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To kill a queen… or not

The title of this Vikings episode is a bit misleading in that no Queen actually meets her death in this episode! Ohhh, so sorry for that spoiler. And, on that spoiler note- if you have not watched the current season yet and do not want spoilers, please exit the page immediately! This page as well as most of the other Vikings episode related pages here does contain spoilers. There, that is your warning!

This article is a look at the darker side of attempting to kill a queen and my personal thoughts on all of it. We’ve already looked at the lighter moments and now we must visit the usual harsher, darker facts with all of their possible underlying meanings or future consequences.  Before we get into my thoughts, I want to suggest another article regarding the history involved in this episode. Patricia Bracewell has shared her views here and it is well worth reading! 

http://www.patriciabracewell.com/2016/02/vikings-4-episode-2-kill-the-queen/

I mentioned that the title is misleading because no Queen actually dies. There is great attempt and thought of killing one Queen outright, and then there is underlying and possible wishful thinking of killing a Queen- or at least wishing she were dead… 

I am going to talk about that wishful thinking first because that is the one that bothered me the most and left me conflicted once again. This underlying thought or wish involves Ragnar and Aslaug. Please keep in mind that I am not really a fan of either one of these two and am generally critical of both their behaviors. While I am not a fan of Aslaug, towards the end of last season I did see some redeeming attributes to her character in her dealings with Porunn and in the way she dealt with the Christian priest. Aslaug may be sneaky, manipulative, loose moraled and power hungry but she is a firm believer in the old ways and beliefs. That being said, she stood her ground in defense of those beliefs and suffered for them. In the first episode, when Bjorn arrested Floki, you could see the doubt and concern on her face.  Bjorn is arresting Floki for the murder of Athelstan, a Christian that many of those villagers-Bjorn included had expressed the exact same feelings and fears about as Floki did. 

even aslaug is not too sure about bjorn's decision

even aslaug is not too sure about bjorn’s decision

There a great number of fans out there who feel that Aslaug is the evil incarnate equivalent of Rollo and that she got exactly what she deserved in this episode. What is conflicting for me is that these are generally the same people who take a moral high road, condemning Rollo and the Christians while praising Ragnar and all things Viking.  In this instance, Aslaug took a stand for the old beliefs, for the threat to those beliefs and she gets condemned for it.  Fans who are so outraged by Rollo’s behaviors such as “raping” a slave girl and treating Siggy so badly, applaud Ragnar’s treatment of Aslaug in this instance with their voices of “she deserved it”.  I guess she “deserved it because she had the nerve to question Ragnar’s authority, his rule and thus proved herself once more disloyal to him because she placed her loyalties to the Gods above that of her King. Realistically, there are so many other offenses that she could have been justifiably  punished for had they been public knowledge (and, I think that with Ragnar’s habit of keeping tabs on everyone, he does know of those offenses). To me this event just shows that Ragnar is losing control of his well maintained facade of calmness under pressure. 

Floki had a valid point when he made the statement that he was loyal to the Gods first and foremost and would continue to put his religion above his loyalty to Ragnar. I am not necessarily condoning Floki’s action either in killing Athelstan. He knew it was wrong, he knew what the consequences would be. If he felt so strongly that Athelstan and Ragnar’s involvement with the Christian were such a threat to his personal beliefs and his loyalties, then he should have chosen to walk away from Ragnar right then rather than resort to the secretive killing that he did.  

aslaug stands up to ragnar for floki because he's right what did he do so wrong he killed a christian.

aslaug stands up to ragnar for floki because he’s right what did he do so wrong he killed a christian.

Ragnar is correct when he makes the comment, “This is not about religion, this about loyalty and respect…” Ragnar has chosen personal power and control over the more moral and ethical reasoning of what is good for the people. He has brought this debate or issue over Floki down to the most personal of levels- a dispute between two one time friends who now differ in their most basic core belief systems. Neither of them will back down from their belief that they are right and because of that, everyone else will be dragged into the dispute and suffer for it.   The problem with Ragnar’s current thinking and method of leadership is that it as turned to one more of fear than anything else. These people have experienced his better side of ruling for the good of all of them and now thrust into a position of following him not so much because they trust his judgement but because they most likely fear they will suffer the same fate as Floki.  There are times when instilling fear is necessary, but that sort of thing generally happens in the beginning of one’s rule as a means of gaining some control over a situation or group of people. It usually does not play out so well to use the fear tactic against those who originally on your side and assumed that you were on theirs.  

As floki mentions, there comes a point in one’s life when one must make a decision on whether or not to follow a leader based on one’s personal ethics, morals and beliefs. In a way, Floki’s decision to follow his own conscience speaks of what others will have to decide in the future. Do they follow Ragnar blindly without question just because he is their leader no matter what he decides to do… or do they at some point begin to question his motives, his personal agenda and his methods? This is much the same position that Ragnar and his followers were in when they questioned King Harald’s rule and Horik’s rule… Ragnar is now putting himself close to that same category as those two leaders that he fought to bring down. 

ragnar is losing control this is not about christians this is about loyalty!

ragnar is losing control this is not about christians this is about loyalty!

Ragnar is outraged that Aslaug would even think of taking Floki’s side in this. He is determined that he is King and he is right no matter what and anyone who would question his actions is guilty of disloyalty or treason. His rage causes him to lose control and he strikes out at Aslaug, knocking her down… the look on his face is one of utter contempt and that underlying thought of wishing he could do more to her, wishing her dead. To be honest, I was waiting for him to add a final blow or kick to her while she was down on the floor. 

ragnar takes his anger out on aslaug

Ragnar takes his anger out on Aslaug

Realistically, the situation between Ragnar and Aslaug comes down to them both wishing the other was dead! The rather sad part about Aslaug’s story direction in the show is that in the Sagas, Aslaug remained loyal to Ragnar and went so far as to sew him a magic shirt to protect him against the Snakes she foresaw for him in England. Unfortunately, I do not see Aslaug sewing him anything in the future other than possibly a shroud!

I guess this pretty much rules out that majic shirt to protect from snakes

While Aslaug’s treatment did not sit well with me, the even more disturbing event was the fallout of this personal quarrel for others, mainly Helga and her daughter. Her situation apparently did not sit too well with Ragnar either because he did appear genuinely bothered by her situation.  It could be said that Helga brought about her situation on her own by helping Floki to escape in the first place. While that might be a fair assumption, it does nothing to detract from the true emotional torture that Helga was enduring by being caught in the middle of this argument. She has to stand by and watch her husband tortured for his refusal to give up on his personal beliefs, his denial of any wrongdoing, and his unwillingness to compromise those values even in the face of suffering to his family. In fact, he goes so far as to use Helga’s emotional tie in still loving him as a means of saving himself. He is as guilty and as stubborn as Ragnar in this situation and is only thinking of himself. 

helga tries to stop the children a difficult reunion to watch

I do have to mention here that as much as I feel for Helga’s pain and the suffering she endures, she does bear some responsibility and some blame for the events that brought her so much pain and grief.  First of all, my one frustrated thought with her actions began when she subjected little Agriboda to that visit with Floki tied to the stake? Was she perhaps hoping that the sight of his child seeing him like this might spark some balancing thought in Floki’s head? Some thought of “What am I doing to my family, should I not have some care about them above my own needs or thoughts?” If that was her intent, then of course it failed miserably and Floki used Helga’s feeling to manipulate her into doing something she knew was wrong.  When Ragnar asked her later why she did it, she made a comment about love… She allowed her love of Floki to take precedence over her love of her child. Perhaps this is why she must suffer a torture far greater than that of Floki. 

My other thought is one of Why is Helga living down here in the cold, in a way at the edge of nowhere… Has she been shunned by the others or has she set herself apart from everyone because she feels some guilt for the part she has played? Her present circumstances also bring us back to Aslaug. Aslaug who stood up and defended Floki’s actions yet apparently felt no concern for Helga’s situation. What ever the reason, Helga is living a destitute life and her child is suffering because of it. 

helga and abrigoda living in cold at the edge of nowhere

helga and abrigoda living in cold at the edge of nowhere

agriboda is sick and coughing helga tries to comfort her while ragnar says I don't blame you...

agriboda is sick and coughing helga tries to comfort her while ragnar says I don’t blame you…

Ragnar does show some concern for her welfare and leaves a bag of food for them.

ragnar does take pity on helga and leaves a bag of food for her

ragnar does take pity on helga and leaves a bag of food for her

Later we see how the actions of everyone, including Helga have played a part in the greatest torture and pain… the loss of an innocent child. While Floki may be suffering extreme physical torture at the hands of Ragnar, Helga is experiencing the far greater torture of having to bury her child and probably coming to the understanding or realization that she must share some guilt in this senseless death brought about mainly because two men were too self involved and egotistical to waiver on their mindset, and because she put her feelings for Floki above the needs of her child. It was a sad, painful event to watch and there was a moment when it seemed that even Ragnar might have some feelings of his own complicity in this death.

burying an innocent child

does this death have any affect on ragnar well he does step in and dig the grave...

does this death have any affect on ragnar well he does step in and dig the grave…

a few moments of compassion

a few moments of compassion

The one thing I did not understand was when Ragnar asked Helga if she had told Floki… How could she have told floki when Ragnar has him already enduring his own personal torture???

floki is enduring his own punishment so really how could helga have told him of agriboda's death

 

In contrast to Helga’s actions and the result of them, on the other side of the sea in Wessex we see a far different version of a Mother’s struggle to keep her child alive. And, it comes from the one woman you would probably least expect it of given her previous behaviors. From what we’ve seen of Princess Kweni in the past, I have to say that I did not expect her to have much Motherly instinct or concern for her child other than for how she might use said child to her own advantage. 

In our return to Wessex, we saw an outright attempt to kill Queen Kweni- and not an attempt from those in Wessex… though I have some doubts or suspicions on who might have actually instigated this overthrow and ousting of her. Ecbert’s response to the event was along the lines of “save the child, just be sure to keep the child alive no matter what” He had no concerns for Kweni’s survival.

There was the usual disagreement between Ecbert and Aethelwulf over how to put down this rebellion and rescue those being held hostage- Kweni and her son. There was also dispute and dissent from the local Noblemen over having to call their troops up for this event. Ecbert does take note of those balking at the deployment and actually gives them some foreshadowing sound advice…

Ecbert and Aethelwulf have some disagreement over how to proceed.

Ecbert and Aethelwulf have some disagreement over how to proceed.

I am quite certain that this Nobleman and the one next to him may eventually feel some pain of retribution for their dissenting remarks… As we’ve seen in the past, Ecbert does not forget who made what comment.

wessex noblemen balk at having to raise their armies

wessex noblemen balk at having to raise their armies

Ecbert must explain the necessity of keeping a standing army ready because Ragnar and those Northmen will most assuredly return to our shores!

ecbert must explain the necessity of keeping a standing army

ecbert must explain the necessity of keeping a standing army

Aethelwulf is in charge of leading an army into Mercia to rescue Kweni and child.

Ecbert and Aethelwulf present a united front despite their differences.

Ecbert and Aethelwulf present a united front despite their differences.

aethelwulf is in charge of training the army.

aethelwulf is in charge of training the army.

As Aethelwulf trains and prepares his forces, in Mercia a damsel in distress awaits rescue…

a damsel in distress in a tower...

a damsel in distress in a tower…

The battle was intense and brutal but despite some minor problems and setbacks, Aethelwulf held his own in this battle. He is not the only one that held their own. Locked in the tower with armed guards, Kweni proved her warrior spirit and her Motherly instinct!

and it's aethelwulf to the rescue... maybe?

and it’s aethelwulf to the rescue… maybe?

