The most famous Vikings in history
The Viking era is situated between the 8th and 11th centuries, coinciding with the impressive expansion that the warriors of northern Europe carried out and because of the importance that the chronicles of time give to their constant attacks. The success of the new series 'Vikings' only reinforces the history of the invasion that the world has suffered.
The ferocity with which they have been painted, capable of massacring and razing entire villages during their pillages creates a romanticised image of Vikings, automatically ascribing them to tall, blond men with a muscular body and a wielding axe. However, this image is far from what reality was. Vikings did not have horns on their helmets, nor were they demons who drank the blood of innocent children.
Their own religion and conception of the world made them value warriors above all else and encouraged them to engage in combat without hesitation, hoping to achieve a glorious death and a place with the gods. But they were also merchants, craftsmen, blacksmiths and navigators. Their Drakkar, the dragon ships that allowed them to enter the open sea and sail up shallow rivers with ease, made them the terror of the seas and made lightning attacks their preferred strategy for plundering. The sails of the Vikings were seen on the coasts of England, France, Spain, Sicily or North Africa and in all those places they sowed terror.
The Vikings also inherited an idea of the female role that was very different from that of countries with a Christian tradition and closer to the Spartan conception. Women used to manage the resources of the house and, in many cases, accompanied the men to war and fought in the front line to honour the value of the Valkyries. These are some of Odin's most powerful and well-known warriors.
He is the undisputed protagonist of the series 'Vikings' and one of the most recognized figures of the Scandinavian cultures. The semi-mythical warrior became one of the many kings of Denmark and Sweden after bloody civil wars. This warlord has gone down in history for having had more than 12 children (some of them very famous) and for being a fierce and very ingenious warrior who plundered the Breton coasts for years and came to lay siege to Paris. His death came at the hands of King Aelle of Northumbria, who captured him after a battle and threw him into a pit full of poisonous snakes. It is very likely that Ragnar personifies the exploits of different historical characters.
Known as the 'arm of steel' for his apparent invulnerability, the chronicles of the time describe him as a warrior so powerful that he alone could change the course of a battle. The eldest son of Ragnar Lothbrok and Aslaug, he led the rest of his brothers in the Great Army that would attack England in the 9th century, after the death of his father. Björn Ironside would be remembered for having reached the Mediterranean, carrying out the first Viking sacking in Seville and sailing to Sicily and the then Byzantine Empire.
He is probably the best-known offspring of Ragnar Lothbrok's sons. Although there is no record of the reason for his nickname, the most widely held belief is that he had some kind of disability or atrophy in his legs that prevented him from walking properly. The chronicles, written mainly by the Saxons whom they plundered, portray Ivar Ragnarsson as a cruel and sadistic man with a special fondness for crucifying the religious people he met. He led the Great Pagan Army that landed in England in 865 AD and proved to be an excellent strategist. Among his victories was the capture of York, the city of which he himself would become governor.
The Landnámabók, 'Book of the settlements' of the Viking age, is considered one of the most reliable documents of this period. It tells how the navigator Floki, guided by some crows from Scotland, was the first man to intentionally reach Iceland (a name that means "land of ice" and that he himself gave it) and later return to Norway to tell his people about the place he had discovered and thus begin his colonization. He ended up becoming a kind of priest or guru.
Also known as Hrolf Ganger, Rollon was an imposing Scandinavian warrior who was said to have been unable to support his weight and height, so he was called 'the Walker'. Since the mid-ninth century, this warlord and devoted to plundering the lands of England and France or serve as a mercenary for both kingdoms. He reached Scotland and Flanders and settled at the mouth of the Seine in 896. Although his attempts to besiege Paris were in vain, he managed to get Charles III the Simple to grant him the legitimate possession of Normandy to defend his territory against possible attacks. Rollon the Wanderer was the ancestor of William the Conqueror and therefore the ancestor of almost all the European monarchies.
One of Ragnar Lothbrok's well-known wives and another character who is confused between myth and reality. Lagertha was captured by Frodo, the warlord of the suicides after he had killed Ragnar's grandfather. When his grandson went in search of revenge, Lagertha led a group of women to join the fight and conquer the Viking's heart. After having several children with him and having separated, the squire devoted herself to sacking England and would end up being Jarl (Countess) after murdering her husband and taking his place. Lagertha represented the characteristics of the perfect squire.
Daughter of the dragon-slayer Sigurd and Brunhilde, protagonists of 'The Song of the Nibelungs', she was orphaned as a child and raised without the comforts of her noble blood. It is said that her adoptive father built a giant harp in which he hid her until she was found by the owners of an estate who wanted to steal from her stepfather. She was Ragnar's third wife besides Lagertha and Thora Borgarhjört and, besides being the mother of Björn Ironside, Ivar the Boneless and Sigurd Snake-Eye, she became a warrior queen who fought mainly against other Viking clans and kingdoms and was believed to have magical powers.
Son of Black Halfstan, he became king of a southern region of Norway at the age of ten. The Nordic saga that tells his story tells that the woman he was in love with would only marry the king of a great unified kingdom of Norway, so Harald swore he would not cut his hair until he had achieved his goal and earned the nickname 'the one with the beautiful hair'. The warlord combined his ambitious project with the incursions into England and France and spent ten years trying to unify the Norwegian territory, of which he became king after the battle of Hafrsfjord (880 AD).
