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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

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: The Madness of Floki

Floki's inner turmoil

First of all, I want to give my appreciation and my complete praise to Michael Hirst and everyone involved in the production of the Vikings Saga for such an incredible enactment this past week of the initial battle for Paris! I can not even begin to describe how awesome it was! Of course as usual I have countless pictures of it but that in no way begins to describe the realness of this epic confrontation. If you have not watched last week’s episode, The Gates of Paris, you need to go do so now!  I will make my attempts to deal with all of it later.

In this post, I need to finally address the one person whom I have been putting off dealing with in more depth. That person is of course the eccentric, often extreme and easily agitated Floki.  In the past, I have commented on some of my feelings about him as a religious zealot in his own way. I have also touched on his states of agitation and over the top bouts of excitement and panic… much of which could be attributed to some extensive use of mild altering plants such as the mushrooms that he does seem to know a great deal about. We saw this in his earlier years when he used them to imitate death in Torstein and forced them down a barely conscious Rollo. We also saw an affect of them on him when he was asked to go retrieve a head for Princess Kwentirith.

 

my friend torstien has been murdered

my friend torstien has been murdered

floki calling the gods to rollo

floki calling the gods to rollo

floki go get the head

floki go get the head

floki gets his head

floki gets his head

 

We’ve all witnessed his extremes in behaviors, his over the top excitement that could border on manic in some ways. If we go back to his earliest years, we also saw a fascination with fire…  We have seen his devotion to the old ways, the old beliefs and the Gods. And, how many times have we heard him speak of his hatred for the new ways, the Christians and Athelstan? Floki has always been open and honest about his view that Christianity will be the death of their ways and he is adamant in his belief that Athelstan was a direct cause of this death because he influenced Ragnar so much in his thinking of new ways. None of this is new, this is all part of Floki’s character, his belief system that he is so immersed in. Over the years however, we have seen Floki progress further and further into some deeper belief in his Gods. His progression has bordered on that same zealotry that he condemns the Christians for. His rigid way of thinking causes him to cross from the boundaries of normal dissent and opposition to the darker corners of hatred, extremism and total intolerance for anything not within his narrow belief system.  Unfortunately, it all culminated in a complete mental breakdown for him at the walls of Paris.

floki1

floki1

floki flies Floki sit down remember you can't swim floki seething inside Paris Floki  The Gods want us to attack Paris

floki paper and fire

I have not addressed his more recent extreme behaviors such as his outright killing of  Athelstan and claiming it as a sacrifice to the Gods because, frankly and honestly it was so disturbing to me that I found it difficult to delve into the subject.  Now, though with the most recent events concerning Floki, I think it is time to go back and look at all of it. What led to this break with reality, and were there other causes than just the voices in his head- his Gods speaking to him, telling him to do it?  I do not want this to turn into some lengthy, deep psycho-babble analysis of his character and his early flaws so I will try to keep this brief and basic.  Floki was not always this far off, this far over the edge in his thinking. Yes, he was always eccentric but in the early years, he was a good eccentric. He was a builder, a dreamer, a visionary of sorts, and he was a true friend to Ragnar and his family… until the arrival of Athelstan, the Christian.

He was a happy man, his face full of sheer joy in life and adventure.

floki flies

floki flies

floki loves his boat

floki loves his boat

As I said, he was a true friend to Ragnar and his family.

floki and bjorn I joke about many things but never about ship building

floki and bjorn I joke about many things but never about ship building

When Ragnar was near death, it was Floki who took the family in, hid them and healed his friend.

I must speak with floki

I must speak with floki

desperately seeking floki bjorn meets Helga

desperately seeking floki bjorn meets Helga

 

hidden away at floki's cabin ragnar heals.

hidden away at floki’s cabin ragnar heals.

