Archives

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Vikings: The importance of Rollo!

Ragnar and Rollo legacy

Before we begin, I do want to give credit and thanks to two people who helped me with research and information! A huge thanks to Diane Duggan of our Vikings Aftermath group on facebook, and to Starfishlady, one of my followers here. I could not have put this all together without your help and input!  I also want to warn ahead of time that this article is lengthy and involves a great deal of historical information! It is a historical look at the people and events, as well as a look at how Michael Hirst has incorporated those events into the show.

 

Most of  my Vikings Saga followers are probably well aware that my heart and my allegiance is with Rollo. While I understand the  significance of  Ragnar Lodbrok’s story,  I feel that Rollo should be given his own well deserved credit in the overall history of the Vikings. Yes, Ragnar’s story and legacy is one of great glory, reputation, and fame as well as importance in the beginning of the Vikings era. I agree with Michael Hirst’s reasonings in using him as a starting point in this grand saga.

If we look at Ragnar in history, we see that he was at the beginning of the Viking conqests over other lands. His fame and his story is well known by everyone with any interest in this time period or in the Vikings. But, as our Rollo has stated, it’s always about Ragnar! Why does Ragnar always get the fame and the glory, the favor of the Gods? Well, today I am going to share with you the fame, the glory, the reputation of Rollo in history. I am also going to share my thoughts and reasons why I think that Rollo’s story and his connection to Ragnar in Hirst’s version of this epic saga is so important and actually makes some sense!

first of all, my thoughts on how Rollo’s connection to Ragnar in our Viking world makes sense in a way. After that, we will look at the history, the legacy of Rollo in history. You will then understand the importance of Rollo!  As I mentioned, Ragnar Lodbrok was the beginning of the Vikings conquests. Rollo appeared much later in history but was just as important to the Viking legacy. I am quite sure that as a historian, Mr. Hirst is well aware of Rollo’s significance and chose to introduce and present him as Ragnar’s brother for ease of storyline purposes and timelines. By connecting the two as brothers, Hirst has  provided for an interesting parallel between the two men and their very different paths to fame.  In my personal opinion, he has also provided another interesting long term story arc of their separate legacies one day coming full circle. I can only hope and pray that he gets the chance to show us this future! The full circle I am referencing is that in history, the descendants of Ragnar Lodbrok merge with descendants of Rollo to one day rule England.   I did touch on this in my previous post about the Seer’s prophecies. For now, I can only hope that Mr. Hirst devotes time and attention to Rollo’s destiny, his fame, his contributions and does not just gloss over it to once again reserve the attention for Ragnar!

Rollo pours his heart, his resentment and frustration out to the Seer. He speaks of how his brother Ragnar has always been favored by the Gods and has had all of the fame, the glory and favor of their people as well.

I love him he is my brother. He has forgiven me, taken me back and still I am filled with bitterness and resentment of him

I love him he is my brother. He has forgiven me, taken me back and still I am filled with bitterness and resentment of him

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/vikings-paris-the-princess-will-crown-the-bear/

I did not travel all this way back in time and remain here for so long just to be a part of Ragnar’s  story. That was never my true intent or reason.  His story and his legacy are interesting but, as I’ve pointed out, he has already received his fair due of fame and reputation…and besides, in the end his story does not end well, at least for him personally. No, I came back to help ensure that Rollo achieves his greatness and receives his own due share of credit, reputation and fame! There was some doubt in the beginning whether this Rollo being presented to us was actually the same Rollo of history. Realistically, who could blame some time travelers who witnessed his early behaviors for their concern and their doubt as to this man’s ability to achieve such greatness. I admit that even I had my doubts in the beginning.

I have been with him since the beginning, watched him fall to his lowest depths of drunkness and betrayals, watched him continuously make mistakes along the way, and wondered to myself how this man could be the one who would go so far in the future? I have seen him at his very worst, and yet again at his very best… and those time at his best, I could see that glimmer of greatness within him. It is what kept me holding on to my faith in him, it is what Siggy saw in him as well and why she tried so hard to push him to his limits. Without Siggy pushing him, he probably would not be where he is today, standing at the gates of Paris waiting to meet his destiny and his new path!