 Aethelwulf is having a few problems defeating his foe...

Aethelwulf is having a few problems defeating his foe…

aethelwulf I should have ate breakfast

why waste arrows when rocks work just as well

why waste arrows when rocks work just as well

While Aethelwulf was battling the tower, Kweni waged her own defensive attack against foes who meant to harm her and her child. She did it armed with nothing but a seriously scary needle, a blanket and a human shield. This woman was in a life and death battle for the life of her and her child and she was determined to win!

A seriousl scary looking needle!

A seriousl scary looking needle!

well that needle is good for something anyway

well that needle is good for something anyway

kweni's found her battle mode

Kweni shows her warrior battle mode

kweni must have heard about Einar's tactics of using a human shield

kweni must have heard about Einar’s tactics of using a human shield

Kweni fights back with the rage of a Mother

Kweni will fight to the death for her child

Kweni does have a motherly instinct after all nobody messes with her baby

Kweni does have a motherly instinct after all nobody messes with her baby Magnus!

Eventually Aethelwulf does come to her rescue and her response is perfect!

Aethelwulf finally makes it to the top of the tower to rescue damsel kweni

Aethelwulf finally makes it to the top of the tower to rescue damsel kweni

kweni's response... what took you so long!

kweni’s response… what took you so long!

In a way, Helga’s story and Kweni’s have that parallel contrast that Hirst loves so much. We have Helga as one who has basically lost her way, her will and seems in some way to have given up the fight. On the other hand, we have Kweni who against all odds, has lost none of her fighting instinct to survive and keep her child alive.

A mother's will and way

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!

 

 

Vikings: Breaking Point

First of all, I do apologize for the delay in my post and review of last week’s events. It’s been a bit hectic and chaotic here in Paris! Our visit is not going as well as planned and everyone, including me, is at their breaking point!  Our people are wounded, sick and dying faster than we can care for them or count the dead. I do have to admit right now that while I will be sad at this season ending, especially in such loss to all of us… I am mentally and emotionally exhausted and am in desperate need of a real vacation after this! Somewhere warm, quiet and filled with luxury will do me just fine at this point! I also apologize for the extreme length of this post! I usually try to break them up but am running behind this week and did want to make sure I got it all posted!

Vikings disneyland paris from Athelstan's facebook  page

Vikings disneyland paris from Athelstan’s facebook page

Another attempt was made to get inside Paris… this time it was planned and executed by Lagertha and Rollo. I do want to say that even though it too ended in complete and utter disaster, it could be looked on as success in some ways. They did get inside this time, and Rollo did end up making a name and great reputation for himself as a result of the attack. In fact, the Franks were so impressed with his actions that they wanted to know more about him! I will touch on that later.

What I want to bring up now is the initial portion of the attack in which Lagertha and her shieldmaidens made a covert stealth move to the bridge and eventually made their way inside without notice. The reason I mention this is because when I first heard of the plan for the bridge, I was reminded of part of the actual attacks in history. I should have said something right then and made my own suggestions… but alas I am not in a position to give out tactical advice and be taken seriously.

lagertha's group under the bridge

In the attack of Paris in 885-886, which Rollo was involved in… For two months the Vikings maintained the siege, making trenches and provisioning themselves off the land. In January 886 they tried to fill the river shallows with debris, plant matter, and the bodies of dead animals and dead prisoners to try to get around the tower. They continued this for two days. On the third day they set three ships alight and guided them towards the wooden bridge. The burning ships sank before they could set the bridge on fire, but the wooden construction was nonetheless weakened. On 6 February, rains caused the river (still filled with debris) to overflow and the bridge supports gave way. The bridge gone, the northeast tower was now isolated with only twelve defenders inside. The Vikings asked the twelve to surrender, but they refused, and were all subsequently killed. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Paris_(885%E2%80%9386)

That is of little consequence here and now. They went with Lagertha’s plan to sneak into the city and open the gates for Rollo’s army of warriors. It was not without it’s own hazards and death but Lagertha  held up her end even while watching her shieldmaidens get dowsed with boiling oil. She fought fire with fire, and set the gates flaming so Rollo’s group could enter. My own personal thought is… Ok, now the damn gates are permanently open for quite a while- those gates can’t just be replaced over night! Wouldn’t it be relatively easy for us to swarm through there at a later time? Just a thought… now back to what actually happened!

a covert night mission led by lagertha an unsuspecting Parisian defense Lagertha waiting to make her next move lagertha sees her warrior doused with boiling oil

death by boiling oil

Lagertha chooses to fight fire with fire lagertha sets the gate on fire

The gates were on fire and easily knocked down for our men to enter.

vikings pouring into Paris at night the men make their move to the burning gates

some success the gates are open now

This is where it all once again, started to go so terribly wrong for us!

While the Franks were initially surprised by this attack, they were quick to man their defense which as usual for them included advance war machines.  While Odo set about preparing this defense, a worried Gisla prepared her women and warned them not to be taken alive by these barbaric heathens.

Parisian defense once again kicks in immediately

gisla passes out daggers and instructions to her maids

inside Paris the alarms have rang again and the women are in fear

inside Paris the alarms have rang again and the women are in fear

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

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

As our Viking warriors raced into the hall towards the inner city, they were suddenly met with the Frankish secret weapon… a literal wheel of death!

Odo once again has to contend with the viking raiders Odo prepares to bring out another secret weapon Odo's secret weapon  Erlandeur would be soooo jealous

Erlandeur is jealous of the french machines

This wheel is truly a grisly weapon of mass torture and death as it rolls down the hall over our men who can not out run it fast enough!

bodies stuck to wheel of death

Rollo was not deterred by it though, he was determined to get into this city and some machine was not going to stop him!

Rollo is not about to let some machine stop him this time rollo climbs over dead bodies to the top of machine rollo conquering the machine Rollo's Fuck you moment  I said I was going to get in and I meant it

While Odo, his army, and yes, Gisla watched in some amazement and even awe, Rollo fought like a mad man… a true berserker against them all!

Odo is amazed at what he is seeing Odo is frustrated again gisla is once again in the middle of the battle watching as Rollo stops their machine with his bare hands rollo in the middle of berserker mode Rollo fights all of the men off like a crazed bear

Eventually even Rollo had to admit defeat, retreat, and haul ass out of there!

rollo fought like a mad man but they could not break through the defenses

rollo fought like a mad man but they could not break through the defenses

During this battle there is something else to note… that would be the true spinelessness of this King Charles.  I actually had some empathy for Odo as he attempted to get Charles to at least go down and show his face to his troops as a way of inspiring them to fight. Count Odo begged the King to make an appearance for the sake of the Holy Mother. He even tried to spur Charles on with a reference to Charlamaigne, his Grandfather, how Charlamaigne would have put on his armor and fought with his men. Charles replied to these requests first by stating that if the Holy Mother was on their side protecting them, then what did they need of him? His response to the comment about Charlamaigne was, “I am not him, I am not my Grandfather Charlamaigne” I’m sure that Odo’s thought at the time was one of, No unfortunately for all of us, you are not… you are a worthless and spineless imitation of any King and we are stuck with you!”

Odo begs the king to come to their aid

Charles  What you want me to do what You want me to go out there  surely you jest?

Charles What you want me to do what You want me to go out there surely you jest?

Charles reprimands Odo and tells him not to speak for the Holy Mother to him in such a way

Charles reprimands Odo and tells him not to speak for the Holy Mother to him in such a way

the king would rather rely on the holy mother to come to their aid

the king would rather rely on the holy mother to come to their aid

Odo tries to make Charles see reason Charles  Alas for you Count Odo I am not my Grandfather I am not Charlamagne

Now back to Rollo and his retreat for self preservation in order fight another day… As I mentioned earlier, this was actually a success for him in some ways. His actions during this fight brought him fame, attention and even some respect in the eyes of the Franks, and his retreat ensured that he would still be alive to appreciate it later!

During the battle, our warrior Sigfrid and our wanderer Sinric were captured and brought before the court where their fate would be decided, not so much by Charles- for he stayed mostly silent during this event, his mind thinking of other things- but by Odo and by Gisla… it is here that we find out the thoughts these people were having about our Rollo. There was much discussion about what to do with these prisoners, whether they were of any value or not?

Sinric offers fashion and cosmetic tips

while odo questions  Sinric, charles is thinking on something else

while odo questions Sinric, charles is thinking on something else

odo this man sintric will be of use to us  gisla and this earl

odo this man sinric will be of use to us gisla and this earl

 

odo about sigfrid  perhaps he could be bartered if he is so important

odo about sigfrid perhaps he could be bartered if he is so important

Sigfrid listens as Sintric tries to talk his way out of this mess for them

Odo waits for Charles to come up with any form of intelligent decision

 

during the discussion, Odo wants to know of the great warrior that managed to take down their machine with his bare hands. Everyone is speaking of this wild and brave warrior? Sinric replies, “That is Rollo, brother to the King Ragnar… he fights like a crazed bear!” And, so Rollo’s fame and reputation have begun… to the Franks he will now ever be known as that wild Viking warrior bear!

sintric  he fights like a crazed bear

sinric: he fights like a crazed bear

Odo decided that Sinric would be of future use to them and so spared his life. To Odo’s credit, he did make some attempt as well to spare Sigfrid’s life by suggesting that he as an earl might be worth bartering for? He was shot down by a now somewhat more petulant Gisla, who demands that Odo bring her his head if he cares anything for her. Now, possibly Gisla was thinking that after such a disaster, her people needed to see themselves in more control of this situation? Perhaps she felt that they were so cowed and awed by the actions of Rollo that they needed to see a different side of these Viking warriors… they needed to see one taken down and conquered by death. Perhaps she felt that her people needed to see a Viking warrior die in front of them to counteract the now legendary fighting of Rollo. What ever she might be attempting to achieve in this situation, the reality was that she came across as the petulant demanding princess that she could probably be quite often. Odo was not exactly in favor of the idea but if it would score him points in Gisla’s favor, he was willing to go along with it. After all, it was just another heathen they were killing… This came down to a sort of compromise between Odo and Gisla. Odo got to keep the different one, Sinric and Gisla got her wish for Sigfrid’s head.

poor sintric realizes this didn't work out so well for Sigfrid

poor sintric realizes this didn’t work out so well for Sigfrid

Sigfrid would eventually lose his head but, he would have the last laugh before it was finished!

in paris sigfrid faces his accusers and his end

in paris sigfrid faces his accusers and his end

but he does face his death with dignity and bravery

but he does face his death with dignity and bravery

sigfrid: but I want someone to hold my hair out of the way so it does not impede a clean blow.

sigfrid: but I want someone to hold my hair out of the way so it does not impede a clean blow.

Odo  what the hell is he saying  Damn I need to learn their language

Odo what the hell is he saying Damn I need to learn their language

someone please hold his hair back out of the way

Odo shows he does have some compassion for a dying man’s last wishes and goes along with Sigrid’s request…

not wanting it said they deny someone of a last wish  they comply and a man holds sigfrid's hair back.

not wanting it said they deny someone of a last wish they comply and a man holds sigfrid’s hair back.