Floki was ever loyal to Ragnar , Rollo nearly killed him for it in battle but he eventually forgave Rollo…

floki brought home to helga floki near death due to Rollo floki spits upon Rollo

Floki showed his loyalty to Ragnar by putting his life on the line and playing a dangerous game with King Horik.

kill someone someone who matters Floki thinks about what he must do Horik is surrounded and floki enters the room floki also plays the dangerous game of politics trying to gain horik's trust

Over the years, Floki’s loyalties and friendship with Ragnar were unquestioned for the most part, other than his dislike for Athelstan and the Christian beliefs. He was however, questioning his own thoughts and beliefs more and fears were beginning to creep into his thoughts. His fears were of his Gods being angry with him, he also began to have serious fears about the Gods revenge on him, and on their people… These fears came as he began a married and settled life with Helga- a time that was at first filled with such happiness. After the birth of their daughter though, he  feared that the Gods would take notice or revenge for them being too happy and content with their lives.

lokie's helga

floki meets his daughter Floki and Helga's daughter floki and helga floki must leave

Floki’s fears, distrust of the Christians and hatred of them became even worse after the battle in England to defend a Christian took so many of his friends lives, such as that of his good friend Torstein.

floki no you're right it's some one else's fault  it is that priest's fault he is the cause for all of this

floki no you’re right it’s some one else’s fault it is that priest’s fault he is the cause for all of this

I want floki to do it

I want floki to do it

It was after Torstein’s death that Floki’s thoughts turned more toward the extreme hatred of all things Christian, and his fears for his friend Ragnar became even more pronounced. By the time they all returned to Kattegat, Floki’s extreme views became far more apparent and he was vocal in his hatred of Athelstan, whom he felt was responsible for everything wrong in their lives. His behaviors became more erratic as he sought his own guidance from his Gods. It was during this time as well that he became less able to control his emotional outbursts with even Helga, the one person who loved him without question. He turned on her in violence, then quickly realized the wrongness of his behavior and swore to her that he was sorry and it would never happen again.

floki's madness begins floki's purpose is clear and not for helga to know floki's vision floki's vision2 floki's vision3

floki loses control and threatens helga floki threatens helga2 floki swears he didn't mean to hurt her

It was after this incident when he made her swear not to tell anyone about his whereabouts, that he carried out his plan to make sacrifice to his Gods and killed Athelstan. It was not so much a sacrifice though as a secret assassination of the man. It was in no way a ritualized sort of killing or sacrifice, he snuck into Athelstan’s room and killed in cold blood. He planned to do it, he knew it was wrong and it would in a way be a betrayal of his friend Ragnar. Floki knew all of this, he threatened Helga not to tell anyone where he was or had been. He did not make some public statement of calling for Athelstan’s death but he had turned all of the men of Kattegat against Athelstan. Of course, it could be said that Athelstan did as much himself by announcing his renewal and rebirth to the Christian faith, by throwing away his arm ring… but, the men would not have known this fact had Floki not made them all aware of it.   Floki knew that he was setting Athelstan up for at least banishment from their community if nothing else.  Athelstan knew this and had already accepted his fate so I am not going to go more into the event here.  Floki reasoned that his action was warranted in order to save Ragnar from the perils of Athelstan and Christianity. In his erratic and irrational thinking, he truly believed at the time that he was saving Ragnar from the wrath of their Gods for turning away from them. The one other thing we need to consider in Floki’s killing of Athelstan is the fact that it may have had just as much to do with Ragnar’s deep friendship with Athelstan, with the fact as that friendship grew stronger, Ragnar sought out Floki’s company and advice less and less. So, Floki’s act may well have been spurred on by a more common sin or violation than any religious reason.. Floki was jealous of losing Ragnar’s friendship and attentions. He feared loss of his own notice by Ragnar and the Gods. He felt a desperate need to call attention once again to himself in the eyes of the Gods, and be looked on with favor again by his friend, his King, Ragnar.

What ever Floki’s reasons for killing Athelstan in secret are aside the point now because, as always, Ragnar was suspicious of who would have done the deed. Ragnar’s mind went immediately to Floki as the evil doer, and his thoughts turned to vengeance for his friend Athelstan.

