Archive | May 2015

Horik and Ragnar, part of the oldest monarchy in Europe!

 

Horik and Ragnar their paths to ruling a dynasty

Previous related post: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/i-am-king-really-why-and-how/

In our previous discussion of Kings, I said that I would look at each King and group in more detail in relationship to their path and claims to Kingship. In this discussion, we will look at Horik, Ragnar and the history of monarchy in Denmark. We will not bother with Erlandeur because besides being fictional, his chance for the crown of Denmark has already pretty much been usurped and destroyed by Ragnar Lothbrok. We will however look at Bjorn Ironside, some of his history and his eventual rule in Sweden. The more southern portions of Sweden were long fought over and often controlled by Denmark, so Bjorn Ironside ruling there would make sense in some ways.

Before we look at how and where Horik and Ragnar fit in the dynasty of Denmark’s rulers, let us first look briefly at the history of Denmark and it’s monarchy in general. I say briefly because Denmark’s history and that of it’s monarchy is lengthy and complex!

The history of Denmark as a unified kingdom, first begun in the 10th century, but historic documents describes the geographic area and the people living there – the Danes -, as early as 500 AD. These early documents include the writings of Jordanes and Procopius. With the Christianization of the Danes c. 960 AD, it is clear that there existed a kingship in Scandinavia which controlled roughly the current Danish territory. Queen Margrethe II can trace her lineage back to the Viking kings Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth from this time, thus making the Monarchy of Denmark the oldest in Europe. The area we now know as Denmark, has a rich prehistory, having been populated by several prehistoric cultures and people for about 12,000 years, since the end of the last ice age.

 Agricultural settlers arrived around 3000 BC. Many dolmens and rock tombs date from this period. The Nordic Bronze Age period in Denmark from about 1500BC featured a culture which buried its dead, with their worldly goods, beneath burial mounds. The many finds of bronze from this era include beautiful religious artifacts and musical instruments, and provide the earliest evidence of social classes and stratification.

In a previous article I wrote about Lindholm Hoje, where a massive burial site of stone ships from pre-Viking and Viking eras is located.  Some of these grave mounds date back as early as the 6th century and continuing on up through the 11th century. You can read more about this site and these ancient grave here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/our-viking-adventure-begins/

Lindholm-Hoje_web Lindholm hoje near Aalborg Denmark

 

The Roman provinces, whose frontiers stopped short of Denmark, nevertheless maintained trade-routes and relations with Danish or proto-Danish peoples, as attested by finds of Roman coins. The earliest-known runic inscription dates back to ca. 200 — literacy as well probably came from the south. Depletion of cultivated land in the last century BC seems to have contributed to increasing migrations in northern Europe and increasing conflict between Teutonic tribes and Roman settlements in Gaul. Roman artifacts are especially common in finds from the 1st century. It seems clear that some part of the Danish warrior-aristocracy served in the Roman army.

The Chronicon Lethrense explains how the Roman Emperor Augustus battled Denmark in the time of David,  Denmark consisted of seven territories Jutland, Funen, Zealand, Møn, Falster, Lolland and Skåne which were governed by King Ypper of Uppsala. He had three sons, Nori, Østen and Dan. Dan was sent to govern Zealand, Møn, Falster, and Lolland, which became known jointly as Videslev. When the Jutes were fighting Emperor Augustus they called upon Dan to help them. Upon victory, they made him king of Jutland, Funen, Videslev and Skåne. A council decided to call this new united land Danmark (Dania) after their new king, Dan. Saxo relates that it is the legendary Danish King Dan, son of Humbli, who gave the name to the Danish people, though he does not expressly state that he is also the origin of the word “Denmark”. Rather he tells that England ultimately derives its name from Dan’s brother Angel. Going by this early description of the area that Denmark, or Danmark encompassed, in those earlier years, Skane (Sweden) was a part of the earliest Danish empire and did not come into it’s own entity and identity until much later in history. Swedish Kings or rulers would have been considered as a sort of sub-king under the control of the Danish empire.

The earliest mention of a territory called “Denmark” is found in King Alfred the Great‘s modified translation into Old English of Paulus Orosius’ Seven Books of History Against The Pagans (“Historiarum adversum Paganos Libri Septem”), written by Alfred when king of Wessex in the years 871–899. In a passage introduced to the text by Alfred, we read about Ohthere of Hålogaland’s travels in the Nordic region, during which ‘Denmark [Denamearc] was on his port side… And then for two days he had on his (port side) the islands which belong to Denmark’.

In the Treaty of Heiligen, which was signed at Heiligen in 811 between Denmark and the Frankish empire, it mentions King Hemming and Charlemagne. Based on the terms of the accord, the southern boundary of Denmark was established at the Eider River. Moreover, the treaty confirmed the peace established by both signatories in 810.

The first recorded use of the word “Denmark” within Denmark itself is found on the two Jelling stones, which are rune stones believed to have been erected by Gorm the Old (c. 955) and Harald Bluetooth (c. 965). The larger stone of the two is popularly cited as Denmark’s baptismal certificate (dåbsattest), though both use the word “Denmark”, in the form of accusative ᛏᛅᚾᛘᛅᚢᚱᚴ “tanmaurk” ([danmɒrk]) on the large stone, and genitive “tanmarkar” (pronounced [danmarkaɽ]) on the small stone. The inhabitants of Denmark are there called “tani” ([danɪ]), or “Danes”, in the accusative.   In the Song of Roland, estimated to have been written between 1040 and 1115, the first mention of the legendary Danish hero Holger Danske appears; he is mentioned several times as “Holger of Denmark” (Ogier de Denemarche).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etymology_of_Denmark

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scania

Some of the earliest literary sources back as far as the 6th century mention the Danes or the Dani.  In his description of Scandza, the ancient writer Jordanes says that the Dani were of the same stock as the Suetidi (Swedes, Suithiod?)  expelled the Heruli and took their lands.  The Old English poems Widsith and Beowulf, as well as works by later Scandinavian writers — notably by Saxo Grammaticus (c. 1200) — provide some of the earliest references to Danes. This early Roman map shows the land of the Herull which was taken over by the Dani. It also shows the land of Angill, Saxone and the isle of Brittania. As the Dani took over land, the Angells and the Saxones would eventually migrate to Britannia.

early roman map showing Danmark and Britannia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Denmark

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandza

This is an early map of the area named Scandza which shows the place of Danen and interestingly, it also shows an area named Ranaricii which could be the place of the earliest accounted King Randver/Ragnar who appeared in the line of Kings around 756.

Scandza

early map of the area called Scandza

The history of Danish rulers goes almost as far back as the general history of the area. It’s earliest beginnings can be traced back to before the 5th century. Some of the ruling history is linked to the early lands and history of the Angells or Angeln, whose lands they took over or merged with the people so well that it became part of Danmark as Angeln made migration to Brittania. Important and interesting to note is that as part of this merging, many Danes would probably have made the migration along with the Angles. This would have set up the earliest migrations of Danes into Britannia, long before the Viking era!

A Danish kingdom seems to have been established by the late fifth century, but the earliest records of its kings is fragmentary and sometimes allusive. However, some data can be built up from those records, especially from the Old English poems, Beowulf and Widsith, and the fragment commonly known as The Fight at Finnesburg. Many of the notes regarding fifth and early sixth century Danes are taken from the Alan Bliss/JRR Tolkein examination of the latter. A distinctly separate Danish ‘province’ existed in Jutland between the sixth and ninth centuries, perhaps initially wholly or semi-independently as one of the early rival states.

I am not going to list the entire length of succession here, which dates all the way back to the early 4th  century with a Ruler shared in common with the Angles. The earliest known ruler was Skiold.  Skiold or Scyld, first of the Scyldings, is the founding father of the Danes in southern Sweden, but is also a highly important figure in the list of kings of Angeln.   The earliest rulers seem to have been common between the Angles and the Danes with the first true and separate Danish ruler being listed as Dan mikilláti / Dan the Magnificent in the early 4th century. From then on the Danish rule became separate, well established and generally followed along right to rule principles for succession. Each successive ruler had some blood connection to the previous one.

Dan mikilláti / Dan the Magnificent

Son of Danp , who was the brother-in-law of Domar.

 

Dan is the legendary founder of the (ancient) Danish kingdom. He is mentioned in several medieval Scandinavian texts, which establish that he is either the son of Danp or one of the sons of King Ypper of Uppsala (the other two being Nori, who later rules Norway, and Østen, who later rules the Swedes (possibly the Östen of the late sixth century)). Whatever Dan’s reality in history, his coming suggests that a new dynasty is founded, or at least that a sideshoot of the same dynasty of ancient rulers of the Dene takes over.

For a detailed look at these earliest lines and the right to rule principle, you can find more detailed information in the following links.

History Files, Kingdoms of Scandinavia and Demmark

http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsEurope/ScandinaviaDenmark.htm

Dacians in Denmark:

http://romanianhistoryandculture.webs.com/daciansindenmark.htm

For our purposes, we are most interested in the later time periods in which Horik and Ragnar Lodbrok would have shown up.  As I mentioned in the previous discussion of Kings, we are going to look at these men from a historical perspective first and foremost and then see what bearing the historical information has on our fictional representations of these men.  To do this, we need to jump ahead to Denmark in it’s more present context… if you call the year 756 current!  For us, it simply means that from about that period on, their history was better documented to a certain extent.

In 756, the first account of a Ragnar shows up on the ruler timeline… This account of a Ragnar seems similar to later accounts of Ragnar Lodbrok, so it could be a case of errors in recounting history or mixing of the legends. None the less, it is listed so has to be taken into some account. It is also mentioned in later accounts of another ruler/relative, Sigurd Hring so for that reason too, it bears mentioning now as the origin of Ragnar.

756 – 794

Randver / (Ragnar?) / (Ongendus?)

Generally believed to be the first king of Denmark (& Sweden).

794

Jarl Eystein of Sweden defeats an attack by Eric and Agnar, two of Randver’s sons, but falls during a subsequent attack by Randver’s wife and two remaining sons, one of which is Björn Järnsida, Once Randver himself passes away, Björn becomes king of the Swedes.

horik tells floki I am not interested in deals  Ragnar will come to the right conclusion and make the right decision

Let’s deal with King Horik before we attempt to place Ragnar on the timeline and into the dynasty.  In order to better understand Horik’s story, we need to look at the history of his Father’s rule. Horik’s Father was Gudfred or Godfred. King Godfred (ruled from 804 or earlier until 810) was a Danish king before Viking era. Gudfred was the younger son of King Sigfred. The interesting part of Gudfred’s reign is two-fold… First of all, he chose not one of his many sons as his successor, but his nephew, Hemming. There is no real explanation or reason for this other than possibly he didn’t trust any of his sons to rule? This set off a chain of events that would cause a long period of civil wars in the Kingdom with fighting over the succession. It resulted in his own death by one of his sons…and then much dispute and fighting between sons, with Horik being the sole survivor to take over the throne.

In 809, King Godfred and emissaries of Charlemagne failed to negotiate peace. In 810, Gudfrid led 200 ships to plunder the Frisian coast, and forced the merchants and peasant to pay 100 pounds of silver and claimed Northern Frisia as Danish territory. To protect the northern coast of the Frankish Empire, Charlemagne began paying Viking chieftains to protect sections of the coast from the Schlei west to the Weser River. That same summer King Godfred was killed by one of his housecarls. According to Notker of St Gall, the bodyguard who murdered King Gudfred was one of his own sons.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gudfred

Of course, there is no mention of which son was actually responsible for the murder… and all of the sons eventually banded together to depose Hemming of his rule. A series of battles and ovethrows ensued with Horik being the sole surviving son left to rule.

Hemming did not last long. Horik and another of Gudfred’s sons took power in 811, later expelling a rival named Harald Klak, who took refuge at the court of Charlemagne’s son and successor, Louis the Pious. In 819, Louis forced Gudfred’s sons to accept Harald as co-ruler. Harald converted to Christianity in 826, with Louis standing as his godfather, but Harald was driven out of Denmark for the second and final time one year later. By then Horik was the only son of Gudfred’s still alive, making him the sole king of the Danes.  Horik refused to convert to Christianity, as it was his enemies’ religion, and resisted attempts by Archbishop Anskar of HamburgBremen to proselytize the Danes. In 845, Horik’s army attacked Hamburg and destroyed St. Mary’s Cathedral there. It was Horik’s last major war in East Francia.

However, Danish raids against Frisia continued. The Franks lacked an effective fleet, so the Danes could raid more or less with impunity. The Danes sacked the silver minting center of Dorestad in 834, 835, and 836, and plundered Walcheren in 837. In 845, a Viking warlord named Ragnar Lodbrok  attacked Paris and had to be bought off with 7,000 French livres (pounds) (2,570 kilograms (5,670 lb)) of gold and silver.

King Horik  disapproved of these raids, for successful raiders constituted possible rivals (especially if these successful raiders were also relatives with a possible claim to the throne). Occasionally, Horik even punished raiders. In 836,  Horik sent an embassy to King Louis declaring that he had nothing to do with those early raids on Frisia, and that he had executed those responsible. In 845, following Ragnar’s mysterious death or disappearance, he had Ragnar’s remaining followers massacred. Horik may have insinuated to Frisia that Ragnar was dead but in reality, perhaps Ragnar had just managed to escape and disappear from Horik’s reach.  Perhaps, Horik exiled or banished him from the Kingdom, because if we look at some of various versions of  history, Ragnar was alive in 860 and up until 865 when he was noted as having been killed by King Aelle in Northumbria.  In 854, King Horik I was killed by a nephew whom he had driven into exile. While in exile, the nephew had become a successful raider. Again, no mention is ever made of just who the exiled nephew is, only that he became a successful raider… Perhaps this was a case of Horik making an error in judgement and allowing Ragnar to live for some reason- for example if Ragnar was indeed possibly a distant relative? It would have been a case similar to that of  the Ragnar in Michael Hirst’s version of the saga making a mistake in allowing Horik’s son Erlandeur to live only to have him return later seeking vengeance and retribution. I should note here too that in history, Horik’s young son, still a child, did inherit the crown for a while. This scenario that I’ve suggested might be a case of Ragnar being involved in the murder somehow but not necessarily directly responsible for the actual deed. This event with Horik also gives us some insight as to how Michael Hirst might have used it in putting together his version of what happened to Horik. Someone close to him did kill him and it very well could have been Ragnar Lodbrok! This is just added validation that Mr. Hirst does follow lines of history closer than most might assume when watching his version of history play out.

horik and son return from wessex

If we look at Horik’s right and claim to rule, he did have right to the rule of Denmark as one of his Father’s sons. But, there had to have been some reason that Gudfred did not want his sons ruling the dynasty? Did he have some good reason for not trusting them with the future rule of Denmark? Did he look at them and see them all as unworthy of ruling? Did he for what ever reason, foresee what chaos and turmoil they might put the country in with their fighting for control. What ever his reasons were, he was intent on his sons not ruling and Hemming ruling instead.

horik watches everything

I did present some of the history of Horik and Hemming in a previous post on the importance of  Hedeby, so you can read more of that here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/vikings-lagertha-kalf-and-why-is-hedeby-so-important/

ragnar

How does Ragnar Lodbrok or Lothbrok fit into all of this dynasty? For that we need to look at what little we know of him historically and assume that, yes he did actually exist during some part of this time period. As most historians would agree on, there is too much mention of him in numerous  historical accounts from differing sources and documentations of the era for him not to have existed. His historical information however gets so mixed up and weighed down in exaggerations of his life that he takes on a more legendary and god like quality than any real man. We need to sort through those legends and mythical accounts of him to find a truer picture of who he might have been and what part he may have played in actual history.  He was not a God, he was not married to any Goddess- as much as he might have claimed, or his children and future descendants may have added to the stories! His claim to be descended from Odin… well, that gave him some God like link or advantage which he used to his full advantage as many other rulers have.

vikings_s3_ragnar-E

As I presented earlier, a first account of him shows him as possibly being one of the first Kings of Denmark and Sweden in 756. But, later accountings put him as being a King of Sweden/Denmark during a later period of  860-865

c.860 – 865

Ragnarr Lothbrok

King in Sweden (860-865)? Apparently also powerful in Denmark.

 

Ivarr the Boneless

Son. Viking king of Dublin (853-873).

 

Halfdan

Brother. King of the Scandinavian kingdom of York (875-877).

865 – 878

Ivarr the Boneless, king of Dublin, and his brothers, the sons of Ragnarr Lothbrok, lead the first Viking army to invade mainland Britain in search of conquest rather than pillage. Landing in East Anglia, they ravage the kingdom for a year before heading into Northumbria in 866. That kingdom falls in 867 and a puppet king is installed. The Great Army moves south, campaigning during the spring and summer. East Anglia falls in 869, and the capital of Alt Clut is sacked in 870. Ynys Manau also falls to them in around 870, and between 870-871, Ivarr’s brother, Bagsecg, is involved in the attacks, leading the Great Summer Army into England and adding his forces to those of Ivarr and Halfdan.

Bagsecg is killed at the Battle of Ashdown in Wessex in 871, and the following year the Great Army is back in Northumbria. It winters in late 872 and early 873 at Torksey on the River Trent in Lindsey, before moving west into Mercia, which is defeated in 874 and a vassal king is installed on its throne. Later that year the army divides, with one half going to Cambridge and the rest heading towards the Tyne and eventually settling in York.

He is mentioned in Horik’s history during the year of 845 when he led an invading army to raid Paris.  Now, realistically all of these accounts of his life can not be accurate! So let us look at what we do know. For that, we need to go by what information we know of his sons who were part of the Great Heathen army that invaded England in the 860s. From some documented evidence, we can also piece together that one Ragnar Lodbrok was killed in Northumbria by King Aelle  prior to 865-866. His sons, who would obviously have been adults by then, took revenge on Aelle and killed him.

The Great Heathen Army marched on Northumbria in the late summer of 866, seizing York on 21 November 866.  Symeon of Durham, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Asser, and Æthelweard all recount substantially the same version of events in varying detail. Symeon’s Historia Regum Anglorum gives this account of the battle on 21 March 867 where Osberht and Ælla met their deaths at the hands of the Vikings:

In those days, the nation of the Northumbrians had violently expelled from the kingdom the rightful king of their nation, Osbryht by name, and had placed at the head of the kingdom a certain tyrant, named Alla. When the pagans came upon the kingdom, the dissension was allayed by divine counsel and the aid of the nobles. King Osbryht and Alla, having united their forces and formed an army, came to the city of York; on their approach the multitude of the shipmen immediately took flight. The Christians, perceiving their flight and terror, found that they themselves were the stronger party. They fought upon each side with much ferocity, and both kings fell. The rest who escaped made peace with the Danes.

The sagas of Ragnar’s sons embellished the event greatly and listed  all of the various sons of Ragnar who may have participated in the revenge.  Ragnarssona þáttr (The Tale of Ragnar’s sons) added  great  colour to accounts of the Viking conquest of York. This associates the semi-legendary king of Denmark and Sweden Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons, Hvitserk, Björn Ironside, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, Ivar the Boneless, and Ubba. According to the stories, Ragnar was killed by Ælla, and the army which seized York in 866 was led by Ragnar’s sons who avenged his death by subjecting Ælla to the blood eagle.  Earlier English sources record that both Ælla and Osberht died in battle, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle stating that “both the kings were slain on the spot.  The main figure in the revenge tales is Ivar.  The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle does not name the leaders in Northumbria, but it does state that “Hingwar and Hubba” slew King Edmund of East Anglia (Saint Edmund) some years later.  Hubba is named as a leader of the army in Northumbria by Abbo of Fleury, and by the Historia de Sancto Cuthberto. Symeon of Durham lists the leaders of the Viking army as “Halfdene, Inguar, Hubba, Beicsecg, Guthrun, Oscytell, Amund, Sidroc and another duke of the same name, Osbern, Frana, and Harold.  An interesting  point in Symeon’s listing is that he does not list Bjorn Ironside in his accountings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%86lla_of_Northumbria

What we need to do is sort out the embellishments and colorings of his legend and determine some real historical accounting for him if that is possible. Needless to say, the same Ragnar could not have been king on Denmark/Sweden from  before 756-794, then proceeded to continue on to raid Paris in 845 and become King yet again in 860!  What could very well be is that there was a Ragnar in 756 and Ragnar Lodbrok is one his descendants. This would make some sense, and  would  account for how stories of the two might have gotten woven together.  If this was the case, it gives Ragnar Lodbrok a tie or blood connection to the ruling dynasty of Denmark as well! This is important because as we have already seen, the ruling dynasty of Denmark was well set, established and it would have been highly unlikely that one who was completely unconnected in any way would have just walked in and taken over the rule as the Ragnar of our saga did.

