Tag Archive | Norse Sagas

From Odin and Woden to Anglo-Saxons in Britain

wodin and his followers

woden and his followers

 

 

saxon right to rule2

In my previous article on kings and dynasties, I stated that I would look at each group separately in more depth.  In order to better understand the Anglo-Saxon rule in England, we need to have some history on who the Angles, the Saxons and Jutes were, and how they came to England in the first place.  This article is a brief look at that history.

You can view the previous article here: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/i-am-king-really-why-and-how/

I am King

Before we get into the rulers and their divine right to rule, we need to look briefly at the history of the kingdoms, the people and how they came to be in Britain. We will look at the Angles, the Saxons, and yes even the Jutes who seem to get overlooked and forgotten in the discussions of early Britain, I am also going to include a segment on one other group that gets mixed in with the rest but does have it’s own separate identity… that would be a group of Geats from the area of Sweden who made their contribution via the Wulfinga tribe who would settle in part of Britain.  I am including this group for two reasons. They did play an important part in the history of  Britain, and one of our past rulers was presumably a part of this group. The unfortunate Jarl Borg  belonged  to a distinctive Norse tribe known as the Gautar, a people referred to in English works such as Beowulf and Widsith as the ‘Geats’, and related to the Germanic Goth tribes which invaded the western Roman Empire. The Gautar have since been assimilated by the Swedes in the Medieval period.  Jarl Borg, as a powerful Geatish lord of near-kingly powers, may have been a member of the royal clan of the Wulfings (descendents of the wolf) who traditionally ruled over the Gautar of Ostergotland.

Sam Newton and others (including Rupert Bruce-Mitford), have proposed that the East Anglian Wuffing dynasty was derived from the Wulfings, and it was at their court that Beowulf was first composed.  

The Wuffingas, Uffingas or Wuffings were the ruling dynasty of East Anglia, the long-lived Anglo-Saxon kingdom which today includes the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. The Wuffingas took their name from Wuffa, an early East Anglian king. Nothing is known of the members of the dynasty before Rædwald, who ruled from about 599 to circa 624. The Viking invasions of the ninth century destroyed the monasteries in East Anglia where many documents relating to the rule of the Wuffingas would have been kept.

The last of the Wuffingas kings was Ælfwald, who died in 749 and who was succeeded by kings whose lineage is unknown.  The kingdom of East Anglia was settled by peoples from northern Europe during the 5th and 6th centuries. Historical sources relating to the genealogy of the East Anglian kings include the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Bede‘s Ecclesiastical History, both compiled many years after the kingdom was formed, as well as lists produced by medieval historians, such as the 12th century Textus Roffensis, who may have had access to other sources that are now lost. Several of the Wuffingas kings are included in a pedigree of Ælfwald, contained in the Anglian collection that dates from the 9th century. In the pedigree, Ælfwald is claimed to descend from the god Wōden.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wulfing

jarl borg caressing his wife's skull

jarl borg caressing his wife’s skull

jarl borg planning revenge

jarl borg planning revenge

In my previous article about Horik and Ragnar, I did touch on the beginnings of the Angles and Saxons in Britain with their migration from their homelands as the Danish or Dani began to take over those areas.  This migration  included Jutes and Geats from the southern area of what is now Sweden. Keep in mind that this migration took place centuries prior to the Viking arrivals in late 700s and 800s. These earliest migrations began as the Romans were fighting to maintain control of this outpost known as Britannia. Another important fact to remember for our purposes here is that we are not looking at the areas of Wales, Cornwall, Scotland or Ireland in this discussion.

Little is really known about the Jutes, their migration to Britain or their eventual demise in that land. They most likely joined with their neighbors, the Angles and Saxons in the relocation to Britain when the Danes and Franks became more powerful and took over the home lands.  It is possible that the Jutes are a related people to the Geats and a Gothic people as it is mentioned in the Gutasaga that some inhabitants of Gotland left for mainland Europe. Large grave sites were found at Willenberg, Prussia (now Wielbark, Poland). The finds were attributed to the ancient Gutones, who may speculatively belinked to the much later Goths.

They settled in smaller  southern areas of England,  kent and Isle of  Whight.  If you look at this map of Anglo-Saxon England, you can see that Kent is fairly close to east Anglia where the Geats (Wulfings) settled. If the two groups were related or connected to each other, it would stand to reason that they re-settle in some close proximity.

