Vikings Warrior’s fate is sacrifice



The title for this week’s chapter of our tale was labeled as Warrior’s Fate. I would suggest that sacrifice much better describes the events. Sacrifice in so many layers and on so many levels.  From the sacrifice that a dying warrior makes to save his companions, from obvious religious ritual sacrifices, from unintended and pointless sacrifices, to strategic sacrifices made in compromise… to other less apparent or deeper layers of sacrifice.

Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals to a higher purpose, in particular divine beings, as an act of propitiation or worship. While sacrifice often implies ritual killing, the term offering (Latin oblatio) can be used for bloodless sacrifices of cereal food or artifacts. For offerings of liquids (beverages) by pouring, the term libation is used. 

The Latin term came to be used of the Christian eucharist in particular, sometimes named a “bloodless sacrifice” to distinguish it from blood sacrifices. In individual pre-Christian ethnic religions, terms translated as “sacrifice” include the Indic yajna, the Greek thusia, the Germanic blōtan, the Semitic qorban/qurban, etc.

The term is also used metaphorically to describe selfless good deeds for others or a short term loss in return for a greater power gain, such as in a game of chess. Recently it has also come into use as meaning ‘doing without something’ or ‘giving something up’ (see also self-sacrifice).

torstein makes his solitary climb to his last battle odin I am coming I come I come in battle bessie's a little worried this can't be good for my milk bathed in blood2 two dead boys caught in his net


Before we look at those most obvious of sacrifices, such as Torstein’s final sacrifice of life to save that of his friends,  the ritual harvest sacrifice made by the Danes, or the possible sacrifice of two innocent boys to save another child, let us look at the less obvious ones…

First there is the strategic compromise sacrifice that come in the power plays for control… King Ecbert must make certain sacrifices of men, women, land in order to pursue his bigger picture, his ultimate goal of gaining Mercia and other places. To gain this control he must carefully weigh his options and decide what if anything he would be willing to sacrifice to win the power game. This type of winner take all game includes very real, very human type pawns collected over the duration of the game. Everyone under his rule could feasibly be considered as pawns in the game. This would include everyone from his Noblemen, his mercenaries such as Ragnar’s group, his family- such as his daughter in law, Judith, to ones such as Kwentirith and her brother, and finally even Lagertha and Athelstan.  The only person possibly exempt from the pawn status might be his son, Aethelwulf because of course Aethelwulf would be expected to continue the game for dominance upon Ecbert’s death.  This game is one of strategic thinking and balance.  What pawns and pieces can you collect along the way and use to your advantage in the future? If you over extend yourself and upset the balance too soon or too often, you take risk of losing control.  Ecbert is in such a position right now. All of his desires and wishes must be balanced in consideration of the overall game. Just because he is King does not mean that he can give into all of his lesser desires…

Ecbert  has placed himself in a rather difficult position with his recent decision to use Ragnar and his group of Pagan warriors. His Noblemen, his knights and the Christian Church, all of whom he must count on for support to keep his crown stable on his head, are not in favor of these Heathenish Pagans living in their midst and corrupting their souls.

ecbert's men speaking behind his back   What do you think I'm deaf

ecbert’s men speaking behind his back What do you think I’m deaf

please do me the honor of speaking to my face

tell me now if you dare that I do not deserve to be your ruler

tell me now if you dare that I do not deserve to be your ruler

because they are fighting beside us to gain the throne of mercia for that puppet of ours Kwentirith

because they are fighting beside us to gain the throne of mercia for that puppet of ours Kwentirith


besides who knows how the settlement will fare in the future

besides who knows how the settlement will fare in the future

speak now tell me I've chosen the wrong path tell me I should not be your king

Ecbert gets silence in return

Ecbert gets silence in return

I will remember your doubt and your questioning of my authority

Ecbert considers Kwentirith and her brother disposable pawns in the game… One could assume that his plan is for the brother to not survive this battle and for Kwentirith to be the last remaining candidate? My thought is that the Mercians would consider her rule so offensive that they would happily accept Ecbert’s rule instead. But, no matter what the outcome, he intends to win Mercia for himself and not some puppet. The sacrifice of Kwentirith or her brother would be no great loss for him in return for such great reward.

Ragnar and his men, in Ecbert’s eyes are pawns as well. If he must sacrifice them, he might feel some remorse but he will sacrifice them if he needs to. Right now they are a valuable asset to him and his fighting forces, but should anything happen to change this status, he will do what he needs to in order to keep the balance of power on his side. If, say Ragnar should forget who is in control of this land, if he should overstep his role as mercenary, Ecbert would have no choice but to remove the threat.