My personal thought after researching the history and the legends is that somehow, somewhere along the line in the oral history of Denmark, the two Ragnars got tied together in their stories and became one person. So, what we can do is try to separate the two histories as much as possible. The first Ragnar is most likely the one of the earliest legends of Ragnar as king… the second Ragnar is most probably a descendent of the first and might have embellished  stories of the past to give himself greater fame, using the legends to his advantage. 

All of the various Norse sagas were written down some centuries after the facts so by then, the stories would have been so woven together that it would have been difficult to prove what was accurate and what was not. Also, there were a number of different sagas, each one telling the history from a slightly different perspective depending on which country or nationality was recounting the history.

  

The stories are all so intertwined that it is almost impossible to separate and differentiate them. What may have happened with some of the stories as they were told is that as I said, there was a second Ragnar who was a descendent of the first, and who would have been a raider or warrior under the rule of Horik. He probably was a relative of Horik’s. A clue to this is found in the Norse sagas where it is mentioned that Ragnar Lodbrok was related to King Gudfred and also a son of Sigurd Hring. The legend of Sigurd Hring involves the time period of the earliest mention of Ragnar/Randver  around 750. The time span of Gudfred and his son Horik is later, and would conceivably cover the time of the Ragnar Lodbrok who is involved in events with Horik including the attack on Paris in 845. If you look for some grain of truth and connection in the legends it could be that the first King Ragnar/Randver was related to Sigurd Hring and that some descendant of his as in Ragnar Lodbrok would have been related to Gudfred at the later point.  In looking at the history of Gudfred, he was said to be a grandson of the first King, Ragnar/Randver/Ongendus. This would connect all of them as relatives or descendants of the original Ragnar of 756. The various sagas about Sigurd Hring give differing representations but do provide some interesting points of insight. One legend speaks of Sigurd placing a shieldmaiden on the throne, which could tie or connect to the legend of Lagertha the shieldmaiden that Ragnar Lodbrok eventually married. Most historians debate the existence of Lagertha and put her in the category of myths and legends related to Ragnar but perhaps underneath all of the myth in her story is some grain of truth as well.

Lagertha shieldmaiden

Lagertha shieldmaiden

Another point of interest is that the sagas mention Sigurd Hring having ties to England or Angleland. Another saga source also mentions that Ragnar Lodbrok went to the place in Angleland of which his forefathers owned.  This would tie in with the fact that the Angles who had originated in lands around Denmark had already migrated to parts of Britain as early as the 5th century. If you look at that piece of legend, it would be a case of Ragnar already knowing something of the land of Britain and not just a case of him sailing off on great adventure. Some of the sagas mention that he visited this Angleland and was initially welcomed into their court of royalty. Then he was lured into visiting King Aelle in Northumbria and was murdered by him. This event set off a great war when the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok found out about it and came to seek revenge upon Aelle. Looking at the story in this context suggests that Ragnar was accepted in the land and was acquainted with Aelle on some level where he accepted the invitation and set off to visit Aelle thinking of nothing traitorous or malicious on Aelle’s part otherwise why would he have gone there in the first place. It suggests that there was some other underlying feud or grievance against Ragnar on Aelle’s part. Those early portions of the sagas  made no mention of raiding or invasions even though the earliest known raids on  England did take place as far back as 794 when an attack was recorded on Lindesfarne.  In looking for those grains of truth in the legends and going with the idea that Ragnar may have been banished or exiled by Horik, it stands to some reason that he could have went to some distant relatives residing in this Angleland, thinking he would be safe from Horik’s reach in this place. But, perhaps Horik’s reach stretched further than one might imagine… perhaps it stretched as far as Aelle in Northumbria? I am only proposing ideas here and there is nothing so far to give credence or evidence to this thought so do not attempt to cite me, quote me or argue with me on this line of thinking! I am just putting forth ideas on these earliest events! If one were to go with this random thought on all of it, perhaps Aelle was connected to his possible ancestral homeland. We know next to nothing about Aelle or his true history! Perhaps there was a group there in Northumbria and other places who did have some remaining ties to Denmark and have reasons to either support Horik or support Ragnar… So, Ragnar may have been involved in the murder of Horik and then Aelle responded by murdering Ragnar, not for any raiding accusations but for some other personal motives.

King Aella of Northumbria

 Lastly and possibly, most important to our line of reasoning is that some sagas mention Sigurd Hring as a son of Ragnar/Randver while others mention him as Father of Ragnar? Perhaps this is where the missing link or connection between the two versions of Ragnar are. The sagas concerning Sigurd Hring are sketchy and limited. According to Bósa saga ok Herrauds, there was once a saga on Sigurd Hring, but this saga is now lost. In the old sources,  he is notable for winning the  Battle  of  the  Brávellir  against Harald Wartooth and for being the father of Ragnar Lodbrok.  If you put the pieces of these varying stories together, what you get is that Sigurd Hring was a son of Ragnar/Randver and the Father of Ragnar Lodbrok! This would make a great deal of sense in looking at the time line of the Ragnars ranging from 756 to 865. Sigurd Hring would be both son and Father of  a Ragnar but because his sagas were lost over the years, any important information differentiating the two Ragnars would have been lost as well.

Sigurt_verbrennt_Haralds_Leiche

  The event in Paris where Ragnar Lodbrok is said to have invaded and conquered is probably close to truth, as is probably his reception when he retuned to Horik afterwards where was some disagreement over what happened. This second Ragnar most likely did go on to raid in England after his disagreements with Horik. And, what is so interesting about all of this is the last accounting of Horik being killed by an “exiled” nephew who went on to become a great raider? He was killed in 854. What was Ragnar Lodbrok doing during this time? Where was he? Legends say nothing about time periods or make mention of anything of what happened to Ragnar after his raid on Paris, his return to Horik and Horik’s disapproval and disavowels to the Frankish Empire that he had nothing to do with the raid. It would be highly possible that he exiled this Ragnar and possible as well that Ragnar could have had some sort of involvement in the death of Horik.  Historically, Horik’s son did inherit the throne of Denmark, but he was a child and his time on the throne lasted from 854 to about 865. During that time, Ragnar is listed as ruling a part of Sweden and being powerful in Denmark as well  from 860-865.  It was at the end of this period that he showed up in England and presumably met his death at the hands of King Aelle.  If you put this all into some sort of historical context or plausibility the way I have suggested, it is possible or feasible that there are two separate Ragnars of the same lineage and the second one might have ruled in some same way as Hirst has presented his version of Ragnar.  What Michael Hirst has done is take the pieces of history/legend and tied them together in the portrayal of  Ragnar Lodbrok that most of us are more aware of.  Hirst has given us a version that does not include the earlier legends of Ragnar and a first family save for Bjorn Ironside.    Also, if you put it in terms of recounting a great warrior or ancestor’s fame, one Ragnar Lodbrok probably would not have wanted to admit to any involvement in such an event as killing his relative, King Horik when telling of his great exploits to others. That action might not endear you to those people of that place you were wanting to claim rulership of.  This is one theory of his representation on the timelines. Later, we will look at another theory that Ragnar Lodbrok died in 845 at the hand of King Aelle.

the city of Paris behind it's walls and gates  where are those poor stragglers!

the city of Paris behind it’s walls and gates where are those poor stragglers!

After 865 the throne of Denmark was passed on eventually to Ragnar’s son Sigurd and we will discuss his taking of the rule later.

 It was during that time that Ragnar’s sons were busy making names for themselves in England and in Ireland. Ivar the Boneless was listed as a King of Dublin from 853-873, while another brother Halfdan was listed as King of York or Jorvick from 875-877.  Other brothers are not noted or listed as ruling anywhere during this time but later history will document descendants of Sigurd Snake Eye as being in England, participating in the revenge killing of Aelle, then going on to marry Aelle’s daughter. The one son that there is little mention of being involved in the invasion and conquest of England other that his name being mentioned in the long list of Ragnar’s many sons who may or may not have actually been there was Bjorn Ironside. As I mentioned earlier, in some accounts of the Heathen invasion, Bjorn is not listed at all.

Can you do that Bjorn  can you lead with your head and set your heart aside bjorn explains our king is very ill and can not travel

There seems to be some confusion about Bjorn Ironside or which family he may have belonged to. In the earliest accounts of the first Ragnar, King of Denmark/Sweden, Bjorn is listed and accounted for as a son of that Ragnar who goes on to rule Sweden. Prior to this time, Denmark and Sweden were closely tied with Ragnar/Randver being King of both areas. After this Ragnar’s death, Bjorn takes over full rule of Sweden- it becomes more of a separate identity and it’s rule is more solidly rooted in history. What  is important in determining a better connection for Bjorn is to look at what we can find in any documented evidence of him in order to figure out where he might actually or feasibly fit into the timeline? Our earliest account of 794 states that after Ragnar/Randver passes away, Bjorn becomes King of the Swedes. What we do not know for certain is when Ragnar/Randver actually dies.

This following timeline is one listed for the Kingdom of Sweden and it lists Bjorn as being King of Swedes from 794-804 or around 860- the same time frame as Ragnar Lodbrok is listed as ruling Denmark. We also do not know of any birth date or death for Bjorn so it is difficult to place him in the families.  This timeline would place him as a son of Ragnar/Randver and of Ragnar Lodbrok much like Ragnar/Randver and Ragnar Lodbrok are accounted as being both Father and son of Sigurd Hring.

794

Jarl Eystein of Sweden defeats an attack by Eric and Agnar, two of Randver’s sons, but falls during a subsequent attack by Randver’s wife and two remaining sons, one of which is Björn Järnsida, Once Randver himself passes away, Björn becomes king of the Swedes.

c.780s – 794

Jarl Eystein defeats an attack by Eric and Agnar, two of the sons of King Randver of Denmark, but falls during a subsequent attack by Randver’s wife and two remaining sons, one of which is Björn Järnsida. It seems possible that, given the Dano-Swedish control of Raumarike in Norway, the subsequent ruler of Raumarike could be a son of Eystein – one Sigtryg Eysteinsson.

Once Randver himself passes away, Björn Järnsida becomes king of the Swedes. With this act Sweden’s kings become more solidly rooted in history. Björn’s supposed barrow cemetery on the island of Munsö gives the dynasty its name, but it is also known as the Ynglings (probably an attempt establish continuity with the ancient Swedish kings), and the house of Uppsala. The Norse Hervarar saga is one of the best sources for establishing the genealogy of the kings in this period.

794 – 804

Björn Järnsida (‘Ironside’)

Or c.856. Son of Randver.

804 – 808

Erik Björnsson

Or d.c.870. Son. Not included in the numbering for Erics.

One can easily follow the succession of Bjorn’s descendants in the ruling dynasty of Sweden. The only break or discrepancy in this line comes in about 860-865 when once again Ragnar Lodbrok  shows up in the line? After his short rule, it reverts right back to Bjorn’s descendants with no real explanation or reason for the interruption. 

  What you also need to remember is that often in the past, relatives even distant ones might have been referred to as cousin or nephew. It was also easy to confuse family lines and lineages or descent because quite often, a descendent might refer to themselves as “son or daughter” of some great ancestor in terms of speaking of the importance of such relationship to themselves or to those they were speaking to. This could have been the case for a Ragnar Lodbrok in 845 or 860 when speaking of his ancestor, or of those who claimed to be his sons in 865. They might have been descendant of that first one and made such comment as to reflect the importance, “I am a son of Ragnar Lodbrok” The evidence for some of them being a Ragnar Lodbrok’s direct son is probably true. Those who were a vital part of the Heathen Army, and who were directly mentioned as being at Northumbria and revenging his death- that was probably accurate. Others who were attributed as to being sons may have been relatives, even distant ones at that.

One way of sorting any of this out is to look at the various threads of history, legendary sagas and Anglo-Saxon Chronicles  to see where there might be common ground, or where there might be enough difference as to suggest the possibility of separate families?  Please keep in mind that these are only my own personal thoughts and guesses at sorting out the tangled web of Ragnar Lodbrok and his overly long, prolific life! I am looking at it from the premise that in every legend or myth, there is some grain of truth. I am also going about it from a perspective of genealogy- one which I know has a habit of misinterpreting and misrepresenting information regarding ancestors who have common names! I have spent a great deal of time mired in searches of families who all named their offspring the same names in honor of family ancestry and patriarchs. It has become extremely difficult  and at times almost impossible to differentiate the separate branches of  my Father’s family tree for this reason! The only positive aspect of it is that you immediately recognize when one family line does not fit because the names vary too much from that list of original ones.

Going with the reasoning and assumption that Ragnar did not live for over 100 years and raid England well into his most elderly years, let us try to separate the events and possibly the families without dealing with the legends or the myths.

The first Ragnar/Randver shows up as King of Denmark/Sweden in 756. He has sons Eric, Agnar, Bjorn and an un-named son. There is a battle with the ruler of Sweden, Jarl Eystein and the two older sons are killed. Randver’s wife and other two sons retaliate and Eystein is killed. Later, after Ragnar/Randver’s death, son Bjorn becomes King of Sweden. Some of this is recounted in various versions of Norse sagas.  It is within those various sagas though that the histories may have begun to merge together as they were initially told in the oral tradition. Eric and Agnar along with a son,  Fridleif are consistently named as sons of Ragnar and wife, Thora. Though in one Saxon interpretation, Fridleif is listed as the son of Lagertha. .  My personal theory is that Thora and her sons were most probably the family of the Ragnar who was King in 756. 

In some of the sagas, Bjorn is listed as one of the sons of Ragnar and Aslaug but in the legend of Aslaug, Bjorn is not listed as one of her sons.

painting of Aslaug the legend

According to the thirteenth-century Tale of Ragnar Lodbrok, Aslaug was the daughter of Sigurd and the shieldmaiden Brynhildr,  but was raised by Brynhildr’s foster father Heimer. At the deaths of Sigurd and Brynhildr, Heimer was concerned about Aslaug’s security, so he made a harp large enough to hide the girl. He then traveled as a poor harp player carrying the harp containing the girl.  They arrived at Spangereid at Lindesnes in Norway, where they stayed for the night in the house of the peasants Áke and Grima. Áke believed the harp contained valuable items and told his wife Grima. Grima then convinced him to murder Heimer as he was sleeping. However, when they broke the harp open, they discovered a little girl, whom they raised as their own, calling her Kráka (“Crow”). In order to hide her beauty – the accepted sign of her noble origins– they rubbed her in tar and dressed her in a long hood.

However, once as she was bathing she was discovered by some of the men of the legendary king Ragnar Lodbrok. Entranced by Kráka’s beauty, they allowed the bread they were baking to burn; when Ragnar inquired about this mishap, they told him about the girl. Ragnar then sent for her, but in order to test her wits, he commanded her to arrive neither dressed nor undressed, neither hungry nor full and neither alone nor in company. Kráka arrived dressed in a net, biting an onion and with only a dog as a companion. Impressed by her ingenuity and finding her a wise companion, Ragnar proposed marriage to her, which she refused until he had accomplished his mission in Norway. She gave him four sons: Ivar the Boneless, Hvitserk, Ragnvald the Mountain-High and Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye.

When Ragnar visited viceroy Eysteinn Beli of Sweden, Eysteinn persuaded him to reject Kráka and marry his daughter, Ingeborg. On his return home, three birds had already informed Kráka of Ragnar’s plans, and so she reproached him and told him of her true noble origins. In order to prove she was the daughter of Sigurd who had slain Fafnir, she said she would bear a child whose eye would bear the image of a serpent. This happened and she bore the son Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye. When Eysteinn learned of Ragnar’s change of mind, he rebelled against him but was slain by Ragnar’s sons at Kráka’s behest.

When Ragnar was about to undertake his fated expedition to England, his failure was due to his not heeding Kráka’s warnings about the bad condition of the fleet. When King Ælla threw Ragnar into the snake pit, Ragnar was protected by an enchanted shirt that Kráka had made. It was only when this shirt had been removed that the snakes could bite Ragnar and kill him.

***An interesting side note and thread running through the legends of Ragnar are the snakes… according to legends, snakes were involved in his meeting and marriage to his first wife, Thora. When Sigurd Hring dies, Ragnar succeeds him as the king of Sweden and Denmark. Many foreign kings come to take parts of his kingdom as they think Ragnar is too young to defend it.  Herrauðr, the earl of Götaland and one of Ragnar’s vassals had a daughter, Þóra Borgarhjǫrtr, who was very beautiful. He gave her a lindworm, but after some time, it encircles her bower and threatens anyone who approaches it, except for her servants who fed it with an ox every day. At his symbel, Herrauðr promises his daughter to the man who kills the serpent.  When Ragnar hears of this, he goes to Västergötland and dresses himself in shaggy clothes that he had treated with tar and sand. He took a spear and approached the serpent which blew poison at him. Ragnar protected himself with his shield. He speared the serpent through its heart. He then cut off the serpent’s head, and when the people found out what had happened, he married Thora.Then, he proceeded to liberate his kingdom.  A different version of the legend says that Thora  was fond of snakes and raised them as pets until they threatened to over run the kingdom and the people were in fear of both the snakes and Thora because of her uncommon fascination with them. Her Father offers her hand in marriage to anyone who can get rid of the snakes.  Ragnar succeeds in killing them and wins Thora.****

Þóra Borgarhjǫrtr

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%9E%C3%B3ra_Borgarhj%C7%ABrtr

If we go by the theory that a Ragnar/Randver was the Father of Sigurd Hring, and Sigurd Hring was then the father of Ragnar Lodbrok, the following genealogy chart that I have found would make some sense and provide for some  dates to  go by in placing Ragnar Lodbrok and his families. These dates are still highly improbable but do give a slightly better time frame. This chart suggests that Ragnar died shortly after his excursion to England and his meeting with Aelle probably between 845-850. Going by this chart, the accountings of Ragnar being a King of Sweden around 860-865 would have been an error. What is possible is that his sons, such as Ivar were referring to his Royal lineage and his being King at some point in his past. The rulership of Denmark was in such upheaval throughout the early Viking era that there may have been gaps in the kingship and Ragnar was placed erroneously in that later time period by later historians. In placing Ragnar erroneously, they may have also placed Bjorn the same way.