Some of Rollo’s more difficult moments…

rollo barely alive

rollo barely alive

Rollo does not trust knut and confronts him

Rollo does not trust knut and confronts him

rollos strikes a blow rollo in chains siggy bluntly revives a drunken rollo floki calling the gods to rollo

Rollo and Bjorn fight for life and for death

Rollo and Bjorn fight for life and for death

rollo tries to drink away his anguish

rollo tries to drink away his anguish

the deepest pain and grief within rollo comes out as he pleads with bjorn to end his suffering

Some better moments that show the man Rollo really is

Rollo offers drink to dying old saxon man

Rollo offers drink to dying old saxon man

The early days of Rollo

rollo watches the others leave

rollo watches the others leave

rollo understands the need for friends and alliances in this new world

rollo understands the need for friends and alliances in this new world

rollo and torstein bjorn and rollo3

rollo is left with the task of attempting to help bjorn through this

rollo is left with the task of attempting to help bjorn through this

lagertha to rollo you've looked after him as if he was your own

lagertha to rollo about Bjorn… you’ve looked after him as if he was your own

All of Rollo’s difficulties and struggles have made him the man he is now. Now, he is a man ready to embark on a new life. The time will soon come for him choose this new path that will separate him from his past, from his family and his friends. Do I think he is ready now to embrace this destiny that lies ahead for him? Yes, I believe he is. Will it be easy, no of course it will not be an easy road. It will still be filled with obstacles to overcome but I think he is strong enough now to face those hurdles and make the most of his future.  The time is coming when we will all face choices on who to follow, what path to take… I have made my decision, I will remain with Rollo. I will swear my allegiance to him and to his new alliance because I believe in his destiny, and ummm ohhh yeah, I want to be comfortable for awhile! I also do not want to be in Saxon England during the next few years and I really have no ties to Kattegat now that Siggy is gone.  I hate to say this, but if any of you have the choice, you might want to stay clear of England for a while too… it gets pretty messy over there on both the Saxon and the Vikings side! There are after all so many other places you could choose to go with Vikings during this long time period. And, as I’ve mentioned, many members of this group will most likely soon head out towards their own destinies. Yes, some of them such as Bjorn and his brothers will eventually return to England to revenge their Father but will return to their homelands rich and famous. I believe that one of the group, Floki, might just head out towards his own destiny? We all know he is having some difficulties right now and perhaps needs some time to rethink his life’s purpose… As we know, Floki is not really a warrior, first and foremost he is a ship builder, a dreamer and perhaps an explorer?

floki and iceland

floki flies Floki sit down remember you can't swim floki beserker as usual floki being sarcastic about going back to england to work for a christian king

floki's floating towers  unfortunately they burn quite easily

floki’s floating towers unfortunately they burn quite easily

I only mention this because I did recently find an interesting small side note about an explorer named Floki! Mr. Hirst has already played so much with our timeline of events, that there is really no reason he could not incorporate this  fact into the story! We know that our Floki is not happy right now. He is devoted and dedicated to the old Gods and the old ways and Iceland would be a perfect place for him to head to!

In the year 815, Floki of Rogaland set out from the Faergoe Isles and discovered Iceland.

http://www.thevikingmuseum.com/timeline.html

The recorded history of Iceland began with the settlement by Viking explorers and their slaves from the east, particularly Norway and the British Isles, in the late 9th century, since Iceland was uninhabited long after the rest of western Europe was settled. Recorded settlement has conventionally been dated back to 874 CE, although archaeological evidence indicates Gaelic monks had settled Iceland previously. The land was settled quickly, mainly by Norwegians who may have been fleeing conflict or seeking new land to farm. By 930, the chieftains had established a form of governance (Althing), making it one of the world’s oldest parliaments. Also towards the end of the tenth century Christianity came to Iceland due to the influence of the Norwegian king, Olaf Tryggvason. During this time Iceland remained independent, a period known as the Old Commonwealth and Icelandic historians began to document the nation’s history in books referred to as Sagas (Icelandic for story or history). In the early thirteenth century internal conflict (Age of the Sturlungs) weakened Iceland which eventually became subjugated to Norway through the Old Covenant (1262–4), effectively ending the Commonwealth. Norway in turn was united with Sweden (1319) and then Denmark (1376). Eventually, all of the Nordic states were united in one alliance, the Kalmar Union (1397–1523), but on its dissolution Iceland fell under Danish rule. Denmark then imposed a strict trade monopoly in the 17th and 18th centuries, much to the detriment of the Icelandic economy. Iceland’s subsequent poverty was aggravated by natural disasters. During this time the population declined.