The other pawns within Ecbert’s hold and grasp right now are of course, Lagertha, Athelstan and the Lady Judith.  Athelstan, and I believe, Lagertha as well are so dear and valuable to him personally that it would cause him great difficulty should he have to part with them? He looks on these two as more than pawns, but when it comes down to a win or lose situation for his kingdom, I think that with immense regret he would indeed sacrifice them. The Lady Judith… well, she is a different situation. We will discuss her later.

ecbert asks Athelstan to bless the new house

ecbert asks Athelstan to bless the new house

Stones are much easier to wear than earth


Another type of sacrifice portrayed this week was that of careless, unintended and  pointless sacrifice. This unintentional sacrifice and Warrior’s fate comes from Porunn’s and Bjorn’s actions. I mention Bjorn’s role in this event because he does bear some responsibility. Bjorn was willing to sacrifice his own personal feelings of manhood and protector for Porunn’s happiness. In the end, Porunn’s need for independence and her refusal to take appropriate caution for her unborn child and herself may very well result in her sacrificing the life of that child and her own life.  If she lives, she will carry with her forever the knowledge that she would sacrifice her child’s life for her own desires. For all realitstic purposes, she was not ready for this battle and should not have been there. Bjorn will pay a heavy price in guilt over allowing her to come.

preparing for battle 2 porunn's fight hand to hand face to face porunn takes deadly blow porunn recieves a slash to her face porunn knocked to the ground last blows to porunn bjorn crawls to her lifeless body is she still alvie yes for nowporunn lives but for how long and in what condition


Floki talks of other pointless and senseless sacrifice… that which you make for something that you do not even believe in. The discussion or argument was over their involvement in the battle but it turned to a deeper difference of beliefs and opinions. It became more of an underlying thought on what or how much you are willing to sacrifice for friendship? Are you willing to sacrifice your personal beliefs for the long held friendship of one who’s views are changing. Floki is struggling with this question in his heart and will soon have to make a decision. Will he sacrifice his religion and his beliefs to remain with Ragnar on this journey, this battle that he does not believe in or approve of, or will he make the choice to  sacrifice of his friendship with Ragnar in order to be at peace with himself in his beliefs?

look look around you at all of our dead

look look around you at all of our dead

how many more of us must die  have you already in your heart renounced our gods

how many more of us must die have you already in your heart renounced our gods

all of those we have sacrificed for your jesus

all of those we have sacrificed for your jesus

This is not about you Floki or me it is about our children their children our people's future

This is not about you Floki or me it is about our children their children our people’s future

we're all fated to die sometime and you made the choice to fight here

we’re all fated to die sometime and you made the choice to fight here


my heart hurts as much as anyone for torstein but I am sure I will meet him again soon and in the mean time floki shut your face

my heart hurts as much as anyone for torstein but I am sure I will meet him again soon and in the mean time floki shut your face

I will address the more obvious types of sacrifice later in the context of their particular circumstances. For now, I want to deal with one last sacrifice. This is perhaps the least obvious, and most difficult to understand in terms of sacrifice.  To me though, it causes more thought and as much or more heartache than any of the others. This sacrifice could be considered in terms of the phrase, Sacrificial lamb.

The lady Judith represents this sacrifice and in her heart she knows it. In order to understand her role as sacrificial lamb, one needs to needs to realize that these early Noblewomen were most valued for their worth as a marriage, trading or alliance commodity and their ability to produce healthy heirs. From the moment of her birth to King Aelle and his wife, she was most likely viewed in terms of this worth.

Aelle and his lovely wife

judith with her fathe Aille Judith_Wedding vikings

In those times, there was a term to describe her role in marriage… she was referred to as a peace cow. She was considered property to be traded much as a cow, and it was her role and duty to enter into a marriage arranged by her Lord/Father in order to keep peace between lands. Now, this being her role, she became a valuable asset and commodity to both her own family and the family that “bought” her. Judith understood her role well and for the most part seems to have accepted it, though not without heavy heart.  She is obedient and subservient to her Lords and usually attempts to comply with their wishes and desires. Fortunately for her, she proved quickly that she could breed healthy male heirs. This raised her value and her worth but did little for her peace of mind or her happiness.

aethelwulf watching the arrival aethelwulf2

She is also fortunate in the respect that her husband is young, fairly good looking and in line to be King… She should be happy, many women do not fare nearly so well! She also seems well treated and well liked by her husband and his family, namely King Ecbert.  Realistically, in her situation, things could have been far worse for her! The fact remains however, that no matter how comfortable her environment and her treatment, she is still property, a possession to be used, or traded in should need arise. This does not escape Judith. Her only saving grace or peace is found within her religion and lately even that is failing her.