This is a family chart for the family ancestry that can be found here:

http://www.mathematical.com/sigurdssonragnar765.html

*Ragnar “Lodbrok” “Lothrocus” “Hairy Britches” Sigurdson King of Dacia (Denmark)
born about 0754 Uppsala, Sweden

died 0845 Northumbria, England

father:
*Sigurd “Ring” Randversson King in Sweden
born about 0730 Denmark

died 0812

mother:
*Alfhild Gandolfsdotter
born about 0735 Denmark

married about 0759 Uppsala, Sweden

siblings:
Miss Sigurdsdotter born about 0760 Uppsala, Sweden

spouse:
*Aslaug Sigurdsdotter
born about 0765 Denmark

married about 0783 Denmark

children (from this marriage):
*Bjorn “Ironside” Ragnarsson born Denmark
*Ivar “The Boneless” Ragnarsson King of Dublin & York born about 0787 Denmark died 0873
*Sigurd “Snake-Eye” Ragnarsson born about 0786 Denmark
Hvitserk Ragnarsson born about 0790 Denmark
Rognvald Ragnarsson born about 0791 Denmark
*Halfdan “White Shirt” Ragnarsson King of Dublin died 0877 Ireland
Ragnhildir Ragnardottir
Alof Ragnardottir
Ubbe Ragnarsson

other spouse (or consort):
*Thora Herraudsdatter
born about 0756

children by this union:
*Eirik Ragnarsson
born 0788 Denmark

If you piece together some of these threads with the legends, you come out with a time line of a  Ragnar Lodbrok being born around 756-760 and plausibly being King in 790s with a marriage to Thora and then to Aslaug, with his younger sons being those of Aslaug. The key in connecting Bjorn to which Mother is to look at Bjorn’s family chart and compare it to the dates given as approximations of birth dates for those younger sons. If we assume that the early information of Bjorn Jarsida becoming King of Sweden in late 790s or early 800s is close to accurate, then this following family chart does make sense and it would place him as much older than the younger sons belonging to Aslaug. There is no birth date or death given for Bjorn, but his oldest son is listed as being born around 796 in Sweden, with another son Erik being born around 798. This gives us a clue as to an approximate birth era for Bjorn. We could reasonably place him between 15-20 at the birth of the first child which would put his birth around 775. Please remember these are all approximations- that is all we can go by here! In 775, if Aslaug’s birth date was close to correct, she would have been a bit young to have birthed Bjorn! Thora, however, was listed as being born around 756 so it is more conceivable that Thora was his Mother, not Aslaug.

Ragnar and young Bjorn

*Bjorn “Ironside” Ragnarsson
born Denmark

father:
*Ragnar “Lodbrok” Lothrocus king of Dacia (Denmark) Sigurdson
born about 0765 Uppsala, Sweden

died 0845 England

mother:
*Aslaug Sigurdsdotter
born about 0765 Denmark

married about 0783 Denmark

siblings:
*Ivar “The Boneless” Ragnarsson King of Dublin & York
born about 0787 Denmark died 0873 England

*Sigurd “Snake-Eye” Ragnarsson born about 0786 Denmark
Hvitserk Ragnarsson born about 0790 Denmark
Rognvald Ragnarsson born about 0791 Denmark
*Halfdan “White Shirt” Ragnarsson died 0877 Ireland
Ragnhildir Ragnardottir
Alof Ragnardottir
Ubbe Ragnarsson

spouse:
unknown

children:
*Refill Bjornsson born about 0796 Sweden
Asleik Bjornsson born about 0812 Sweden died 0850
Erik Bjornsson born about 0798 Sweden

We know little history or accurate dates for events in Bjorn’s life but we can get a somewhat clearer picture of them when we look at a brother of his that is mentioned in some of his history.  A brief and very basic sketch of Bjorn’s life is that he was a legendary king of Sweden who lived sometime in the 9th century.   Björn Ironside is said to have been the first ruler of the Munsö dynasty. In the early 18th century, a barrow, on the island of Munsö was claimed by antiquarians to be Björn Järnsidas hög or Björn Ironside’s grave. Hög, from the Old Norse word haugr, means barrow or mound. 

Bjorn Ironside's grave site at Munso

Bjorn Ironside’s grave site at Munso

Björn and his brother Hastein conducted many (mostly successful) raids in France in a continuation of the tradition initiated by their father Ragnar Lodbrok. In 860, Björn led a large Viking raid into the Mediterranean. After raiding down the Spanish coast and fighting their way through Gibraltar, Björn and Hastein pillaged the south of France, where his fleet over-wintered, before landing in Italy where they captured the coastal city of Pisa. They proceeded inland to the town of Luna, which they believed to be Rome at the time, but Björn found himself unable to breach the town walls. To gain entry, he sent messengers to the bishop to say that he had died, had a deathbed conversion, and wished to be buried on consecrated ground within their church. He was brought into the chapel with a small honor guard, then amazed the dismayed Italian clerics by leaping from his coffin and hacking his way to the town gates, which he promptly opened, letting his army in. Flush with this victory and others around the Mediterranean (including in Sicily and North Africa) he returned to the Straits of Gibraltar only to find the Saracen navy from Al-Andalus waiting for him. In the desperate battle that followed, Björn lost 40 ships, largely to a form of Greek fire launched from Saracen catapults. The remainder of his fleet managed to return to Scandinavia, however, where he lived out his life as a rich man.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bj%C3%B6rn_Ironside

Little is known of Hastein’s early life, described as a Dane in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he is often given as a son of Ragnar Lodbrok. He is first recorded taking part in the Viking attack on the Frankish Empire, occupying Noirmoutier in 843 and on the Loire again in 859 for his great raid into the Mediterranean. One of the most famous Viking raids was Hastein’s voyage to the Mediterranean (859-862AD), having set out with Björn Ironside, another son of Ragnar Lodbrok with 62 ships from the Loire.  At first the raiding did not go well, with Hastein being defeated by the Asturians and later the Muslims of the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba at Niebla in 859. Success followed with the sacking of Algeciras, where the mosque was burned, and then the ravaging of Mazimma in the Idrisid Caliphate on the north coast of Africa, followed by further raids into the Umayyad Caliphate at Orihuela, the Balearic Islands and Roussillon.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hastein

The main reason these events and time frames are important is that it places Bjorn as in the middle of these important and documented raids during the time that one part of the timeline sets him as becoming King of Sweden. It seems to me that he would a little busy with raiding in the Mediterranean sea and North Africa to have made a quick trip home to grab the crown and dash away again just as quickly. I suppose it is possible but perhaps it was more likely that he might have ruled earlier on as a younger man and left the crown to a son who was old enough to trusted with ruling in his place.  It also gives some credence to the thought or theory that he was not actively involved in the events taking place in England during that time if he was otherwise occupied in the Mediterranean and then sailing home to live out his remaining years as a rich man.

We have one other piece of evidence that ties Bjorn to Thora rather than Aslaug and places him on the timeline. This accounting is given in a history of Ivar the Boneless, son  of Ragnar and Aslaug. While the history and existence of Ragnar may be disputable,  the existence of Ivarr, Ragnarr’s eldest son, as an historical figure is in no doubt. His exploits are recorded in contemporary historical documents, and it is possible to trace his movements with relative certainty.

Ivar is what he is  you know that

Much of Ivar’s history is taken from the Norse Sagas and filled with as much color and exaggeration as the stories of his Father.  Some of it though can be documented and one might assume that Ivar had input in the recording of some of his family history even if he like so many others of the time paid a Bard or story teller great wealth to embellish the facts. This particular accounting puts his approximate birth as after 790 and his death was documented as 873. He died a very wealthy old man with no wives or heirs to cause an early death for him!

In the accounting of Ivar’s family history and Ragnar’s wives, Lagertha is listed as the first wife, Aslaug as second, Thora as third and Svanloga as a fourth wife. One reason for Thora possibly being listed as third might be as previously suggested in other charts, that she was not a true wife but a concubine. It might also have been Ivar’s way of implying greater importance to his Mother, Aslaug than to Thora.

http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/FeaturesBritain/EnglandIvarr.htm

Ivarr the Boneless

   

Born

Place unknown

Estimated to AD 794.

Acceded

856 – Dublin

 

Died

873 – Dublin

 

Notes

Active in East Anglia, Dublin and York.

Father

Ragnar Lothbrok

(Hairy breeches) Chieftain of Denmark and Sweden.

Mother

Aslaug

Second wife of Ragnar.

Married

 

Brother 1

Halfdan

(of the Wide Embrace) son of Thora, third wife of Ragnar.

Brother 2

Sigurd / Siyard

(Snake-in-the-Eye) son of Aslaug.

Brother 3

Ubbi

Son of Esbern’s unnamed daughter.

Brother 4

Bjorn Ironside

Son of Thora.

Brother 5

Rathbarth

Son of Thora.

Brother 6

Dunyat

Son of Thora.

Brother 7

Agnar

Son of Thora.

Brother 8

Regnald

Son of Svanloga, fourth wife of Ragnar.

Brother 9

Vithserk

Son of Svanloga.

Brother 10

Erik Wind Hat

Son of Svanloga.

Brother 11

Fridlef

Son of Lathgertha, first wife of Ragnar.

I know this trip through history and genealogy has been long and confusing much of the time. Now  you understand what Genealogists go through on a daily basis when researching your family tree for you. If you wonder and complain at the prices they charge for such a task, now perhaps you can appreciate just how difficult their job is! It is made even more challenging in the respect that in order for their findings to be accepted as legitimate, they must have verified and documented evidence for every link or branch that they add to the tree for you. If they do not provide this documented evidence, your tree is basically worthless in any legitimate claims to your history. There are of course some instances when it would be impossible to find such documented actual evidence and they must go by some general consensus or assumption. In those cases, they must make this clear and note that in their research. This research involves a great deal more than going to such places as Ancestry.com and searching through often misleading and unverified information! I have a number of issues with such sites but will reserve those thoughts for some other time and post!  For our research on Ragnar’s history, we are almost finished! I know many of you who have stuck with this are now sighing a huge breath of relief and muttering, “Thank Gods for that!”

We have one set of information left to look at and decipher. The timelines state that one Ragnar Lodbrok was King of Denmark from 860-865. We have already looked at much of the history that would suggest otherwise, such as him dying shortly after 845 in England. We have also looked at his sons Bjorn and Ivar and their connections to the family. There is one son left to look at here as far deciphering some of the historical information. That son is Sigurd-snake in the eye.

sigurd snake in the eye

Sigurd is found in Ivar’s family listing as a brother, with his Mother being Aslaug.  He is also listed in some accounts of the Great Heathen army invasions,  he is listed in a number of sagas and genealogies as well. This Sigurd is an important link and connection from the better documented lineage of Danish Royalty that begins with Gorm the Old.

In the accounts of Sigurd’s history we find out a bit more about Ragnar as well. Sigurd’s accounting states that Ragnar died in 865 rather than 845, but this still could be a case where it is listed as 865 because that is when Sigurd actually found out about it.

Sigurd Snake-in-the-eye (Old Norse: Sigurðr ormr í auga) was one of the four sons of Ragnar Lodbrok. The “Snake-in-the-eye” part of Sigurd’s name denoted the fact that that he was born with a mark in his left eye, described as the image of the Ouroboros (a snake biting its own tail) encircling the pupil of his eye. The snake mark had been prophesied by his mother Aslaug, the daughter of the Valkyrie Brynhildr. In modern times, it has been suggested that the mark in Sigurd’s eye was a result of a congenital mutation of the PAX6 gene. As a boy, Sigurd was close to his father and accompanied Ragnar on a hazardous expedition through Russia to the Hellespont. Later on in life he is said to have sojourned for a time in Scotland and the Scottish Islands.   In 865 King Ella of Northumbria killed Ragnar Lodbrok in a pit of serpents. When Ragnar was suffering in the pit he is reputed to have exclaimed: “How the young pigs would squeal if they knew what the old boar suffers!”

Sigurd and his siblings learned of their father’s death when the king Ælla sent an envoy to alert them of it. When the brothers heard of their father’s death Sigurd is said to have cut himself to the bone with a knife he held in his hand and his brother Björn Ironside gripped his spear so tightly that the imprint of his fingers was left in the wood.

Sigurd and his brothers swore they would avenge his killing in time-honoured Viking tradition. The legend says that their first attempt failed, but through the treachery of the youngest brother, the notoriously cruel and cunning Ivar the Boneless, Ella was duped into a battle he could not win. In 866 they crossed the North Sea with a large army. This Great Heathen Army sacked York, met King Ella in battle and captured him. They sentenced him to die according to the custom of the Blood Eagle), an exceedingly painful death. It consisted of cutting away the ribs from the spine and pulling the lungs backward through the cavities formed to form the shape of an eagle.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigurd_Snake-in-the-Eye

This information is found only in the various sagas and there is no mention in the Saxon Chronicles. The date is listed as 865, and as I have already suggested, it could have been set as that because that is when they were made aware of it. It mentions that Aelle sent an envoy to boast of his accomplishment, but it could have taken some years for such an envoy to make the voyage, find the right people and finally deliver the message. It then might have taken some considerable time for the brothers to unite and plan their vengeance. It does state that an early attempt was made but failed. This would mean that the brothers would have had to return home, re-group and plan a better attack- that too could have taken some length of time. Given this theory, it would still be feasible that Ragnar died in the earlier time frame rather than 865. 

What is far more important about Sigurd’s connections is the rest of his history. Eventually, Sigurd  showed  up in the timelines as ruler of Denmark after 865. As I  have mentioned previously, there is some discrepancy and unrest with the ruling dynasties from about 860 until 866 when Sigurd shows up as ruling Denmark. Ragnar was listed as a King of Sweden during that time, as was son Bjorn. The histories of that time period  are uncertain.  I have already discussed the idea that there was a great deal of chaos during that time and it is more probable that Ragnar and Bjorn ruled at some earlier points. What is possible, is that in 866 or shortly after there was unrest and dispute over the rule after the death or de-throning of Horik’s son. Sigurd may have come forward with his claim to the throne through Ragnar as an earlier King and was able to win the title in that way. Ivar already had rule of Ireland, Bjorn was settled in Sweden so Sigurd may have had no brothers disputing or wanting this rule. What ever the case, Sigurd showed up in 866 as ruler and from then on the line continued from him, his descendent Gorm the Old on to present day!

Ragnarssona þáttr informs that when his father died, he inherited Zealand, Scania, Halland, the Danish islands, and Viken. He married Blaeja, the daughter of king Ælla of Northumbria and they had the children Harthacanute and Aslaug, who was named after her grandmother Aslaug. 

Harthacanute succeeded Sigurd as the king of Zealand, Scania and Halland, but he lost Viken. He was the father of Gorm the Old, the king of Denmark. Gorm succeeded his father as king and married Thyra, the daughter of the Jutish chieftain Harald Klak. When Harald died, Gorm took his kingdom too, and united Denmark.

Harald succeeded his father as king and married Gyrid of Sweden. They had a son named Sweyn Forkbeard. Sweyn succeeded his father as king and married Gunhild. They had a son named Cnut the Great. Sweyn also ruled England in his lifetime and established the Danish Empire. When Sweyn died, his elder son Harald Svendsen became the King of Denmark, as England’s former king, Ethelred reclaimed it. However, as Harald did not marry, his brother Cnut the Great became king, re-established the Danish Empire, and married Emma of Normandy. They had a son named Harthacnut. When Cnut died, Harthacnut became king of the Danish Empire, however, he lost England to Edward the Confessor in 1042.

Ok, we have now looked at most of the history and legend surrounding Horik and Ragnar…  it has left all of us bleary eyed and just as confused as ever. Yes, that does include me! So, where does all of this assorted information leave us or lead us? While it’s all of varying interest to those curious about this sort of thing, do we have any better understanding, ideas or clarity on what it all means or of what importance any of it actually is to the beginning premise or thought of either Horik, Ragnar Lodbrok or any of his descendants having some right to rule according to history?

I think that from what we have learned in piecing together the history and the legends, we can see that yes, there are definitely grains of truth in the legends. Because of this, we can not discount the legends in relation to actual history. I believe that I have managed to sort through those legends for the connecting bits of truth in them and present a view of history that brings the legends and history together. Hopefully, you have stuck with it and all of it makes some better sense to you.

Here is a brief summary of what we have learned.  All evidence leads us to some proof that a Ragnar/Randver and or a Ragnar Lodbrok did actually exist beginning with a time frame from possibly early 700s, stretching to and end in either 845 or 865. This is a span of  well over 100 years. Knowing this would be impossible if we look at him in the context of being a real person, we have come up with the theory that there was most likely more than one Ragnar. Ragnar/Randver is most likely the original patriarch of this entire dynasty of the Danes. King Horik has been proven through some history as having been a real ruler of the Danes and his ancestry puts him as a descendant of this earliest Ragnar. Ragnar Lodbrok was most probably a descendant of that early Ragnar as well, and would have been a relative of King Horik’s. Horik managed to claim the rule despite his Father’s insistence on a different relative ruling instead. Some time during the 840s Ragnar Lodbrok was involved in an attack of Paris and then suffered retribution for it from King Horik. Horik swore to the Frisians and Franks that he had no involvement in the attacks and that he had dealt with those responsible. After this point, Ragnar’s history and existence became murky, he disappeared from Denmark and later showed up in England as an unfortunate guest of King Aelle. Meanwhile, Horik was killed during that same time frame by an un-named exiled relative who went on to become a great raider. His son, Horik II became ruler as a child and ruled until about 866. During the 860s, sons of Ragnar Lodbrok were involved in the great Heathen invasions of England. It was during this time that they made claims of their Father, Ragnar Lodbrok being a King in Denmark. Some time after the initial invasions, when Horik’s son Horik II either died or was de-throned in Denmark, Ragnar Lodbrok’s son Sigurd took over rule and the line then continued through him on to his descendant, Gorm the Old to the present day. 

Gorm the Old

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorm_the_Old

What all of the historical and legendary information leads us to is that both Horik and Ragnar Lodbrok could feasibly claim some blood inherited right to rule. For some reason, Horik’s Father, Gudfred had serious doubts about his own sons’ abilities to rule effectively and chose to leave the rule to a nephew, Hemming. Naturally, Gudfred’s sons disputed this decision, one of them killed Gudfred, Hemming was eventually defeated and the last son standing, Horik, claimed the throne. Ragnar Lodbrok was a part of this dynasty and may have actually ruled himself at one point during the early era. So, both men had some  legitimate right to the rule which would have allowed for Ragnar’s son Sigurd to claim the rule at a later point.  Horik’s line ended with his son and probably opened the door to Sigurd to step in and place his legitimate claim!

 

 

Temporary cure for Viking withdrawals: Last Kingdom update!

First, a huge apology for the delay in posting lately! I know many of you are suffering already from Viking withdrawals and come here to get a small dose of it to hold you over in the long waiting for raiding season. I want to assure you that I am currently working on an article about Horik and Ragnar that is taking much longer than I anticipated. It is almost finished and hopefully I will get it posted within the next few days.  If you read my previous post about Kings, I mentioned that I would look closer at those Kings. The upcoming article will look at Horik, Ragnar, the history of Danish monarchy, and it will give a bit of what the future holds for a few of  Ragnar’s sons, such as Bjorn and Ivar  in history.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/i-am-king-really-why-and-how/

While you’re waiting patiently for that article, I thought perhaps you might enjoy a look at some other Vikings who will be coming to a small screen near you sometime next season… Hopefully! YES! I have an  update concerning my other favorite Viking story- The Last Kingdom/Warrior Chronicles  by Bernard Cornwell. They have released a very short but powerful promo clip.

Last kingdom promo3

 

I have mentioned this book series before, but it is well worth refreshing your memory and reminding you again  to go read this series… go read this series now! What are you waiting for, you have a long season of Viking withdrawal to face and I can only remedy that draught in such small ways. I promise that this 8 book series about Uhtred of Bebbanburg will keep your Viking craving satisfied and satiated for some time! Uhtred of Bebbanburg is a young boy living at Bebbanburg Castle in Northumbria when the Viking armies arrive on their coastline. Uhtred’s Father and older brother are killed, leaving him the heir to Bebbanburg, a fact that he never forgets and never stops trying to reclaim throughout the books.  As a young boy, he is captured and raised by the Danes who are taking over and settling in Northumbria. His life becomes one of torn loyalties.

Young Uhtred of Last Kingdom

Young Uhtred of Last Kingdom

Last Kingdom Uhtred and Brida flee

Last Kingdom Uhtred and Brida flee

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

‘I had been given a perfect childhood, perfect, at least, to the ideas of a boy. I was raised among men, I was free, I ran wild, was encumbered by no laws, was troubled by no priests and was encouraged to violence.’ Uhtred is an English boy, born into the aristocracy of 9th Century Northumbria, but orphaned at ten, adopted by a Dane and taught the Viking ways. Yet Uhtred’s fate is indissolubly bound up with Alfred, King of Wessex, who rules over the last English kingdom when the Danes have overrun Northumbria, Mercia and East Anglia.