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

 

 

Now that my decision is made, I need to make some preparations. One of those preparations is forcing myself to commit to the Christian religion… well, at least on the surface anyway! Rollo is not yet ready for this conversion but he will eventually see the benefit and advantage of it for himself and his new kingdom. Yes, you heard me correctly, Rollo will soon be ruling his own little kingdom… Perhaps you’ve heard of it, it’s called Normandy! Normandy translates into land of Northmen!

Here is why Rollo will be swayed to convert, at least as I’ve mentioned, on the surface.  According to historical accounts, he converted enough to be acceptable but still held on to his old beliefs… shortly before his death, he was hedging his bets as to the after life.  He donated 100 lbs. of gold to the church for God, and he sacrificed 100 prisoners to Odin!

Before we look closer at Rollo’s real history, let’s look quickly at the attack on Paris that brings Rollo to his future.  For this we need to look at two different versions of the attack because Michael Hirst has combined the lives of Ragnar and Rollo. Both Ragnar Lodbrok and Rollo were involved in attacks on Paris so it’s difficult to surmise which version will be played out, or possibly it will be some combination of both events.

First of all a quick refresher on Paris!

paris at night2 the walls of paris

The Romans occupied what would become known as Paris (after its first settlers) from AD 212 to the late 5th century. It was at this time that a second wave of Franks and other Germanic groups under Merovius from the north and northeast overran the territory. Merovius’ grandson, Clovis I, converted to Christianity, making Paris his seat in 508. Childeric II, Clovis’ son and successor, founded the Abbey of St-Germain des Prés a half-century later, and the dynasty’s most productive ruler, Dagobert, established an abbey at St-Denis. This abbey soon became the richest, most important monastery in France and became the final resting place of its kings.

The militaristic rulers of the Carolingian dynasty, beginning with Charles ‘the Hammer’ Martel (688–741) were almost permanently away fighting wars in the east, and Paris languished, controlled mostly by the counts of Paris. When Charles Martel’s grandson, Charlemagne (768–814), moved his capital to Aix-la-Chapelle (today’s Aachen in Germany), Paris’ fate was sealed. Basically a group of separate villages with its centre on the island, Paris was badly defended throughout the second half of the 9th century and suffered a succession of raids by the ‘Norsemen’ (Vikings).

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/france/paris/history#48328

In the 9th century, the city was repeatedly attacked by the Vikings, who sailed up the Seine on great fleets of ships. They demanded a ransom and ravaged the fields. In 885-886, they laid siege to Paris for a year, and tried again in 887 and 889, but they were unable to conquer the city, protected by the Seine and the walls on the Île de la Cité.  The two bridges, vital to the city, were additionally protected by two massive stone fortresses, the Grand Châtelet on the right bank, and the Petit Châtelet on the left bank, which were built on the initiative of Gauzlin, the bishop of Paris. The Grand Châtelet gave its name to the modern Place du Châtelet, on the same site.

At the end of the 10th century, a new dynasty of kings, the Capetians, begun by Hugh Capet in 987, came to power. Though they spent little time in the city, they restored the royal palace on the Île de la Cité, and built a church where the Sainte-Chapelle stands today. Prosperity returned gradually to the city, and the right bank began to be populated. On the left bank, they founded an important monastery, the Abbaye de Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The Kings of the Merovingian dynasty were buried inside the church of Saint-Germain-des Prés, which was rebuilt in the 11th century. The monastery next to it became famous for its scholarship and illuminated manuscripts.

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

arrows rain down on the boats

 

 

Ragnar Lodbrok’s attack on Paris

Here is a basic version of Ragnar’s attack on the city.  Just so you are not too confused, Ragnar’s attack involved King Charles the Bald, while Rollo’s later attacks would involve Charles the Fat and Charles the Simple! Also remember that this the historical account of Ragnar’s activities not Hirst’s version of it.