The Jutes were a smaller group than the others and they seem to have rather quickly been assimilated into those larger groups, losing most of their previous individual history or identity. While it is commonplace to detect their influences in Kent (for example, the practice of partible inheritance known as gavelkind), the Jutes in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight vanished, probably assimilated to the surrounding Saxons, leaving only the slightest of traces.  The culture of the Jutes of Kent shows more signs of Roman, Frankish, and Christian influence than that of the Angles or Saxons. Funerary evidence indicates that the pagan practice of cremation ceased relatively early and jewellery recovered from graves has affinities with Rhenish styles from the Continent, perhaps suggesting close commercial connections with Francia. It is possible that being such a small group that they were more quickly assimilated into the Christian beliefs and culture as well. Some early historians speculated that they were victims of Ethnic cleansing by the West Saxons but later theories suggest that it was more a case of them assimilating themselves into the larger groups. What ever the reason, they disappeared as a group early on and played no role in the later settlements of  England by the Anglo-Saxons.

East-Anglia-11

 

 

Angles-Saxons-Jutes-&-Frisians during roman occupation of Britannia   map

Angles-Saxons-Jutes-&-Frisians during roman occupation of Britannia map

For our discussion, we are only going to focus on those areas that the Jutes, Angles and Saxons would conquer and settle in.  The following is an early map of  the home lands that the Jutes, Saxons and Angles occupied prior to the Danes took them over.

Angles_saxons_jutes in northland  map

Angles_saxons_jutes in northland map

This map gives a breakdown of where they originally settled in Roman era Brittania.

Anglo_saxon_jute breakdown in Britain map

Anglo_saxon_jute breakdown in Britain map

By the early 600s, this is what the kingdoms and settlements were beginning to look like with this, Angles and Saxons controlling much of the area and Jutes holding on to a few small portions. The native Britons were relegated to the areas of Whales and Scotland at that time. This is a precursor to the four main kingdoms that would remain and become vital power players in the future. By the  800s it would become Wessex, Mercia and Northumbria, with East Anglia remaining a small separate entity.

Angles,_Saxons,_Jutes_in_Britain_year_600  map

Angles,_Saxons,_Jutes_in_Britain_year_600 map

This is what the land looked like by late 700s, early 800s in the time of Ecbert.

Egbert_of_Wessex_map

Egbert_of_Wessex_map

 

 

The Romans left Britannia in the early 400s as the Angles, Saxons and Jutes began their migration to the area.  They left behind their buildings, their roadways, some of their culture and they left behind  their religion as well. By the time the Romans left Brittania, they were Christians. Some of their citizens and their priests would have chosen to stay in this land that they now considered home. As they became assimilated into the new cultures taking over the land, they would most likely have begun the process of  slowly merging and weaving together the two separate belief systems into a form of Christianity that those North people would understand and accept. By the 800s when the second wave of Northmen arrived, these earlier invaders and settlers had become  fully immersed in the Christian belief system with their previous Nordic beliefs long forgotten, set aside or kept secret. There would have been remaining sects and pockets of those who followed the old ways but this would have been in the more isolated, rural areas and even then, they would have kept it at a low profile so as not to draw attention or recrimination from the Church, which was becoming so much more powerful and controlling.

 

First we should look at the original migration of the Saxons, Angles and Jutes from their homeland to the areas that they each ultimately settled in Britain. They all came from the same general area, probably spoke the same language and most importantly, held the same beliefs. All of these early tribes followed Odin or Woden and they took their belief system with them to Brittania. The only difference in the belief system is that the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in Britain  followed this God as Woden while those who remained in the homeland used the word Odin..  Woden would eventually play an important part in determining the rulers of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

gods of our saxon gods 1.sun god 2. moon god 3.god tiw 4. woden

gods of our saxon gods 1.sun god 2. moon god 3.god tiw 4. woden

The ancestor of the South Saxon kings, Woden was born at the beginning of time, his parents being the giant, Bor, and the giantess, Bestia, who came from chaos.

Woden was the Father God, the god of battle and death, the god of inspiration and wit, and, far from least, he was the god of learning. Woden was also the psychopomp of slain warriors, taking them back to Valhalla, his hall of the brave. Valhalla was situated in a joyous land called Gladheim, where Woden also had another hall with twelve thrones upon which were seated his councillors.