Odo watches and thinks  I will never understand these heathens and their strange ways

Odo watches and thinks I will never understand these heathens and their strange ways

Sigfrid pulled back his head at the last minute and the axe went through the man’s hand…

Sigfrid has the last laugh

Sigfrid has the last laugh

 

these villagers of Paris are stunned and awed by Sigfrid's bravery while Sintric tries to hide a laugh of his own

these villagers of Paris are stunned and awed by Sigfrid’s bravery while Sintric tries to hide a laugh of his own

Needless to say, Odo and  Gisla did not see the humor in it…

Odo has been thwarted again  Damn it this is not funny

Odo has been thwarted again Damn it this is not funny

gisla is not amused

gisla is not amused

Sinric tried to hide his laugh but sigfrid laughed loud at his own last revenge on the Franks, because Damn it was funny, and Odo would probably even admit in private… probably not Gisla right now, because she is showing her more childish pouting side!

sintric  ohhh ooops ummm no it was not funny Sigfrid however finds this last act hilarious

Speaking of Gisla’s more childish pouting side… she showed it again later at a meeting with the King and Odo. Please understand, our siege of Paris may not be completely successful but we are having some profound affect on the city. Our efforts have also been helped by the fact that a serious case of the Plague has arrived in the city as well.  On a historical note, a case of unidentified plague and pestilence were documented during Ragnar Lodbrok’s attack on Paris during 845. In the historic account, the plague entered the Viking camp… which could be the cause of such sickness that is currently overtaking ones such as Ragnar…

The Vikings finally arrived in Paris on either Easter Sunday, 28 March, or Easter Day, 29 March, entered the city and plundered it. During the siege, a plague broke out in their camp. The Norse had been exposed to the Christian religion, and after first praying to the Norse gods, they undertook a fast, acting on the advice of one of their Christian prisoners, and the plague subsided.

We will return to what is going on in our camp later.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Paris_(845)

Inside Paris, the plague and lack of food supplies are decimating and demoralizing the population. Odo as a competent commander realized this and was willing to admit that they must end this siege by negotiating with the Northmen. Gisla shows her youth and some lack of understanding of the direness of the situation. She is insistent and determined that they keep fighting at all costs, else they shall have failed themselves and their people. Gisla may be courageous in the face of battle but she as yet lacks the wisdom to accept that sometimes one must retreat or compromise in order to live and fight another day. Odo does understand this and while he is not happy about this defeat and giving into the Northmen, he knows that it must be done.

in the city something else has arrived with the vikings  the plague has arrived as well.

in the city something else has arrived with the vikings the plague has arrived as well.

gisla: otherwise we will have failed.

gisla: otherwise we will have failed.

gisla appears now more as a child a daughter who really has less power than she thinks gisla watches her father as odo contunues about their losses

Odo realizes the disaster facing them and admits defeat he suggests they come to terms with the vikings

Odo realizes the disaster facing them and admits defeat he suggests they come to terms with the vikings

Charles knows what Odo is going to say but asks him anyway  what is your advice

Charles knows what Odo is going to say but asks him anyway what is your advice

Charles is pissed because now he has to actually make a decision

Charles is pissed because now he has to actually make a decision

What is interesting to note here is that in history, it was Odo who opposed the negotiating and giving in to the Northmen.

To the frustration of the Parisians who had fought for a long time to defend the city, Charles stopped short of attacking the Viking besiegers, and instead allowed them to sail further up the Seine to raid Burgundy (which was in revolt), as well as promising a payment of 700 livres (pounds; 257 kg). Odo, highly critical of this, tried his best to defy the promises of Charles, and when Charles died in 888, Odo was elected the first non-Carolingian king of the Franks.

In viewing Odo’s actions thus far, I am not seeing him in nearly such bad light as this pathetic King Charles! Odo is attempting to save his city and it’s people but is willing to concede defeat if need be in order not lose more lives. Gisla is acting from a more youthful, childish belief in the heroics and romanticism of the battle. And, ultimately it comes down to a decision from Charles anyway, which proves and reminds her in some way that she does not have as much power as she thinks. In reality, she is still just a young girl under the power and authority of her Father, no matter how brave or adult like she tries to act. In the end we see a young girl put in her place by her Father, the King… who whether they like it or not, is the one who has the last say! In the Viking camp, Ragnar will soon make this clear to all of his people as well!
gisla appears now more as a child a daughter who really has less power than she thinks gisla is still a young girl wanting her own way
The siege is taking it’s toll on everyone and our Viking group is disheartened, depressed and disgruntled. The weather is awful, our attempts at conquest are failing, our people are beginning to turn on each other and our esteemed King is off in the woods puking up blood and having strange visions. Yeah, we’re pretty much falling apart here!
nasty weather and disinheartened disgruntled warriors
Let us look at Ragnar’s condition and those strange visions he is having? He has not recovered at all from the fall he took earlier…
ragnar's fall from the wall Ragnar falls not into the water to be reborn anew no he lands on top of all his dead men
He has been suffering ever since, wandering around camp watching everyone, while occasionally stopping to piss or puke up blood. It’s obvious that he has suffered some serious internal injury and could easily be succumbing to the plague as well? What ever it is, the man is Gods awful sick but he’s still managing to survive and maintain some sort of rulership…
ragnar pissing blood and in bad shape Ragnar is having a tough time of it right now ragnar's not falling for Floki's attempts ragnar wandering through the camp
He can not go on the middle of the night raid because, well because he can barely stand let alone fight right now! At one point he wanders out to the woods, presumably for quiet private suffering where no one will see him in such agony…
Why did Ragnar not join the raid  Well Ragnar is king and ragnar is busy puking his guts out

Why did Ragnar not join the raid Well Ragnar is king and ragnar is busy puking his guts out

Ragnar seems to be fading fast Ragnar is having a tough time of it right now ragnar in the throes of his vision
Ragnar gives into his pain and at first it does appear that he might just be giving into death calling upon him? He begins to have hallucinations or visions… Athelstan comes to him
ragnar's vision continues Athelstan appears
Athelstan reaches out to Ragnar and Ragnar starts to reach back to his friend…
ragnar reaches back to athelstan
But, before their hands can touch, Odin appears as well!
ragnar suddenly aware of odin's prescence
Odin comes between Athelstan and Ragnar
Athelstan fades away and is replaced by a vision of the Christ God…
the christ god appears
during part of this vision, Ragnar begs, “Do not abandon me” Now, it might seem that he is speaking specifically to Athelstan but I think he is speaking more in general terms asking of all the Gods, “Do not abandon me” He is begging the Gods, all of the Gods save him.
For a time, he is left on the ground in a pool of his own blood while the Gods determine his fate.
ragnar waits for the gods to decide and intervine
Is this a battle between the Gods for his eternal soul? Is this his penance and retribution for going against his Father God Odin, whom he claims to be descended from? Is it a final renunciation of his old beliefs to turn against Odin and be claimed and welcomed by the Christ God in heaven?
Or is it more of a waiting and watching over him by both Gods as he fights his inner battle for survival and must make some choice…
Gods wait not for batte but for choice
Ragnar has always believed that we have choice in all things, all actions and decisions, so then must we also have choice in that Gods to follow. I think that Ragnar looks upon the Christ God as another of the many Gods so he would call upon him as well, knowing how strongly Athelstan believed in him. For Ragnar right now, this is not a battle of  which God to follow, or choice of which one to believe in… this is a battle and a choice of life or death for him. The Gods, all of the Gods will watch over him as he fights this battle. As to Athelstan’s leaving, it was more of a way of his Christ God taking his place and in a way saying, “Athelstan, you can step aside now, I will take over this watch.”
ragnar curled up while the gods debate his fate

ragnar curled up while the gods debate his fate

Don't abandon me and then ragnar rises

Don’t abandon me and then ragnar rises

The Gods do not abandon Ragnar and while he is far from well by any means, he rise with some clarity and renewed inner strength to go on. I believe what both Gods were telling him was, “It’s not your time to come with either of us yet, but rest assured that when your time does come, we will be here waiting for you and it will be your choice which resting place to choose.”

After the disastrous latest siege attempt, as I mentioned, our camp was at odds with each other on how to proceed next, especially after the Franks showed up with an offer of  gold and silver to end the siege. They  brought Sinric along as their prisoner translator and I did feel quite bad for him coming back into camp tied to a rope such as he was! Ragnar could do little more than listen from his bed on the side while Bjorn stepped up and took control of the meeting.

the French arrive in camp with a treaty offer The french have brought Sinric and their translator bjorn is in charge

ragnar listens from the side unable to do much more than that

ragnar listens from the side unable to do much more than that

Everyone stood by and let Bjorn take charge of the meeting, but at the end, Rollo stepped forward to rescue our Sinric!

Rollo steps in to add his voice to the discussion as the french prepare to leave Rollo cuts Sinric loose Rollo  like I said don't piss me off  I'm not in a good mood right now rollo cuts sinric loose of his tie

 

It was after this meeting that the bickering got out of hand and it was rather apparent that we were falling apart as a team?

Lagertha is disgusted  Why should we negotiate with them

Lagertha is disgusted Why should we negotiate with them

Bjorn responds with because 1000 men are dead and many more injured or sick, and soon it will be winter and we will starve…is that not reason enough?

 

Rollo points out Why do they offer terms if they're so sure we can not breach the city

Rollo points out Why do they offer terms if they’re so sure we can not breach the city

Kalf is realistic in his appraisal of the situation  They have probably run out of food

Kalf is realistic in his appraisal of the situation They have probably run out of food

 

Erlandeur voices his own whiney dissent  then we should let them starve

Erlandeur voices his own whiney dissent then we should let them starve

As I said, the arguing and bickering were getting us nowhere except mad at each other!

The discussion quickly turns to arguing over what to do

Ragnar listened to it from his bed and finally could take it no longer. He dragged himself up and decided to put an end to the discussion once and for all… if they wanted to be mad at someone, let it be him… at least they would be united on one front then!

ragnar trying to ignore his condition and act like the ruler he is

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 Lagertha is not amused with Ragnar's speech to her

ragnar I did not become king out of ambition but once again I had no choice

ragnar I did not become king out of ambition but once again I had no choice

Ragnar points out everyone in his admonishment of I lead not you not you and not you

Ragnar points out everyone in his admonishment of I lead not you not you and not you

ragnar to erlandeur I had no choice as a result of other people's actions

ragnar to erlandeur I had no choice as a result of other people’s actions

Rollo just stays out of this he knows Ragnar's mood

Rollo just stays out of this he knows Ragnar’s mood

The only two who made effort not to be phased and remain calm, besides Bjorn, were Rollo and Kalf… who were both wise enough not to show fear or agitate Ragnar any more than he already was!

Kalf tries to remain unphased and calm through Ragnar's tirade

Ragnar’s question to Bjorn, “What does a King do?”  Bjorn answered with, “He rules”

What does a King do Bjorn   He rules   Yes that is exactly what he does

What does a King do Bjorn He rules Yes that is exactly what he does

ragnar  You've all had your ideas and they have all failed

ragnar: You’ve all had your ideas and they have all failed

Ahhhh, he probably would have went on much longer with this tirade against everyone but he was interrupted by a sudden inconvenient attack…

Ragnar Damn I was on such a roll too2

This put a bit of damper on his speech as everyone watched in some concern for their King who was now puking up blood in front of them…

Ragnar can not finish his speech as he must stop to puke again

Ragnar can not finish his speech as he must stop to puke again

 

ragnar: ummm forget you saw that Now there is no more discussion about this we do it my way

ragnar: ummm forget you saw that Now there is no more discussion about this we do it my way

Ragnar regained his composure and took Sinric off for a more private meeting.