In March 845,  a fleet of 120 Danish Viking ships containing more than 5,000 men entered the Seine under the command of a Danish chieftain named “Reginherus”, or Ragnar. This Ragnar has often been tentatively identified with the legendary saga figure Ragnar Lodbrok, but the historicity of the latter remains a disputed issue among historians.  In or around 841, Ragnar had been awarded land in Turholt, Frisia by Charles the Bald, but he eventually lost the land as well as the favour of the king. Ragnar’s Vikings raided Rouen on their way up the Seine in 845,  and in response to the invasion, determined not to let the royal Abbey of Saint-Denis (near Paris) be destroyed,  Charles assembled an army which he divided into two parts, one for each side of the river. Ragnar attacked and defeated one of the divisions of the smaller Frankish army, and took 111 of their men as prisoners and hanged them on an island on the Seine.  This was done to honor the Norse god Odin, as well as to incite terror in the remaining Frankish forces.

Map of Paris in the 9th century. The city was concentrated on Île de la Cité, an island on the Seine.

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. The Franks could not assemble any effective defence against the invaders, and the Vikings withdrew only after being paid a ransom of 7,000 livres (French pounds) of silver and gold by Charles the Bald, amounting to approximately 2,570 kilograms (5,670 lb). Considering Ragnar’s earlier loss of land by Charles, the substantial payment may also have been regarded as some form of compensation for Ragnar’s loss, and the invasion itself as an attack of revenge. In any case, this would be the first of a total of thirteen payments of so-called Danegeld to Viking raiders by the Franks (although the term itself is not expressly known to have been used at this particular point). While agreeing to withdraw from Paris, Ragnar pillaged several sites along the coast on the return voyage, including the Abbey of Saint Bertin.

What is interesting to note with Ragnar’s attack is the aftermath and how it could relate to our version of the events? Ragnar supposedly admitted that he saw a vision or appearance of a dead Saint or Christian? Just a thought, but could a vision of Athelstan possibly play a part in all of this… and not the living but the dead conquer Paris? Hmmm might Floki see this apparition as well and be scared out of his senses?

Although many Vikings had died in the plague during the siege of Paris, Ragnar lived to return home to King Horik. According to a story originating from a member of Cobbo’s embassy, Ragnar, having attacked the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, then in the outskirts of medieval Paris, and which Cobbo later visited, attributed the plague to the power of Saint Germain of Paris. While Ragnar showed the gold and silver he had acquired to Horik and boasted about how easy he thought the conquest of Paris had been, he reportedly collapsed crying while relating that the only resistance he had met was by the long deceased saint. As Ragnar and several of his men died not long after, the king was so frightened that he ordered the execution of all the survivors, and the release of all his Christian captives. This event, in part, led Horik to receive Archbishop Ansgar, “Apostle of the North”, on friendly terms in his own kingdom.

floki conducts the symphony of the towers

floki conducts the symphony of the towers

a sheer wall topped by well trained archers

Rollo’s attack on Paris

Rollo’s involvement in an attack on Paris came some 40 years later than Ragnar’s. His attack does however include the history that Hirst is presenting us with as far as the attack and Rollo’s future outcome from the attack. This attack involved Charles the Simple, Count Odo, and ultimately the Princess Gisela. Another thing to keep in mind here is that this attack was the first of two that Rollo would be involved in. This attack took place in 885-886 with King Charles the Fat. Charles the Fat died in 888 and Count Odo was elected King…

The Siege of Paris of 885–86 was part of a Viking raid on the Seine, in the Kingdom of the West Franks. The siege was the most important event of the reign of Charles the Fat, and a turning point in the fortunes of the Carolingian dynasty and the history of France. It also proved to the Franks the strategic importance of Paris, at the time only a small island town. The siege is the subject of an eyewitness account in the Latin poem Bella Parisiacae urbis of Abbo Cernuus.

With hundreds of ships, and possibly tens of thousands of men, the Vikings arrived outside Paris in late November 885, at first demanding tribute. This was denied by Odo, Count of Paris, despite the fact that he only could assemble a couple of hundred soldiers to defend the city. The Vikings attacked with a variety of siege engines, but failed to break through the city walls after some days of intense attacks. The siege was upheld after the initial attacks, but without any significant offence for months thereafter. As the siege went on, most of the Vikings left Paris to pillage further upriver. The Vikings made a final unsuccessful attempt to take the city during the summer, and in October, Charles the Fat arrived with his army.

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.

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

Later on in 911, Rollo decided to make another attempt at the city… he was determined and possibly felt he had learned from earlier mistakes. By this time, Charles the Simple had taken control of the throne.