Woden was the great chief of the Aesir, a race of war gods who lived in Asgarth, the world of divinities. The god-chief had two ravens, Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory), who told him all that had happened in Milgard, the world of mortals.

Woden was in wedlock with Frigg, the goddess of fertility, conjugal love and motherhood.

Their eldest son, Balder, was the favourite of all the other gods and known for his matchless beauty and sweetness of character. He was the god of plants and good forces. He lived in a hall called Breithablik with his wife, the daughter of the god Nepr, and her name was Nanna. Forseti, their son, was the god of justice, peace and truth. He had a throne in his hall. This residence was called Glitnir, a palace which was embellished with silver and gold.

Balder was killed unintentionally by his blind brother, the god Hoder, with a bough of mistletoe, having been misled by the malicious Loki, the god of mischief, destruction and fire.

Woden and Frigg had another son who was killed in combat at the battle of Ragnasok. His name was Hermod. Since he had no children and nor did Hoder, presumably Aelle and Mealla (if they were royal) would have claimed descent from Woden through his grandson, Forseti. Woden also had a natural son called Vithar, by his concubine Grithir, who was a giantess.

Norway_Fjords woden

According to Norwegian myth the mountain caves in this land of fjords are peopled by supernatural giants called trolls, although they sometimes appear as dwarfs. Tradition also says that they read the Old Testament. Perhaps trolls derive their ancestry from a distant memory of neanderthals, as might the giants who are said to have existed in the chaos before the birth of Woden.

The traditional view has always been presented that the Anglo-Saxons made a great invasion of the land, destroyed everything in their path and took it over completely, wiping out all of the previous inhabitants or causing them to flee to the wilds and desolation of the west and northern portions. We have been told that, much like the second wave of Vikings, they were marauding, murderous heathenish Barbarians. This traditional view is slanted and biased in favor of the Romans, and the Christians who were able to write down their versions of what happened during that era. As with any history, there are two sides to every event and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Were there great battles, burnings, pillaging and death? Yes, of course there were- on all sides.  If you were a villager or farmer of that time, you may not have even been sure quite who was destroying your life. You might have imagined that it was that group of Barbarians, those Saxons that your overlord mentioned… but you may not have been aware of what your overlord had previously done to incur that wrath? You may not even have completely understood all of the groups waging war against each other, or that those Saxons were aiding some neighboring kingdom that your ruler had caused to create an enemy of. If you survived to tell of the battle, your recollection would be only of what you experienced first hand, or what your ruler told you was the cause. You would have known little or nothing about any underlying reasons and you most likely have not cared because in your small world, you would have gone on with your struggle for life in those bleak and uncertain times.

 

The Romans had been in control of the area for 350 years by the time they decided to leave. What happened in Britannia should hold the Romans as much or even more accountable and responsible than the Anglo-Saxons. They left the territory in a vulnerable state, having already destroyed and weakened the native Britons’ ability to rule or govern for themselves. What followed was chaos that left the remaining residents fighting amongst themselves for control of the area. As I’ve already mentioned, some Romans chose to remain as they now considered themselves more Briton than Roman.  Many of them held bitterness and resentment of the Roman Empire for what happened. One other thing to consider is that many  of those who remained may also have been soldiers who had been conscripted into the Roman army from all parts of the Empire, probably including those places of the Saxons, Angles and Jutes.  Just because one was attached to the Roman Empire it did not necessarily mean they were Roman or even a Roman citizen.  When the Roman Empire began to fall, many one time citizens or allies would probably have returned their allegiance to what ever home land they were from originally or the land they were residing in when the fall came. Those Romans that remained became Romo-Britons, and retained their previous elite statuses and lands for some time. They became part of the Briton elite rulers who were trying to re-build and re-establish kingdoms within the country.  Rome made Britain a melting pot of cultures before the Saxons ever thought of arriving.

If you search through the histories to find that in between middle ground, you will find that the Saxons were not unknown to the Roman Empire or the Britons, nor were they necessarily the barbarians they were depicted as other than for the fact they were one of the many groups rebelling against the Roman Empire at the time. The Saxons were at one time part of that Empire, having been brought into it by the Foederati or treaty system that the Romans used to increase their armies. foederati and its usage and meaning was extended by the Roman practice of subsidizing entire barbarian tribes — which included the Franks, Vandals, Alans and, best known, the Visigoths — in exchange for providing warriors to fight in the Roman armies. Alaric began his career leading a band of Gothic foederati.