This personal vendetta and vengeance is what brought about part of the disaster that was our first battle of Paris.  Rather than deal with Floki directly, Ragnar chose instead to set the man up and use him in his ongoing agenda for this raid of Paris. My personal thought is that this personal vendetta had no business being played out in such a way as to put everyone’s lives in such danger, sacrifice so many good warriors all in a ploy to bring Floki down because of a personal grudge against him. This was wrong of Ragnar and showed just how much more corrupt he has become.  Floki may have killed Athelstan, but he was not the only one guilty of a cold blooded murder done to save his faith, his reputation or what ever his reason was… Ragnar was just as guilty of such action when he killed the lone survivor of the English massacre so that the man would not tell of that disaster and cause anyone to question Ragnar’s actions!

ragnar kills the survivor and sends him to his family and the gods.

ragnar kills the survivor and sends him to his family and the gods.

By the time they arrive in Paris, Floki’s fears had begun to take a firm hold of his thinking. He was not thinking clearly at all, otherwise he would have immediately questioned Ragnar’s suggestion to put him in charge of this all so important raid. Floki was well aware of Ragnar’s devious plots and plans… he had been a part of them before- such as in his deceptions with King Horik for Ragnar. All we have to go on is the reactions and behaviors of Floki during this time so we can not truly know what exactly was going through mind… and to give Floki some credit, I do not think even Floki was all that sure of everything racing in mind!  My thought is that Floki was so desperate to cover his murder of Athelstan and be in Ragnar’s good graces that he did not question Ragnar’s decision.  He was in fact, surprised and ecstatic about it. In his altered mind, it must have looked as though his sacrifice had been seen with favor by the Gods and they were now repaying him with greatness….

He says as much to Helga when he is in the process of building his towers. His elated excitement is such an extreme as to cause Helga more concern about his behavior. He is so excited that he tells Helga of his great sacrifice to the Gods.

I appeased them I delighted them I filled them with great joy do you know what I did Helga

I appeased them I delighted them I filled them with great joy do you know what I did Helga

it is the gods working through my poor hands and helping me do you know helga because I gave them great sacrifice

it is the gods working through my poor hands and helping me do you know helga because I gave them great sacrifice

I killed athelstan helga is frightened again floki is going over the edge again helga runs to escape floki's bout of madness

After Helga leaves, Floki delights in his joy and his favor from the Gods.

floki communes with the gods as helga runs away in fear communing with the gods

Floki believed that the Gods were speaking to him and were acting through him in his creation of the towers. Again to Floki’s credit and defense, the towers were a truly genius creation. Floki was a dreamer and a visionary with his creations- both of the boats he built earlier and in these new creations. It is sometimes said that in every creative genius, there lies some bit of madness that allows them to step outside themselves and see some greater vision of picture.  I think was true in Floki’s case. Having no other way to explain or describe his creative process, he assumed that it was the Gods speaking to him, that he must have some divine or direct connection to the Gods.

While Floki may have been a creative genius and visionary, there was one thing Floki was not… and that was a leader! Floki did not have that certain ability to so easily convince others to follow him. If he had that ability, everyone would have followed his preaching early on and he would have convinced all, including Ragnar to avoid the Christians at all costs. This did not happen because Floki did not have that instinctive and inborn quality to inspire others to his way of thinking. Very few people have that quality which is sometimes referred to as the Leadership gene. I will explain this gene more in a future post as some of our people do have this gene… Ragnar for instance has it, Athelstan had it, as well as Ecbert of Wessex.  Floki is not a born leader and most of those around him realize this. So, when Ragnar put Floki in charge, it caused some suspicions from the others immediately!

others look at floki with some doubt the news of floki taking command causes a wtf moment with rollo rollo wonders at ragnar's mind with floki in charge They already have their plan made  no real need for floki ragnar tries to hide his smug amusement at floki's flustered unease