In 911, a group of Vikings led by Rollo besieged Paris and Chartres. After a victory near Chartres on 26 August, Charles decided to negotiate with Rollo, resulting in the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. For the Vikings’ loyalty, they were granted all the land between the river Epte and the sea, as well as Brittany, which at the time was an independent country which France had unsuccessfully tried to conquer. Rollo also agreed to be baptised and to marry Charles’ daughter, Gisela.

One last bit of clarification on Hirst’s version of history as opposed to actual history… This concerns our fellow, Count Odo.

In Hirst’s version he appears as counselor and defender of Paris, as well as hopeful would be suitor to the Princess Gisela. In our world, Odo is dealing with King Charles the Simple as his ruler…

Charles III (17 September 879 – 7 October 929), called the Simple or the Straightforward (from the Latin Carolus Simplex), was the King of Western Francia from 898 until 922 and the King of Lotharingia from 911 until 919–23. He was a member of the Carolingian dynasty.

Charles was the third and posthumous son of Louis the Stammerer by his second wife, Adelaide of Paris.  As a child, Charles was prevented from succeeding to the throne at the time of the death in 884 of his half-brother Carloman. The nobles of the realm instead asked his cousin, Charles the Fat, to rule them.  He was also prevented from succeeding the unpopular Charles, who was deposed in November 887 and died in January 888, although it is unknown if his deposition was accepted or even made known in West Francia before his death. The nobility elected as king Odo, the hero of the Siege of Paris, though there was a faction that supported Guy III of Spoleto. Charles was put under the protection of Ranulf II, the Duke of Aquitaine, who may have tried to claim the throne for him and in the end used the royal title himself until making peace with Odo.

In 911, a group of Vikings led by Rollo besieged Paris and Chartres. After a victory near Chartres on 26 August, Charles decided to negotiate with Rollo, resulting in the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. For the Vikings’ loyalty, they were granted all the land between the river Epte and the sea, as well as Brittany, which at the time was an independent country which France had unsuccessfully tried to conquer. Rollo also agreed to be baptised and to marry Charles’ daughter, Gisela.

Also in 911, Louis the Child, the King of Germany, died, and the nobles of Lotharingia, who had been loyal to him, under the leadership of Reginar Longneck declared Charles their new king, breaking from Germans who had elected Conrad of Franconia king.  Charles had tried to win their support for years, for instance by marrying in April 907 a Lotharingian woman named Frederuna, and in 909, his niece Cunigunda married Wigeric of Lotharingia. He also defended the country against two attacks by Conrad, King of the Germans. Queen Frederuna died on 10 February 917 leaving six daughters and no sons.  so the succession was uncertain. On 7 October 919 Charles married again to Eadgifu, the daughter of Edward the Elder, King of England, who bore his son, the future King Louis IV of France.

A quirky side note to the history and marriage of Charles the Simple. He married Eadgifu, the daughter of Edward the Elder King of England…Edward the Elder was the son of our baby Alfred who is still in the arms of his Grandfather Ecbert! It just shows what happens when one plays with the timeline of history!

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

Odo places the blame on others

Odo places the blame on others

you once refused my offer of marriage  my hope is that once I have successfully managed this defense of Paris you will reconsider

you once refused my offer of marriage my hope is that once I have successfully managed this defense of Paris you will reconsider.

if you save paris I will forever be in your debt

In actual history, Odo of France dealt with the earlier King, Charles the Fat and was eventually elected King for a time.

For his skill and bravery in resisting the attacks of the Vikings at the Siege of Paris, Odo was chosen by the western Franks to be their king following the removal of emperor Charles the Fat. He was crowned at Compiègne in February 888 by Walter, Archbishop of Sens.

 

Denier of Odo of France

Odo continued to battle against the Vikings and defeated them at Montfaucon, but he was soon involved in a struggle with powerful nobles who supported the claim of Charles the Simple to the Frankish throne.

In 889 and 890 Odo granted special privileges to the County of Manresa in Osona. Because of its position on the front line against Moorish aggression, Manresa was given the right to build towers of defence known as manresanas or manresanes. This privilege was responsible for giving Manresa its unique character, distinct from the rest of Osona, for the next two centuries.