That war, with its massacres, defeats and betrayals, is the background to Uhtred’s childhood, a childhood which leaves him uncertain of his loyalties, but a slaughter in a winter dawn propels him to the English side and he will become a man just as the Danes launch their fiercest attack yet on Alfred’s kingdom. Marriage ties him further to the West Saxon cause, but when his wife and child vanish in the chaos of a Danish invasion, Uhtred is driven to face the greatest of the Viking chieftains in a battle beside the sea, and there, in the horror of a shield-wall, he discovers his true allegiance.

This series ties in well with the Vikings saga, especially once Michael Hirst makes the time jumps next season and transitions Ragnar’s younger sons toward adulthood and their eventual path to England to fight against Ecbert’s grandson, King Alfred. What you will find in Bernard Cornwell’s version of the history is a story of the same events and some of the same people from a different perspective. Uhtred, who is raised by the Danes and holds close ties to them throughout his life, will end up fighting for the Saxons and King Alfred. In Uhtred’s heart, he is a pagan, a friend and family of Danes, but he must make decisions that most often go against the Danes because of his own personal code of honor, and belief in what is right or just. He is ever bound by oaths he has sworn and by his desire always to claim Bebbanburg as his own one day. He starts out with the Danish armies marching against the southern Kingdoms of this un-unified country. Along the way he is forced into the situation of having to switch sides and fight with the southern kingdoms against his friends, the Danes. The series is compelling and honest in telling his story and his feelings about both sides of the conflict.  In reading and watching this series come to life, you will see Uhtred come face to face with Ragnar’s sons, Ivar, Ubba and Halfdan. He will eventually meet Ubba in combat and have to kill him. You will see his uneasy alliance with Ecbert’s grandson, Alfred unfold and throughout that uneasy following, you will see there are times when Alfred actually acts a bit like Ecbert in the way that he uses this allegiance to his advantage, and makes promises that he really has no intentions of keeping.

Last Kingdom Alfred becomes king

Last Kingdom Alfred becomes king

last kingdom promo

last kingdom promo

The Last Kingdom series is being produced for television by BBC2 and BBC America and is currently in production on locations in the United Kingdom and Hungary. They are keeping their secrets well guarded and under close wraps. The production began last November and we received a short blurb and sketchy cast list shortly after that. The very short promo trailer I’ve shared has only just recently come out in the last week. Hopefully this is a sign that they will be showing us more soon! Some of the secrecy may be due to the fact that much of the filming is taking place in Budapest, Hungary. The series is being described and compared to the Vikings saga and to Game of Thrones.  It  is full of heroic deeds and epic battles but with a thematic depth that embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love, loyalty and our universal search for identity. Combining real historical figures and events with fictional characters, it is the story of how a people combined their strength under one of the most iconic kings of history in order to reclaim their land for themselves and build a place they call home.
Read more: http://web.poptower.com/last-kingdom-tv-show.htm#ixzz3bBM8oQRc

This is a cast list poster that I just found on tumbler… so I know there are other fans out there anxiously awaiting this show!

 

Last kingdom cast from tumblr_ngunwkShd81s139t5o1_r1_500

Last kingdom cast from tumblr_ngunwkShd81s139t5o1_r1_500

Cast

Credited cast, sorted by IMDb STARmeter:

Matthew MacfadyenMatthew Macfadyen

Rutger HauerRutger Hauer

Jason FlemyngJason Flemyng …King Edmund

Ian HartIan Hart …Beocca

Alec NewmanAlec Newman …King Aethelred

Tobias SantelmannTobias Santelmann …Ragnar

Simon KunzSimon Kunz …Odda

Joseph MillsonJoseph Millson …Alferic

Alexander DreymonAlexander Dreymon …Uhtred of Bebbanburg

Lorcan CranitchLorcan Cranitch …Father Selbix

Adrian BowerAdrian Bower …Leofric

David DawsonDavid Dawson King Alfred

Sergej OnopkoSergej Onopko …Dane #1

Amy WrenAmy Wren …Mildrith

Elizabeth ConboyElizabeth Conboy …Glenna

In this series, King Alfred plays an integral and important role in shaping the events of Uhtred’s life. David Dawson has been cast in this role.  Dawson was born in Widnes, England and attended Fairfield High School and Warrington Collegiate Institute before being accepted to RADA on the acting programme in 2002. Whilst in high school he was a member of the Musketeer Theatre Company where he played Dogberry in William Shakespeare‘s Much Ado About Nothing amongst other roles. At just 17 he wrote a play called Divorced and Desperate which ran at the Queen’s Hall Theatre, Widnes, for three nights. A year later he wrote and starred in the play The Boy In The Bed at the Tower Theatre, Islington with financial backing from Barbara Windsor and Julie Walters to whom he had written for help. David also has a younger brother, James.

After leaving RADA in 2005, Dawson’s first professional role was as understudy to Kevin Spacey as the eponymous hero of Shakespeare’s Richard II for Trevor Nunn. Dawson has appeared in the television shows Doc Martin, The Thick of It, Damage and Up Close and Personal. He also played Harry Parr Davies in the BBC drama Gracie! about the life of English singer Gracie Fields. He starred as Coronation Street creator Tony Warren in the BBC drama The Road to Coronation Street. He played Toby Kent in three episodes of the second series of Luther for the BBC.

In 2012, Dawson appeared in two BBC Two literary adaptations, playing Bazzard in The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Poins in Henry IV, Parts I and II. He later appeared in all three series of Ripper Street.

Dawson is currently portraying David Collins in the BBC Two series Banished. He will portray King Alfred in BBC America’s upcoming TV series ‘The Last Kingdom

daviddawson to play alfred the great david-dawson will play Alfred the great in last kingdom

Now, if all of this information has not been enough to spark your interest in this excellent series, I am going to leave you with a list of the books in the series and some youtube clips of readings and promotions of the books! As I mentioned earlier, there are currently 8 books in the series with another one due out early next year!

The Last Kingdom is the first book in the series.

Book 2

The Pale Horseman

pale_horseman_ukThe Pale Horseman (the title is a reference to Revelation 6. 8) is the second book in the tale of Uhtred, Lord of Bebbanburg, and his tangled relationship with Alfred the Great, King of Wessex in the 9th Century. The story begins on the day after the events described in The Last Kingdom end, and goes on to describe the fateful year in which the Danes capture Alfred’s kingdom and drive him as a fugitive into the marshes of Athelney. It seems that Wessex, and England, are destroyed, but Alfred is determined to make one desperate gamble that might save his kingdom . . . .

 

Book 3:

lords_uk

The Lords of the North begins soon after the events described in The Pale Horseman. Uhtred, having helped Alfred secure Wessex as an independent Saxon kingdom, returns north in an attempt to find his stepsister. Instead he discovers chaos, civil war and treachery in Northumbria. He takes the side of Guthred, once a slave and now a man who would be king, and in return expects Guthred’s help in capturing Dunholm, the lair of the dark Viking lord, Kjartan. There is betrayal, romance and war, and all of it, as usual, based on real events.

Promotional video for Lords of the North:

An awesome reading from Lords of the North by Richard Armitage!

 

Book4:

sword_song_uk

Sword Song continues the story of Uhtred, the Saxon warrior who is a reluctant ally of Alfred the Great. This story, which occurs some five years after the events described in Lords of the North, tells how Alfred’s forces evict the Danes from London. Wessex, Alfred’s kingdom, has survived the great Viking assaults and now, with Uhtred as a leader, the West Saxon forces begin the campaigns of conquest that will end with a new kingdom called England.

Book5:

The Burning Land

burningThis novel, the fifth in the magnificent series of England’s history, tells of the final assaults on Alfred’s Wessex.

Related Video

Bernard Cornwell talks about his latest novel from his acclaimed King Alfred series.

Book 6: 

Death of Kings

death_of_kingsDeath of Kings continues the story of Uhtred, this time through the tumultous years which followed the death of Alfred the Great as two men struggle to inherit the crown of Wessex. Uhtred has to contend with betrayal, treachery and the largest army the Danes have yet assembled to conquer Wessex . . . all brought to a climax in a winter battle fought in the fens of East Anglia.Click here to read an interview between me and George R. R. Martin (the celebrated author of the Game of Thrones series which starred Sean Bean on HBO) on the Amazon.com website.Death of Kings book trailerBook7: 

The Pagan Lord

Pagan Lord

Alfred the Great is dead and Edward his son reigns as king. Wessex survives but peace cannot hold. The Danes in the north, led by Viking Cnut Longsword, stand ready to invade and will never rest until the emerald crown is theirs.

Uhtred, once Alfred’s great warrior but now out of favour with the new king, must lead a band of outcasts north to recapture his old family home, that great Northumbrian fortress, Bebbanburg.  Loyalties will be divided and men will fall, as every Saxon kingdom is drawn into the bloodiest battle yet with the Danes; a war which will decide the fate of every king, and the entire English nation.

Official promo video for Pagan Lord

Book 8: 

The Empty Throne

Empty ThroneThe forces of Wessex and Mercia have united against the Danes, but instability and the threat of Viking raids still hang heavy over Britain’s kingdoms. For Aethelred, Lord of the Mercians, is dying, leaving no heir and the stage is set for rivals to fight for the throne.Uhtred of Bebbanburg, Mercia’s greatest warrior, has always supported Athelflaed to be Mercia’s next ruler, but will the aristocracy ever accept a woman as their leader? Even one who is Aethelred’s widow and sister to the king of Wessex? As the Mercians squabble and the West Saxons try to annex their country, new enemies appear on the northern frontier. The Saxons desperately need strong leadership, but instead they are fighting for an empty throne and threatening to undo the unity and strength they have fought so hard to achieve.  Official promo video for Empty Throne:All of these books and so much more of his work can be found on Bernard Cornwell’s official website:

http://www.bernardcornwell.net/

You may be wondering suspiciously now if I have begun to turn traitor- switching my allegiance, my alliance and my devotion from Ragnar and his group to Uhtred…. Let me assure you that I do not look at this alliance as any betrayal to our Vikings saga! I have always admitted my keen interest in all of the history, Saxon as well as Viking. Uhtred speaks to my heart in that often torn and tested loyalty. As I have already stated, Uhtred of Bebbanburg is a friend to the Danes as well as some of the Saxons. He tells the story of this invasion and this war from the perspective of a great warrior caught in the middle of it trying to balance those loyalties and save his family and friends on either side! When you are looking at events of history and life, it is always wise to look at all of the sides involved. I am looking forward to seeing both stories play out in the future and will be dividing my time between both stories!  So, go now… go off to find a copy of Last Kingdom and read for yourself, the story of Uhtred of Bebbanburg!

Here People Still Were Using Runes in the 20th Century

Fascinating and so interesting information about Viking and Norse history that continues to this day!

ThorNews

Alvdalen Valley Sweden

Älvdalen in Sweden is so isolated that people recently stopped using runes, and they are still speaking their old Norse-influenced language. (Photo: Albert Jankowski / Wikimedia Commons).

In Scandinavia, use of runes ended during the 13th century. In isolated Älvdalen in Sweden, however, inhabitants not only continued using runes but also developed their own language with many Norse elements.

People in Älvdalen (English: the River Valley) used runes as late as the 20th century, so-called Dalecarlian runes. Deep forests and high mountains isolate the valley located in Dalarna County in Central Sweden. The area also has its own language, Elfdalian, still spoken by locals.

In the Nordic countries, runes were the dominant written language before the introduction of Christianity and the Latin alphabet in the 800-900s.

– This is probably the last use of runes in Scandinavia. It is quite exceptional, says linguist Henrik Rosenkvist to the research portal Forskning.no

View original post 256 more words

I am King! Really, why and how?

I am King

All of the above men are or were Kings in our Vikings saga, the exception being young Erlandeur…his chance at King being thwarted by Ragnar Lothbrok! I have included Harald Finehair in the portrait as he will be arriving next season as King of Norway.  What I hope to do with this series of articles is shed some light on the hows, the whys of Kingship, and give some brief historical insight on each of these men and their claim to Kingship.  I will also look at a recent discovery of a Leadership gene, right to rule and divine destiny and how these concepts relate to these men becoming King. *Note* This is part one of a series that will look at each of these Kings and their claims or right to rule!

First, before anything else, we need to explore the concept of King, or monarchy in general.

A monarchy is a form of government in which sovereignty is  one or several individual(s) reigning until death or abdication. They are called the monarchs.  Forms of monarchy differ widely based on the method of selection of the monarch, and any predetermined limits on the length of their tenure. When the monarch has no or few legal restraints in state and political matters, it is called an absolute monarchy. Cases in which the monarch’s discretion is formally limited (most common today) are called constitutional monarchies. In hereditary monarchies, the office is passed through inheritance within a family group, whereas elective monarchies use some system of voting. Each of these has variations: in some elected monarchies only those of certain pedigrees are eligible, whereas many hereditary monarchies impose requirements regarding the religion, age, gender, mental capacity, and other factors. Occasionally this might create a situation of rival claimants whose legitimacy is subject to effective election.

Tribal kingship is often connected to sacred functions, so that the king acts as a priest, or is considered of Divine ancestry. The sacred function of kingship was transformed into the notion of “Divine right of kings” in the Christian Middle Ages.  In Germanic antiquity, kingship was primarily a sacral function, and the king was elected from among eligible members of royal families by the thing.

Monarchies are associated with  hereditary rule, in which monarchs rule for life and pass the responsibilities and power of the position to their child or another member of their family when they die. Most monarchs, both historically and in the modern day, have been born and brought up within a royal family, the center of the royal household and court. Growing up in a royal family,  future monarchs are often trained for the responsibilities of expected future rule.

 Different systems of succession have been used, such as proximity of blood, primogeniture, and agnatic seniority (Salic law). While most monarchs have been male, many female monarchs also have reigned in history; the term queen regnant refers to a ruling monarch, while a queen consort refers to the wife of a reigning king. The principal advantage of hereditary monarchy is the immediate continuity of leadership (as seen in the classic phrase “The King is dead. Long live the King!“).

 

Monarchy, especially absolute monarchy, sometimes is linked to religious aspects; many monarchs once claimed the right to rule by the will of a deity (Divine Right of Kings, Mandate of Heaven), a special connection to a deity (sacred king). Many European monarchs have been styled Fidei defensor (Defender of the Faith); some hold official positions relating to the state religion or established church.

  In a hereditary monarchy, the position of monarch is inherited according to a statutory or customary order of succession, usually within one royal family tracing its origin through a historical dynasty or bloodline. This usually means that the heir to the throne is known well in advance of becoming monarch to ensure a smooth succession.

Primogeniture, in which the eldest child of the monarch is first in line to become monarch, is the most common system in hereditary monarchy. The order of succession is usually affected by rules on gender. Historically “agnatic primogeniture” or “patrilineal primogeniture” was favoured, that is inheritance according to seniority of birth among the sons of a monarch or head of family, with sons and their male issue inheriting before brothers and their issue, and male-line males inheriting before females of the male line. 

Before primogeniture was enshrined in European law and tradition, kings would often secure the succession by having their successor (usually their eldest son) crowned during their own lifetime, so for a time there would be two kings in coregency – a senior king and a junior king. Examples include Henry the Young King of England and the early Direct Capetians in France. In Saxon history, King Ecbert did similar with his son Aethelwulf. We will delve into that later.

aethelwulf and ecbert

 Sometimes, however, primogeniture can operate through the female line. In some systems a female may rule as monarch only when the male line dating back to a common ancestor is exhausted.  This is how Kwentirith has managed to achieve her current rule of Mercia…

Just a hint here Kwentirith when everyone throws empty cups at you you may have a few friend problems!

Just a hint here Kwentirith when everyone throws empty cups at you you may have a few friend problems!

In the case of the absence of children, the next most senior member of the collateral line (for example, a younger sibling of the previous monarch) becomes monarch. In complex cases, this can mean that there are closer blood relatives to the deceased monarch than the next in line according to primogeniture. This has often led, especially in Europe in the Middle Ages, to conflict between the principle of primogeniture and the principle of proximity of blood.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarchy

For our purposes in this discussion, we are going to deal mainly with the Hereditary Monarchy, because for the most part all of the Kings in our saga have achieved their crown via that sucession. Even Ragnar Lodbrok as we will see in tracing his limited history, probably did have a sort of blood link to the crown of Denmark. The only one that there is some doubt or question of will be King Aelle of Northumbria. We just do not know enough about him to make any detailed or accurate assumption as to his right or claim to that Kingdom.

Before looking at each man’s history and personal claim to Kingship, we should also look at some other more general theories and concepts regarding Kingship and it’s history. This will help to better understand each particular man’s role in this career choice…

Right to Rule and Divine right of Kings

The divine right of kings or divine right  asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving the right to rule directly from the will of God. The king is thus not subject to the will of his people, the aristocracy, or any other estate of the realm, including the Church. According to this doctrine, only God can judge an unjust king. The doctrine implies that any attempt to depose the king or to restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God and may constitute a sacrilegious act. It is often expressed in the phrase “by the Grace of God,” attached to the titles of a reigning monarch.

While this concept would seem on the surface only to apply to European Kings of later centuries, the basis for the principle goes much further back and ties into the idea or concept that Kings were descended from God, or Gods… That they had a direct connection to that higher power and therefore had a right or claim to rule because of that connection. Denmark had a history for following this principle of right to rule dating as far back as to a point when it was inhabited by the Angles, who then eventually migrated to Britain and brought the concept with them.

The Dacians settled in a region that includes modern Denmark and the northwest region of Germany.  The Dacians named this region Dacia, in honor of their homeland.  In Dacia, the Dacians displaced the native peoples.  Undoubtedly, some level of integration happened between the Thracians, Dacians, and native populations.  Dr. David Faux offers a compelling argument that while the Dacians clearly displaced the Celtic Cimbrians, the Angles are likely to have partially integrated with them.

Right to Rule

Claimants to power in Angle were from a ruling family, with preference given to the eldest male most closely related to the prior ruler.  This tradition reduced the likelihood of conflict during times of transition and served to concentrate wealth and power.  This tradition continued in Russia, Scotland, Flanders, Normandy, post-conquest England and other regions controlled by the Angles, likewise serving to enable the formation of powerful governments and military capabilities.  Conflicts were reduced to situations where the lack of an immediate male heir led to contested claims by paternal cousins.

The origin of this behavior is perhaps based on the very ancient notion that the royal family descends from the gods.  Perhaps this concept was borrowed by the Dacians and Thracians from the Romans.  The family of Julias Caesar (gens Julia), for example, claimed to descend by Venus through Aeneas.  The original royal family of Norway were said to be descended from Odin.  Frey was the main god of kingship among the Swedes and the royal family (the Ynglings) were believed to have descended from him.

http://romanianhistoryandculture.webs.com/daciansindenmark.htm

The remote origins of the theory are rooted in the medieval idea that God had bestowed earthly power on the king, just as God had given spiritual power and authority to the church, centering on the pope. The immediate author of the theory was Jean Bodin,  who based it on the interpretation of Roman law.  This principle and theory would and did directly apply to King Charles and King Ecbert- who used the church to back his claim to power. King Aelle who deemed himself a Christian would have used such theory to some extent to validate his Kingship, though I think he achieved his crown by might and then would have tried to justify it in some way.  As to the Scandinavian Kings, we would assume that this principle would not have applied… but, when we look closer at their histories, we will see that while they may not have used the Christ God to justify their claims, they did claim connections to their own Gods to back up their rule once they established it.  For the Danes, they were long linked to the Frankish Empire and even back to Roman cultures so those ancient concepts would have made way into their own culture even if they did not ascribe to Christianity per say. As far back as the Romans were using links to the Gods to justify their claims to rule. Julius Caesar claimed connection to Venus.