The only person not wary or suspicious of this action was Floki himself. This would be a fairly typical reaction from one who is not thinking so rationally, always the last to realize what is in front of them all along…

floki pretends to be in charge  All those who agree say Aye floki still looks confused and flustered throughout the discussion Floki  The King my oldest friend has asked me to take command I will make something truly astonishing just wait and see

The discussion ended and Floki was left to go off and do what Floki did best, build a magnificent creation. And, his creation was indeed awe inspiring. Everyone was duly impressed with the towers and all assumed that they would work. There was no reason no to assume they wouldn’t. None of these people had experienced siege warfare before or battle with such entities as the Frankish Warriors. The only one might have had any knowledge regarding this would have been Ragnar, and that would have been based on what Athelstan may have shared with him. If he had any prior knowledge of such tactics he remained silent and allowed the group to ahead with their battle plans. Now, he did state later that he had some other plan or agenda in mind and this initial battle was part of his plot to set Floki up. If he had any knowledge or premonition of such devastation and still allowed it to go forward all in a plan to make Floki look bad, then he is far more corrupt and guiltier than Floki could ever think to be!

I am not going to go into all of the horrific details of this failed attempt to enter Paris right now. I will deal with the rest of it later. Right now I am only going to concern myself with Floki’s involvement in it and his resulting massive mental breakdown because of the failure. 

As I mentioned, in the beginning it appeared to be an awesome and excellent plan of attack, his siege engines built to scale the walls of Paris.

floki conducts the symphony of the towers

floki conducts the symphony of the towers

floki and his dragon boat approach the walls Floki gives his signal

It all started well, if you discount the heightened emotions of Floki in his delirious excitement over this coming battle… Ok you know you might have a slight problem when your leader giggles in glee floki summons his inner berserker Floki's a tad over excited as usual

As the time drew near to actually implement the plan of the towers, Floki did seem a bit nervous… and Ragnar’s thought was most likely one of, “Thank the Gods Rollo is really in charge!”

Floki looks a little nervous  Ragnar just thinks Thank the Gods Rollo is there

forget Floki we know who is really in charge

Rollo and Bjorn quickly took charge of the wall scaling while Ragnar and Floki initially watched from the sidelines…

Look Rollo I got a souvenier already

Aside from the initial expected first casualties, the towers seemed to work as promised?

aside from all the initial casualities the towers work like they should

There was some difficulty in getting from the boats to the towers while arrows rained down on them, but the warriors took that in stride and proceeded with their plan to climb the towers…

Rollo at his finest  Look at gisla the french aim is deadly precise masses of men make the climb

What the warriors had first assumed to be a doable feat suddenly became a nightmare when the wall archers took deadly precise aim at the climbers who could not defend themselves while climbing. The water filled with dead and wounded warriors and soon the men had to be convinced by what ever means possible to make the climb. Floki did his part in trying to inspire the warriors to climb for Odin, The Gods are with us.

Floki sees the dead piling up and begins to realize the drawback of his idea Floki tries to inspire the men Floki's fear is starting

Rollo, on the other hand used what ever means necessary to get men up the wall, including threats… which he carried out to convince them all that he was serious!

What ever you do don't show fear or cowardice in front of Rollo rollo uses what ever works including threats Rollo has his own way of convincing them get up the damn ladder or else Now does anyone else want to refuse Now show me how fast you can climg go ahead tell me again you don't want to climb the ladder

Bjorn proved his worth and his leaderships qualities in his attempts as well to convince them to get up the ladders.

one man tries to dodge the tower and Bjorn stops him

one man tries to dodge the tower and Bjorn stops him

Bjorn pushes his men up the ladders saying Where are you going  Vallhalla is that way

Bjorn pushes his men up the ladders saying Where are you going Vallhalla is that way

The fatal flaw to this plan came when the Frankish warriors brought forth their secret weapon….

