It all happened so long ago that there are times when my memory fades and I forget those early events that put us all where we are now. From that first raid that brought a young and frightened Athelstan to us, to Earl Haraldson’s resentments, fears and retributions, Rollo’s mistakes and struggles with his conscience, a second raid that went so wrong… and on to wars between our own people. I speak of our own people because that is how I do feel now even though there are oft times when I struggle as much as Athelstan and Rollo with my divided feelings of loyalties and beliefs.
I feel I must tell of these earliest days so that you may better understand how and why my friends made the choices they did as years went on, our lives changed and we became different people than we were in the beginning. Life has a way of changing us, all of us- sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse as we try to deal with what has happened to us in each our own way.
I have made much mention of why I am loyal to Siggy and to Rollo even though I do not always trust either of them. I do not always trust them, but I have come to understand them over the years and I accept them for who they are as they accept me and place no expectations or threats upon me. Perhaps if you know more about their beginnings, their pasts as I know them, you will not judge them quite so harshly either.
Let me share some of their early stories with you now…
I will start with that second voyage to England that went wrong in ways that would affect the future?
Season 1 episode 4: Trial
What began as a simple plan, an easy raid or so Ragnar assumed… ended up going very badly for some and resulted in deaths and the making of an enemy. Ragnar did attempt in the raid to abide by some rules of conscience. He wanted the treasures, not dead bodies and tried to assure the villagers that if they would but hand over the riches, they would live unharmed.
Ragnar and most of his group stuck to this promise. In fact, Rollo showed heart and compassion for the old man he came across. He offered him comfort and a drink instead of killing him.
One man of the group did not abide though and his action would end up affecting everyone’s future. Cnut, who was the brother of Haraldson- the one he sent to keep an eye on things…Cnut chose instead to rape as well as pillage.
Lagertha did make but one mistake that day… though to her credit, and to the relief of the Saxon woman, it was a good thing she did make her one unwise choice. Ragnar had warned her earlier to be sure to stay with the group and not go off on her own? She disregarded that advice and found Cnut raping the woman. Lagertha could not stand by and allow this woman, Saxon or not, to be so used and violated!
She tried to stop Cnut, and was then brutally attacked by him.
Being the warrior that she was, she would not go down without a fight and ended up killing him.
The men have finished their plundering and catch up with Lagertha. Ragnar asks the crucial question of, “Where is Cnut?”
Lagertha knows there will be repercussions for her action but is stoic, blunt and honest in her simple answer, “I killed him”
Ragnar is not amused or happy and demands an explanation from her.
It is important here to know what Ragnar’s first reaction to her explanation was. He turned his anger on his brother Rollo, who had nothing to do with the event at all!
Ragnar walked away from the group in his frustrated, ill place anger leaving resentments and bitterness behind.
I am reasonably sure that such accusations and blame had been placed upon Rollo before by his brother but this one left much bitterness in Rollo’s heart because he cared much for Lagertha and to be blamed for something happening to her was not something he could take lightly or easily forget! This whole event would not be quickly forgotten or forgiven by any of those involved. It put a dark note to this raid and the group wanted to quickly return home from it…
Their ill luck continued though as they arrived at the beach to find their visit had not gone as secretly as they had assumed.
A battle on the beach ensued and they lost good men in the fight.
They buried their dead, sent them on to Valhalla and vowed vengeance for kin.
They had made a fierce enemy in King Aelle and would eventually face him again in battle. But, before that time, battles would come at home!
As they made their voyage home, Athelstan was attempting to care for the children as best he could. He was realizing that child rearing was not such an easy task, especially when charged with the care of one such as stubborn and often resentful Bjorn!
Athelstan’s patience as well as his faith was sorely tested in his arguments with the boy. One such argument over a visit to Kattegat resulted in Bjorn’s insistence of making a sacrifice to Thor for the safe return of his parents… When Athelstan reasonably questioned, “What would you sacrifice?”
Bjorn answers spitefully, “You!”
Athelstan turned later to God in anger and frustration, “Why? Why me? Do you even listen to me… why do you not send a sign?”
Athelstan took the sight of the owl as his sign from God… woke Bjorn up in the middle of the night and pledged they would all go to Kattegat the next day.
Ragnar’s group returned home to great praises that did not long last.
Haraldson, of course wanted to know where Cnut was, what had happened to him?
Ragnar stepped forward and place the blame upon himself for Cnut’s death. He gave the explanation that he had come upon Cnut raping his wife.
Haraldson refused to believe his story, finding it all too convenient that his brother should be accused and killed with no witnesses…
Ragnar would stand trial for Cnut’s murder… and Haraldson would see to it that he was found guilty even if he had to come up with his own false witnesses to the event.
He found in Rollo, what he thought to be a willing betrayer? Haraldson questioned how Ragnar had treated Rollo and whether his loyalty to Ragnar was really so well placed?
Haraldson then went so far as to make Rollo an offer of more than riches or land? He made an offer of family ties…
The Seer and Siggy both watched from the shadows as Haraldson offered up his daughter, Thyri as payment for ultimate betrayal.
It was during this time that I first became aware of some other involvement or knowing of each other between Siggy and Rollo? Ohhh, I am sure that as Haraldson’s wife, she knew well of who he was, but was there more to it than just that? I do not know, have never asked- for I was better off in the not knowing, and it was not of my business, was it? All that I know is that it was at this time that Rollo came more closely into our lives and has remained in our lives since!
After this meeting, came the trial- which Haraldson was sure would go his way no matter what happened? Of course he did not plan on Lagertha’s desperate attempt to save her husband by confessing to the murder herself. Lagertha could not stand by and see her husband killed for her action.
Her confession disrupted the trial for a bit but Haraldson dismissed her confession with his statement that he had a witness to the action?
The hall was silent and breaths gasped when Rollo stepped forward as that witness.
Knowing what had been offered to Rollo, and knowing what light Ragnar had been place in within Rollo’s mind…. I held my breath as well wondering what he would say? Would he go so far as to betray his brother, and thereby Lagertha and the children as well in return for what Haraldson promised? No, he would not betray them, his family. He stated that he had seen Cnut raping Lagertha and then seen Ragnar kill the man for it.
Later when Lagertha attempted to thank him for what he had done for his brother, Rollo’s feelings were clear. “I did not do it for him, I did it for you!”
Ragnar was a free man… but not truly, nor were any of them now.
Earl Haraldson had no choice to let the matter go for the moment but he did not forget, he did not forgive and he would have his final say on this. Ragnar knew the matter was not over either and that there would be a battle with Haraldson in the future.
Ragnar’s battle with Earl Haraldson would affect us all, none would be immune from it. Rollo’s loyalty to family would cost him dearly as well. He had betrayed Earl Haraldson and would suffer the consequences of it. He would also learn not to be so trusting of those who made him promises… or would he?