The theory went back to those earliest Christians who advocated allegiance to Caesar even though he was a Pagan ruler.

  1. The New Testament, in which the first pope, St. Peter, commands that all Christians shall honour the Roman Emperor (1 Peter 2:13–17), even though, at that time, he was still a pagan emperor. Likewise, Jesus Christ proclaims in the Gospel of Matthew that one should “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s”; that is at first, literally, the payment of taxes as binding those who use the imperial currency (See Matthew 22:15–22). Jesus told Pontius Pilate that his authority as Roman governor of Judaea came from heaven according to John 19:10–11.
  2. The endorsement by the popes and the church of the line of emperors beginning with the Emperors Constantine and Theodosius, later the Eastern Roman emperors, and finally the Western Roman emperor, Charlemagne and his successors, the Catholic Holy Roman Emperors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_right_of_kings

The basic theory and premise of such divine right goes all the way back to Egypt with the Pharaohs linking themselves to the Gods. The future Christian interpretation of it just set down a different set of rules to follow. This principle and concept ties in well with the practice of hereditary monarchy and succession according to bloodline. Once one has established rule of a Kingdom, it is always wise to have some other means besides just might to back up one’s claim! This principle ensures that your hard fought for Kingdom will remain in the family for future generations and it also gives you an added cushion of authority in the eyes of your subjects who might think twice about rebelling against you if they believe you have some connection to the Gods!  It’s fine to achieve a Kingship and Kingdom by force, but eventually people will tire of fighting on your behalf and you will need some other means to control and lead them into your way of thinking. What better means of control than convincing them that you have supreme right from the Gods above to rule them!

I know, I know, you’re getting bored with all of this and want to get to the more interesting stuff… I just have one last theory to bring up before we get to our Viking era Kings. This theory is a recent development and discovery related to genetics.  Now you’re probably groaning to self- yes, you are, I can hear you! You’re thinking, What the Hell does current genetic research have to do with any of this! Well, please stick with me and let me explain!

In the past few years, there has been a vast amount of research done on genetics, DNA and how it might relate to us in various ways. Some of it has to do with genealogy and the ability now to better trace our ancestry, and of course that would include tracing Royal lineages- should some Royal ever require some need of proof that they are indeed part of Royal bloodline- or for those who just want to be able to say, Hey I am descended from Ragnar, Rollo, or others of historic fame. That in itself is quite interesting and I do plan to participate in that endeavor sometime soon.

If you are so inclined and interested, you can get more information about that research on these sites:

AncestryDNA project at Ancestry.com

http://dna.ancestry.com/

TribeCode DNA Ancestry testing

http://www.tribecode.com/

Although that genetic progress is interesting, it is not what we are most interested in with regards to this discussion. The discovery that pertains more to us is that of a specific gene called the Leadership gene!  A GENE has been uncovered that may help to create born leaders, or possibly trace the pattern in past leaders.

The leadership gene, known as rs4950, is an inherited DNA sequence associated with people taking charge.Scientists accept that leadership skills are also learned. But the gene may provide the vital push needed to make someone into a manager rather than a minion.  Researchers found the gene after analysing DNA samples from around 4000 individuals and matching them to information about jobs and relationships. Workplace supervisory roles were used as a measurement of leadership behavior.  The study showed that a quarter of the observed variation in leadership traits between individuals could be explained by genetics.

Lead scientist Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, from University College London, said: ‘‘We have identified a genotype, called rs4950, which appears to be associated with the passing of leadership ability down through generations.   ‘‘The conventional wisdom – that leadership is a skill – remains largely true, but we show it is also, in part, a genetic trait.’’

Some of the greatest leaders in recent history include Martin Luther King, Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Sir Winston Churchill.  Leaders do not necessarily have to be heroic or good though. Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Genghis Khan were also great leaders in their own way.

The new research suggests at least the possibility that some of these historic figures were blessed with the leadership gene. Despite the importance of the gene, acquiring a leadership position still mostly depends on developing the necessary skills, say the researchers.

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/leadership-is-in-the-gene-say-scientists-20130115-2cs7c.html

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130115111553.htm

Now if I have completely confused you as to the relevance of this genetic discovery to our topic of Kings and their claims of divine right, let me try to put some perspective on it.  The Royal dynasties now and in the past are based on some principle that their bloodline enables or allows them to rule. Granted, their claim is that it comes from God, the Gods, that divine connection or link. They knew nothing about genetics or DNA, they attributed their ability to a higher power. But, given the discovery of this gene, it would be fascinating to find this gene in some of those ancient rulers! Perhaps it was not God who destined or determined their fate or ability, but it may have been something in their bloodline from the beginning that allowed for the earliest of these rulers to be leaders and then pass that predisposition down to their offspring and future rulers! The research does conclude that this gene does not completely determine one’s ability or success but merely predisposes them toward that. It also states that having such gene does not equate to heroics or good, it could also enable a person with worst of intentions or morals to succeed in leading people in their direction.

As a genetic trait, it might be responsible for that certain charisma, charm or bearing that a person  innately presents which would allow for people to follow them- good or bad! It may come across as an overall appearance, a self confidence, an air natural inborn Royalness such as some of our Kings and their offspring display.  It could also be some inborn ability convince or sway people to your side, to your beliefs… some people are natural born salesmen! Ragnar certainly has it.

ragnar2

And, he has passed it down to his son Bjorn who is not King yet, but will be one day.

Can you do that Bjorn can you lead with your head and set your heart aside

If Ragnar is gifted with such a gene then in our saga, his brother Rollo would probably carry the gene as well. Rollo does not achieve Kingship in history nor probably in our version of it, but he comes close in founding his own dynasty of Normandy. And, great Monarchs will descend from his line in history so we could probably assume that Rollo did indeed have this gene!

what will the future hold for rolloPortrait of Rollo's destiny. Credit to Ines Jagger of Vikings Aftermath group and to lindamarieanson of deviant art.

Whether we like him or not, Ecbert does have this innate trait, this ability to charm and control…

Vikings-Ecbert-King-of-Wessex-played-by-Linus-Roache1ecbert has been disobeyed

King Horik most likely  had the gene bit it  is one of those cases where he used none of it for good!

horik sends rollo to jarl borg while he stays at kattegathorik and wife Gunhild who was once a great sheild maiden herself

Does King Aelle have it? I would say, possibly but as in Horik’s case, it’s not been a case of any good coming from it? The only reason that I suspect he might possibly carry the gene is for the fact that daughter Judith appears to have it and presents a better side of it! This is of course in our fictional version of the history. Later we will attempt to look at Aelle in the context of actual history and what his claim or justification may have been. As I have mentioned previously, I suspect that he may have come by his rule and his Kingdom more by might than by any true right, but he may have had the gene, which would have enable him to sway people to his line of thinking…

King-Aelle1Aelle and judith

Now for the moment, that leaves us with new comer Harald Finehair of Norway… we know next to nothing about him and can only gauge any thought or assumption on a limited vision of his outward appearance? But, from that appearance, I would say that yes he probably does have this gene.

peter franzen4

I am going to include one other person of interest in this list because while he does not have royal blood as far as we know at this time, he does display this trait and characteristic. That would be Kalf!

Kalf tries to remain unphased and calm through Ragnar's tiradeKalf says his own last minute prayer to the gods

And, if one bases the succession of their reign on such bloodline or ability, there may always come a point where a successor has not inherited such gene from his parent. That would leave your dynasty with a weak, ineffective leader such as our Frankish King Charles! In the case of Charles, any of the Charles that he may be representing in our version of history, we also need to take into account one other thing that may have affected their genes. With the principle and practice of hereditary monarchy comes a somewhat disturbing side affect. In order to keep your Royal bloodline continuing, your descendants must marry within a severely limited group of others who would presumably share this royal blood. This practice results in a great deal of inbreeding with close relatives. The early Christian church realized this and did put forth a number of rules regarding who one could marry. This might have been looked at as some sort of extreme Papal control and Bureaucracy but in reality, it was their means of dealing with the affects of  such close inbreeding that led to much hereditary illnesses, instabilities and insanities being passed down through generations or ruling families.

charles I must prove myself better than my brothers and these Northmen have provided just the event

Charles and other members of his Frankish dynasty were thought to be afflicted by various forms of such instability. So, while Charles may or may not have inherited the leadership gene, (my personal thought is that he probably did not!) he most likely did inherit some of the other instabilities of his family.

As long as we’re looking at Charles, let us quickly look at his daughter, Gisla… who may or may not be a real person. In our fictional account, she is quite young but she does seem to have moments where she displays such a leadership gene.

charles leaves but the people still rejoice around the real hero of the day gisla

gisla raises the banner and reminds the men of what they fight for

gisla raises the banner and reminds the men of what they fight for

Since we have brought up the realities of inbreeding and instability, there is one other person to look at in relation to the leadership gene and to claims of right to rule. That person would of course be the Princess Kwentirith in our saga, who is said to be a daughter of Offa and who is now Queen of Mercia. Kwentirith is based loosely on some real women of that time period who did have some claim to rule. It was very rare that a woman would be allowed to rule but there were some early instances of it in Saxon history. It would have been due to the early practice of following the blood line and a woman being the last and only direct relative left to take over. That was the case of Kwentirith when her brother so conveniently died.  We will deal with the history of Mercia and their rule later. For now let us just look at Kwentirith in respect to whether she might have the leadership gene and whether she also carries some inherited family instability! At her best, Kwentirith can present a charming and engaging personality and a regal bearing.  She may have the gene which would allow her to put forth an initial image and presence that people would pay some attention to. Unfortunately, she also displays such an irratic and volatile range of instability that people quickly realize her instability! Is this instability inherited or due merely to her childhood environment? My thought is that it is probably a bit of both. She refers to the behaviors of her Father and her uncle, as well as brothers so I would think that some of the insanity is inherited, probably from a long line of inbreeding before the family might have converted and followed rules of the church!

Kwenthrith1

the return of kwentrith

the return of kwentrith

kwentirith enjoys the snack and Rollo thinks to enjoy his own snackKwentirith unleashing her savagery on Uncle britwulf's head

I have given you some basic overall theories and reasons on the hows and whys of Kingship in general, and how they relate to our Royalty in the Vikings saga.  In my next posts, I will deal with each King separately. Because all of these people have some real life historical basis, I will look at them in that historical context rather than the fictional one. Where ever possible, I will attempt to explore the fictional relationship as it might relate to the real one. The only people who do not seem to have any real life basis as yet would be Kalf, and Aelle’s daughter Judith. But, seeing as they are not yet rulers in any way, we will not look into their histories as it relates in this way!  Also, I have already dealt with both of them in previous posts so we will leave it at that for the time being!

You can find my thoughts on Kalf in the previous post about Hedeby:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/vikings-lagertha-kalf-and-why-is-hedeby-so-important/

Judith’s story is detailed here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/viking-saga-judiths-story/

Based on the historical fact that Horik’s and Ragnar’s claims are both tied to the Crown and history of Denmark, I will look at them together in relation to that history. In looking at that history, it may also lead us to exploring Aelle’s limited history in Northumbria… mainly because when we look closer at the history of the Danes and the Angles who resided in that country prior to the Danes taking over, we will see the migration of them to places in Britain such as Northumbria, York, and East Anglia. I will also look at where the ruling line went after Ragnar in history because historically he did not rule for very long and his sons did not take his place in succession. Because of that, we will look at who did come afterwards, and what happened to his sons in history. This will include a look at Sweden where Bjorn Ironside eventually become a King.

We will look at Ecbert’s path to his rule and his claim in relation to Saxon history and in relation to the church because they backed his initial claim to his throne. That Church connection will also be a connection to the rule of Charles. We will also see in this history, the claim of one woman who bears some similarity to our Kwentirith.

We will look at Harald Finehair and his connection or claim to the rule of Norway in a separate discussion because while we all tend to look at the Vikings and Scandinavia as one inclusive entity, they were very separate kingdoms much further back than the Viking age! As they all migrated to Britain during various time periods, they located themselves in different localities and did not identify themselves under that one umbrella of “Viking” They did not even particularly like each other and would not have chosen to band together or associate with each other unless it was for such purpose of defeating a common enemy such as the Saxon English!

I hope that you will join me and enjoy the upcoming journey as we explore the rights and claims to Kingship!

Danish right to rule and history: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/horik-and-ragnar-part-of-the-oldest-monarchy-in-europe/

This article includes Horik, Ragnar, as well as Ragnar’s sons Bjorn, Ivar and Sigurd!

Horik and Ragnar their paths to ruling a dynasty

Ecbert’s claim to Wessex:

The beginnings of Egbert's power plots

The beginnings of Egbert’s power plots

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/from-charlamagne-to-egbert-and-wessex/

 

 

Vikings: Lagertha, Kalf, and why is Hedeby so important?

 

Ahhhh while I am enjoying my comfortable vacation in Paris, that does not mean I do not hear rumors of what is going on elsewhere in our world! Paris is a great city full of merchants and traders from near and far. Now that it is quiet  on the Viking front- their raiding season is over and we can all rest easily for a bit- we get visitors even from that Northland, ones not involved in raiding, but true explorers and traders who travel to the farthest reaches of the world trading goods for wealth.  Our city even now in these early times, known for it’s finest and trend setting attire. Wealthy women from as far away as those backwards kingdoms of Wessex and Northumbria, from those far northern places such as Kiev and even such places as Hedeby all send their merchants and messengers to us in search of precious materials and patterns… They even at times think to bribe our talent sewers and weavers into leaving us for their households. Thankfully, our women are most happy and content here, they would not dream of leaving such luxury as we have here for those wild and heathen places where their creations would not be so appreciated or seen by so many! 

Rollo  like I said don't piss me off  I'm not in a good mood right now

Of  course, all of our best dressmakers and costumers are right now extremely busy and much overwhelmed by the daunting task of creating appropriate attire for the upcoming wedding of the Princess Gisla to our Viking friend Rollo! We are still negotiating this agreement and hopefully it will go through with few problems, but one never truly knows how things such as this will turn out? I am confident that Rollo and his current personal advisor, Sinric will manage to work all of this out. Please understand that in these times, this is a far more detailed process than just arranging a Royal wedding, which can be taxing in itself!  It involves many various contracts, treaties and agreements between both sides and it is a very intricate and delicate negotiation. The slightest wrong wording of something, or misplaced comment could end the entire deal and put us all in danger once again! And, then there is the matter of  Gisla herself, who as yet is still pouting, locked away in her quarters and refusing to give in on this marriage.  To say that this court is in disarray is putting it quite mildly!

I am enjoying my time here but everyone’s nerves are a bit frayed by all of these wedding and treaty details going on here. The seamstresses have the duty to ensure plain Gisla is attired in all of the wealth and bounty accorded to her status… yes, they must turn her into a glorious swan that represents her Royal status and causes people to overlook her flaws, even her most apparent behavior flaws! I do not envy this task at all.

gisla's instructions make sure they do not capture you alive

gisla's response to her father's whining  Father get up they have gone now you are safe

gisla is not amused

gisla is not amused

a stubborn and determined gisla does show her lack of complete understanding of the situation

The other massive difficulty for our ladies is that not only must they dress Gisla appropriately, they must ensure that she has a wealth of linen goods to accompany her to her new household, should this marriage finally go through. It is generally expected that she will bring with her a great treasure of household goods to set up housekeeping where ever Rollo should find for them to live. This would include all of the finery that she is accustomed to such as bed linens, coverlets and hangings, tapestries and wall hangings, table linens and adornments, plus bolts of cloth for future use.  Yes, the women are weary and stressed… and if this all should be for naught, they shall all be quite more vexed than they already are at the girl and her ongoing childish tantrums over such a thing as an arranged marriage for the good of their country.  This is what happens when you spoil a child and give her far too much leeway in her thoughts. The women all agree that she is no different from any other girl who’s duty  from birth is to work toward a marriage of alliances. I have also heard a number of women comment as to how if Gisla is not willing to do this, they would gladly trade places with her to wed and bed that Viking man, Rollo! He did cause quite a stir at his first court appearance and of course all of the women have heard the stories of his courage and bravery in battle!

rollo's thought Haaaaaa I understood every word I think you owe me even more money and land for taking her off your hands...

rollo’s thought Haaaaaa I understood every word I think you owe me even more money and land for taking her off your hands…

 

In spite of all of this wedding chaos, they are also trying to keep up with the ongoing requests from all of those merchants and traders visiting the city because these women have good business sense!  They are not willing to turn down a chance for profit and future business so they want to keep these merchants appeased as well. When I visited their quarters recently, they were busy with a design that I could tell immediately, was not meant for our Gisla. I made casual inquiry of who this gown was for.  They responded that it was for a woman of  high worth and quality in a far off North place of Hedeby… Hedeby?  I was now quite curious as I know of only one woman of such worth who might be connected to Hedeby. I had to satisfy my curiosity and question them for more information on this woman. Unfortunately, they were unable to tell me much other than that the woman of worth was named Lagertha!

someone as in Lagertha is getting a fancy new dress

someone as in Lagertha is getting a fancy new dress! Preview clip of season 4 costumes.

 

I watched them work on the gown and gazed thoughtfully at this  creation still somewhat in it’s early stages. Such a beautiful dress, I thought to myself, it would look magnificent on Lagertha. As I continued to gaze at it, I was reminded of the wedding dresses that the far off future generations of brides will wear. They do not wear such types of all white dresses now but they do adorn themselves in all of the wealth and finery that they can afford to display their worth and their value to their future family. What ever the case or occasion, this dress does bespeak of that worth and value such as a regal bride, a queen, an Earl in her own right, or say possibly the wife of an Earl might wear!

As I left the sewing rooms, my thoughts turned to my friend Lagertha, to the mysterious Kalf, and to that kingdom which they were at such odds over… Hedeby. I thought of how disillusioned and angry Lagertha was when they left Paris. Her last trust in Ragnar destroyed, her son Bjorn having to choose between her and Ragnar once again, and her words to Kalf during this time. She had told Kalf that she would go with him, be with him with his understanding and acceptance that one day, she would kill him!

Lagertha what if I agree to be with you to go with you but... Lagertha if you accept that condition then let us be together and enjoy each other

Lagertha is my friend, I love her dearly but sometimes she is just so stubborn and so insistent that she is right that she will not listen to the advice of others or listen to her own voice of reason. She is a fierce and mighty warrior and life often ends up as a battle or a competition to be won. I admire her for her determination and her pride, for her innate sense of honor and justice, and for her warrior spirit. She is so full of that spirit in all parts of her life, she lives, loves and fights with so much passion that sometimes it overshadows her clearer thinking.  She has made her share of mistakes, she has survived and achieved her fame in what is truly a man’s world in this time but it has cost her much. Men have used her, betrayed her, abused her but she does not give up or give in easily in anything that matters to her heart. Once she has her mind set to something, it is almost impossible to sway her from it… Ragnar did remind Kalf of this when he told Kalf that the matter of Hedeby was a personal one that the two of them must work out for themselves.

I want my land and my title back and I brought my Ragnar with me to get it

I want my land and my title back and I brought my Ragnar with me to get it

It's clear that these men do not like her or at least do not want to be ruled by her

It’s clear that these men do not like her or at least do not want to be ruled by her

ragnar's look to lagertha you stay out here and don't make any more trouble

ragnar’s look to lagertha you stay out here and don’t make any more trouble

 

that is between you and my ex-wife  and I wish you good luck on that one!

that is between you and my ex-wife and I wish you good luck on that one!