To gain prestige and support, Odo paid homage to the Eastern Frankish King Arnulf of Carinthia. But in 894 Arnulf declared his support for Charles, and after a conflict which lasted three years, Odo was compelled to come to terms with his rival and surrender a district north of the Seine to him.

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

Siege_of_Paris_(885–886)

Siege_of_Paris_(885–886)

Odo did play a part in one of Rollo’s earlier attempts to conquer Paris.

With hundreds of ships, and possibly tens of thousands of men, the Vikings arrived outside Paris in late November 885, at first demanding tribute. This was denied by Odo, Count of Paris, despite the fact that he only could assemble a couple of hundred soldiers to defend the city. The Vikings attacked with a variety of siege engines, but failed to break through the city walls after some days of intense attacks. The siege was upheld after the initial attacks, but without any significant offence for months thereafter. As the siege went on, most of the Vikings left Paris to pillage further upriver. The Vikings made a final unsuccessful attempt to take the city during the summer, and in October, Charles the Fat arrived with his army.

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.

What Hirst has done is combine Charles the Fat and Charles the Simple into one character and put Count Odo in a position of  villain type against Charles the Simple. Odo seems to be in disagreement with Charles over the handling of this attack and he wants Gisela’s hand in marriage. How it all plays out remains to be seen. In our world, Charles does not look well and perhaps in the version that Hirst presents to us, Odo will become King now rather than at the earlier point of after Charles the Fat.

 

Are you totally confused yet? Yes, you are… I can see your eyes crossing now! Well, we’re finished with that confusion for now!  We will just content ourselves with the fact that Rollo has arrived in Paris and will play out his destiny. And, just what is his real history, his destiny, his future? Now we will find this out.

NORMANDY-MAP Normandy-map2 william_possessions

 

 

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

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

 

For our purposes, I am going to go with the more traditional and accepted version of his history because there are a number of variations and versions of his early beginnings. According to the many versions, our Rollo has been everywhere from Norway, Scotland, France and Iceland!

History and Legacy of Rollo

Rollo (c. 846 – c. 932), baptised Robert and so sometimes numbered Robert I to distinguish him from his descendants, was a Norse Viking who was founder and first ruler of the Viking principality which soon became known as Normandy. His descendants were the Dukes of Normandy, and following the Norman conquest of England in 1066, kings of England.

Rollo was a powerful Viking leader of contested origin. Dudo of Saint-Quentin, in his De moribus et actis primorum Normannorum ducum,[4] tells of a powerful Danish nobleman at loggerheads with the king of Denmark, who had two sons, Gurim and Rollo; upon his death, Rollo was expelled and Gurim killed. Dudo’s chronicle, commissioned for Richard I, was finished, sometime after 1015,  for Richard II, whose sister, Emma, married the Danish King Cnut, in 1017. William of Jumièges also mentions Rollo’s prehistory in his continuation of Dudo’s work, Gesta Normannorum Ducum, but states that he came from the Danish town of Fakse.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollo

What we know is that after the attack of Paris in 911, which he again failed at… he decided instead to try his luck with Chartres.

The following is an excerpt from   The Normans From Raiders to Kings by Lars Brownworth. Rollo’s destiny actually begins here with his success at Chartres.

Rollo at chartres in history of Normandy

 

rollo at chartres 2

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

Rollo with Gisela and Charles of France

Rollo with Gisela and Charles of France

According to legend, when required to kiss the foot of King Charles, as a condition of the treaty, he refused to perform so great a humiliation, and when Charles extended his foot to Rollo, Rollo ordered one of his warriors to do so in his place. His warrior then lifted Charles’ foot up to his mouth causing the king to fall to the ground.

After 911, Rollo stayed true to his word of defending the shores of the Seine river in accordance to the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. However, he also continued attacks on Flanders.

After Charles was deposed by Robert I in 922, Rollo considered his oath to the King of France at an end. It started a period of expansion westwards. Negotiations with French barons ended with Rollo being given Le Mans and Bayeux and continued with the seizure of Bessin in 924. The following year the Normans attacked Picardy.

Rollo began to divide the land between the Epte and Risle rivers among his chieftains and settled there with a de facto capital in Rouen. Over time, Rollo’s men intermarried with the local women, and became more settled into French Catholic culture as Normans.