Saxons were mentioned as early as 350 by the Romans who were already dealing with Saxon defiance to their rule. It was during that time that Rome created a military district called the Litus Saxonicum (“Saxon Coast”) on both sides of the English Channel.  The Saxons were fighting ongoing battles against the Franks who were Roman allies.  It is possible that Saxon settlement of Great Britain began only in response to expanding Frankish control of the Channel coast.  An important clue to why the Saxons might have felt some justification in their continuing settlement of Britain is that before the end of Roman rule in Britannia, many Saxons and other folk had been permitted to settle in these areas as farmers. The Romans opened the door for them to move in…. perhaps because they were already thinking of  pulling out of the area and did not really care so much about who moved in next. The Romans may have thought that if the Saxon groups moved into Britain, they would be less of a threat on the rest of the continent.  For the retreating Romans, it may have been a case of “Fine, you want a place of your own…Here take this place and Good Luck with that!”

 

After the Romans retreated from Britannia, some of the remaining powers continued to use the Roman system and still maintained some connection to Rome even though The Roman Empire had made it clear that those who remained in this place would be on their own and should not expect assistance from Rome. At some point they did appeal to Rome for assistance in fighting the Picts and Scoti, and this is possibly how the Saxons entered the picture on a larger scale. They were not marauding invaders, they were invited into the country by both the Romans and the later rulers of Britain!

This early documentation by Gildas in the 6th century is interesting because while he does refer to the Saxons as enemies, he admits that they were invited- hired to help, and he gives a clue as to what the middle ground may have been.

In Gildas‘s work of the sixth century, De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae, a religious tract on the state of Britain, the Saxons were enemies originally from overseas, who brought well-deserved judgement upon the local kings or ‘tyrants’.

  1. After an appeal to Aëtius the Britons were gripped by famine while suffering attacks from the Picts and Scoti; some fought back successfully, leading to a period of peace.
  2. Peace led to luxuria and self-indulgence.
  3. A renewed attack was threatened by the Picts and Scoti, and this led to a council, where it was proposed and agreed that land in the east would be given to the Saxons on the basis of a treaty, a foedus, by which the Saxons would defend the Britons in exchange for food supplies. This type of arrangement was unexceptional in a Late Roman context; Franks had been settled as foederati on imperial territory in northern Gaul (Toxandria) in the 4th century, and the Visigoths were settled in Gallia Aquitania early in the 5th century.
  4. The Saxon foederati first complained that their monthly supplies were inadequate. Then they threatened to break the treaty, which they did, spreading the onslaught from “sea to sea”.
  5. This war, which Higham called the “War of the Saxon Federates”, ended some 20–30 years later shortly after the siege at Montis Badonici, and some 40 years before Gildas was born.
  6. There was a peace with the Saxons who returned to their eastern home, which Gildas called a lugubre divortium barbarorum – a grievous divorce with the barbarians. The “divorce settlement”, Higham in particular argued  was a better treaty and the ability to get tribute from the people in the east, under the leadership of the person Gildas called pater diabolus or Father-devil.

What this excerpt tells us is the Britons hired the Saxons, promised them  payment and supplies and then were unable or unwilling to carry through on the treaty. Other early writings mention that the Saxons were also promised land to settle and the Britons reneged on that as well. What ensued was a lengthy period of wars and battles between the Britons and the Saxons.

Gildas described the corruption of the elite: “Britain has kings but they are tyrants; she has judges but they are wicked”. This passage provides a glimpse into the world of Gildas, he continued: “they plunder and terrorise the innocent, they defend and protect the guilty and thieving, they have many wives, whores and adulteresses, swear false oaths, tell lies, reward thieves, sit with murderous men, despise the humble, their commanders are ‘enemies of God'”; the list is long. Interesting oath breaking and the absence of just judgements for ordinary people was mentioned a number of times. British leadership, everywhere, was immoral and the cause of the “ruin of Britain”.