Ragnar takes sinric off for a more private discussion

Rollo says nothing but you can see the concern for his brother on his face

Rollo says nothing but you can see the concern for his brother on his face

All Bjorn could do was shake his head at his Father’s tirade, his audacity to rub failure in everyone’s faces and laugh in some resignation at Ragnar’s actions which would be par for the course with his Father! He is so used to his Father’s behaviors that even this does not surprise him.

bjorn can't help but shake his head and laugh at Ragnar's tirade and his intent

 

Ragnar has managed to put them all down, remind them of their failure and let them know that now they would do it his way. He would meet with this Odo and decide for himself whether to negotiate terms with them. The next morning, he did just that. He left early, taking no one with him but Sinric as his translator and met privately with Odo.

I do have to add here that after seeing Rollo and Sigfrid, I am thinking that Odo’s reaction to seeing a bruised, battered and ailing Ragnar was more one of  this is your King??? But, he did not let on to that thought and made every attempt to bargain with Ragnar.

ragnar leaves the others behind and meets with Odo on his own

ragnar leaves the others behind and meets with Odo on his own

odo offers a price of 5000 lbs of silver and gold

odo offers a price of 5000 lbs of silver and gold

ragnar: tell him I know there are no reinforcements coming

ragnar: tell him I know there are no reinforcements coming

ragnar to odo: No one is coming to save you and the offer is not enough

ragnar to odo: No one is coming to save you and the offer is not enough

Why is the 5000 lbs not enough? Well, because in history they offered 5670 lbs… why short yourself when you have a feeling you could get a little more out of them!

The Siege of Paris and the Sack of Paris of 845 was the culmination of a Viking invasion of the kingdom of the West Franks. The Viking forces were led by a Danish chieftain named “Reginherus”, or Ragnar, who traditionally has been identified with the legendary saga character Ragnar Lodbrok. Ragnar’s fleet of 120 Viking ships, carrying thousands of men, entered the Seine in March and proceeded sailing up the river. The West Frankish king Charles the Bald assembled a smaller army in response, but as the Vikings defeated one division, comprising half of the army, the remaining forces retreated. The Vikings reached Paris at the end of the month, during Easter. After plundering and occupying the city, the Vikings finally withdrew after receiving a ransom payment of 7,000 French livres (2,570 kilograms or 5,670 pounds) of silver and gold from Charles the Bald.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Paris_(845)

There was also a small matter of something else Ragnar wanted in addition to the money…  Ragnar stated that he wanted to baptized!

ragnar: I am a dying man and when I die I want to be reunited with my friend who is christian

ragnar: I am a dying man and when I die I want to be reunited with my friend who is Christian

Of course, the Bishop takes issue with this request and tells Ragnar the only place he will be going is to Hell and not Heaven!

the bishop takes issue with this request

Ragnar has his own response to the Bishop, possibly resulting from his earlier vision and meeting with both Gods. Ragnar tells the Bishop, “That is not your decision to make!”

ragnar to the bishop that is not your decision to make

When the bishop tries to put off the baptism, Ragnar shows his understanding of the religion and the significance of the symbolism in baptism. “This is a man of God and this is water so you will do it here and you will do it now!”

this is a man of god and this is water  you will do it here and you will do it now

this is a man of god and this is water you will do it here and you will do it now

The bishop has little choice but to baptize Ragnar on the spot with all of the Frankish men watching.

with no other choice the bishop baptizes ragnar

Now comes the most difficult part to understand or make sense of. Has Ragnar truly converted to Christianity? Has he indeed foresworn his Pagan Gods and beliefs for this Christian belief? Is he truly dying and hoping desperately to reunite with Athelstan in that Christian Heaven?

First of all, let’s look at the fact that he has carried this out in secret, not wanting his Viking followers to know about this act. Is this because he is ashamed of his act, his denial of the Pagan Gods and he knows that his group would not understand or accept his decision? Well, that could be a remote possibility, but my thought is that he’s done it in secret because, no his group would not understand, but not for the reasons we would assume. He’s doing it in secret so the Frankish men will all see it and believe it wholeheartedly- that is who he needs to convince with this act. They need to firmly believe that he is a changed and converted man. If he told anyone in his group about this, one of them would surely blow this whole thing! They would not understand how, even if he doesn’t believe in it, he could take this act of denial of their Gods so lightly.  This is an ultimate act of blasphemy on both the Christian and the Pagan side so how could he commit this act.  Well, if one looks at it from Ragnar’s perspective, it really isn’t such a betrayal because he does have some belief in both Gods. As I mentioned earlier, I think Ragnar looks at the Christ God as another one of the many Gods. If baptism is what this one God requests as an act of faith, he doesn’t have a problem with it. He does know though that everyone else would or will have a problem with it and he doesn’t have time to deal with all of these arguments right now! What he needs to do right now is prove to himself, to others and to Athelstan that he can get into the city… that his plan will work better than theirs.  In order to do that, he needs to have everyone believe he is truly dying and he has converted to Christianity!

they look on in some confusion at ragnar's baptism the others arrive to see ragnar being baptized

floki is furious at this betrayal of their gods on Ragnar's part

floki is furious at this betrayal of their gods on Ragnar’s part

In order to understand this possible plan of Ragnar’s you need some background history. In history, it was Bjorn Ironside who accomplished this successful plan at the town of Luna, Italy.  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.

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

Now, realistically, even Ragnar can not pull this off on his own. He has to have help from someone he trusts completely. He puts his life and his trust in his son, Bjorn to help him accomplish this plan!

So, in answer to the questions, Does Ragnar die, does Ragnar convert to Christianity… My personal predictions are,  No Ragnar does not die anytime soon- he still has some matters to attend to in England in case anyone has forgotten about that! As far as converting, Ragnar will see no need to convert as the Gods have already spoken to him. He has already seen both Gods and he believes that both can exist.

Now, before we finish this book of epic length proportion, I might as well add a few other last thoughts. Is Floki still in danger… well, yes probably at some time in the future. Ragnar has not forgotten about his betrayal. But, as for Floki’s loss of Helga… Helga is still watching out for him from a distance so maybe there is hope there yet?

ragnar wandering through the camp floki hiding in his tower floki in his tower cage or prison of his mind Helga has not quite given up on floki  she's keeping an eye on him helga watching floki

In Kattegat, Aslaug is taking her responsibilities and duties as Queen far more seriously.  And, this time I agree with her treatment of this misguided, ignorant, martyr type missionary who wandered into their village attempting to convert them by insulting them, calling them names and deriding their religion. Obviously this man failed every class he might have taken in how to win friends, influence people and properly guide people into conversion. In my personal opinion, he deserved everything he got for his arrogance and his refusal to think outside the box when dealing with other cultures. A poor pathetic excuse of a missionary he was, Athelstan himself would have been hard pressed not to show this man the error of his ways.  Aslaug did give him opportunity to come to some compromise and ease his way out of the situation and their village. He refused, and assumed that his God would over come, his God would rule mightily and make him a hero in the eyes of these people… His God would perform such a miracle that the villagers would be awestruck and immediately converted. What he forgot was that one can not use miracles like this else they would not be so special, would they? His God and Aslaug showed him the error of his ways!

in kattegat

This ridiculous fool is certainly no Athelstan

This ridiculous fool is certainly no Athelstan

to her credit Aslaug allows him to speak and to thus seal his fate.

to her credit Aslaug allows him to speak and to thus seal his fate.

aslaug I may admit your christ is a god but even so our gods are greater

Aslaug has offered some compromise some way for him to get himself out of this but the young man refuses to compromise his belief

Aslaug has offered some compromise some way for him to get himself out of this but the young man refuses to compromise his belief

The missionary envisions a great miracle….

the trial begins and the young man envisions great success vision of success2

the missionary's vision of success everyone will be in awe of such a feat by his god

What he gets is a heated dose of reality!

aslaug and son look down at the missionary in his ignorant failure

aslaug and son look down at the missionary in his ignorant failure

the reality rather than the vision

the reality rather than the vision

the villagers are not in awe but in hysterics at his stupidity

the villagers are not in awe but in hysterics at his stupidity

his god has not interceded on his behalf

his god has not interceded on his behalf

aslaug:  So what was that about you god being greater

aslaug: So what was that about you god being greater?

Later that evening, Aslaug takes a moment from care of her children to calmly  condemn the missionary to death.

 

 Aslaug takes a moment from her care of Ivar to answer the guard's question of what to do with the christian  Kill him

Aslaug takes a moment from her care of Ivar to answer the guard’s question of what to do with the christian Kill him

 

Ok, I shall end our book here and we shall look at Wessex in a separate post… because I am quite sure you are now as exhausted as I am!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings Paris: The Princess will crown the Bear

 

Ahhhh finally, we put the previous tragedies and terrors of late behind us for now and head for the city of Paris. That city which the Seer refers to in his prophecies…

Paris in the distance the walls of paris

If you remember, the Seer gave prophecies of this city as well as a few other insights that we must consider at this time.  He told Ragnar, “Not the living but the dead will conquer Paris, and the Princess shall crown the Bear, which does not bode well for you Ragnar Lothbrok.”  His message to Rollo was quite similar, “The Princess will crown the Bear and you shall be there to see it.”  These were as usual cryptic unclear messages which caused   everyone much thought and debate.  Obviously, something good is going to happen to someone during this time because the Seer also assured Rollo that if he knew what the Gods had in store for him, he would dance naked with joy on the beach!  Just on a personal thought, I should like very much to be dancing with Rollo on that beach…

Seer as counselor  What do you think Rollo and the Seer  I paid you good spit for that advice

 

The puzzling question comes to mind of who the “Bear” is? I have mentioned previously that Bjorn might be a possibility as his name literally translates in Norse to Bear, and he does eventually become a King of Sweden in history. We know little else about his history so it’s possible that he will meet his princess… I do not think his destiny lies with Porunn. I have stated this before. His affair with Porunn was that of two young people experiencing their first tastes of lust and mistaking it for love.  I think Porunn realizes this and she keeps insisting that Bjorn will be happier without her. Many assume that this is just her overwrought emotions and irrational thoughts coming out… but, I think perhaps in this one aspect, she is thinking clearly. She knows in her heart that she and Bjorn do not belong together despite sharing a child. Perhaps she is being more honest than we credit her for? Her fate and her destiny are not with Bjorn and she knows it, as much as it hurts her to face it.

While the rest of us headed toward Paris, Porunn was left at home in Kattegat with Aslaug. She struggled with Motherhood and possibly, the thought of raising a child on her own, if as she was so insistent upon, Bjorn would leave her. She did not voice this fear but it could have been part of what caused her rash attempt to give her daughter to Aslaug.  Now, I have made it clear from the beginning that I am not a fan of Aslaug, but in this instance Aslaug spoke with clear determination and lectured Porunn on Motherhood. She gave wise words of advice to the girl.

porunn tries to give her baby to aslaug please take my baby  I can not care for her  Aslaug's reply of course you can

Aslaug tried to be patient but reminded Porunn that she was the child’s Mother and needed to be there for her. She told Porunn that her thinking was selfish, that her daughter needs her! She also tried to remind Porunn to think of Bjorn, Bjorn loves you.