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

 

rollo understands the need for friends and alliances in this new world

rollo understands the need for friends and alliances in this new world

rollo comes to better understanding of Ragnar's thoughts

rollo comes to better understanding of Ragnar’s thoughts

In our world, our version of Rollo’s history, we’ve seen Rollo as he comes to understand the things that will prove to be his genius later on in building his new legacy.

 

rollo's genius at realizing what he had

As I’ve mentioned before, the relationship between Rollo and Gisela is debatable and doubtful but for the story purpose it does provide for his entrance and adaption to French society. In the other histories I’ve read of him, his wife is not mentioned , or she is referred to as Poppa who was a concubine or Dane-wife. Some history cites Poppa as a captured wife, so she might not have provided him with the connections or respect that he needed in order to navigate this Frankish domain.  Given his accomplishments in building this new empire, I think that someone such as this Gisla or Gisela must have had some hand in guiding him and easing his way in this new and unfamiliar to him new world. In history, because  Gisela did not remain a part of the Royal dynasty in any way, and she did not bear any children to Rollo, she would most likely have been easy to forget and overlook in future tellings of both histories.

I did speak in my previous post about Gisela, her doubtful history and some possible reasons why she might have chosen to marry Rollo. I do just want to add here that in history, she would never have been in line for the crown of her Father. All monarchs in Frankish history were required by law and tradition to be male. So, even if she were an only child of Charles, she would not have succeeded him on the throne.

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

Rollo meets his destiny. Photo credit to Ines Jagger of Vikings Aftermath group on facebook

Rollo meets his destiny. Photo credit to Ines Jagger of Vikings Aftermath group on facebook

The princess will crown the Bear

In this excerpt from The Normans from Raiders to Kings, it only mentions that he took a local wife and he along with his fellow Northmen that followed him all adapted to the French culture.

rollo retains old ways but carves new ones

 

rollo founded an impressive legacy for his son

Rollo had two children who would continue his legacy far into the future.

His son, William Longsword would eventually put the newfound empire in jeapordy by rubbing everyone around him the wrong way! Fortunately, his son Richard the fearless did much better!

William I Longsword (French: Guillaume Longue-Épée, Latin: Willermus Longa Spata, Old Norse: Vilhjálmr Langaspjót), (c. 893 – 17 December 942) was the second ruler of Normandy, from 927 until his assassination.

He is sometimes anachronistically dubbed “Duke of Normandy“, even though the title duke (dux) did not come into common usage until the 11th century.[2] William was known at the time by the title count (Latin comes) of Rouen. Flodoard—always detailed about titles—consistently referred to both Rollo and his son William as principes (chieftains) of the Norse.

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_I,_Duke_of_Normandy

When his father died, Louis IV of France seized Normandy, installed the boy Richard in his father’s office, then placed him in the care of the count of Ponthieu. The king then split the lands, giving lands in lower Normandy to Hugh the Great. Louis kept Richard in confinement at Lâon, but he escaped with the assistance of Osmond de Centville, Bernard de Senlis (who had been a companion of Rollo of Normandy), Ivo de Bellèsme, and Bernard the Dane (ancestor of families of Harcourt and Beaumont).

In 946, Richard agreed to “commend” himself to Hugh, Count of Paris. He then allied himself with the Norman and Viking leaders, drove Louis out of Rouen, and took back Normandy by 947.

In 962 Theobald I, Count of Blois, attacked Rouen, Richard’s stronghold, but his army was defeated by the Normans and retreated never having crossed the Seine.[12][13] Lothair king of the West Franks stepped in to prevent any further war between the two.

Afterwards, and until his death in 996, Richard concentrated on Normandy itself, and participated less in Frankish politics and petty wars. In lieu of building up the Norman Empire by expansion, he stabilized the realm, and united his followers into a cohesive and formidable principality.

Richard used marriage to build strong alliances . His marriage to Emma connected him to the Capet family. His wife Gunnor, from a rival Viking group in the Cotentin, formed an alliance to that group, while her sisters form the core group that was to provide loyal followers to him and his successors. His daughters provided valuable marriage alliances with powerful neighboring counts as well as to the king of England.

He also built on his relationship with the church, restoring their lands and ensured the great monasteries flourished. His reign was marked by an extended period of peace and tranquility.

 

Rollo’s daughter, Gerloc (Norse name) or Adele did well for herself and the House of Normandy. Any Father would be proud of her.