When I think of the situation with Lagertha and Kalf, I know that much of it comes down to her insistence on being right in this matter of Hedeby, and her feeling that both Ragnar and Kalf have betrayed her. While she was away in England fulfilling her and Ragnar’s dream and enjoying her dalliance with King Ecbert, she left Kalf in Hedeby to be responsible for it in her absence. When she spoke of Kalf during this time, she spoke fondly of him and even before that, it obvious that were feelings between them.

kalf says I have nothing to offer. Lagertha:   Let me be the judge of that

kalf says I have nothing to offer. Lagertha: Let me be the judge of that

 

kalf and lagertha

Not Kalf never Kalf he would never betray me

Not Kalf never Kalf he would never betray me

So, with a possibility of some future together between Lagertha and Kalf, one which so many have such concerns and doubts about, let us look at the entire situation realistically. Let us look at Lagertha’s decisions, what ever Kalf may or may not be hiding or be responsible for, Ragnar’s involvement in all of it, and let us look at Hedeby itself- it’s importance and it’s history.

Hedeby history

 

First of all, let us look at Hedeby, it’s importance and it’s history- and how that history and tradition relates to the present situation between Lagertha and Kalf. I do not want to overwhelm and overload you with historical facts, but my research has proven that Hedeby is clearly such an important place in history that it needs to be presented here in that context so that you understand some of the reasons behind Kalf’s behaviors and thoughts, Ragnar’s reasons for wanting to hold on to it and Kalf as an alliance, and Lagertha’s reasons for wanting it- because of it’s importance, it is of far more value than just her spoken reason of, I want it because it is mine! In looking at the history, we will also see why it might be next to impossible for her to actually rule this land on her own. When Kalf states his justification for having it, he may be more right than Lagertha.  Ragnar as King, and as one who know much more about everything than he lets on, would clearly know of Hedeby’s history and understand how difficult this situation is. He would  understand why Lagertha might not be able to achieve this rule but knowing Lagertha, he would also know very well that she would not be willing to listen to reason on this matter! As King, Ragnar should be aware of  and knowledgeable about Kalf himself. Kalf admits that he has ambitions of fame and greatness for himself, but that he rightly fears Ragnar. As Kalf puts it, What man would not fear such a man as Ragnar, a farmer who made himself King! I have always been of the thought that there is more going on between Kalf and Ragnar behind the scenes and beneath the surface than we are aware of.  Did they betray Lagertha outright with malicious and manipulative intent? Well, Ragnar has certainly betrayed her trust a number of times so, it wouldn’t be out of line for him to have betrayed her in this matter of Hedeby as well. On the other hand, he would know that this situation of Hedeby is a difficult one to solve and realistically, the easiest way to solve it would be as he put it, for Lagertha and Kalf to work it out.  In some way, I think Ragnar’s rationale is that if Kalf and Lagertha were to marry and form such an alliance, it would keep Hedeby, Kalf and Lagertha closer under his control and his watchful eye, since it’s becoming abundantly clear that he trusts few, not even Lagertha any longer.  Has Kalf betrayed her? Well, in some ways, yes of course he has but in looking back at the situation she left for him to manage, he may have felt justified and felt as well that he could find a way to work through this mess with her. He did tell her that he believed their lives and their fates were destined to be entwined together.

Is your earldom really that important to you  Yes because it's mine

Ragnar: Is your earldom really that important to you? Lagertha: Yes because it’s mine

kalf gives his speech I was born here in hedeby I belong here I have better claim and right to this than you

kalf gives his speech I was born here in hedeby I belong here I have better claim and right to this than you

realistically she is the outsider here

realistically Lagertha is the outsider here

ragnar's frustrated look of how do I explain this to her

ragnar’s frustrated look of how do I explain this to her

Well there is never much use in arguing with you

Well there is never much use in arguing with you

 

The history and importance of Hedeby

After researching the history of Hedeby, I am a little frustrated with how Michael Hirst has so far presented it and it’s importance to the Norse and Viking history. From what little information we have been given about the place, one might have a tendency to view it as a rather small, relatively unimportant village or earldom other for the fact that Lagertha ended up there when she left him and married the previous Earl. He does make some mention of it’s ships and that importance in his willingness to work with Kalf but other than that, it is portrayed as a place of little consequence other than to those living there.  In reality, it was one of the major port settlements and one of the oldest kingdoms in that northern land. Until sometime in the mid 800s, it was a kingship in it’s own right.

 Hedeby (Danish pronunciation: [ˈheːð̩byːˀ], Old Norse Heiðabýr, German Haithabu or Haddeby) was an important trading settlement in the Danish-northern German borderland during the Viking Age. It flourished from the 8th to the 11th centuries.

The site is located towards the southern end of the Jutland Peninsula. It developed as a trading centre at the head of a narrow, navigable inlet known as the Schlei, which connects to the Baltic Sea. The location was favorable because there is a short portage of less than 15 km to the Treene River, which flows into the Eider with its North Sea estuary, making it a convenient place where goods and ships could be ported overland for an almost uninterrupted seaway between the Baltic and the North Sea and avoid a dangerous and time-consuming circumnavigation of Jutland, providing Hedeby with a role similar to later Lübeck.

Hedeby was the second largest Nordic city during the Viking Age, after Uppåkra in southern Sweden,  and used to be the oldest city in Denmark until the site became part of Germany.

 

hedeby

Hedeby is first mentioned in the Frankish chronicles of Einhard (804) who was in the service of Charlemagne, but was probably founded around 770. In 808 the Danish king Godfred (Lat. Godofredus) destroyed a competing Slav trade centre named Reric, and it is recorded in the Frankish chronicles that he moved the merchants from there to Hedeby. This may have provided the initial impetus for the town to develop. The same sources record that Godfred strengthened the Danevirke, an earthen wall that stretched across the south of the Jutland peninsula. The Danevirke joined the defensive walls of Hedeby to form an east-west barrier across the peninsula, from the marshes in the west to the Schlei inlet leading into the Baltic in the east.

The town itself was surrounded on its three landward sides (north, west, and south) by earthworks. At the end of the 9th century the northern and southern parts of the town were abandoned for the central section. Later a 9-metre (29-ft) high semi-circular wall was erected to guard the western approaches to the town. On the eastern side, the town was bordered by the innermost part of the Schlei inlet and the bay of Haddebyer Noor.

Hedeby became a principal marketplace because of its geographical location on the major trade routes between the Frankish Empire and Scandinavia (north-south), and between the Baltic and the North Sea (east-west). Between 800 and 1000 the growing economic power of the Vikings led to its dramatic expansion as a major trading centre.

The following indicate the importance achieved by the town:

  • The town was described by visitors from England (Wulfstan – 9th century) and the Mediterranean (Al-Tartushi – 10th century).
  • Hedeby became the seat of a bishop (948) and belonged to the Archbishopric of Hamburg and Bremen.
  • The town minted its own coins (from 825?).
  • Adam of Bremen (11th century) reports that ships were sent from this portus maritimus to Slavic lands, to Sweden, Samland (Semlant) and even Greece.

Situated in present-day Germany’s northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein, the location at the neck of Jutland was the perfect site for a trading port, as pre-Viking settlers had already recognised. Here, only a narrow land-crossing separates the Schlei, an inlet of the Baltic, in the east from the then tidal river to the west, giving access to the North Sea. In what were the early days of kingdoms in Scandinavia, the wealth and power generated by long-distance trade prompted Hedeby’s documented foundation by Danish King Göttrik at the beginning of the ninth century. Commercial contact also meant cultural contact leading to the spread of ideas and beliefs as well as fashions and technologies. Trade flourished, workshops produced their wares, the harbour expanded. And at this place where political and cultural boundaries met, one of Scandinavia’s earliest towns developed and thrived. Merchant ships came and went with their cargoes of furs, amber, soapstone, semi-precious stones, iron, silver, glass-beads…  and, not least, slaves.

But as a kingdom’s prized possession, Hedeby was fiercely fought over by rival rulers, and in the tenth century defences were built around it. In the course of the eleventh century, trading was relocated to a site at nearby Schleswig, and when Haithabu was ravaged in the middle of the century it was abandoned. The site within the semi-circular rampart was left virtually undisturbed in its rural context, keeping its memories and treasures hidden, until its rediscovery by archaeologists in the late nineteenth century.

http://www.schloss-gottorf.de/haithabu/das-museum/viking-museum-haithabu.

So, obviously, Hedeby was an extremely important port which Kings such as Ragnar would have deemed crucial to have under their control. During much of the 9th century, Hedeby was under the control of Danish rulers but some time during the late 9th century it fell under the rule of a Swedish dynasty. A Swedish dynasty founded by Olof the Brash is said to have ruled Hedeby during the last decades of the 9th century and the first part of the 10th century. This was told to Adam of Bremen by the Danish king Sweyn Estridsson, and it is supported by three runestones found in Denmark. Two of them were raised by the mother of Olof’s grandson Sigtrygg Gnupasson. The third runestone, discovered in 1796, is from Hedeby, the Stone of Eric (Swedish: Erikstenen). It is inscribed with Norwegian-Swedish runes. It is, however, possible that Danes also occasionally wrote with this version of the younger futhark.

For a long period of time, Hedeby was the kingship location, not just an Earldom under the rule of  a King.  Mr. Hirst presents us with a version of Hedeby where the land is now a minor Earldom under the rule of Danes and a fictional Sigvard was Earl. Sigvard was domineering and abusive, often asserting his power and ownership over Lagertha. He is brutal, ill-tempered, and frequently drunk, beating Lagertha when she talks back to him. Sigvard dislikes Bjorn, Lagertha’s son with Ragnar, and takes pleasure in insulting and humiliating him in front of his people.  Lagertha eventually stabbed him and his nephew, Einar killed him- it is important to remember, Lagertha did not kill him, Einar did!

After Sigvard’s death, supposedly the people chose Lagertha as their new Earl rather than Einar. Einar  was not much more trusted or liked it would seem, than his uncle Sigvard.  The fact that he had just murdered his uncle for control of the Earldom probably had something to do with their not choosing him as Earl. Yes, they did choose Lagertha as new Earl, which was extremely rare and not a generally accepted practice at the time, or for this land. I believe they would have expected her to quickly marry an acceptable candidate and then co-rule or step down in deference to the one she would marry. They would also have expected her to remain there as ruler during this most precarious transition period when the land would have been in disarray and turmoil over the recent events. This all brought Kalf into the picture. Kalf, also a fictional character, was Lagertha’s well trusted and liked second in command. We know little else of Kalf’s ties and relationships within Hedeby. He did state at one point that he had more right and claim to the title than Lagertha did. He was born in Hedeby…. but, surely there must be some other reason to justify his claim than just that fact? Hopefully, Mr. Hirst will address some of this in the future!

Before we go on with the real history of Hedeby, let’s look closer at what Kalf was dealing with in Hedeby when Lagertha so rashly decided to follow Ragnar to England. She left a land in disarray and expected Kalf to manage it all for her while she was gone. Kalf had to deal with Einar, who held a seething grudge against Lagertha for spurning his sexual offers- and for insulting him with the comment that he would never be Earl because even his own people considered him a failure and unworthy of ruling.  Their decision to choose an outsider and a woman over him as the next male in line would surely have ate deeply at him and he would have reason to cause rebellion and revolt against her in her absence. Einar was bitter and willing to go to any lengths to see her deposed. Kalf is an intelligent man, always thinking ahead, and thinking of consequences and repurcussions. There would have been many who might side with Einar in his rants against Lagertha. Kalf had to find a way to diffuse this situation, not cause more rebellion by the killing of Einar. Kalf was in a difficult position. He could accuse Einar of treason and have him killed, but that would only lead to more rebellion.  Kalf is also an ambitious man with goals of fame of his own. He has some reason or justification for feeling that he has right to this Earldom and he needs to find a way to accomplish that without complete civil war. He chose to indulge Einar and gain his support for him as Earl.  I believe that he felt that he could work the situation out with Lagertha if or when she should ever return. Realistically, the land of Hedeby was in some chaos at this time without an actual ruler. Who knew if Lagertha or Ragnar would return from the voyage, how long does a country wait for a ruler to return? Kalf took the steps he needed to ensure that Hedeby had a ruler, one who was liked, trusted and capable of ruling. As to the situation with Erlandeur, son of King Horik… when we look closer at the history of Hedeby, we will see that Kalf may have his own reasons for luring Erlandeur in, for playing his own deceptive game with Erlandeur in order to eventually destroy the boy himself.

I’ve mentioned previously that we know little about Kalf’s past history or why he might feel justified in his claim to the Earldom. But, if we look at the history of Hedeby, we will find that it was Erlandeur’s father, a King Horick who was much responsible for the demise of  any Royal households in Hedeby and it eventually lapsing into a more minor Earldom.

For our history purposes, I am only going to deal with the earlier periods of Hedeby’s history and not the later periods when it became a part of Denmark and Sweden at various point of time. As I have already stated, Hirst has placed it as an Earldom ruled by the Danes. There could of course be some future ambitions on Kalf’s part to undo this but we do not know of such plans right now.  For now, I want to present the portion of history that ties Hedeby to the Carolingian Frankish Empire led by Charlamagne, and to Horick of Denmark.

This is a list of Kings of Hedeby covering the time period of 780 to about 916. If you look towards the bottom of the list, you will find reference to Ragnar Lodbrok’s son Ivar the Boneless. You will also notice reference to the lands held in Britain, as in York or Jorvick.
Kings of Hedeby (Haithabu) House of Vestfold c.780–798

Sigurd I … son of king Øystein of Vestfold in Norway; king in southern Jutland 798–804

Harald I … brother of Sigurd I 804

Harald II … son of Harald I 804–810

Halfdan … son of Harald I 810

Sigurd II … son of king Halfdan II of Vestfold, brother of Sigurd I 810

Godfred I … brother of Sigurd II; Vestfold 802–810? 810–812 Hemming … son of Sigurd II & 810–812

Sigurd III … son of Sigurd II 812

Anulo … son of Halfdan 812–814

Harald III, Klak … son of Halfdan; deposed, died 844 & 812–814

Rörik … son of Halfdan; deposed, died 844 813–854

Erik I … son of Godfred I 854–870:

Erik II … son of Erik I & 854–862

Sigurd IV … son of Erik I & 854–885

Godfred II … son of Harald III 870:–891:

Erik III … son of Erik II 891:–894

Knud … son of Rörik; deposed, died 894 House of York (Jórvík) 894–c.910

Oluf, the Brash … son of (?) king Ivar the Boneless of York, son of Ragnar Lodbrok c.910–c.915

Gurd … son of Oluf & c.910–c.915 Gnupa … son of Oluf c.915–c.916 Sigtryg … son of Gnupa
I. Mladjov

The early history of Kings of Daneland and specifically, Hedeby is actually documented within Frankish records of Charlamagne and later rulers. It is detailed in the Annales Fuldenses, or Annals of Fulda are East Frankish chronicles that cover independently the period from the last years of Louis the Pious (died 840) to shortly after the end of effective Carolingian rule in East Francia with the accession of the child-king, Louis III, in 900. Throughout this period they are a near contemporary record of the events they describe and a primary source for Carolingian historiography. They are usually read as a counterpart to the narrative found in the West Frankish Annales Bertiniani.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annales_Fuldenses

These Frankish annal mention early Rulers of Daneland and Hedeby. They also document much of the unrest and civil wars of Daneland and Hedeby during those early years. During many of those disputes, the early rulers of Hedeby sought protection and aid from the Frankish Empire. There is a very detailed account of this history in research regarding one of the rulers, Harald III, Klak.  What is confusing here is that these early rulers of Hedeby were the earliest rulers of the entire land of Denmark. Because Hedeby was the largest and most important settlement at the time, the rulers generally located themselves in that area.

The earliest disputes  came from King Horick’s Father, Godfrid and his brother Halfdan.  Little is mentioned of Halfdan other than that he turned to Charlamagne and the Franks for aid. We do know more about Godfrid, who supposedly was murdered by one of his own sons…. an action which I would not put past or above Horik who eventually became King!

King horik's family of daughters

floki also plays the dangerous game of politics trying to gain horik's trust ragnar stabs horik and looks down at the bloody dagger

Fearing an invasion by the Franks, who had conquered heathen Frisia over the previous 100 years and Old Saxony in 772 to 804, Godfred began work on an enormous structure to defend his realm, separating Jutland from the northern extent of the Frankish Empire. The Frankish invasion never materialized, but it caused Gudfred to construct the first sections of the Danevirke, which ran from the Schlei toward the west coast of Denmark by means of the river Trende. The wall was built with an earthen embankment topped by a wooden stockade and protected from the south by a deep ditch. Denmark’s most important town, Hedeby, which apparently already existed on the Schlien, was expanded and garrisoned with Danish soldiers and the early sections of the wall were designed to protect it.

In 808, King Godfred forced the Obodrites to acknowledge him as their overlord. The citizens of Reric were allied with Charlemagne, who used the port as part of a strategic trade route. King Gudfred attacked Reric burnt it down, killed Chief Drożko and ordered the merchants to resettle at Hedeby, which was being integrated into the Danevirke defensive line.

In 809, King Godfred and emissaries of Charlemagne failed to negotiate peace. In 810, Gudfrid led 200 ships to plunder the Frisian coast, and forced the merchants and peasant to pay 100 pounds of silver and claimed Northern Frisia as Danish territory. To protect the northern coast of the Frankish Empire, Charlemagne began paying Viking chieftains to protect sections of the coast from the Schlei west to the Weser River. That same summer King Godfred was killed by one of his housecarls. According to Notker of St Gall, the bodyguard who murdered King Gudfred was one of his own sons.

For some reason, when Godfred died, his nephew, Hemming inherited the throne rather than any of his sons. No reason is given for this but in any case, Hemming’s rule did not last long. Hemming died and  Sigifrid, the nephew of King Godofrid, and Anulo, the nephew of Heriold and of the former king, both wished to succeed him. Being unable to agree on who should be king, they raised troops, fought a battle, and were both killed. The party of Anulo won, however, and made his brothers Heriold and Reginfrid their kings. The defeated party out of necessity had to go along with Anulo’s party and did not reject the brothers as their kings. They say that ten thousand nine hundred and forty men died in that battle.” Heriold usually translated to Harald. This would bring us to Harald Klak as ruler of Hedeby and Denmark. Harald and his brother Reginfrid were installed as co-rulers.

There was another rebellion led by the sons of Godfred- Horik would have been among them… Harald and Reginfrid were defeated. The Annales entries of 814 start with the death of Charlemagne. Louis the Pious became sole emperor and turned to diplomatic relations with other European powers. The Royal Annales then mention the continuation of the conflict among the Danes and that Harald Klak sought refuge in the court of Louis. “Heriold and Reginfrid, kings of the Danes, had been defeated and expelled from their kingdom the year before [813] by the sons of Godofrid, against whom they regrouped their forces and again made war. In this conflict Reginfid and the oldest son of Godofrid were killed. When this had come to pass, Heriold despaired of his cause, came to the emperor [Louis], and put himself under his protection. The emperor received him and told him to go to Saxony and to wait for the proper time when he would be able to give him the help which Heriold had requested.

Eventually, some sort of agreement was made whereby Harald would be co-ruler with two of those sons. One of those sons would have been Horik. Everything remained calm for a time until Harald once again pleaded for assistance. He and a group of 400 Danes again sought sanctuary from the Frankish Empire and assistance to restore him to his throne. This assistance was granted on condition that he accept the Christian faith and be baptized. He was also granted land in the Frankish realm should he ever need to seek asylum or refuge in the future.   On his return to Denmark Harald was probably accompanied by Saint Anskar and a group of monks and it may have been in this time that a church in Hedeby was first built, as well as a school were twelve Danish boys (some of whom were from Harald’s household) were to be educated as priests.

In the second year after his return to Denmark, however, in 827, he was once again expelled by the surviving sons of Gudfred. One of them was Horik I. The Royal Annals mention in 827: “The emperor [Louis] held two assemblies. One was at Nijmegen because Hohrek (Latin:Hohrici), son of Godofrid, the king of the Danes, had falsely promised to appear before the emperor.” Later in the year the Annals mention the deposition of Harald. “In the meantime the kings of the Danes, that is, the sons of Godofrid, deprived Heriold of his share of the kingship and forced him to leave Nordmannia.” The reason for the deposition is not mentioned. His introduction of Christianity may have also made him unpopular with his subjects. 