Aslaug spoke of a woman’s harsh and difficult burden in life. “But, you must remember that the Gods determine our fate. Pray to Freya to bring you comfort as she does for me.”

aslaug and her cauldron2 aslaug and her cauldron

No, I do not believe Bjorn’s destiny is with Porunn, though he will always care about her. His destiny may lie with Torvi, who has herself suffered the bitter and difficult burdens of a woman’s life. Torvi who was once married to much older Jarl Borg, had to share him with his dead wife’s skull, then watch as he was executed for his betrayal of Ragnar. Torvi who bore a child on her own after her husband’s death and then was most probably married to young Erlandeur against her will. Torvi, who is in a unhappy and dangerous marriage now and most likely suffers abuse at Erlandeur’s hand… But, as Torvi states, “I will not be left behind, I am Viking!”  Torvi endures her burden with completely different mindset than Porunn. Torvi enters willingly into a relationship with Bjorn, knowing that it will have dangerous and injuring consequences for her.

Bjorn I love my wife Bjorn and torvi

Later when Bjorn attempts to make amends for his behavior, Torvi sets him straight telling him, “It does not matter, I am not with child nor am I a child!”

bjorn  I took advantage of you

 bjorn tries to make ammends for previous behavior. torvi's comment it does not matter I am not with child neither am I a child.

bjorn tries to make ammends for previous behavior. torvi’s comment it does not matter I am not with child neither am I a child.

The relationship between Bjorn and Torvi is of two adults who are able to have a serious discussion, understand each other and agree upon it without yelling or tears.

torvi's response  so did I we used each other

torvi’s response so did I we used each other

torvi can smile at bjorn and admit her complicity in the act

bjorn and torvi are able to have a serious adult conversation and laugh about it

bjorn and torvi are able to have a serious adult conversation and laugh about it

Bjorn gave Torvi a heartfelt gift which she kept and appreciated for a few moments before her husband Erlandeur grabbed it from her and told her it was too good for her, a whore.

bjorn gives torvi a gift of a brooch

bjorn gives torvi a gift of a brooch

Torvi reacts to erlandeur  No you're hurting me

Torvi reacts to erlandeur No you’re hurting me

torvi's brooch is gone and her hand is sliced

It was rather apparent that Torvi has suffered and endured abuse from Erlandeur but kept quiet counsel and maintains her inner dignity through it.

no tears from torvi she is resolute she is viking

Torvi has the inner strength, fortitude and grace of one who knows her worth and value despite her burdens. I only bring all of this up now because there is another such woman on the horizon… A young woman who has inner courage, strength and fortitude to endure and know her worth as a woman, as a princess. I also bring it up to show that Bjorn’s destiny does lie in Paris with a woman who has the inner makings of a Princess or a Queen.

Now, before we go on with Rollo’s destiny, let us look one more time at the Seer’s prophecies. This prophecy was an older one which he made to Ragnar about his sons. He told Ragnar that his sons would do great things, in fact be more famous than him?  One son would marry the daughter of a King, and one son would sail seas  that have no waves… The seer was actually correct in this message according to history.

 

 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

Another son did indeed marry the daughter of a King…granted, a King that he killed but still, a King. Sigurd Snake in the eye married the daughter of a King and in fact, his descendants went on to gain the throne of England for a short time!

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!”   And soon his sons did know, as King Ella was foolish enough to send an embassy to acquaint them of the fact. 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 oldest 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.

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 King 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.

In his way, Sigurd was probably the son who achieved the most eventual fame and reputation. The interesting part of Sigurd’s story and his descendants is the fact that his most famous descendant, Cnut the Great married a descendant of Rollo. Cnut married Emma of Normandy, who was previously married to Aethelred the unready of  England.  Now, let us add another factor into this equasion… Aethelred the unready was the descendant of  King Ecbert of Wessex and his grandson, Alfred.  What is a bit ironic about Emma’s marriage to Aethelred is the fact that she was descended from Vikings and then married to Aethelred as means of uniting the countries against Viking threats. She brought her Viking bloodline to the throne of England and bore Athelred two sons- one of whom would eventually be King. Then after Aethelred died, she went so far as to willingly marry Cnut the Great. With this marriage she held the title of Queen Consort of England, Denmark and Norway. 

Under his reign, Cnut brought together the English and Danish kingdoms, and the people saw a golden age of dominance across Scandinavia, as well as within the British Isles. His campaigns abroad meant the tables of Viking supremacy were stacked in favour of the English, turning the prows of the longships towards Scandinavia. He reinstated the Laws of King Edgar to allow for the constitution of a Danelaw,  and for the activity of Scandinavians at large. He also reinstituted the extant laws with a series of proclamations to assuage common grievances brought to his attention, including: On Inheritance in case of Intestacy, and On Heriots and Reliefs.  He also strengthened the currency, initiating a series of coins of equal weight to those being used in Denmark and other parts of Scandinavia

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

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

You can read more of Emma’s story in a book by Helen Hollick titled, The Forever Queen.

forever quee

What kind of woman becomes the wife of two kings, and the mother of two more?

Saxon England, 1002. Not only is Æthelred a failure as King, but his young bride, Emma of Normandy, soon discovers he is even worse as a husband. When the Danish Vikings, led by Swein Forkbeard and his son, Cnut, cause a maelstrom of chaos, Emma, as Queen, must take control if the Kingdom-and her crown-are to be salvaged. Smarter than history remembers, and stronger than the foreign invaders who threaten England’s shores, Emma risks everything on a gamble that could either fulfill her ambitions and dreams or destroy her completely.

Emma, the Queen of Saxon England, comes to life through the exquisite writing of Helen Hollick, who shows in this epic tale how one of the most compelling and vivid heroines in English history stood tall through a turbulent fifty-year reign of proud determination, tragic despair, and triumph over treachery.

The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick

With Emma of Normandy and Cnut the Great, the Viking dream of a Daneland rather than an England became very close to a reality. Emma also brought the Normans to England with her Norman/Viking ancestry and the mistake that she made of leaving her son Edward by Aethelred to be raised in exile in Normandy. He thereby had a closer relationship and ties with Normandy than with his own English people when he eventually came to the throne of England.

 

This all gives much credence to the Seer’s prophecies about Ragnar’s sons. That leaves of course, the prophecy regarding the Princess crowning the Bear. Because if it is not Bjorn, then we would assume it must be Rollo himself.  What is Rollo’s connection or reference to “Bear”  other than his presumed size which was mentioned previously. Well, we need to look at the term Bear in the Norse language, mythology and legend, as well as look at Rollo himself in how he might fit into this.

The connection can be found in the word Berserker! If we look back at Rollo’s fighting behaviors, there are certainly time when he could be described as Berserker.

Rollo strikes the blow

Rollo does not trust knut and confronts him

Rollo does not trust knut and confronts him

rollo always the warrior Rollo has slipped away from reason or reality rollo in battle 2

The mention of Ragnar sends Rollo into a rage

The mention of Ragnar sends Rollo into a rage

Today, the word ‘berserk’  describes one with an irrational, agitated state of mind who cannot or does not control his or her actions. The meaning of the word originates with the Viking berserkers, the fierce warriors who were known for battling in an uncontrollable, trance-like fury, and were alleged to be able to perform seemingly impossible super-human feats of strength.  In medieval Norse and Germanic history and folklore, the berserkers were described as members of an unruly warrior gang that worshipped Odin, the supreme Norse deity, and were commissioned to royal and noble courts as bodyguards and ‘shock troops’, who would strike fear into all who encountered them. Adding to their ferocity, and in order to intimidate the enemy, they would wear bear and wolf pelts when they fought, giving them the name Berserker, meaning “bear coat” in Old Norse.

While some researchers believe the Berserkers simply worked themselves up into a self-induced hysteria before fighting, others maintain that it was sorcery, the consumption of drugs or alcohol, or even mental illness, that accounted for their behaviour. Some botanists have claimed that berserker behaviour could have been caused by the ingestion of the plant known as bog myrtle, one of the main spices in Scandinavian alcoholic beverages. Yet another theory is the consumption of hallucinating properties of such plants as certain types of mushrooms.  Well, both Floki and Rollo have consumed their share of mushrooms!
http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/viking-berserkers-fierce-warriors-or-drug-fuelled-madmen-001472

 

another bite of the shroom and sure no problem I'll get the head passing the shrooms

rollo is a good host he shares his shrooms

And, we are all well aware of Rollo’s drinking habits!

rollo's solution marry both of them take one as wife the other as concubine that will settle the matter rollo is not happy either

With this explanation we can reasonably assume that yes, Rollo could be considered a  Berserker or “Bear” in the context that the Seer is speaking of.

rollo in thoughtrollo in fur

So, Rollo can be considered a Bear, and he arrives in Paris where, as far as we know- there is only one Princess currently in residence! At first glance this young girl would appear far too meek and unassuming to do anything more than simply place a crown on Rollo’s head for some reason?

you must tell him that you will not abandon your people you will stay with them be with them protect them

This initially unassuming young woman is Princess Gisla, daughter of Frankish King Charles. If you are thinking to find out more about her in actual history, you will have little luck. There is some debate and doubt as to whether she actually existed or was errantly confused with another Princess Gisela of the same time period. She does get mention in some traditional, older accounts of Rollo’s history but there is little or no evidence or proof of her true existence.

In our world, she does exist and we can assume that she is the Princess that the Seer is referring to. As to the crown part of the prophecy, this could be a more metaphorical reference than a literal one. In history, Rollo was never a prince or king. What he did supposedly gain with his marriage to Gisela was land. Or rather, with the treaty and the land, he also gained Gisela. I say it this way because the way it was written, there would have been no real reason for Rollo to be offered Gisela? He signed a treaty pledging his allegiance, complied with all of the terms of the treaty and was awarded the land and then for some reason he was also rewarded with Gisela. This is important because it puts the marriage in a different light than one of a peace offering or arrangement. Gisela was not being used as a peace weaver or peace cow as was common for many young women in that time period. An example would be the Lady Judith of our saga, who was in a sense traded for peace between kingdoms. 

So, if Gisela was not being used in this sense, then it was an arrangement that Rollo wanted for some reason, and Charles went along with it. As we see in this young woman, Gisla, she is not one to be put into a marriage not of her acceptance or choosing.  Another thought on this situation that might explain why this Gisla or Gisela gets such little historical reference.  If Gisela chose to enter into such a marriage or partnership with Rollo on her own, perhaps she was willing to give up her more Royal status and forge a life with Rollo instead. If she did that, she would no longer be of any importance or consequence in the history of this Royal lineage. No one would write any further account of her because in their minds she would cease to exist in that Royal line. In history, she supposedly did not bear Rollo any children so she would be of little real importance in the future documentation of his lineage either. It would be quite easy for those early historians to set her aside and let her fade away into unknown history.   In history, our King Charles III or Charles the Simple had a number of daughters by his first wife, then by his second wife, he finally had a son who would eventually become Louis IV of France.  As one of many daughters, Gisela’s marriage choice may have been of less consequence or importance once this son was born to the family. She may have had more freedom to choose her own marriage because of this. 

Charles the Simple:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_the_Simple

In the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte (911) with King Charles, Rollo pledged feudal allegiance to the king, changed his name to the Frankish version, and converted to Christianity, probably with the baptismal name Robert.  In return, King Charles granted Rollo land between the Epte and the sea as well as parts of Brittany  and according to Dudo of St. Quentin, the hand of the King’s daughter, Gisela, although this marriage and Gisela herself are unknown to Frankish sources. He was also the titular ruler of Normandy, centered around the city of Rouen. There exists some argument among historians as to whether Rollo was a “duke” (dux) or whether his position was equivalent to that of a “count” under Charles.