The eldest son of Harald I and heir to the throne of Norway, he secured his appointment as king by systematically murdering his brothers, which is why the term 'bloody' in his nickname is believed to refer to this fratricide. He quickly became an unwanted leader and his brother Hakkon eventually dethroned him and forced him to flee to England. There, he allied himself with Athelstan of Wessex and was given the kingdom of Northumbria to defend against the Danish invaders. His lust for power caused him to be rejected by his own people and to die at the Battle of Stainmore (954 AD).
Contemporary of the Ragnarsson and the Great Pagan Army that devastated England at the end of the ninth century, it made a name for itself in the region of West Anglia, where it would come to dominate the entire territory. Confidence in his strength led him to enter Mercia and Wessex and confront the then king, Alfred I the Great, causing him a tremendous defeat at Wareham. However, the tables were turned and the Saxons pushed back Guthrum, forcing him to negotiate a peace with Alfred that would ensure him the rule of what is known as Danelaw (the lands ruled and governed by the Viking peoples). Guthrum would convert to Christianity and rule under the name of Aethelstan until his death.
One of the most recognized and important Vikings of the late tenth and early eleventh centuries. His family moved to Iceland because his father had been exiled for murder and it seems that Erik inherited this violent character. As a young and popular warrior was banished from Iceland for three years by several altercations and for murdering several people, a time that he took to explore new lands. In 983, Erik Thorvaldsson and his reddish hair were discovered and landed in Greenland. After the end of his exile, Erik took a fleet of Icelandic ships to colonize his new land but many sank along the way.
Son of Erik the Red, he followed in his father's footsteps and became an important explorer of new lands. In the first decades of the 11th century, Leif Eriksson arrived with his men on the coast of Newfoundland, probably on the Labrador Peninsula, and became the first Europeans to set foot in America (which they called Vinland). Several archaeological finds discovered in the 1970s seem to confirm the presence of Nordic peoples in America and even the creation of small settlements in coastal areas. The most widespread belief is that Leif Eriksson and his followers were forced to leave when they were overtaken by hostile native peoples.
According to the version, this warrior woman was the bastard sister or daughter of Erik the Red. In both cases, Freydis is described as an ambitious and fearsome fighter who eventually became a key figure in the Viking expansion in Greenland. Some fragments speak of Freydis taking part in battle while she was pregnant and others highlight how she betrayed Helgi and Finnbogi, her allies on an expedition to Vinland so that she and her husband could increase their booty.
King of Denmark since 958 and of Norway since 970, his original nickname was Blåtand (something like 'the dark one') but when translated into English it became 'Bluetooth'. This king has gone down in history as the main propagator of the Christian religion among the Nordic peoples, convincing the great chiefs to convert. As a curiosity, the well-known wireless connection system owes its name to this Viking king and its symbol is made up of the Nordic runes that correspond to the letters 'H' and 'B'.
A descendant of the Viking Rollon the Walker, William was the bastard son of Robert I of Normandy, who recognized him as his heir before going to the Holy Land and never returning. During his early years he had to face the constant insurrections of the Norman nobles who did not recognize him as their lord and whom he used to crush personally. In 1066, the death of England's childless Edward I gave him the opportunity to ascend the throne of the islands, which he did after slaughtering the Saxon armies of Harold II and killing his opponent at the Battle of Hastings. William I, known since then as 'the Conqueror', put an end to the Saxon lineage and replaced it with the Norman monarchy.
He is one of the most popular characters in Icelandic mythology about whom little is known about the real historical events, which have been hidden under fantasy and legend. Egil Skallagrímsson is an anti-hero present in many Edda (tales and stories from Nordic mythology) who was presented as an excellent poet and faithful friend as well as a bloodthirsty and cruel warrior. The figure of Egil could be considered as a personification of the berserker, elite warriors who were believed to have a connection with the gods that made them invincible. The berserker used to consume hallucinogenic mushrooms, be the first to throw themselves into battle and fight with their naked torso to prove their worth and strength.
One name that is forever linked to Anglo-Saxon and Nordic legends is that of Beowulf, the monster hunter. The protagonist of an epic poem from the 7th to the 11th century, the story of how the Gautama warrior saved the Danes from Grendel and his mother is a clear mythical representation of the character and attitude of the Nordic peoples. Fantasies and monstrous creatures aside, 'Beowulf' faithfully reflects the workings of Danish society during the early Middle Ages, as well as its customs and way of thinking.
No, this is not a Viking, but the scourge of this town. Son of Athewulf and King of Wessex, Alfred I led the Saxons during the worst years of the attacks by the Danish invaders, when a new attempt at conquest began every few months. A perfect example of a medieval king, devout and warrior in equal parts, he inherited the idea of unifying the kingdoms from his grandfather Egbert and is often considered the father of England as a single state. Alfred devoted great efforts to consolidate alliances both inside and outside the islands and defeated the invading forces, including the Great Army of Ivar the Boneless and the other sons of Ragnar.