Gerloc (or Geirlaug), baptised in Rouen as Adela (or Adèle) in 912, was the daughter of Rollo, first duke of Normandy, and his wife, Poppa. She was the sister of Duke William Longsword.

In 935, she married William Towhead, the future count of Poitou and duke of Aquitaine. They had two children together before she died on 14 October 962:

Gerloc’s daughter went on to be a Queen of France!

Adbelahide or Adele or Adelaide of Aquitaine (or Adelaide of Poitiers) (c. 945 or 952 – 1004)  was the daughter of William III, Duke of Aquitaine and Adele of Normandy, daughter of Rollo of Normandy.

Her father used her as security for a truce with Hugh Capet, whom she married in 969. In 987, after the death of Louis V, the last Carolingian king of France, Hugh was elected the new king with Adelaide as queen. They were proclaimed at Senlis and blessed at Noyon. They were the founders of the Capetian dynasty of France.

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

This is just the very beginning of the dynasty that our Rollo would be the founder of. Eventually, his descendants would be found in Royal houses stretching from France, England, and Spain on to the Holy Roman Empire!

 

I know that this has been rather a massive overload of historical information at one time and I do apologize for that! I do hope though that if you have stuck it out and read it all, you have come to realize just how important Rollo was.  Perhaps you now agree with me in that he deserves his share of recognition and credit! I believe I have stated my case and proved my point that Rollo deserves just as much credit, recognition and story time as Ragnar Lodbrok does!

For a better understanding of Normandy, I would highly suggest you read the book, The Normans From Raiders to Kings by Lars Brownworth. It gives a detailed account how those earliest founders of Normandy carved out a dynasty that spanned the continent!

Normans from raiders to kings

There is much more to the Norman story than the Battle of Hastings. These descendants of the Vikings who settled in France, England, and Italy – but were not strictly French, English, or Italian – played a large role in creating the modern world. They were the success story of the Middle Ages; a footloose band of individual adventurers who transformed the face of medieval Europe. During the course of two centuries they launched a series of extraordinary conquests, carving out kingdoms from the North Sea to the North African coast.

In The Normans, author Lars Brownworth follows their story, from the first shock of a Viking raid on an Irish monastery to the exile of the last Norman Prince of Antioch. In the process he brings to vivid life the Norman tapestry’s rich cast of characters: figures like Rollo the Walker, William Iron-Arm, Tancred the Monkey King, and Robert Guiscard. It presents a fascinating glimpse of a time when a group of restless adventurers had the world at their fingertips.

 

Rollo_statue_in_falaise

Rollo_statue_in_falaise

1024px-Grave_of_Rollo_of_Normandy

Grave_of_Rollo_of_Normandy

 

portrait of Rollo in history

portrait of Rollo in history

My last thoughts on all of this is on the views and comments that many have made regarding the possible eventual demise of Ragnar Lothbrok. A great number of people insist that if Ragnar dies, they would no longer be interested in the continuation of the show. Their belief is that Ragnar/Travis Fimmel is the heart of the story and the show, that his death would be an end of the saga.  My personal thought… In any long running series, as in history, people will leave, rulers will die or be replaced. It is up to the creator, the writers, the performers and the followers to ensure a continuation of such an epic saga. I stated in the beginning of this article that Ragnar is just the beginning of a long line of Vikings that contributed so much to overall history. I think that given the opportunity and the story time, many others are fully capable of grabbing our attention, our hearts and our loyalties to continue following their adventures through time.  Eventually, Ragnar must die and Travis Fimmel must depart but I firmly believe that others such as Bjorn/Alexander Ludwig, Rollo/Clive Standen, Floki/Gustaf Skarsgard, Lagertha/Katheryn Winnick have already proven that they can give excellent performances and hold our interest in their character’s futures.  This is an ensemble series full of a variety of stories that goes much further than just the story of Ragnar Lodbrok.  If and when Ragnar meets his death, do you still not want to know what becomes of all those others in the story and in history? For me, I want to know what does happen to Floki, what his destiny is, I want to see Lagertha’s future play out, I want to see Ragnar’s sons grow up and carve their own legacies. I even want to see baby Alfred grow up into the greatness that Ecbert envisions for him. And, yes most of all I want to see Rollo’s path to fame and his own future power!