It seems that, in the years between 829 and 852, Harald had remained a figure of some influence in the region, but he never again managed to launch a serious attempt to regain the Danish throne, nor did the Frankish monarchs seem interested in sending more armies to fight his cause. He died two years before his rival King Horik the elder.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harald_Klak

Horik I (died 854) reigned as sole King of the Danes from 827 to his violent death in 854. His reign was marked by Danish raids on the Franco-German empire of Louis the Pious, son and successor of Charlemagne.

Horik’s father was King Gudfred, known for his successful raids and wars against Charlemagne’s Frankish empire and against the Abodrites. In 810, Gudfred was assassinated by one of his own sons, and his nephew and successor Hemming made peace with Charlemagne.

Hemming did not last long. Horik and another of Gudfred’s sons took power in 811, later expelling a rival named Harald Klak, who took refuge at the court of Charlemagne’s son and successor, Louis the Pious. In 819, Louis forced Gudfred’s sons to accept Harald as co-ruler. Harald converted to Christianity in 826, with Louis standing as his godfather, but Harald was driven out of Denmark for the second and final time one year later. By then Horik was the only son of Gudfred’s still alive, making him the sole king of the Danes.

Horik refused to convert to Christianity, as it was his enemies’ religion, and resisted attempts by Archbishop Anskar of HamburgBremen to proselytize the Danes. In 845, Horik’s army attacked Hamburg and destroyed St. Mary’s Cathedral there. It was Horik’s last major war in East Francia.

However, Danish raids against Frisia continued. The Franks lacked an effective fleet, so the Danes could raid more or less with impunity. The Danes sacked the silver minting center of Dorestad in 834, 835, and 836, and plundered Walcheren in 837. In 845, a Viking warlord named Ragnar Lodbrok attacked Paris and had to be bought off with 7,000 French livres (pounds) (2,570 kilograms (5,670 lb)) of gold and silver.

King Horik seems to have disapproved of these raids, for successful raiders constituted possible rivals. Occasionally, Horik even punished raiders. In 836, Horik sent an embassy to King Louis declaring that he had nothing to do with the raids on Frisia, and that he had executed those responsible. In 845, following Ragnar’s mysterious death, he had Ragnar’s followers massacred.

In 854, King Horik I was killed by a nephew whom he had driven into exile. While in exile, the nephew had become a successful raider. No mention or name was ever given of the nephew who killed him.

In our Viking version of the history, Kalf makes a point of stating that no Christian King would ever be able to rule their land or their people.

Kalf's response to Ragnar's baptism  I hope it is true because no Christian King will ever be allowed to rule the vikings

Kalf’s response to Ragnar’s baptism I hope it is true because no Christian King will ever be allowed to rule the Vikings

 

Kalf: no christian king will ever rule our world  it's unthinkable it goes against all of our gods

Kalf: no christian king will ever rule our world it’s unthinkable it goes against all of our gods

While our Kalf is a fictional creation, I can’t help but wonder what his past story is, how he might possibly be connected to any of Hedeby’s rich history of dissenters and disputes over the throne of Danemark?

Aside from Hedeby’s rich Royal links, it’s history goes even deeper than that.

The broad and deep impact of the Danish peoples on world history has been long appreciated by scholars of the middle ages.  This is especially true for a branch of the Danish royal family that held the ancient town of Hedeby for many centuries.  Hedeby was perhaps the oldest and largest town and the most active marketplace in ancient Scandinavia.  Hedeby lies in the ancient region of Angle, which is now positioned in the modern German district of Schleswig-Holstein. 

 Wikinger Museum Haithabu 

 

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hedebyhouses001.jpg

The Angles, a subgroup of the Danish peoples, are well known in history for their role in the Anglo-Saxon development of England.  The full extent of Danish influence and especially that of the Angles, however, is only recently beginning to surface.  This site is developed for the purpose of further documenting the role of the Angles in world history in accordance with recent and ongoing discoveries, including those based on archeology, DNA and various other forms of research.

The seat of power in Angle was Hedeby-Haithabu, and the regional name of Angle derives from the angled, or curved shape of the large semi-circular bailey fort at Hedeby.  Hedeby was an ideal location due to its position at the end of a very long inlet that cuts half way through lower Denmark.  Merchants would pass through Hedeby to substantially reduce transit time and risk, a benefit for which merchants were happy to pay a toll to the kings of Angle.

A dominant feature of the fort at Hedeby was the placement of Hawthorn bushes atop a tall earthen wall.  These bushes bristle with long, sharp thorns, providing additional defense against invaders.  The wall was curved (angled) in a semi-circle, with one side opening to a bay.  This curved wall and the thorns of the Hawthorn bush are defining features of the fort at Hedeby, and many places and people from Angle are named in honor of these and other features of the Hedeby fort.  The list of such names is quite long, but we might consider a few root words and composite names relevant to the I1a migration topic:

  • Bul/Bol:  cognate with ball, bowl, meaning “round, curved”
  • Rus/Ris:  derives from O.N. hris, meaning “thorny thicket”
  • Ger/Gar:  derives from PIE *ghers- “stand out, rise to a point, bristle” used to name the thorny briar and spear
  • Poe/Pa:  cognate with pea, meaning “round, curved”
  • Tringen:  Old Frisian, “ring, curved”
  • Phris/Pres:   authorities beginning with Chalmers (see Watson) correctly identified -fries with Gaelic preas, Angl. pres(s), gen. phris, Angl. -fries, gen. pl. preas, (b)p(h)reasach, “bush, copse, thicket, briar”

From these root words, we get the following names:

  • Bulgar, “round [wall] of thorns”
  • Rus, “thorny thicket”
  • Rustringen, “round [wall] of thorny thicket”
  • Paris, “round [wall] of thorny thicket”
  • Frisia, “land named for the thorny thicket”

These names support the notion that Hedeby is the nucleus for migration of the Angles to Paris, York, Frisia, Kiev, Bolghar (Volga Bulgars), and Bulgaria (Danube Bulgars).

The Angles are known to have favored York and we know that a mass migration from Angle to York happened in the 5th century.  In the 9th century, the famous Viking Ragnar was ruler of Hedeby and was captured and killed in York.  His son Sigurd (aka Ingvar) captured York, which became an Angle stronghold and the capital of Northumbria.  A tribe called the Parisii held York in the 1st century.  As mentioned, the Parisii and Paris derive from Pa-hris, “round [wall] of thorny thicket” and are named in honor of Hedeby.  The Parisii “tribe” was also found in France near Paris.

Frisia is an ancient land lying within the current political boundaries of The Netherlands.   The Frisii and Frisia are names for the fris or thorny thicket ring hedge that characterized Hedeby.  Similarly, the Belgea and Bulgar are each named for the boll-ger, or “ring of thorns.”

The use of thick hedgeworks for defense was not known in Italy.  A tribe of the Belgea, the Nervii, became known to Julius Caesar during his campaigns.  The Nervii tribe, he says, had an ancient practice: they cut into slender trees and bent them over so that many branches came out along their length; they finished these off by inserting brambles and briars, so that these hedges formed a defense like a wall, which could not only not be penetrated but not even be seen through.  There is some evidence for hedges from excavation.  For instance, Hawthorn berry pits are found in great quantities in the refuse layers of Hedeby.  Archeologists are puzzled, as Hawthorn berries are not generally considered edible.  Also, part of a hedge was excavated at Bar Hill (Dunbartonshire).  Beneath the Roman fort were found hawthorn stems.

http://romanianhistoryandculture.webs.com/daciansindenmark.htm

There is one other very important concept that these earliest Dacians/Angels passed on to their future generations, and it applies directly to the situation that Lagertha is in right now with regard to ruling Hedeby. That extremely critical and paramount concept is, The Right to Rule!

Right to Rule

Claimants to power in Angle were from a ruling family, with preference given to the eldest male most closely related to the prior ruler.  This tradition reduced the likelihood of conflict during times of transition and served to concentrate wealth and power.  This tradition continued in Russia, Scotland, Flanders, Normandy, post-conquest England and other regions controlled by the Angles, likewise serving to enable the formation of powerful governments and military capabilities.  Conflicts were reduced to situations where the lack of an immediate male heir led to contested claims by paternal cousins.

The origin of this behavior is perhaps based on the very ancient notion that the royal family descends from the gods.  Perhaps this concept was borrowed by the Dacians and Thracians from the Romans.  The family of Julias Caesar (gens Julia), for example, claimed to descend by Venus through Aeneas.  The original royal family of Norway were said to be descended from Odin.  Frey was the main god of kingship among the Swedes and the royal family (the Ynglings) were believed to have descended from him.

We should consider the many similarities among the the Goths, Dacians and Thracians.  They shared common cultural characteristics and often shared a common government.  We might consider the possibility that these groups of peoples were aware of their common heritage and perhaps ruled by branches of a common ruling family.

When Kalf makes his point that he has better right and claim than Lagertha, the most rational or real reason for that could be if he is hiding something in his family history that would somehow link him to that “Right to Rule”? Just the fact that he is from Hedeby would not necessarily give him just reason to make such claim over hers. In Lagertha’s defense, she was the wife of the previous Earl and the people did choose her, although they later changed their mind. And, in looking at the history of Hedeby as we have, if Kalf does have some as yet unknown better claim to Hedeby, he might have some better claim to the rule of all Danemark because it is all tied together!

kalf gives his speech I was born here in hedeby I belong here I have better claim and right to this than you

kalf gives his speech I was born here in hedeby I belong here I have better claim and right to this than you

kalf admits I did yes I did even though all the while I was desiring you.

kalf admits I did yes I did even though all the while I was desiring you.

If one observes Kalf and his actions in Paris, he does present a regal and confident appearance. Some might say he displays that inherent leadership quality and bearing that those who carry a Leadership gene present naturally.  So, where might he have inherited it from, and what does he do with it in the future? Some of you are probably asking, What the Hell is a Leadership gene anyway and what does it have to do with this subject!

Kalf says his own last minute prayer to the gods

Well, that my friends is what I intend to discuss in my next post! We will look this leadership gene concept and how it relates and applies to that concept of Right to Rule and Rule by divine right!

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/leadership-is-in-the-gene-say-scientists-20130115-2cs7c.html

For more information on the rich history of Hedeby, here are some  additional excellent links!

Hurstwic: Towns and Traditions

http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/daily_living/text/Towns.htm

Viking Museum Haithabu

http://www.schloss-gottorf.de/haithabu/das-museum/viking-museum-haithabu

The Vikings- Heading west:

http://www.ivargault.com/vikingene/vesterled_en.html

 

 

 

 

Vikings Season 4: Coming soon to a village near you!

 

peter-franzen-jasper-paakkonen-and-dianne-doan

peter-franzen-jasper-paakkonen-and-dianne-doan

Just a quick heads up on who will be arriving in Season 4! Peter Franzen, Jasper Paakonen and Dianne Doan will be sailing to our shores next raiding season.

Franzen, 43, will portray King Harald Finehair, a Scandinavian warrior and potential threat to Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), while Paakkonen, 34, is set to take on the role of Halfdan the Black, Finehair’s younger brother. Doan, on the other hand, will portray Yidu, a new and unique Chinese character who will have a big role in upcoming installment.

Franzen and Paakkonen are Finnish actors who both starred in the 2003 Finnish crime drama flick “Bad Boys,” which is also known as “Pahat pojat.” The film was the second most successful film in Finnish theatres after “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in 2003, taking in $4.78 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

Franzen recently appeared in the action thriller film “The Gunman,” which also stars Sean Penn, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance and Javier Bardem. His U.S. TV acting credits includes “True Blood” and “CSI: Miami.”

Doan, on the other hand, appeared on ABC’s fairy tale drama “Once Upon a Time” in 2013. She played Isra in Season 2, Episode 18, titled “Selfless, Brave and True.” She will be next seen in the TV movie “Descendants” and in the comedy flick “Last Night in Suburbia,” which will be out later this year.

http://www.designntrend.com/articles/49961/20150505/vikings-season-4-to-introduce-three-new-characters-actors-who-are-playing-them-spoilers.htm

I can only make some vague guesses as to whether or not any of these characters could be based on history. I am guessing that Doan’s unique Chinese Character is probably a fictional one, but it would go along with the history and fact that the Vikings traveled around to a wide variety of places. Historically, they traded with any number of other countries and cultures, and many of their larger port cities or villages would see these different travelers, either as trading merchants or as traded slaves. It will be interesting to see how she arrives and what important role her character ends up playing!

diane doan2

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3999319/

Jasper Paakonen’s character of Halfdan the Black is most likely based on the real Halfdan the Black of Viking history. This Halfdan should not be confused with another Halfdan that is mentioned in history as a son of Ragnar Lodbrok…

Halfdan the Black (Old Norse: Halfdanr Svarti) (c. 810 – c. 860) was a ninth-century king of Vestfold. He belonged to the House of Yngling and was the father of Harald Fairhair, the first king of Norway.

According to Heimskringla and Fagsrkinna, Halfdan was the son of the Yngling King Gudrød the Hunter. Heimskringla also names his mother, as Åsa, daughter of King Harald of Agder, and his half-brother as Olaf Geirstad-Alf. Heimskringla relates that when Halfdan’s father was killed, Åsa took the 1 year-old Halfdan and returned to Agder, where Halfdan was raised. When he was 18 or 19 years old, Halfdan became king of Agder. He quickly began adding to his kingdom, through political negotiation and military conquest. He divided the kingdom of Vestfold with his brother Olaf and, through military action, persuaded King Gandalf of Vingulmark to cede half his kingdom. Based on the formulaic nature of his ties to his predecessors, his strong affiliation with Agder, and the failure of an early saga dedicated to him to name any family connections, some scholars have suggested that the linkage to the earlier Yngling dynasty of Vestfold was a later invention, created to associate a conquering Halfdan and his son Harald Fairhair with the family glorified in the Ynglingatal, whom he had displaced.

Halfdan next is said to have subdued an area called Raumarike. To secure his claim to Raumarike, Halfdan first defeated and killed the previous ruler, Sigtryg Eysteinsson, in battle. He then defeated Sigtryg’s brother and successor Eystein, in a series of battles. This established Halfdan’s claim not only to Raumarike, but also to half of Hedmark, the core of Sigtryg and Eystein’s kingdom. These details are only mentioned in Heimskringla.

Fagrskinna and Heimskringla both agree that Halfdan’s first wife was Ragnhild, daughter of King Harald Gulskeg (Goldbeard) of Sogn. Halfdan and Ragnhild had a son named “Harald” after his grandfather, and they sent him to be raised at his grandfather’s court. Harald Gulskeg, being elderly, named his grandson as his successor, shortly before his death. Ragnhild died shortly after her father, and the young king Harald fell sick and died the next spring. When Halfdan heard about his son’s death, he travelled to Sogn and laid claim to the title of king. No resistance was offered, and Halfdan added Sogn to his realm.

The narrative in Heimskringla then adds another conquest for King Halfdan. In Vingulmark, the sons of Gandalf of Vingulmark, Hysing, Helsing, and Hake, attempted to ambush Halfdan at night, but he escaped into the forest. After raising an army, he returned to defeat the brothers, killing Hysing and Helsing. Hake fled the country, and Halfdan became king of all of Vingulmark.

According to Heimskringla, Halfdan’s second wife was also named Ragnhild. Ragnhild Sigurdsdotter was the daughter of Sigurd Hjort, king of Ringerike. She was kidnapped from her home by Hake, a “berserker” who encountered her father in Hadeland and killed him. In turn, Halfdan had her kidnapped from Hake, so that he could marry her. Fagrskinna does not mention any of these details, but calls Ragnhild the daughter of Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, who in Heimskringlas version is her great-grandfather. Both sagas agree that Ragnhild and Halfdan had a son who was also named Harald.

Norwegian_petty_kingdoms_ca__860

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halfdan_the_Black

Jasper Paakkonen

jasper Paakkonen2 Jasper Paakanen

Jasper Pääkkönen (born 15 July 1980) is a Finnish film actor who has appeared and starred in over 15 films. According to a calculation published by Finnish tabloid IltaSanomat, Pääkkönen is “the most profitable film actor in Finland”[1] for having starred in numerous box office hits during his career.[2] Many of Pääkkönen’s films have made #1 in the Finnish box office, including Pahat Pojat (Bad Boys – a true story) which is the all time most successful film in Finnish box office. Other Pääkkönen’s commercial successes include Matti, Frozen Land and Lapland Odyssey. For his role in Pahat Pojat, Pääkkönen was awarded Best Actor Award in Brussels International Independent Film Festival. He has earned international praise from film critic Michael Giltz from Huffington Post magazine who called the actor “handsome and compelling” in his role in Lapland Odyssey. Film critic Leslie Felperin from Variety named Pääkkönen a “rising thesp, showing impressive range” at his starring role in Matti.[4] In 2006 the European Film Promotion introduced Pääkkönen as the Shooting Star of Finland  at the Berlin international film festival.

In 2009 Pääkkönen founded the Pokerisivut.com poker magazine together with film producer Markus Selin. In 2010 Pokerisivut.com was awarded Best Overall Affiliate at the London 2010 iGB Affiliate Awards.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jasper_P%C3%A4%C3%A4kk%C3%B6nen

Peter Franzen will portray a King Harald Finehair, a Scandinavian warrior and potential threat to Ragnar. My guess is that Hirst is tweaking the history and doing some combination of it in the characters of Harald Finehair and brother, Halfdan the Black.  In history, Halfdan the black was father to a son, Harald Fairhair!

Harald Fairhair (Old Norse: Haraldr Hárfagri, Norwegian: Harald Hårfagre; c. 850 – c. 932) was remembered by medieval historians as the first King of Norway. According to traditions current in Norway and Iceland in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, he reigned from c. 872 to 930. Most of his life remains uncertain, since the extant accounts of his life in the sagas were set down in writing around three centuries after his lifetime. A few remnants of skaldic praise poems attributed to contemporary court poets exist which seem to refer to Harald’s victories against opponents in Norway. The information supplied in these poems is inconsistent with the tales in the sagas in which they are transmitted, and the sagas themselves often disagree on the details of his background and biography.  Two of his sons, Eric Bloodaxe and Haakon the Good, succeeded Harald to become kings after his death.

The only contemporary sources mentioning him are the two skaldic poems Haraldskvæði and Glymdrápa, which have been attributed to Þorbjörn Hornklofi or alternatively (in the case of the first poem) to Þjóðólfr of Hvinir. The first poem has only been preserved in fragments in 13th century Kings’ sagas. It describes life at Harald’s court, mentions that he took a Danish wife, and that he won a battle at Hafrsfjord. The second relates a series of battles Harald won.

His life is described in several of the Kings’ sagas, none of them older than 12th century. Their accounts of Harald and his life differ on many points, and some of the content may be uncertain but it is clear that in the 12th and 13th centuries Harald was regarded as having unified Norway into one kingdom. Some modern historians have assumed that his rule was limited to the coastal areas of southern Norway though there is no contemporary evidence to support their claim nor any other concerning the life of Harald.

In Heimskringla, which is the most elaborate although not the oldest or most reliable source to the life of Harald, it is written that Harald succeeded, on the death of his father Halfdan the Black Gudrödarson, to the sovereignty of several small, and somewhat scattered kingdoms in Vestfold, which had come into his father’s hands through conquest and inheritance. His protector-regent was his mother’s brother Guthorm.

The unification of Norway is something of a love story. It begins with a marriage proposal that resulted in rejection and scorn from Gyda, the daughter of Eirik, king of Hordaland. She said she refused to marry Harald “before he was king over all of Norway”. Harald was therefore induced to take a vow not to cut nor comb his hair until he was sole king of Norway, and when he was justified in trimming it ten years later, he exchanged the epithet “Shockhead” or “Tanglehair” for the one by which he is usually known.