Floki and Ragnar watch as the French bring out their secret weapon

Holy fuck moment when boiling oil rains over the men

Holy fuck moment when boiling oil rains over the men

In addition to the buckets of boiling oil, flaming arrows rained down on them. Despite this terror, warriors still made the climb up the ladders.

climbing the towers brave warriors still attempt to climb the towers

Rollo knew that he had to join his men on the wall and he made the climb…

Rollo watches his men fall all around him Rollo staring up to the top of the wall Rollo looks up at the tower and knows that he needs to join his men at the top

While all of these brave warrior were facing death in the eyes, making the climb up the ladders knowing that Valhalla was most likely their destiny, Floki made a fateful and disgraceful choice… whether on purpose or not he chose to climb into the tower instead of up it.  What would probably seal his fate was the fact that Ragnar watched it all.

floki seals his fate

Ragnar was distracted then by the sight of his son Bjorn climbing the ladders… He must follow Bjorn and be by his side, but make no mistake, he would not forget this act that he had just witnessed.

Bjorn's on his way to being a leader of men  if he survives today Bjorn watches Ragnar's arrival balancing the planks and dodging arrows

While others faced their deaths and their destinies on the wall, Floki descended into a final hellish nightmare within the tower. His fear turned to terror, madness and insanity, which he admitted while talking to himself.

Hiding in the tower, Floki began to voice his madness and his fear…. His first reaction was to immediately put the blame for all of this on Athelstan personally. Then his mind wandered to the words of the Gods…

Floki's first thought is to blame Athelstan for all of it

Floki’s first thought is to blame Athelstan for all of it

Floki  Athelstan has done this floki  a wolf stands by the western door

floki recites his gods predictions

His thoughts go from the Gods back to Athelstan and to Ragnar…

Floki is consumed with his fear floki how he trusted Athelstan floki ragnar is betrayed

One thing to remember in the middle of all of Floki’s madness is that in a way he was right all along. Their way of life, their beliefs and their Gods would all fall and be forsaken to the Christian God. What he was not able to differentiate between was the difference between one sole person such as Athelstan and the entire religion of Christianity.  What he was never able to grasp, understand or accept was the fact that Athelstan was not trying to convert any of them to his religion.  During his entire time with the group, he never sought to force his beliefs on anyone else.  Ragnar was the curious one, the one asking the questions and wanting to know more about everything. Floki could not separate Athelstan the man from Athelstan the religion. In his eyes it was one and the same thing so therefore Athelstan was the one he held personally accountable for all of their ill luck.

Somewhere during this mental breakdown, something did occur to Floki and he then questioned the Gods why, why have they turned on him when he performed such great sacrifice and loved them so much. Floki suddenly realizes that his actions, his ultimate sacrifice of Athelstan really made no difference.

floki begging the gods I have performed great sacrifices I have loved you

floki begging the gods I have performed great sacrifices I have loved you

floki inside the tower while it burns

floki harsh are the gods

It’s then that Floki sinks to what looks to be his final despair, having given up on the Gods answering him, he first thinks to end his life here and now by slitting his throat. He is then distracted from that final act by his own voices in his head…

we will all die floki can not slit his throat but watches as a body on fire descends on him

floki thinks to finish it and end his life with a slit of his throat floki talks to himself

floki's answer to himself You poor fool you are insane floki I will be flayed by fire

 

floki is trapped in an inferno of flames

floki is trapped in an inferno of flames

Floki’s fear, his terror and his descent into the hellish  madness of the flames and his own mind was compelling and heart wrenching to view. Whether one is a fan of him or not, you would have to be somewhat cold hearted to not feel anything as you watched this man break and shatter so totally.  I myself have had no great fondness for the man over the years and considered him to be as bad at times as the Christian Priests that he so hated. Many have commented on how they feel he got what he deserved, that he was a coward at the very least and deserved the punishment of burning within those towers. Perhaps Floki felt the same way about himself, that he deserved this fiery death of flames as so many of the others had suffered. Did he go into the tower purposely to hide as a coward, or did he go- as some have mentioned- to pray to the Gods for deliverance and intervention? That fact is not, nor may never be,  fully clear to us… or to Floki as muddled as his mind was becoming in watching the terror unfold around him and feeling his own guilt for it.