Now, while King Ecbert does seem to like and trust her… he is most probably not above using her as a pawn to his advantage if he should ever have to? Right now, she brings a peaceful alliance between Northumbria and Wessex. But, in Ecbert’s power play games, he wants more than just peaceful alliance… at some point he will want control of Northumbria in the future and Judith will be his key to achieving it in one way or another. In her heart, Judith probably realizes this and takes great care to keep always on Ecbert’s good side. If she were to do anything even indavertantly to bring shame upon herself  and consequently, the kingdom of her Father, Ecbert could justifiably use such event to break the peace and wage war against Northumbria… He did warn her earlier that she was playing a dangerous game in her fascination with the Priest, Athelstan?

 in 829, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Egbert received the submission of the Northumbrians at Dore (now a suburb of Sheffield); the Northumbrian king was probably Eanred.  According to a later chronicler, Roger of Wendover, Egbert invaded Northumbria and plundered it before Eanred submitted: “When Egbert had obtained all the southern kingdoms, he led a large army into Northumbria, and laid waste that province with severe pillaging, and made King Eanred pay tribute.” Roger of Wendover is known to have incorporated Northumbrian annals into his version; the Chronicle does not mention these events.  However, the nature of Eanred’s submission has been questioned: one historian has suggested that it is more likely that the meeting at Dore represented a mutual recognition of sovereignty.

In 830 Egbert led a successful expedition against the Welsh, almost certainly with the intent of extending West Saxon influence into the Welsh lands previously within the Mercian orbit. This marked the high point of Egbert’s influence.


judith plays a dangerous game

judith plays a dangerous game

be careful Judith who you choose to be fascinated by

be careful Judith who you choose to be fascinated by

It is one thing for a King to indulge himself in desires and affairs of the heart, that is expected and generally accepted. It is a completely different matter for a noble born, married princess to indulge or even think of such sins!

Judith tries hard to keep a smiling and happy countenance about her but she is wavering, she is torn and as she states, “I am tired, I am so very tired”  It is my belief that she is certainly not speaking in just the physical sense. No, she is tired of all of it….

judith admits her tiredness of trying to be good

Judith the daughter Judith the wife Judith the pawn

She finds comfort in Athelstan’s words and I do think that even though she may be fearful of the Pagan beliefs, she finds courage and strength in Lagertha? In Lagertha, she sees a strong, independent woman who is everything that she, Judith is not but would like to be.

lagertha the goddess

lagertha the goddess



3 thoughts on “Vikings Warrior’s fate is sacrifice

  1. I think Eckbert and Judith have underestimated Aethulwulf. The real Aeuthulwulf took Alfred to Rome and other places. Maybe Alfred learns to read the latin words in the Bede’s library there in Rome. Michael Hirst might write it that Aethulwulf takes Alfred and flees from his father and Judith to the court of Charles in Francia. Alfred spent time there too, as I think Aethulwulf’s second wife was a Frankish princess. If he has proof that Judith is cheating with his dad, he may obtain an annulment and marry a Frankish princess and gain an alliance with them. I did notice it seems that Michael Hirst was setting up some type of relationship between Rollo and Aethulwulf. Maybe Aethulwulf will confess that his dad set up Ragnar and got him to destroy the settlement. Remember it was right after he found out Judith cheated on him. I think he was really hurt when he found out about Alfred and crazed with jealousy. I think he might confess everything to Charles the Bald.

    I was thinking about that scene when Rollo finds out about Siggy’s death, and the parallel scene where Rollo falls from the walls and sinks into the water. Was Rollo supposed to die that way, is that why Rollo says the gods made a mistake? Just a what if: what if Rollo was married before and his wife was pregnant. What if his wife drowned and he wasn’t home and drinking or neglecting her. What if after her death, he courted Lagertha and then she found out what happened to his first wife, and left. Maybe that’s why she said, he’s not a good man. iN that cut scene where Lagertha says poor Bjorn, Rollo doesn’t think Bjorn is poor because the wife and child survived. Remember he was the one to console Bjorn and everyone else was mad at Bjorn. Porunn was there at the battle and should not have been.
    Rollo says when Siggy dies: I did not treat her well, it was my fault. WTH He wasn’t home. Is he talking about someone else? He said: you all know it’s true and nobody contradicts him! When Harbard kills the first children, Siggy doesn’t seem surprised. Why is that? The others don’t seem to notice that Harbard’s killing the two boys has anything to do with Ivar.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In actual history, Judith was a second wife of Aethelwulf and bore him no children. After he died, she married his son, which caused a great scandal. After the son’s death, she returned to France and eventually married Baldwin, count of Flanders. Her descendent was Matilda of Flanders who eventually married William the Conqueror, Rollo’s descendent.


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