lothbrok and leader of the "Great Viking Army", he remains very little famous. Thus, despite his crucial role in Viking history, Halfdan Ragnarsson is a major absentee in the semi-historical series Vikings.

Without further ado, discover the story of a forgotten character in Viking history. We reveal his origin and the reason why he is not in the Vikings series!

The story of Halfdan Ragnarsson, the most famous Viking!

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Halfdan Ragnarsson is a Viking character surrounded by a great deal of mystery. Although he is known today as one of the sons of the legendary Ragnar Lothbrok, Halfdan's origin remains uncertain.

Indeed, almost nothing is known about his childhood and his journey before the famous Viking raids on England. The proof is that historical Norse sources and sagas mention him under different names.

Despite this, Halfdan is considered to be one of the most valiant commanders of the Great Viking Pagan Army. Together with his half-brother Ivar the Boneless, they invaded many Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in England.

Later, a popular Viking belief claims that he became the king of Dublin and ruler of the Viking kingdom of Ireland. As you can see, like his father, Halfdan Ragnarsson's story is on the borderline between myth and reality.

Of course, this does not change the fact that he is a real historical figure who has marked the entire Scandinavian civilization. In this respect, many historical vestiges testifying to the existence of Halfdan have come down to us:

  • Many coins minted in his name have been found. They date from the time he ruled Northumbria, around 871 AD;
  • Mention of his rule is made in the Peterborough Chronicle, a unique manuscript that tells the story of the invasion of England.

However, you are quite right to wonder how the history of such a Viking character remains so obscure!

To help you understand, we go back to the origins of Halfdan Ragnarsson, a Viking who left his mark on the Viking civilization.

The origin of the forgotten son of Ragnar Lothbrok

Halfdan Ragnarsson | The Famous Conqueror and Viking King

To understand the complexity of Halfdan Ragnarsson's character, one must know that we only learn his relationship with the legendary lineage of Ragnar very late.

Thus, we discover that Halfdan Ragnarsson is the son of Ragnar Lodbrok in recent texts of Viking mythology. However, here again, the versions differ greatly depending on the saga in question:

  • According to the "Geste des Danois": Halfdan's mother is Thora Borgarthiort, a Swedish princess. According to Saxo Grammaticus, she gave Ragnar 6 sons, including Bjorn the Iron-Coast and Ivar the Boneless.
  • In the "Ragnarr of the Hairy Bands": this Scandinavian saga tells a completely different story. Ragnar marries Áslaug who gives him his legendary sons, including Halfdan who is mentioned under the name of Hvitserk.

Based on this fact, many historians consider Halfdan and Hvitserk as the same individual. This claim is further strengthened by the fact that the two characters are never mentioned at the same time in any source.

Furthermore, "Halfdan" was a very common name in Viking culture. And "Hvitserk," meaning "white shirt," may have been a simple epithet or nickname to distinguish Halfdan from other Vikings who bore the same name.

Although the origin of Halfdan Ragnarsson remains quite controversial, his future is that of a great Viking warrior. Something that is attested by many sagas, by the way.

This is how the legend of the one who will make all England tremble begins!

The legend of the conqueror of Nuthemberie

After the death of Ragnar Lodbrok in 865 AD, Halfdan Ragnarsson became the head of the "Great Army". Together with his brothers, Ivar the Boneless and Sigurd Snake-eye, he formed the largest Viking coalition.

Nothing and no one could stand against this army. With an extraordinary strike force, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle estimates that it had more than 1000 ships and thousands of Viking warriors.

Thus begins Halfdan Ragnarsson's rise to the rank of Viking legend!

The Northumbrian King

Although the attack on Northumbria in the year 865 was a kind of retaliation against the murder of their father, it triggered the great Viking invasion of England. Halfdan, upon hearing the terrible news, breaks a knife in two by the force of his hand.

Against all odds, Ragnar's death marked the beginning of Halfdan Ragnarsson's glorious victories.

It is only in 870 AD that Halfdan is mentioned for the first time in English history books. He led his troops to victory in a decisive battle against Wessex, which marked the gradual decline of England.

Thus, in the space of only one year, the Great Army managed to conquer Northumbria and the kingdom of East Anglia.

"It is estimated that Northumbria covers one-fifth of England. Eric settled in York, where it is said that the sons of [Ragnar] Hairy Braies once resided."

From then on, no English source mentions Halfdan Ragnarsson. This raises the mysterious question: is this really the end of the famous Viking? We can already tell you that the answer is: no!

Halfdan Ragnarsson became king of Northumbria. He imposed his authority and sovereignty by minting coins bearing his name. During the following years, Halfdan fought many other battles before settling permanently in Northumbria in 876 AD.

Moreover, a collection of Icelandic sagas dating from the 13th century, "the Heimskringla", supports this historical fact. Written by the famous Snorri Sturluson, it mentions the reign of Ragnar's sons, including Halfdan, over Northumbria:

King of Dublin

The rest of the story of Halfdan Ragnarsson is found in minor Irish sources. According to the legend, Ivar the Boneless leaves the Great Viking Army just after the conquest of East-Angland to conquer Ireland. He became the ruler of Dublin.

However, his reign was short-lived, as he died under mysterious circumstances. Eystein, the son of the former king Olaf, succeeded to the throne. As Halfdan Ragnarsson knew that the death of his brother was far from natural, he decided to take over Ireland.

Thus, according to the annals of Ulster, he conquered the kingdom and killed King Eystein. However, in this source, Halfdan is mentioned under the name of "Albann". Halfdan Ragnarsson became the rightful king of Dublin in the year 875 AD.

However, it is also during this last adventure that Halfdan Ragnarsson will die as a hero on the battlefield.

The death of Halfdan Ragnarsson: the battle of Strangford Lough

It is not surprising to learn that Halfdan Ragnarsson, a great warrior and Viking leader, breathed his last in battle. Worthy of Valhalla, the valiant warrior succumbed to his wounds during the battle of Stangford Lough.

Here is a brief historical review of this fatal battle!

Two Irish annals trace the events of this epic battle, designated as one of the greatest Viking battles:

Halfdan Ragnarsson | The Famous Conqueror and Viking King
  • The Annals of Ulster: In this saga we follow the peril of "Albann", the figure identified as Halfdan. He is described as the leader of the Great Pagan Army, and the king of the "Dark Vikings".
  • Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib or The War of the Irish against the invaders: this source tells the battle from the side of Bárid mac Ímair, legitimate king of Dublin and sovereign of the "Noble Vikings".

All accounts agree that Halfdan Ragnarsson will die in this last battle. However, he will not let go until he has wounded his enemy Báridi.

Although this story tends to show Halfdan Ragnarsson as an enemy, this does not change his historical importance and impact on the Viking civilization.

Why doesn't Halfdan Ragnarsson appear in the Vikings series?

With so much evidence and historical sources attesting to the existence of Halfdan Ragnarsson, why is he completely absent from the Vikings series? Careful readers probably already have the answer in hand.

As explained above, Halfdan and Hvitserk are never mentioned in the same historical source. While the former appears in Anglo-Saxon references, the latter is typically used in Norse sagas.

In fact, it is this very notion that is at the root of the confusion on this point. The scriptwriter of the Vikings series, Michael Hirst, wanted to avoid cluttering the story with too many historical characters, especially not duplicates! It was then Hvitserk who was chosen, the other side of the coin.

A Viking of uncertain origins, Halfdan Ragnarsson forged a reputation worthy of the legendary lineage from which he came. The few historical sources that mention him all agree on the impact of this valiant Viking on Nordic history.