The Gods were listening to him, whether to save him or to punish him more is not yet certain. He did survive the inferno of the tower and the next sight of him was some time after the battle. He was immersed in the water. For those who pay close attention to details and symbolism, the water has frequently come into play as death, rebirth or renewal. This event was almost as difficult or even more so to view as his previous break down in the fire. The fire was his breaking down and this water is what feels like the final result or finish to his life and fate with his family and his people.

Floki's turn for the water

He is found by Helga who asks, “What are you doing here?”

Helga confronts Floki What are you doing out here

Helga confronts Floki What are you doing out here

 

As far as we know, no one has accused him of any cowardice, nor  any guilt or blame for the failures of the battle. But, Floki feels those things for himself. He is consumed with guilt and yes, perhaps shame for possibly being a coward…

floki admits  I can't bear to face the others

floki admits I can’t bear to face the others

Helga as usual is confused by his ramblings but she has finally had enough and confronts him. “This is not about you Floki!” Floki’s response to her is “Yes, Yes it is about me, I am responsible, I am guilty.

because all of this disaster is my fault

because all of this disaster is my fault

When she accuses him of being selfish and not thinking of anyone but himself, he responds with, “No, No that is not true, I think of everyone, every person in Midgard!”

floki No that's not true that's not true Helga  I think of everyone in Midgard

No that’s not true that’s not true Helga I think of everyone in Midgard

Helga as usual is confused by Floki's ramblings

Helga as usual is confused by Floki’s ramblings

 

 

He begs Helga not be angry with him…

don't be angry with me helga

don’t be angry with me Helga

And, Helga’s final response to his pleas is “Why not? How am I suppose to live now knowing what I know about what you have done?”

 why not  How am I supposed to live knowing all I know about what you have done

why not How am I supposed to live knowing all I know about what you have done

As Helga turns her back on him and walks away, Floki is desperately pleading with her to come back… Floki is broken and shattered, the one person in his life that loved him unconditionally is turning her back on him. It is not as though she does not have good reason to do so, but is sad to watch him lose everything, including probably his faith in his Gods.

Helga can take no more of floki's rantings and madness she turns away

Floki is completely broken now as Helga walks away

Floki is completely broken now as Helga walks away

In a way, Helga is the one constant, the one person who keeps him connected to reality and sanity right now. His pleas to Helga felt like those of a drowning, dying man is losing his last hope, his last connection to life.

 

Helga don't go Don't leave me Helga I need you

Helga don’t go Don’t leave me Helga I need you

And, perhaps that is exactly what is happening to him… Later Ragnar is alone in the woods having his own rather odd conversation with his beloved and departed friend, Athelstan. Ragnar talks about his agenda and his having set  Floki up to take such a fall.

ragnar talks to athelstan  What  you think I went too far with Floki  Imagine him thinking I would actually let him lead without my having an agenda to it

ragnar talks to athelstan What you think I went too far with Floki Imagine him thinking I would actually let him lead without my having an agenda to it

Ragnar  If I was him  I would worry less about the gods and more about the wrath of a patient man

Ragnar If I was him I would worry less about the gods and more about the wrath of a patient man

Ragnar to athelstan  And as well you know I can be very patient

Ragnar to athelstan And as well you know I can be very patient

Ragnar is determined to see Floki pay for the death of Athelstan in some most painful way possible. Whether he is killed or just banished from the group, it seems that either way, Floki’s time with our group is limited as it stands right now.