As I mentioned this young woman is not the timid, unassuming mouse that her initial appearance would suggest. No, we come to see that Gisla is very much in control of her own life and it would seem that she is in a way, the hidden power behind the crown of her Father. She has a close relationship with him and acts as his counsel and advisor.

gisla I did not want to be sent away  I wanted to stay here with you with our people gisla is the strength behind this crown

gisla:   you must tell odo that you will not leave your people

gisla: you must tell odo that you will not leave your people

There is mention made that she has turned down a number of marriage proposals, among them, the Count Odo’s proposal. This is clearly not a woman who will be pushed into a marriage of convenience or even political reasons. Odo is hopeful though that once he saves Paris, she will rethink his proposal and agree to the marriage.

if you save paris I will forever be in your debt

I will admit that my first impression of Gisla was that this little mouse of a girl would be somehow forced into a marriage with Rollo and would have great difficulty in holding her own with him… Now, my impression is that she has enough inner strength and determination for both herself and Rollo!  I do believe that she could easily be guiding force behind Rollo’s transition from wild Berserker Viking warrior to founder of a well run and disciplined kingdom that becomes a force to be reckoned with throughout the medieval world! While she may not place a literal crown on him, she will  guide him and shape him into a leader that will enable crowns to placed upon many of his descendants!

This Princess Gisla will teach Rollo how to rule a kingdom… as we will see in a future article about Rollo, someone obviously influences, molds and turns him into a ruler and it just might have been one such as Gisla.

So, in final answer to the puzzle of the Seer’s prophecy, Yes the Princess does crown the Bear and it is Rollo!

Our puzzle has been answered to the best of my knowledge and predictions. But, before I end this tonight, I just want to take one closer look at this Princess Gisla. As I said, there is little evidence of her actual existence or her relationship with Rollo other than some fragmented historical references to her. Most current and more documented evidence gives his wife or concubine as Poppa as the Mother of his children. There is little information on her either other than that she might have been captured by Rollo during his attack on Bayeux.  I believe that from Michael Hirst’s perspective and thought, it may have been easier and more expedient to the story line to use Gisla rather than Poppa.  Gisla gives an excellent parallel and represents the difference between the Noblewomen of Europe and those of a fledgling Britain during this time period.

I think that Gisla is a representation of the women of the Carolingian dynasty. The Carolingian empire and dynasty was the one of which King Charles and West Francia were a part of. It  was the final stage in the history of the early medieval realm of the Franks, ruled by the Carolingian dynasty. The size of the empire at its zenith around 800 was 1,112,000 km, with a population of between 10 and 20 million people.  With its division in 843, it also represents the earliest stage in the history of the kingdom of France and the kingdom of Germany, which in the High Middle Ages would emerge as the powerful monarchies of continental Europe, Capetian France and the Holy Roman Empire, and by extension the predecessor of the modern nations of France and Germany. The beginning of the Carolingian era is marked by the coronation of Charlemagne, or Charles the Great by Pope Leo III at Christmas of the year 800, and its end with the death of Charles the Fat.Because Charlemagne and his ancestors had been rulers of the Frankish realm earlier (his grandfather Charles Martel had essentially founded the empire during his lifetime, and his father, Pepin the Short, was the first King of the Franks), the coronation did not actually constitute a new empire. Most historians prefer to use the term “Frankish Kingdoms” or “Frankish Realm” to refer to the area covering parts of today’s Germany and France from the 5th to the 9th century.

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

I do not want to get too lost or bogged down in the massive amount of history concerning this empire. I just want to point out that it had an extensive long history already before the small Isle of Britain began their slow climb towards a so called civilized nation.  King Charles and his daughter were a part of this empire and were descendants of one of it’s great rulers, Charlemagne. King Charles mentions this during his discussion with Count Odo…

  I will not go to my brothers for help in this I will prove I am worthy of my Grandfather Charlamagne.

I will not go to my brothers for help in this I will prove I am worthy of my Grandfather Charlamagne.

Charlemagne (/ˈʃɑrlɨmn/; 2 April 742/747/748 – 28 January 814), also known as Charles the Great (Latin: Carolus or Karolus Magnus, French: Charles Le Grand or Charlemagne, German: Karl der Große, Italian: Carlo Magno or Carlomagno) or Charles I, was King of the Franks who united most of Western Europe during the Middle Ages and laid the foundations for modern France and Germany. He took the Frankish throne from 768 and became King of Italy from 774. From 800 he became the first Holy Roman Emperor – the first recognized Roman emperor in Western Europe since the collapse of the Western Roman Empire three centuries earlier. The expanded Frankish state he founded is called the Carolingian Empire.

The oldest son of Pepin the Short and Bertrada of Laon, Charlemagne became king in 768 following the death of his father. He was initially co-ruler with his brother Carloman I. Carloman’s sudden death in 771 under unexplained circumstances left Charlemagne as the undisputed ruler of the Frankish Kingdom. Charlemagne continued his father’s policy towards the papacy and became its protector, removing the Lombards from power in northern Italy, and leading an incursion into Muslim Spain. He also campaigned against the Saxons to his east, Christianizing them upon penalty of death, at times leading to events such as the Massacre of Verden. Charlemagne reached the height of his power in 800 when he was crowned Emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day at Old St. Peter’s Basilica.

Called the “Father of Europe” (pater Europae), Charlemagne united most of Western Europe for the first time since the Roman Empire. His rule spurred the Carolingian Renaissance, a period of cultural and intellectual activity within the Catholic Church. Both the French and German monarchies considered their kingdoms to be descendants of Charlemagne’s empire.

Charlemagne died in 814, having ruled as emperor for just over thirteen years. He was laid to rest in his imperial capital of Aachen in what is today Germany. His son Louis the Pious succeeded him.

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

The kingdoms of England were in their infancy and just learning how to survive let alone reach any form of greatness… A few such as Ecbert of Wessex had been exposed to the greatness and the power of  Charlemagne’s empire. And, to give Ecbert his credit, this is the form of greatness that he was striving for after having spent time at Charlemagne’s court.

One only has to look at the various places of both countries and see the blatent differences….

Paris

paris at night2 Paris in the distance

Wessex

wessex arriving in wessex

Court/ Great Hall of Paris

great hall of Paris

Great hall of Wessex

great hall of Wessex

There was really no equitable comparison between the places, the people or the cultures. This includes the status of women in each place. 

In the Carolingian Empire, women held positions vital to the sustainability of Carolingian culture and society. Not only did they support men in traditional roles as virtuous mothers, nurturers, and models of beauty and morality, but they also controlled massive amounts wealth, protected against armed revolts, and preserved family lineages. Although the majority of Carolingian texts are authored by men and concern masculine activities, brief glimpses of the lives of aristocratic women can be deciphered through careful examination. In addition, history has a tendency to view women through a modern feminist lens, which leaves pre-modern women subject to assumptions of vulnerability, subjugation, and passivity. But these assumptions are not necessarily true. Although they lived in the constraints of a patriarchal society, Carolingian aristocratic women held a high status and role achieved through law and politics, economic and managerial pursuits, religious ties and family bonds, as well as education and domestic leadership.

women in the vast  Carolingian Empire differed in their ethnic backgrounds, roles in religious or lay settings, and responsibilities. Even the simple idea of marriage during this time had different definitions as Muntehe, Friedelehe, and concubines existed simultaneously. It is therefore important to take these differences into consideration and further define the differing statuses of women in order to better understand them.

You can read more about women in the Carolingian Empire here:

http://www.medievalists.net/2012/11/28/powerful-women-in-a-patriarchal-society-examining-the-social-status-and-roles-of-aristocratic-carolingian-women/

The Carolingian Noblewomen did still live within a world of constraints and domination of men but they were more highly valued than the women of Saxon England. They also knew better how to maneuver themselves within those constraints and maintain their value and self worth.  Gisla is one of these women. She was most likely raised to know the importance of her worth in society. And while she would have understood the importance of a political marriage or alliance with regard to her family and her country, she would have been well educated in the politics of the time to know what was advantageous and what would bring her family and country nothing in return. While Saxon England was struggling to find it’s place and learn what was considered acceptable, civilized behavior in regards to nobility, Gisla’s world was already well versed in what was deemed appropriate and civilized for Nobility and Royalty. Gisla was raised as a Royal Princess, and it shows.  Compare her for instance to our infamous now Queen Kwentirith… I am quite sure that Gisla would be completely disgusted and horrified at Kweni’s behaviors as both Princess and Queen? Not that the rest of us aren’t as well, but comparing these two women clearly shows that Kwenitirith is way out her league when it comes to Royal demeanor and social skills!

Gisla’s conduct and carriage

daughter Gisla arrives to give her advice Do not forget who is in charge here gisla I did not want to be sent away  I wanted to stay here with you with our people

verses some of Kwenitirith’s various inappropriate actions…

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!

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

The prophecy of the Princess crowning the Bear is much clearer now.

The princess will crown the Bear

This leaves us two last messages to decipher… The Dead not the Living will conquer Paris, and this does not bode well for you Ragnar Lothbrok. 

Let’s address the message of this all not boding well for Ragnar first because it’s really the easiest to figure out!  First of all, Ragnar has always been the favored one of the Gods. Rollo makes much of this fact when he speaks to the Seer of his pain and his anger. In the relationship between these two brothers, Rollo has spent his life in Ragnar’s shadow fighting for his own identity, his own reputation. It is a constant battle for him to find his own way yet remain loyal to a brother he loves. Because despite all of Rollo’s bitterness and resentment over Ragnar’s favor with the Gods and everyone on earth, he does love his brother and continues to stand behind him no matter what. Ragnar has come to take this for granted. He assumes that Rollo will continue in on this path of following him and remaining in his shadow. I believe that Ragnar thinks all of their sibling difficulties and rivalry are now in the past. He believes that Rollo has accepted his fate and will remain ever loyal and faithful to him now. The coming events in Paris will test this relationship again. This time Rollo will be given opportunity and reason to once more question his allegiance and loyalties to Ragnar’s mission, Ragnar’s goals. Rollo will find his own path, his own destiny in Paris and it will eventually lead to far greater fame, glory and reputation that Ragnar could ever think to achieve. Rollo’s time for greatness is coming and Ragnar will most likely not be expecting it or so happy about it.  

Portrait of Rollo’s destiny. Credit to Ines Jagger of Vikings Aftermath group and to lindamarieanson of deviant art.

 

portrait of Rollo by Lindamarieanson of Deviant Art

portrait of Rollo by Lindamarieanson of Deviant Art

 

The message of “Not the Living but the Dead shall conquer Paris”  far more difficult to sort out. In looking at the history of Paris, it has actually only been conquered a few times in it’s long history. The Romans did conquer it and gave the city it’s name. The new city was called Lutetia or Lutetia Parisiorum (Lutece of the Parisii). The name probably came from the Latin word luta, meaning mud or swam.  Caesar had described the great marsh, or marais, along the right bank of the Seine. 

The gradual collapse of the Roman empire, due to the increasing Germanic invasions of the 5th century, sent the city into a period of decline. In 451 AD, the city was threatened by the army of Attila the Hun, which had pillaged Treves, Metz and Reims The Parisians were planning to abandon the city, but they were persuaded to resist by Saint Genevieve (422-502). Attila bypassed Paris and attacked Orléans. In 461, the city was threatened again by the Salian Franks, led by Childeric I (436-481). The siege of the city lasted ten years. Once again Genevieve organized the defense. She rescued the city by bringing wheat to the hungry city from Brie and Champagne on a flotilla of eleven barges. She became the patron saint of Paris.