Hengist and Horsa:

HegestAndHorsa hengist and horsa

The earliest accounts of the Saxon arrival are stories or legends regarding two Saxon brothers, Hengist and Horsa.  Bear in mind that these accounts were not written down until centuries later.  Both Anglo-Saxon chronicles and Norse Sagas give versions or accounts of the men.  Hengist and Horsa are figures of Anglo-Saxon history, which records the two as the Germanic brothers who led the Angle, Saxon, Frisian, and Jutish armies that conquered the first territories of Britain in the 5th century. Tradition lists Hengist (through his son, whose name varies by source) as the founder of the Kingdom of Kent. As with most of the stories, theirs was colored by the Christian Monks recording history of the time. What you need to do is strip all of that coloring away down the most basic part of the account. 

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for the year 449 records that Hengest and Horsa were invited to Britain by Vortigern to assist his forces in fighting the Picts. Hengist and Horsa arrived at a place called Ipwinesfleet, and went on to defeat the Picts wherever they fought them. Hengist and Horsa sent word to the Angles describing “the worthlessness of the Britons, and the richness of the land” and asked for assistance. Their request was granted and support arrived. Afterward, more people arrived in Britain from “the three powers of Germany; the Old Saxons, the Angles, and the Jutes”. The Old Saxons populated the areas of the kingdoms of Essex, Sussex and Wessex. The Jutes populated the area of Kent, the Isle of Wight and an area of the adjacent mainland that would later be part of Wessex. The East Angles, Middle Angles, Mercians and “all those north of Humber” arrived from the region of Anglia (a peninsula in Southern Schleswig, Northern Germany) “which has ever since remained waste between the Jutes and Saxons”. These forces were led by the brothers Hengist and Horsa, sons of Wihtgils, son of Witta, son of Wecta, son of Woden.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hengist_and_Horsa

The Historia Brittonum records that, during the reign of Vortigern in Britain, three vessels that had been exiled from Germania arrived in Britain, commanded by Hengist and Horsa. The Historia Brittonum details that Geta was said to be the son of a god, yet “not of the omnipotent God and our Lord Jesus Christ,” but rather “the offspring of one of their idols, and whom, blinded by some demon, they worshipped according to the custom of the heathen.” In 447 AD, Vortigern received Hengist and Horsa “as friends” and gave to the brothers the Isle of Thanet.

After the Saxons had lived on Thanet for “some time” Vortigern promised them supplies of clothing and other provisions on condition that the Saxons assist him in fighting the enemies of his country. The Saxons increased in number and the Britons were unable to keep their agreement. The Britons told the Saxons that the Saxons’ numbers had increased, that they no longer needed Saxon assistance and that the Saxons should go home as the Britons could no longer support them.

Vortigern allowed Hengist to send for more of Hengist’s countrymen to come over to Britain and fight for Vortigern. Messengers were sent to “Scythia“, where “a number” of warriors were selected, and, with sixteen ships, the messengers returned. With the men came Hengist’s beautiful daughter. Hengist prepared a feast, inviting Vortigern, Vortigern’s officers, and Ceretic, his translator. Prior to the feast, Hengist enjoined his daughter to serve the guests plenty of wine and ale so that they would get very intoxicated. The plan succeeded. “At the instigation of the Devil”, Vortigern fell in love with Hengist’s daughter and promised Hengist whatever he liked in exchange for her betrothal. Hengist, having previously “consulted with the Elders who attended him of the Angle race,” demanded Kent. Without the knowledge of the then-ruler of Kent, Vortigern agreed.

This account by the Historia Brittonum is somewhat contradictory at best… If Vortigern wanted them out of the country, why would he have then allowed them to send for additional forces? What is does do though, along with other accounts is set a basis for the British Kings reneging on their promises to those Saxons they needed help from. Hengist most likely knew full well of this breech and responded in kind with his own betrayals.  The British Kingdoms were not just fighting the Picts and Scoti, they were fighting each other and would go to such lengths as using Saxon mercenaries to win their battles. What eventually happened was that the Anglo-Saxons fought to retain lands they had been given, as well as developing allegiances with some of those British Kingdoms.

