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.
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!
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.
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” for having starred in numerous box office hits during his career. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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!