Some wish for Floki’s death, they insist that he deserves nothing less for having killed Athelstan and for being a coward.  My personal thought is that I do not wish him death, he will have to live with his conscience for the rest of his life. If one could wish Floki death for his killing of Athelstan, then why should Ragnar not pay in the same way for the secret death of an innocent survivor who did nothing more than return home to tell Ragnar of what happened in England…

No matter what, it does feel like Floki can not remain here with us, so where then will he go, what will become of him?

floki and iceland

I mentioned in a previous post, information regarding a historical Floki who sailed to Iceland in the ninth century. There has been mention that our Floki is possibly based on this historical Floki in some way.

Settlement_of_Iceland

Flóki Vilgerðarson (b. 9th century) was the first Norseman to deliberately sail to Iceland. His story is documented in the Landnámabók manuscript. He heard good news of a new land to the west, then known as Garðarshólmi.

He wanted to settle in this new land and so he took his family and livestock with him. From Western Norway he set sail to the Shetland Islands where it is said his daughter drowned. He continued his journey and landed in the Faroe Islands where another of his daughters was wed. There he took three ravens to help him find his way to Iceland, and thus, he was nicknamed Raven-Floki (Norse and Icelandic; Hrafna-Flóki) and he is commonly remembered by that name.

A few of the people Floki was accompanied by on his journey were a farmer named Thorolf (Þórólfr) and two men named Herjolf and Faxe (Herjólfr and Faxi). After sailing for a while from the Faroes, Floki set one of the ravens free. The first raven flew back to the Faroes; later, the second flew up in the air and back on board, but the third flew northwest and did not return. Floki now knew they were close to land, and so they followed the third raven.

After sailing west past Reykjanes they spotted a large bay. A man named Faxe remarked: “This seems to be a great land that we have discovered here.” Since then, the bay has been called Faxaflói (—lit. Faxi’s bay) in his name.

Floki set up a winter camp in Vatnsfjörður at Barðaströnd. The summer was very good, so Floki was ill-prepared for the cold winter that followed. Waiting for the spring, Floki hiked up the highest mountain above his camp, now believed to be Nónfell. From there, he spotted a large fjord; Ísafjörður, then full of drift ice. Thus, he named the entire land Ísland (—Iceland).

When Floki and the other men returned to Norway, they were asked about the newly found land. Floki believed it to be worthless. Herjolf believed that the land had both good and bad qualities. Thorolf claimed that butter was smeared on every straw on the land that they had found. Thorolf was then nicknamed Thorolf Butter (Icelandic; Þórólfur smjör). Despite speaking ill of the land he later returned and settled to live there to his death. His wife was named Gró and his children Oddleifur and Þjóðgerður.

In order for this idea of Floki moving on to Iceland to make sense to you or be a valid guess as to what his future might hold, you need to understand a bit more about the early history of Iceland and why Floki might choose to head there. You also need to work from the premise that Michael Hirst will indeed take members of our group in different directions in the future. He has mentioned in interviews that he would like to explore more of the many contributions and events of the Viking age. He has already started with this invasion of Paris and Rollo’s probable future there with Gisla. Hirst has also mentioned that in the next season, there will be a progression to future generations of our group. While Mr. Hirst has begun this saga with Ragnar, I do think he intends for it to encompass much more than just the adventures of Ragnar Lothbrok and family.

Please remember too that this idea of Iceland in Floki’s future is merely my personal guess. No one truly know what lies ahead for us except of course, Michael Hirst!

So, with all of this in mind, let us suppose that Floki does indeed choose to leave on his own before Ragnar can do him grave bodily harm. In a sense, he would be an outcast from his society. He would be in need of a new place in which to live his life according to his beliefs in his Gods. His search would be for a place that he thought safe from both Christian interference and the wrath of one Ragnar Lothbrok. This is where the history of early Iceland becomes of importance.