In 481, the son of Childeric, Clovis I, just sixteen years old, became the new ruler of the Franks. In 486, he defeated the last Roman armies, and became the ruler of all of Gaul north of the Loire River. With the consent of Genevieve, he entered Paris. He was converted to Christianity by his wife Clothilde, was baptised at Reims in 496, and made Paris his capital.

During the Viking era, No Vikings ever conquered Paris. In future generations, Paris would suffer great devastations and catastrophes from the Plague and from various wars but it would not be conquered again until World War II when Hitler invaded and conquered the city.

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

Knowing the history and the future of Paris causes one to wonder just what the Seer is referring to with this foretelling.  As we’ve come to see, the Seer is usually fairly correct in connecting his prophecies to some sort of real historical events. So, what exactly is he alluding to with this reference?  He is speaking of this to Ragnar so one would assume that it has to do with Viking attempts to conquer the city and not later devastations which would almost decimate the city but not bring about it’s downfall. One event was the Plague which nearly wiped out the population but not the city itself.

When the Seer speaks of the Dead conquering the City, perhaps he is referring to the fact that at this time, the only people to have ever conquered the city were the long dead Romans! Perhaps he is warning Ragnar  in his usual cryptic way that this attempt is futile and only filled with death for the Vikings. It could also refer to the fact that aside from the long dead Romans, there is only one other force which has already conquered Paris. Paris has already been conquered and won by Christianity and their dead Christ who will rise again to defeat their enemies. Paris is a stronghold fortress of the deeply religious Christians. Their beliefs are so strong that they will defend their city and their religion at all costs. These are not wishy washy half believers like many of the only recently converted Saxons. Many of the Saxons were only pious believers as long as it was to their benefit. No, Christianity was so deeply engrained in the people of Paris and other parts of Francia that they firmly believed that their righteous God would carry them through any adversity. This area was the beginning of the Warriors of God, Defenders of Faith.

Their faith and their determination were every bit as strong as the Vikings belief in Odin. In a sense this could be looked at as a battle between God and Odin. Gisla understands this clearly and becomes a driving force and inspiration to the people of Paris as she leads them in a disturbing yet riveting prayer to God for victory over these Pagan forces intent on destroying their city and their faith.

you may rely upon me to do everything possible to persuade our people to hold firm and remain calm.

you may rely upon me to do everything possible to persuade our people to hold firm and remain calm.

Perhaps she is entreating God, calling him to send the courage and strength of the Dead such as their Holy Saints to the aid of this city?

In Paris they invoke their god for protection and victory

death masks

What ever her intent or her specific prayer, she has indeed inspired their people. She has put fear into them, and given them that God inspired courage to stand up and face this attack, to fight and win for God.

citizens of paris filled with fear and with awe

 

Princess Gisla uses all of the trappings and rituals of the church to inspire her people prayer of the dead

On the other side of the River the Vikings are calling upon their own Gods for victory

which gods will win

viking prayer for victory

viking prayer for victory

the future begins here

It will be a battle  beliefs as much as a battle for wealth and reputation. It will be a battle not easily won, filled with death and in the end most likely no side will actually claim victory.  Both sides will tire of the long siege and will eventually give into compromise.  In history, the Francians continued with a long held practice of paying the Viking raiders to leave. The Viking raiders were not well trained, skilled or patient with such long drawn out and life costly battles. They would grow weary as well.  They would accede to far less rewards than they originally wished for, take their payments and leave only to return again when they were in need of more wealth. We will talk more of the various battles and non- victories when we learn more about Rollo’s true history and destiny.

For now, who conquers Paris- the dead or the living… Well, in a way the Seer is again right because in the Vikings view the death of so many warriors is never really acceptable unless they are certain of victory. They are well known to be greatly cautious and careful with their battles so as not to risk the lives of their Warriors needlessly.  If they see the loss of lives becoming too great with no clear victory in sight, they will retreat and live to fight another day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings Scarred: Sacrifice in Kattegat

 

Deep space nebulae

It is late, dark and quiet here… I stand at a window in this Villa of King Ecbert’s and stare out at the night sky. The stars shine so brightly tonight and I am reminded of something I heard as a child? Each of those stars  is a soul, a person departed from this life and now a shining star in the heavens above looking down on us lighting our way and guiding us. It comforted me as a child and it comforts me now as I look up and wonder which of those stars is my friend, Siggy.  My heart is aching, my eyes red from tears that I can not keep back no matter how hard I try.  I suffer my grief alone for now as I can not tell anyone here what has happened. All I can do is urge and plead with my friends to go home, go home quickly for I feel they are needed in Kattegat and in Hedeby. I fear for our safety here now as well… But, as I have said, I can say nothing for to tell them would cast me in a fearful light. Tonight is not a time to put myself in any doubtful position, not after the spectacle that happened at their feasting celebration. My friends here put up with my sometimes odd behaviors and thoughts for the most part. I make every effort to fit in and not call undue attention to myself. I am used to it, I have been living here in the past with these people for many years now have so far managed not to cause doubts or accusations on my sanity or be labeled as a sorceress or seer. I do not want that label at all, nor do I want the label of crazy villager, or worse here in a Christian world- that of witch?

Tonight is one of those rare times when I think about my past… the future and I wonder if I should not just go back to my life there? I really do not know if I am strong enough anymore in my heart to continue with this life in the past.  My mind is filled with doubts and with fears for our future and all I can do is stand here and weep for the loss of good friend. I look down at the parchment in my hands, know that I should burn it but I can not do it. It is all I have left of Siggy, these words, this account of the events that led to her death.  I hold on to the pages, my hands shaking and my tears dripping down to this paper.  My nose is running now as well, and with little thought, I wipe my nose on the sleeve of my dress. I do not care for my appearance at this point, in fact I have cared about little since receiving this message some days ago. I make excuses of illness to everyone here, they give me wide berth and avoid me… if it is something catching, none wants to be too near to me. That is fine with me, I am far better off with this solitary time in which to deal with my sorrow.

we all watched the final act of the feast a night of glorious feasting and celebration

I mentioned that there was a great celebration and feast of sorts tonight in honor of our victory over Mercia. Our warriors have returned home and they celebrate in some fashion, this victory. Whether it is truly a victory remains to be seen. I will speak more of this later.  for now, I must tell of how I came to receive this sad news of Kattegat.  You may recall that in some earlier writings, I mentioned my interest in Wilton Abbey and my desire to visit there. I enlisted the help of Lady Judith in this endeavor but she seemed quite preoccupied with her own personal matters and Athelstan.  I was about to give up hope on this whole idea when a young priest came from there in search of me.  Now, at first I assumed that the young man was mistaken when he insisted that he came with a message for me. He said that he had an urgent message for one Lady Judith… I of course told him that he must have the wrong Judith? I pointed him towards Lady Judith and told him that she was most likely the one he was in search of.  The young priest shook his head and said, “I know who that Lady Judith is! I am in search of you, the one who arrived with the North settlers.”

I was highly puzzled and confused by this. I know of no one outside this small village and our settlement. My concern must have shown on my face and he took some pity on me. He motioned to an alcove where we could speak more privately. Once there, he whispered his explanation.  “Shhhh just listen to me, this is important. We have a traveler there who has just recently arrived from the Dane lands. This traveler has a grave message for you. He said to tell you that Gunnar waits there for your visit.”  The priest held on to me when it appeared I might fall at his feet in a shocked faint. My “brother”, my friend Gunnar is still alive and is searching for me!

We had spoke at one time of Wilton Abbey and the possibility of using it as a meeting place or safe house. One of the first and most important things one learns in training for this time travel is knowing of such places where you might find shelter and safety if becomes necessary.  In our early discussions of this Wessex area, we chose Wilton Abbey as such a place for it’s proximity to Standing Stones… Stonehenge to be exact, and for it’s earliest reputation as a lesser known sanctuary. We also chose it because of it’s connections to Ecbert’s family, thinking it might be a more feasible option than some other places.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/vikings-on-to-wessex-season-premiere-review-part-2-of-3/

judith eying athelstan as usual

The priest made arrangements with Lady Judith, saying that he would gladly take me with him to Wilton… Judith being so pre-occupied with those other matters, happily went along with his suggestion. So, I made the trip to Wilton Abbey and was reunited with my friend Gunnar. It had been years since we saw each other last and frankly, I had assumed him dead! I did have a feeling that besides his news, what ever it might be, was not the only reason he was searching for me.  I was in possession of a rather large amount of treasure that was rightfully his. He had left it with me and told me to care for it, but to use it as I saw fit if he should not return. Ummm well, I guiltily looked at the chest… there was still quite a bit left but I had made use of some of it.  Damn, now I supposed he was going to want it back- so much for my retirement savings!

My worries over such pettiness as wealth were quickly forgotten once I met with Gunnar. We had our heartfelt reunion and he did express his guilt and apologies for having left me there in Kattegat on my own and not returning to see to my welfare. He did admonish and remind me though, that it had been my choice to stay. I could have left with the other travelers when they fled Kattegat during those years of Earl Haraldson’s madness and then the mess with Jarl Borg. He assumed that I had left with the others. When he met up with all of them they told him of my decision to remain with Siggy. He thought that I was safe enough with Siggy, and with Rollo so he continued on with his sea adventures. He had returned to Kattegat recently, now that it was at peace and was told of my leaving for England. Gunnar was in Kattegat to witness the awful events taking place and knew that he must come in search of me to tell me this news himself.  He took time to write it all down so that there is a written account of it for the future. That is what we are suppose to do here… document the various events with no interference or subjective slanting on our parts. We have all come to realize how impossible that task is though after being in the middle of history, meeting these people and becoming friends with them.

Gunnar made two copies of the story, one he will keep safe and send on with messengers to the future. The other copy, he gave to me to keep for myself, for my own memories of my Siggy. I know that I probably should not keep it. It is so risky to keep our journals but I can not part with it. So, I will hold it with my other treasured writings and thoughts… then I will take them out at times such as this, read them and remember my time spent here, remember those that I have come to hold so dear to me and cry my tears in private.  I know that returning to the future is but a fleeting thought in these moments of fear and heart ache. I will find my inner strength and I will go on. There are still others here that need me, such as Rollo. He has made such strides in putting his life together and becoming that man of greatness but I fear that this news of Siggy might cause him undue stress and much heart ache. I can not leave him to bear the brunt of it on his own, I worry that he is not yet strong enough in his convictions and determination to handle this well. No, I must stay on here now for Rollo’s sake. I will continue my path, and keep the promise I made to Siggy when I left her in Kattegat. I promised her that I would follow Rollo and watch over him as much as possible, see him safe and on his path to his own greatness. 

preview of episode 5!

preview of episode 5! Thanks to Ines Jager at Facebook Vikings Aftermath group!

As is often the case with sudden and unexpected tragedies, I am filled with doubts and second guessing as well. Perhaps I should have remained in Kattegat with her… would that have changed this outcome? I knew that she was suffering much guilt and depression over the events that happened with King Horik. She was not herself but she assured me that I should go with Rollo and she would be fine there on her own. I knew too of Aslaug’s disregard of Siggy, and her ill treatment of her but, then Aslaug treated all of us much in the same manner. She has always presumed that she is better than the rest of us, has treated us all as her servants and taken advantage of those with good hearts.

aslaug

Now, as my last honor to my friend Siggy, I will share the story here so that no one shall question the events that took place! Gunnar’s telling was far more objective but I can not be objective in the telling. I lived with these people for so long, I know them well and I know in my heart what that Bitch, Aslaug is capable of. After this, I will have no respect at all left for her and I will be happy to be witness to what ever downfall may come her way.

