Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ragnar Lodbrok, Norse Hero of the Viking Age

The History Channel's long awaited and actual historical drama series, Vikings, premieres tonight. It centers around legendary Viking warrior, Ragnar Lodbrok, and his quest for the Danish throne by plundering, raiding, murdering and all that other stuff Vikings do.

Ragnar's notoriety skyrocketed in 845, the day before Easter, as he sailed up the Seine and attacked Paris. His crew hung 111 people and demanded to be paid off in exchange for their departure. After receiving 7,000 pounds of silver from the Frankish King, Charles the Bald, Ragnar sarcastically bowed and left. He was greatly feared throughout Europe after this. Fear of Ragnar's capability increased as his sons were having their own conquests in Italy. 



Ragnar's fortune came to an end when he wrecked off the coast of England and was captured by Aelle, King of Northumbria. Ragnar was tortured and thrown in a dungeon where he died a lingering and painful death among poisonous snakes. It was said that he could be heard from below the castle walls roaring songs of death and glory and prophesying a reign of terror that would come to the Northumbrians when his sons avenge his death.

He lamented that he would soon be enjoying the feasts in the halls of Valhalla 'where we shall drink ale continually from the large hallowed skulls,' as his sons would be drinking from Northumbrian skulls. 'Fifty battles I have fought and won, never I thought that snakes would be my death. The little pigs would grunt if they knew of the old boar's need,' referring to the upset his sons would feel that would fuel their quest for vengeance.



Now, I'm sure this is the logical ending point of the Vikings season one. Maybe if it does well they will make a season two, because Ragnar's story doesn't end there. The prophesy of his son's wrath on Northumbria comes true (although years later).

Ragnar's sons did have their revenge. Now all at the forefront of the Danish army, the sons landed on the coast of East Anglia and laid waste to the countryside until they gained provisions and horses from the farmers. They killed King Aelle and by 867 the whole of Northumbria was in the hands of the Danish army.

Territories would constantly pay them to go away and when anyone would try to fight back, they would die a terrible fate as is the story of King Edmund. Edmund led an army against the Vikings and was taken prisoner. He was horribly murdered by being tied to a tree and used for archery practice before being beheaded.


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