 

I am providing this history of the Anglo-Saxon immigration to Britain because I feel it is important to see them in that middle ground of a history that has often portrayed them as the scourge of Britain. It is difficult to piece together what might have happened but many historians today have searched for that middle ground, that in between, those few grains of possible truth sifted out from the extremes.  There a number of theories on how and why the Anglo-Saxons may have become the dominant culture in Britain where by the 8th century, they were viewed as the locals and native Britons were viewed as outsiders or foriegners.  The name Welsh originated as an exonym given to its speakers by the Anglo-Saxons, meaning “foreign speech” (see Walha). The native term for the language is Cymraeg and Cymru for “Wales”.

Most agree now that they did not come in all in one invading force and wipe out the previous culture. It began as a small migration and settlement of them in places where they had been given land. The Roman Britons did not disappear, nor did the native Britons.  A  last battle took place between the original Saxon mercenaries and the Britons- a battle which the Saxons felt justified in fighting because of broken treaties.  the Saxons lost this last battle but were not defeated, decimated or thrown out of the country. A compromise seemed to have been reached and lands were divided up between the British elite rulers and the Saxons. 

Historian Nick Higham is convinced that the success of the Anglo-Saxon elite in gaining an early compromise shortly after the Battle of Badon is a key to the success of the culture. This produced a political ascendancy across the south and east of Britain, which in turn required some structure to be successful.  After this time there began the process of cultures merging together to form one new one.  The Bretwalda concept is taken as evidence for a presence of a number of early Anglo-Saxon elite families and a clear unitary oversight. Whether the majority of these leaders were early settlers, descendant from settlers, or especially after the exploration stage they were Roman-British leaders who adopted Anglo-Saxon culture is unclear. The balance of opinion is that most were migrants, although it shouldn’t be assumed they were all “Germanic”. There is agreement: that these were small in number and proportion, yet large enough in power and influence to ensure “Anglo-Saxon” acculturation in the lowlands of Britain.  Most historians believe these elites were those named by Bede, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and others, although there is discussion regarding their floruit dates. Importantly, whatever their origin or when they flourished, they established their claim to lordship through their links to extended kin ties. As Helen Peake jokingly points out “they all just happened to be related back to Woden”.

For a more in depth and detailed look at the Anglo-Saxon migration and theories of why they were so successful, you can start your search here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Saxon_settlement_of_Britain

Throughout history, the reputation of those earliest Saxons has been colored by the Christian accounts of them as heathens and barbarians that destroyed a land and culture… what is interesting and important to remember is that those same Christians were  in the process of completely wiping out that culture and belief system that they were blaming the Saxons for.  The Christians had already cleared the land of much of it’s previous beliefs by decimating and eliminating the old religious leaders- the Druids and driving out the followers who still clung to those beliefs. Those early Christian leaders were as much responsible for the terror and dark ages that would follow as the Saxons were.

The early Christians shaped our history by shaping our tales, our legends and myths of that time. They were responsible for such tales as the brave and virtuous King Arthur, his valiant knights of the round table who fought evil, injustice and the barbarians in effort to save England, to unite it against all of those evil and demonic forces. We all know those legends and myths that portray the Christian brotherhood in glory and present the Saxons as some of those evil invaders…  And, somewhere even in those tales there are probably small grains of truth as to possible figures of who Arthur might have been or represented, of battles that probably did actually take place. There are a number of King Arthur theories relating to the history of Britain during those dark ages. If you are interested, I have a previous article for you to read:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/from-the-creator-ancient-history-connects-the-norse-with-romans-and-king-arthur/

I would also suggest that you read Bernard Cornwell’s series on King Arthur. He strips away much of the myth and legend, and tells a tale more of the history and the battles that ensued after Rome left. He still leaves the Saxons in a rather bad light but he does not paint such a perfect picture of Arthur or the Britons either, so it kind of evens out the story a bit. It is an interesting perspective on the legend and does take into account the long lasting Roman influences left behind!

 

winter_king_uk-179x307

‘Once upon a time, in a land that was called Britain, these things happened . . . . and I was there, and this is how it was.’ The Winter King , like the rest of the trilogy, is narrated by Derfel (which is pronounced Dervel), one of Arthur’s warriors. This first book tells how after the death of Uther, High King of Britain, the country falls into chaos. Uther’s heir is a child, Mordred, and Arthur, his uncle, is named one of the boy’s guardians. Arthur has to fight other British kingdoms and the dreadful “Sais” – the Saxons – who are invading Britain. Arthur is supposed to marry Ceinwyn, a princess of Powys, but falls disastrously in love with Guinevere – ‘There have been many more beautiful women, and thousands who were better, but since the world was weaned I doubt there have been many so unforgettable as Guinevere . . . and it would have been better, Merlin always said, had she been drowned at birth.’