In 866, Harald made the first of a series of conquests over the many petty kingdoms which would compose all of Norway, including Värmland in Sweden, which had sworn allegiance to the Swedish king Erik Eymundsson. In 872, after a great victory at Hafrsfjord near Stavanger, Harald found himself king over the whole country. His realm was, however, threatened by dangers from without, as large numbers of his opponents had taken refuge, not only in Iceland, then recently discovered; but also in the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Hebrides Islands, Faroe Islands and the northern European mainland. However, his opponents’ leaving was not entirely voluntary. Many Norwegian chieftains who were wealthy and respected posed a threat to Harald; therefore, they were subjected to much harassment from Harald, prompting them to vacate the land. At last, Harald was forced to make an expedition to the West, to clear the islands and the Scottish mainland of some Vikings who tried to hide there.

The earliest narrative source which mentions Harald, the 12th century Íslendingabók notes that Iceland was settled during his lifetime. Harald is thus depicted as the prime cause of the Norse settlement of Iceland and beyond. Iceland was settled by “malcontents” from Norway, who resented Harald’s claim of rights of taxation over lands, which the possessors appear to have previously held in absolute ownership.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harald_Fairhair

Peter Franzen:

peter franzen2 peter franzen3 Peter_Franzén4

Peter Franzén (born 14 August 1971) is a Finnish actor who has appeared in over 40 films and TV series. Of these, the most famous are A Summer by the River, Ambush, Mustan kissan kuja, Badding, On the Road to Emmaus, Rölli ja metsänhenki, Kuutamolla, Bad Boys, Dog Nail Clipper, Matti, Hellsinki and Kerron sinulle kaiken. For his role in Dog Nail Clipper, Franzén was awarded a Jussi Award for Best Actor  as well as earning praise from film critic Jay Weissberg from Variety magazine who called the actor “one of the most talented and versatile thesps in Finland”.

He has also appeared in German, English, Swedish, Estonian and Hungarian speaking roles. Franzén had a role as a Russian corpse in one episode of CSI: Miami, and more recently was cast for a small part as a police officer in the movie Cleaner by Renny Harlin. In 2009, Franzén had a small role as a Swedish Viking in the True Blood episode Never Let Me Go.

Franzén was born in Keminmaa. In 1999, Franzén moved to Los Angeles with his actress wife, Irina Björklund, where they have lived ever since.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Franz%C3%A9n

An interesting side note for these two characters… In some variations of the Norse history sagas, there is debate and difference of who Halfdan married. According to Heimskringla, Halfdan’s second wife was also named Ragnhild. Ragnhild Sigurdsdotter was the daughter of Sigurd Hjort, king of Ringerike. She was kidnapped from her home by Hake, a “berserker” who encountered her father in Hadeland and killed him. In turn, Halfdan had her kidnapped from Hake, so that he could marry her. Fagrskinna does not mention any of these details, but calls Ragnhild the daughter of Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, who in Heimskringlas version is her great-grandfather. Both sagas agree that Ragnhild and Halfdan had a son who was also named Harald.

What is most interesting for next season is that with the jump in time that Hirst has already confirmed,  I think that we will see many more portrayals and representations of actual, documented historical figures from Viking history. The history will become far more documented rather than legends as the groups move forward in their expansions and raids in various parts of the world!

So, Ragnar must not only contend with his current ailments and personal agendas in the future, he will also face fierce competition for his lands and his title on his home front! From the sounds of it, he had best recover quickly both in mind and body to face this new force waiting for him! As the Seer has reminded him, Things do not bode well for you Ragnar Lothbrok!

ragnar watches rollo from the boat

 

 

 

 

 

Lagertha and Ragnar: Why love is not enough

and yet I think the wind of odin will rescue you carry you to vallhalla where we will rejoice we will drink and be merry and love again

and yet I think the wind of odin will rescue you carry you to vallhalla where we will rejoice we will drink and be merry and love again

lagertha and bjorn

I hear so many people lament over Lagertha and Ragnar no longer being together, so many who desperately wish for some happy reunion or ending to this love story, that I feel like I need to put down my personal thoughts about it.  I want to share why I think that while this desire for happily ever after is just a romantic dream, a wishful thought, a fairy tale ending of sorts.  I do not think that there will ever be, nor should there be such reunion between these two. I will agree on the fact that yes, they do still love each other, and will hold that deep love for each other forever. That does not mean however, that their love for each other is enough to overcome the life events that have come between them. We need to look at their relationship realistically in terms of who each of them is now, what they have went through and done to each other. In this case, my personal thought is it comes down more to what Ragnar has done to Lagertha than what she has done to him.  Because, really- what has she done to him, other than stand up for herself, her principles and her self pride.

When we first met this couple, they were young, happy in love,  filled with curiosity and desire for adventure. They were passionate and volatile in their relationship and their views on life as a whole. We fell in love with them as a family in those early years and always hoped for that love story to go on. But, we overlooked some of the realities of their relationship and put it down to just their passionate spirits overtaking them. We glossed over the physical arguments that put their son Bjorn in the middle, having to play peace maker or choose sides in their disagreements and disputes.

bjorn in the middle bjorn breaks up the fight

young Bjorn

young Bjorn

From the earliest beginnings of this relationship there have been problems between the two but we always chose to overlook those problems in hopes of a happy outcome. There were hints of Lagertha’s possible past with Rollo- which we will probably never know the truest extent of, but Rollo often set himself as her protector. He admitted early on that everything he did for his brother, he was really doing for Lagertha. That is really of no consequence in this particular discussion other than to point out the fact that there already underlying issues in their relationship.

rollo and lagertha2 rollo's response to lagertha

Through many of their difficulties and troubles, Lagertha remained steadfast and loyal to Ragnar, staunchly defending him and standing up for him no matter what he did even when it went against her grain to go along with it. She would fight his decisions but would follow his lead. It often felt like Lagertha has always had far more invested in this relationship than Ragnar. Ragnar often demeaned her, took her for granted and assumed that she would always be there for him no matter what he did. I could go on and on in citing specific instances of how he treated her but, really that is not even what this is about. We all know of their history together and if we look at it honestly, we can see that this couple was not such a fairy tale after all, not such a destined to be together forever couple.

The breaking point for Lagertha of course, was when Ragnar brought his other woman Aslaug into their home, their life and expected her to be accepting of it. Lagertha’s self pride was too much for this affront to her. She loved Ragnar deeply and unconditionally for the most part, and she assumed that he felt the same about her. She would have accepted his affair with Aslaug had he left it at that, but instead he chose to bring the woman into Lagetha’s home and her life, and he expected Lagertha to willingly accept all of this. For Lagertha, this was a betrayal of the deepest sort- this was a betrayal of their love and of the heart where it hurt the most. I think that this in itself was the end of their most personal relationship even though she still loved him. She loved him but she could not live with him and this betrayal of her heart.

Vikings-Princess-Aslaug-Alyssa-Sutherland-Ragnar-Lothbrok-Travis-Fimmel-and-Lagertha-Katheryn-Winnick

lagertha prepares to leave

lagertha prepares to leave

leaving ragnar

Lagertha made her choice to leave Ragnar, but she did not force their son, Bjorn to go with her… Ragnar could hold resentment against her for taking Bjorn away but, in reality it was Bjorn’s choice to go with his Mother. Could she have forced Bjorn to stay, yes she could have but honestly and realistically, in their society, Bjorn was a man and capable of making his own decisions as to who he would live with. Lagertha respected that decsision on his part and took him with her. In the future, there would be resentments felt if not openly admitted regarding that choice. Again, it does not necessarily pertain to the personal relationship between Lagertha and Ragnar but only adds to later difficulties and resentments between the two. 

Even after years of being apart, Lagertha was still emotionally attached to Ragnar to come to his aid when he needed it. She left her village of Hedeby with son Bjorn against her husband’s wishes and approval to come Ragnar’s aid and help him become King. Even this though, could not compel her to remain there in Kattegat near him. She did however leave Bjorn with him this time because that was also Bjorn’s choice. Lagertha understood even then already, that as much as she might love Ragnar, she could no longer compromise her own personal values and principles in order to be with him. In a sense, Lagertha had already moved on with her life and tried to set her feelings for Ragnar aside. She knows that as much as she loves him so deeply and unconditionally, he does not return that feeling mutually and equally. She can not stop herself from feeling that love for him but that does not mean that she will ever allow herself to act on it or put it out there openly again for him to use her or betray her heart once again.  Lagertha loves Ragnar but she knows him well and understands him…she knows what he is capable of and what, ultimately he is not capable of. What he is not capable of is loving her on that same level that she loves him. I think that she has seen well enough through the years that much like King Ecbert, who she was also attracted to, Ragnar is unable to truly love someone else because as we are coming to see, he doesn’t truly love himself… He is so consumed with his personal issues, with thoughts of power, of revenge and of mistrust of others that there is little room left in his mind or heart left for that deeper emotion of love. The only one left whom he might feel that love for is their son, Bjorn? But, in the end, when you think about it, he has used Bjorn as well, and now has put Bjorn in the position once more of having to choose sides between Father and Mother. In a way, it is kind of like his last and final blow of revenge against Lagertha… in his own way, he has said without speaking, “I win, I will have our son with me, on my side”.

bjorn watches lagertha head past them and knows this will end yet again in him having to decide between parents lagertha and bjorn

Ragnar has used Lagertha, taken her for granted one too many times for Lagertha to any longer be able to set all of that aside for the sake of love. As I have already said, Lagertha has understood this for quite some time and accepted it. She knows that there is something about this man that she will forever hold in her heart, forever love despite his behavior and his treatment of her. She has accepted it and can even be friends with him on some level but that does not mean that she would ever go so far as to give her heart openly to him again. And, at this point, I have some feeling that he may have even crossed that last line of friendship on her part.

His recent actions, his final deception and his ultimate mistrust in all of them, I believe will cause her to walk away from him for good this time. How many times can you put yourself, your heart and your trust out there for someone you believe in, care about and love, have it trampled on and used against you before you say, “This is enough, I can not do this any longer no matter how much I might care for you.”

Lagertha is not amused with Ragnar's speech to her

Ragnar has to put them all in their place and shut them up!

Ragnar has to put them all in their place and shut them up!

Ragnar  as a ruler I have the last say

When Lagertha thought it was all finally over for them, she shared her truest and deepest feelings about him, admitting that love that she had held on to for so long.

lagertha watching ragnar in pain

lagertha watching ragnar in pain

a grieving lagertha waits for bjorn's announcement

a grieving lagertha waits for bjorn’s announcement

lagertha's last words with ragnar

Lagertha says her private goodbye to Ragnar

She pours out her heartfelt emotions in private, little knowing of his final betrayal… In Lagerta’s mind and heart this is the deepest betrayal and violation of all because once she realizes what he has done, she knows that he will find a way to use these private thoughts against her in some way. He has also completely destroyed what ever trust she may have had in him by not placing any value or trust in her. Without trust there can be no true future in love.

If you have gone to heaven we shall never meet again

and yet I think the wind of odin will rescue you carry you to vallhalla where we will rejoice we will drink and be merry and love again

and yet I think the wind of odin will rescue you carry you to vallhalla where we will rejoice we will drink and be merry and love again

there we shall meet again to fight and drink and love one another once more

there we shall meet again to fight and drink and love one another once more

What we see played out with the relationship between Lagertha and Ragnar is not some romantic fairytale love story of the ages. In a sense, it is a one sided love story that can not have a happy ending because for one thing, after everything that has happened between the two of them, it would go completely against what we have seen about both of them. It is a harsh and difficult story of real life love and how that love is not always enough to conquer all. It is though, a story of hope, understanding and acceptance that while we may not have our chance at such true love in this life, we do not give up hope that we will have it in the next life, the after life. It is a story of Lagertha’s understanding that love can not fix everything, that love does not make everything ok, and it speaks of her inner strength, her character, her spirit in that she will not give up on love but neither will she allow herself to be completely ruled and subjugated by that love. She will no longer accept a version of love that must put her on an unequal level.  Hopefully, one day she will find a truer love that is shared equally by both people. And, if she does not find such a love, she will be at peace with herself for having experienced love and knowing that she does not have to settle or accept. She is coming to understand that love should be equal and unconditional between two people.

Now, I want to share why this story of Lagertha and Ragnar touches my heart so much, why I can understand it well and why I do not expect, need or want some happily ever after to it’s ending. I want to share the story of my Grand parents who had, in some ways, just such a similar love story. Were they Vikings… no, of course they weren’t, they weren’t even Norse. That does not make any difference in their story.

My Grandparents were two young people from slightly different backgrounds, living in northern Minnesota in the early 1900s.  Susie was the oldest daughter of a somewhat well off merchant family in the area. She was their oldest daughter and had a somewhat independent and adventurous streak to her. She took a job teaching school at a small one room school in an isolated farm area where she met my Grandfather, Ed. Ed was the son of farmers and he was one of the oldest students in her class. Ed was not content to be a farmer, and he was not all that interested in being in school… until Susie arrived as his teacher. Ed was a rebellious, rowdy teen who caused her a few problems in the class room. It was not long though before Ed and Susie felt their attraction for each other. For all intensive purposes, it was a quick, whirlwind courtship and they did love each other. They were married, despite Susie’s family’s misgivings and reservations about the relationship. Susie was headstrong and stubborn. She loved him and would not be talked out of marrying him.

From what I can gather, they did have a few good years in the beginning. They were young, head over heels in love with each other and they were trying to make a life together under difficult circumstances. As I said, Ed was not content to be a farmer, though he did try at first. Nor was Susie all that much of a farmer either in the beginning. Her family were storekeepers and she may have been raised in a farming community but her parents always had better visions for their children. So, neither of them were such great farmer… and probably not all that content with that way of life on the farm with Ed’s family. They were both adventurous, curious and a bit free spirited during those early years. They also quickly became parents, which put a damper on Susie’s adventurous spirit. Susie was not one to let children stand in her way though. When they were small, she took them with her as she followed Ed to the logging camps of Northern Minnesota. For a time, that worked out alright for them.  They were still together and though Ed was filled with wanderlust and discontent, they seemed to manage. Susie was willing to put up with quite a lot in her love of Ed. She parted with her older children as they got old enough for school, leaving them often with their Grandparents during the school years. This enabled her to keep traveling around with Ed and his adventuring spirit. Eventually, there came too many young ones to leave them with relatives and Susie needed to stay in one place with them. Ed was never content in one place or one job for very long and the family was often on the move, following him to new places and new job possibilities. Their life was not easy by any means, nor was it filled with such happiness. Along with being a wanderer, Ed was a drinker, and not always a happy drinker either. He could be extremely abusive to Susie and to the children. Ed also had a wandering eye for women. Susie overlooked much of this over the years because she loved him.

Much like Lagertha, Susie overlooked much of Ed’s behavior and treatment of his family because she loved him but the one thing she could not overlook or endure was when his wandering eye became more than that.  He would leave her and the children often, but always come back assuming that Susie would always be there for him. One of his departures and affairs hit far too close to home though for Susie. He entered into a relationship with a young woman the same age as his oldest daughter, and in the same town as where all of Susie’s relatives lived. This of all the things she had put up with for the sake of love of him, was too much for her to take. She was humiliated and looked at this as an ultimate betrayal by him. This was the breaking point for Susie in their tumultuous and volatile relationship. Susie could not forgive him for this act and told him that he was no longer welcome in her life or their children’s lives.

Was that the final ending of their relationship? Well, no not quite… Ed did take her at her word at that point and left to start some life with this other woman. Much of the story after that had to be pieced together from what others have remembered of the times and the events because Susie never really spoke of it or him again. He remained in the nearby town for a time with this other woman and had four children with her. The two oldest died as infants and the two younger ones were never aware as they grew up that Ed was even their Father because he left and this young woman quickly married someone else. Now, one part of this whole story is interesting in the fact that as far we can tell, there was never any actual divorce documented or recorded between Ed and Susie. We have never been able to locate one in any searches of court records of the time. Susie was a devout Catholic and the idea of divorce would have went against her inner thinking, no matter what she knew for the best. Also, there is a conversation remembered by some others of what Susie told Ed the last time that he tried to come back to her and needed her help. Susie told Ed that he needed to just leave town, leave her alone because everyone thought he was dead anyway. After leaving the woman in the nearby town, Ed had wandered around, gotten into various bits of trouble here and there, and always seemed to come back to Susie for help. She would not let him stay with her but did often try to help him out until that last event when she told him he had to leave town for good. Part of Susie’s reasoning for this was self and family survival. Ed was not one to offer any sort of financial support, so having four young children to take care of, Susie had turned to the church and welfare for assistance. At that time, the only way to get the help she needed was to be a widow, so that is what she made herself. In doing that, it was crucial to Susie that he not destroy her only means of assistance. Ed did go along with her on this. He left town in the middle of the night assisted by some members of their family and that was supposedly the last that Susie or her children ever had any knowledge of him.

Ed took Susie at her word, he became dead for all surface purposes. He left town, eventually changed his name a few times, moved across country, leaving more than a few added families on his journey and as far as we know, Susie and his family never heard from him again until many years later when Susie was in the hospital dying. Susie had never remarried, never had another relationship and always vowed that for what it was worth, she had always loved Ed… she just couldn’t live with him.

All of those years later, as Susie waited for death in her hospital bed, she kept holding on for some reason. Her family thought she was delirious when she kept saying that she was waiting for Ed, that he still needed her. It was a shock to say the least, when Ed appeared at the hospital to visit her. His reason was that something was telling him that Susie needed him? Well, ironically and sadly, Susie was still right… Ed did still need her for one last thing and she somehow knew it in her heart. What Ed had really come back for was that he was in need of Susie’s signature on a piece of paper to verify who he originally was so that he could apply for social security benefits. He had changed his name legally many years before but needed some proof of who he was previously in order to qualify for those benefits. Now, realistically, what made him decide that he needed to do it at that particular time? There was some deeper underlying connection between the two of them that spoke to each in that time near Susie’s end of life, something that did indeed tell him to come back now before it was too late. That same connection told Susie to hold on, to wait for him because he did need her one last time.

There is no doubt in my mind or heart that Ed and Susie did love each other on some deeper and spiritual level than most can imagine but Susie was strong enough to fight that surface love that brought some much heartbreak and pain, to set that aside for the emotional survival of herself and her children and all the while hold on to that inner spiritual connection, that much deeper unconditional love that she had for this man, perhaps knowing that one day they would meet again in that other place and be together in happiness rather than hurt.

As for Ed’s future path, he walked into those lives of his children for a short time and then left them again, saying it was too difficult to go on with a relationship with them as he had never told his current wife or daughter anything about his past. Some years later he ended up in a nursing home suffering from dementia and his daughter thought his ramblings about relatives and family in Minnesota were just delusions of his deteriorating mind. She had no idea that he was telling her stories of his past until many years after that when she discovered the truth from others who were searching for information on him.

My Grandfather, in some ways, like Ragnar, left many broken and damaged lives behind him on his wanderings and his journey through life. Do I hate him for it? Yes, in some ways I do, for all of the pain that he caused my Mother, his oldest daughter- who was old enough when he left to understand, to feel such resentment and betrayal of his leaving them. It was my Mother, who as she reached the end of her life, asked me to search for him, to find out what happened to those families he left and to put the pieces together. My Mother held on to the secrets of their life until the very end and then was able to forgive him for his acts and only hope for some closure for his other families. In other ways, I understand him, his reasons for leaving Susie, at least, if not the other families.

Do I forgive him for those actions that shaped all of our lives for better or worse? Yes, I do forgive him because it is for me to judge his actions. His actions resulted in the paths that each of us have taken since then. In some way, it was his fate, his destiny, his path to travel in order to set the future course and path of all of us who have followed in the aftermath.

My one remaining hope is that somewhere on that other side, in that other place, much like Lagertha and Ragnar, my Grandparents have reunited, set aside those earthly human differences and hurts to find each other once more, to laugh, to sing, to rejoice and love each other once more.