The problems in Kattegat began before the arrival of a strange wanderer named Harbard. Gunnar was in the village at the time and said that Siggy was not herself even then. He has known Siggy for some time from his days of trading in Kattegat, and he said that she seemed much bothered and unhappy even before the wanderer showed up in the village. There was talk of strange dreams and everyone in Aslaug’s household seemed ill at ease. At the time Gunnar put it down to them having to live with Aslaug, who he referred to as a shrew? He said too, that it must have worn on their nerves, the continuous crying of that baby, Ivar.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/vikings-wanderer-other-strangeness/

Siggy did share that she was bothered by bad dreans and feelings of  unknown fear? She mentioned that she had went so far as to seek help from the Seer, and he was no help at all! In fact, he seemed bothered by his own feelings of impending doom? When Siggy asked him for help, his reply was “No one can help you”

nobody could help you   It's true

nobody could help you It’s true

When this man, Harbard arrived in the village, strange things started happening and Siggy was open in her mistrust and misgivings about him. She was suspicious of him from the beginning. Then when those two boys were found drowned, and Ivar’s pain was temporarily relieved, Siggy became fearful and filled with dread that this strange man was not who he claimed to be. Her premonitions of danger increased, her nerves were on edge and she sank into a dark mood.  Siggy grew irritated and impatient with Aslaug’s attitude and shirking of responsibilities.  Aslaug was infatuated with this Harbard would listen to no warnings against her behaviors with him.  When Siggy tried to remind her of her responsibilities to the village and to her family, Aslaug bluntly told her that it was none of her concern, to mind her place and not speak to her Queen in such a way.

siggy is supsicious of how habard does his magic

Ragnar has left Kattegat in your care! You have responsibilities to this village and to your family.

Ragnar has left Kattegat in your care! You have responsibilities to this village and to your family.

It's not your concern . No it is my concern since you are once again leaving your children behind

It’s not your concern . No it is my concern since you are once again leaving your children behind

If you will not be responible I will do it  I will accept the responsibility for this village

If you will not be responible I will do it I will accept the responsibility for this village

Siggy had been caring for these boys since they were born… Aslaug has ever and always been too busy to pay too much attention to them or care for them. She can easily produce them and bring them into the world but does not seem to have too much concern or patience for the raising of them? In her opinion, I guess she feels that duty is somehow beneath her… The one she does care much for is the infant Ivar, who she insisted on saving from death, only to now have him live in constant suffering and pain.  In some limited defense of her Mothering abilities, maybe she is overwrought by the number of boys she has brought into the world in a rather short time. And, perhaps her feelings for baby Ivar are spurred by some guilt on her part at saving his life but now seeing what he must endure as a result.  Part of her infatuation with Harbard is due to the fact that he is the only one who is able to ease Ivar’s pain!

wanderer takes away the pain

Siggy has been more of a Mother to the boys than Aslaug. She cared deeply for those boys, maybe it was because of losing her own children that she cared for them. Probably too that is much of the reason for her frustration and anger at Aslaug’s inattention to her own children. Aslaug began spending far too much time with Harbard, leaving Siggy to hold the family and the matters of the village together. It caused Siggy to think of her previous life…

siggy wants to know where aslaug is going  can't you pay attention to your family and your duties

siggy wants to know where aslaug is going can’t you pay attention to your family and your duties

 

Siggy watches Aslaug walk out on her responsibilities

Siggy watches Aslaug walk out on her responsibilities

siggy remembers her past

siggy remembers her past

one last time to sit on this throne and think of this village One last thought of the man who used to sit beside her

Everyone wondered about this man, Harbard. Who was he? He claimed to be a wanderer, a story teller, told stories of the Gods and of life in Russia? I asked Gunnar about his thoughts on the man… as Gunnar and I are both travelers from the future, we do have our own thoughts on this strange man. Of course, many firmly believe that he is indeed a some sort of God like figure come to earth or Midgard to either mettle, interfere,  teach us some lesson, or test our faith.

Midgard (an anglicised form of Old Norse Miðgarðr; Old English Middangeard, Swedish Midgård, Old Saxon Middilgard, Old High German Mittilagart, Gothic Midjun-gards; literally “middle enclosure”) is the name for the world (in the sense of oikoumene) inhabited by and known to humans in early Germanic cosmology, and specifically one of the Nine Worlds in Norse mythology.

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

Harbard tells many stories of his homeland, Russia and insists that he is Father to the current Grand Duke of Russia, Olaf.

Now this Olaf is Grand duke of Kiev over all of Russia

Now this Olaf is Grand duke of Kiev over all of Russia

In the future of Russia, there will be another such wanderer, a mystic and a healer of Royal children… and eventually was in part responsible for the downfall of that Royal monarchy. While many would call Harbard a God, perhaps even Odin himself, others might see him as a charleton, a fake and a cult like influence? This is much the way the other “wanderer” of the future was also viewed. No one can be certain of who Harbard is but, for some of us who know the future, he bears some resemblance to the man known as Rasputin.

Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin (Russian: Григорий Ефимович Распутин; IPA: [ɡrʲɪˈɡorʲɪj jɪˈfʲiməvʲɪtɕ rɐˈsputʲɪn]; 21 January [O.S. 9 January] 1869 – 30 December [O.S. 17 December] 1916) was a Russian peasant, mystical faith healer and a trusted friend to the Tsar’s family. He became an influential figure in Saint Petersburg, especially after August 1915 when Tsar Nicholas II took command of the army at the front.

There is much uncertainty over Rasputin’s life and the degree of influence he exerted over the shy and irresolute Tsar and the strong-willed Alexandra Feodorovna, his wife. Accounts are often based on dubious memoirs, hearsay and legend.  While his influence and role may have been exaggerated, historians agree that his presence played a significant part in the increasing unpopularity of the Imperial couple and the downfall of the Russian Monarchy. Rasputin was killed as he was seen by both the left and right to be the root cause of Russia’s despair during World War I.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

Maybe this Harbard is Odin come to midgard… or perhaps, he is some long distant ancestor of Rasputin? What ever the case, he has some mystical healing abilities along with ability to influence the gullible and willing Aslaug.  His ability to calm the troublesome Ivar is more than enough for Aslaug to feel greatly indebted to him and for her to find some way to repay him? Harbard does have a suggestion on how she could repay him?

she gave birth to a son called Olaf

Me I am not suffering . Yes you are,  your husband is gone and you fear he does not care for you any longer

Me I am not suffering . Yes you are, your husband is gone and you fear he does not care for you any longer

The most important thing to remember about this affair is that Harbard gives Aslaug a choice. He does not force her into anything, he tells her that if she is not willing, she should return to her children. Aslaug’s answer is clear and telling of  where her children fall on her list of priorities. “I do not want to be with my children… I want to be with you.”

Then go back to your children.   I do not want to be with my children

Then go back to your children. I do not want to be with my children

I want to be with you

I want to be with you

Aslaug makes her choice

Aslaug makes her choice

aslaug would ignore her children for a chance to have sex with a stranger

aslaug would ignore her children for a chance to have sex with a stranger

While she involves herself in this affair with Harbard, Siggy as usual is left to care for the children. She is left to keep them out mischief, and answer difficult questions such as “Where is our Mother? Why is she never here?”

where's our Mother  why is she always gone

where’s our Mother why is she always gone

Siggy in her own frustration with the whole situation, did grow a bit impatient… I am sure that she did not mean for her words to come out the way they did and set such a possible tone for future sibling rivalry? “Ivar needs your Mother more than you do”

 

Ivar needs you Mother more than you do   Hmmm way to set up future sibling rivalry siggy

Ivar needs you Mother more than you do Hmmm way to set up future sibling rivalry siggy

Siggy’s maternal instincts and her true caring for these boys takes over as she tries to help them understand. She tried to make excuses for Aslaug and not put the woman in a bad light to her sons.

siggy tries to make excuses for Aslaug  Your Mother goes to Harbard for help with your brother.

siggy tries to make excuses for Aslaug Your Mother goes to Harbard for help with your brother.

Siggy also poured out her heart in her explanation of sacrifices that a Mother makes for her children. As I said, Siggy raised these boys, and in some way I think she felt like they were her own sons. I think too that is part of why she remained so long in that household with Aslaug!

someday you will understand the sacrifices a Mother makes for her children

someday you will understand the sacrifices a Mother makes for her children

The boys were a handful though, curious and mischievous much like their Father. And, besides trying to keep them under control, she also had to deal with baby Ivar and his constant needs.

listening to baby ivar cry

listening to baby ivar cry

Once again, Ivar’s needs took precedence and the older boys saw a chance to escape for adventure.

so much for speeches they're busy with him again let's go

With Aslaug nowhere in sight to help care for the children, Helga and Siggy were stressed to their limits in caring for all of the children. When the boys took off, Helga could not follow as she had other children namely her own child, to watch!

the women have their hands full with little ones and Helga can not follow the boys

the women have their hands full with little ones and Helga can not follow the boys

Siggy’s bond with those boys caused her to feel a Mother’s intuition of when their child is in danger… Something that Aslaug obviously was lacking!

siggy has a premonition of fear for the boys

siggy has a premonition of fear for the boys

Siggy felt an overwhelming fear for the boys and took off in search of them. her search takes her through rocks that ominously resemble the sight where a young boy earlier sacrificed his life for her husband’s greed.

siggy heads out to search for the boys

her search takes her through rocks that ominously resemble the sight where a young boy earlier sacrificed his life for her husband's greed.

her search takes her through rocks that ominously resemble the sight where a young boy earlier sacrificed his life for her husband’s greed.

She also wanders  through woods such as  where her own two  boys might have perished in their own sacrifice.

and through woods where her boys might have perished in their own sacrifices

and through woods where her boys might have perished in their own sacrifices

Finally she arrived at the edge of the frozen lake to see the boys wandering out on to the ice. Panic stricken, she tries to remain calm and calls out to them to stop. They hesitate for a moment…

she arrives at the frozen lake and finds the boys out there they stop for a moment

With no thought of danger to herself, Siggy knew only that she must make a choice to step out on the cracking ice to reach the boys.

with no thought for herself Siggy steps toward her fate

with no thought for herself Siggy steps toward her fate

 

waiting for the ice to settle

waiting for the ice to settle

treading carefully over the ice with only thoughts of the boys safety in her mind

treading carefully over the ice with only thoughts of the boys safety in her mind

As she tried desperately to reach them in time, the ice cracked underneath the boys

the ice cracks underneath the boys

the ice cracks underneath the boys

 

a secondary hesitation before she disregards her own life for the boys

a secondary hesitation before she disregards her own life for the boys

she will go after them no matter what cost to herself

she will go after them no matter what cost to herself

She frantically struggled to find the boys under the ice…

searching the icy water for the boys

searching the icy water for the boys

finding the boys in the water

finding the boys in the water

As she fought to save them, an unknown hand reached down to help…

an unknown hand reaches down to help help from the gods and the angels above

The Gods above have sent help. Siggy sees the face of her daughter Thyri come to help save these two boys and welcome her Mother.

siggy sees her help radiant and glowing thyri come from above to help save these two boys and welcome her mother