 To read an interview  with the Camelot Project, click on this link:  http://d.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/text/thompson-interview-cornwell

For another perspective on the story of Arthur and the Roman involvement, you could also watch one of my favorite movies…

Movie_poster_king_arthur

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Arthur_(film)

King Arthur is a 2004 action adventure film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by David Franzoni. It stars Clive Owen as the title character, Ioan Gruffudd as Lancelot, and Keira Knightley as Guinevere.  The film is unusual in reinterpreting Arthur as a Roman officer rather than a medieval knight. Despite these departures from the source material, the Welsh Mabinogion, the producers of the film attempted to market it as a more historically accurate version of the Arthurian legends, supposedly inspired by new archaeological findings. The film was shot in England, Ireland, and Wales.  It gives a somewhat more historical perspective as well, but does still put the Saxons in the role as sole villains. I watched it recently while researching this history and found myself more seriously bothered by this representation than before! I am still searching for some sort of story that portrays the Saxons in a slightly more positive or at least more balanced light?

In the above movie, the Saxons are represented by their leader Cerdic and his son Cinric… They are of course the vicious torturing villains that we have come to expect Saxons to be. Of interesting note for Vikings fans, Cerdic is played by Stellan Skarsgard- father of Gustav Skarsgard who does such an incredible job portraying Floki!

stellan skarsgard cerdic4

In history, Cerdic was Cerdic was allegedly the first King of Anglo-Saxon Wessex from 519 to 534, cited by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as the founder of the Kingdom of Wessex and ancestor of all its subsequent kings… which of course would feasibly include Ecbert. I say feasibly because there was some dispute as to whether Ecbert was actually a d descendant.

The most interesting and curious thing about Cerdic’s history is that while his supposed royal pedigree traced him back to Woden, just as all of the other rulers’ did, it seems to have been added later. Historians think that at some point there was forged and alliance between him and  Bernicia, and he conveniently borrowed the earlier pedigree of Bernicia, tacking it on to his own. The reason for this was to perhaps give himself more of a royal/divine lineage than he might have originally had.  There is currently a thought that he was actually  was a native Briton, and that his dynasty became Anglicised over time.   This suggests that ethnicity was possibly not as important in the establishment of rulership within the proto-states of Post-Roman Britain as has been traditionally thought. Cerdic’s father, Elesa, has been identified by some scholars with the Romano-Briton Elasius, the “chief of the region”, met by Germanus of Auxerre. 

J.N.L. Myres noted that when Cerdic and Cynric first appear in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in s.a. 495 they are described as ealdormen, which at that point in time was a fairly junior rank.   Myres believed that,

It is thus possible … to think of Cerdic as the head of a partly British noble family with extensive territorial interests at the western end of the Litus Saxonicum. As such he may well have been entrusted in the last days of Roman, or sub-Roman authority with its defence. He would then be what in later Anglo-Saxon terminology could be described as an ealdorman. …

Some would disagree with Myres, as Cerdic is reported to have landed in Hampshire. Some also would say that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle proves that Cerdic was indeed a Saxon, however it does not prove that he had no Celtic blood.  Some scholars believe it likely that his mother was a British Celt who left for the Continent, or perhaps a Continental Celt. Geoffrey Ashe postulates he may be a son of Riothamus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerdic_of_Wessex

Despite the conflictin history surrounding his origins, Descent from Cerdic became a necessary criterion for later kings of Wessex, and Egbert of Wessex, progenitor of the English royal house and subsequent rulers of England and Britain, claimed him as an ancestor.  As I mentioned, Egbert’s claim was dubious and is thought  by some to have been fabricated during his early reign  or his bid for that right to give him more legitimacy in his claim. Whether fabricated or not, it was accepted and he was allowed to trace his right back to Cerdic and to Woden….

cerdic is not happy

 