The settlement of Iceland is generally believed to have begun in the second half of the 9th century, when Norse settlers migrated across the North Atlantic. The reasons for the migration may be traced to a shortage of arable land in Scandinavia, and civil strife brought about by the ambitions of the Norwegian king Harald I of Norway. Unlike Britain and Ireland, Iceland was unsettled land, and could be claimed without conflict with existing inhabitants.

The following excerpts from  Medieval Iceland: Societies, Sagas and Power by Jesse L. Byock give a basic idea and understanding why Floki might choose Iceland. It was remote, unsettled as yet and would remain un-converted by the Christians for some long length of time.

http://books.google.com/books?id=A4S6Bnw3HnkC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_navlinks_s#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

history of iceland

history of iceland2

Even as late as the year 1000 when most areas had been much completely converted to Christianity, Iceland remained a non-Christian bastion and was still maintaining the old Norse beliefs and laws.

King Olaf I of Norway sends the missionary priest Þangbrandr to Iceland to convert the inhabitants to Christianity. He has some success in baptizing chieftains but also meets opposition and ends up killing two or three men who had composed libellous poetry about him. He returns to Norway after one or two years with a litany of complaints and tells the king that he has little hope that the country can be converted. The king is furious at hearing the news and threatens to hurt or kill Icelanders in Norway. Two of the Icelandic chieftains previously converted by Þangbrandr meet with the king and pledge their aid in converting the country.

In the summer of 999 or 1000 the issue of religion reaches a crisis point at the Alþingi. The Christian faction and the pagan faction do not want to share the same laws and the Christians choose a new lawspeaker for themselves, Hallr á Síðu. He reaches an agreement with Þorgeirr Ljósvetningagoði, the pagan lawspeaker, that Þorgeirr will find a compromise acceptable to everyone.

Þorgeirr goes to his camp and stays under a skin for the remainder of the day and the following night. The day after he gives a speech at Lögberg. He says that the only way to maintain peace in the country is for everyone to keep to the same laws and the same religion.

Þat mon verða satt, es vér slítum í sundr lögin, at vér monum slíta ok friðinn.
“It will prove true that if we tear apart the laws we will also tear apart the peace.”  

Before reciting the compromise he has come up with Þorgeirr gets his audience to pledge themselves to a solution with one set of laws for all the country. Þorgeirr then decrees that everyone not already baptized must convert to Christianity. Three concessions are made to the pagans.

  1. The old laws allowing exposure of newborn children will remain in force.
  2. The old laws on the eating of horsemeat will remain in force.
  3. People can make pagan sacrifices in private.

Some years later those concessions are abolished.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%8Dslendingab%C3%B3k

 

As I have stated earlier, I do not know what the future holds for troubled Floki.  I do not want to see his death, I want him to find his peace of mind. My hope is for him to make this journey to Iceland where he can live his life with a somewhat calmer and clearer head and heart. I would hope too that he can find that part of him that became so lost, that part of him that found the true joy in life. Perhaps if he could manage this, he might be able to make amends and some fresh start with Helga and his daughter. I do not think he will find peace again while surrounded by constant reminders of his previous actions… or in constant fear of Ragnar Lothbrok turning on him. It is my hope that Mr. Hirst does send him and Helga off on this new adventure, and new life. I want Floki to be in some way, the man he used to be, the man that Helga loved so unconditionally no matter how quirky and eccentric he was. Ohhhh, and I would also like for him to kick any mind altering mushroom addiction that he may be suffering from as well!

Lastly, I just want to give my huge praise to Gustaf Skarsgård for his most awesome performance yet as Floki! He deserves our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for such an incredible portrayal of this unique character every episode, but he outdid himself this past week!

gustaf skargard2 gustaf skarsgard Gustaf+Skarsgard+Vikings+ATAS+Panel+Hollywood+WQWE5iUjdSwl

No you're right it is my business look at them huddled together  it sickens me floki recites his gods predictions floki can not slit his throat but watches as a body on fire descends on him they would sneak into the fish huts many times Helga said she smelled like fish when she returned Paris Floki  The Gods want us to attack Paris