What ever the reasons or theories behind the Anglo-Saxons in Britain,  one thing is certain and evident. As a group, they succeeded where Rome and even the Britons themselves  failed. They entered into a land that even the Roman Empire had failed to conquer and succeeded for the most, so well that in the future they would be looked at as the locals and the native Britons would be considered the outsiders. They succeeded so well in fact that in the future, when the second wave of Northmen arrived on their shores, they looked at them as foreign Heathenish Barbarians.  By the time the Vikings arrived in the late 700s and into the 800s, the Anglo-Saxons had become a completely different culture and society that bore little or no resemblance what so ever to the past they had left behind.  But, had they truly left the past behind them, forgotten who they were originally?

 the Norse Sagas regarding Ragnar Lodbrok give reason to believe that perhaps these Saxons, Angles and Jutes had not completely forgotten their past or their heritage. Some versions of the sagas include passages that comment on how Ragnar’s Father, Sigurd Hring once counted a part of England as part of his realm. Another saga source also mentions that Ragnar Lodbrok went to the place in Angleland of which his forefathers owned.  This would tie in with the fact that the Angles who had originated in lands around Denmark had already migrated to parts of Britain as early as the 5th century. He visited this Angleland and was initially welcomed into their court of royalty. Then he was lured into visiting King Aelle in Northumbria and was murdered by him. I have addressed this connection in my previous article about Horik and Ragnar.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/horik-and-ragnar-part-of-the-oldest-monarchy-in-europe/

The Angles were thought to be allies at one time with the early Danes who took over their land and were a partial cause for them migrating to Britain. The Saxons were in a similar situation at the time of their migration to Britain. As the Danes became stronger and more powerful, they began to overtake those lands and cultures near to them- mainly the Angles and Saxons, but they also took over much of Juteland as well causing these three cultures to migrate to that land which held more opportunity for them. It does stand to reason that these people would continue to hold some grudge or resentment of those who were initially responsible for their relocation in the first place. They may have assimilated into some new culture, but they would probably have their own old oral  histories of a past that included tales of this distant ancestral land that had been taken over by those others… some of those oral histories are included in poems and heroic stories such as Beowulf, Wulf and Eadwacer and Judith.  Another such early work is that of Widsith  from the Exeter book. The Widsith is an old poem that surveys the people  kings, and heroes of Europe in the Heroic Age of Northern Europe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Widsith

 

I hope that I have not bored you or overwhelmed you too much with the history of these earliest Saxons. As I keep mentioning, it is important to know some of their history and see both sides of it considering the fact that they did integrate so fully and deeply into the culture that it became their own. As they settled into this new culture and land, they forged those alliances with the remaining British Rulers, became rulers of their own kingdoms and quite quickly took on the Christian religion once they realized the power behind that force. That is not to say that the Christian missionaries had any easy time of converting the Anglo-Saxons. What the Church did in order to accomplish this feat would leave long lingering misgivings and resentments from other Christian Kingdoms and dynasties. The Church had an extremely difficult time converting these Heathens, and resorted to the practice of diluting their religion into terms that the Pagan Saxons would accept. They set about comparing their Christ God to Woden, to telling their testaments and stories in relation to Woden and even went so far as to accept and approve of those earliest Saxon Rulers having divine right to rule on the basis of their genealogy connecting them back to being sons of Woden!  Eventually all of the Anglo-Saxon Rulers of those early Kingdoms of Britain would prove their right by tracing their lineage back to Woden and the Church put it’s stamp of approval on this, in fact in some ways encouraged it. There had to be some way of proving right to rule other than just by might in order to maintain some stability and not descend into the chaos once again. In the future, other loyal and Royal Christian dynasties would decry this as giving in to those Pagans, view it as watering down the religion and hold little regard for these so called  new Christian Royals.

Before we look at what the Kingdoms became and looked like in the time of our Anglo-Saxon Rulers such as Ecbert, Aelle, and yes even Kweni, I want to suggest an interesting documentary about the early Saxons and how their religion evolved. 

This is a preview clip of the documentary called From Runes to Ruins by by Thomas Rowsell, Jamie Roper and Anthony Leigh. It is all about Anglo-Saxon paganism. 

About the director

 
While studying my Master’s degree in medieval history, I was fascinated by the same mythology and legends that had inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write The Lord of the Rings. Delving through old leather books and countless journals, trying to discover more about the forgotten religion of the Anglo-Saxon pagans, I couldn’t help noticing some familiar place names. It seemed that all the places from my youth were in some way connected to the history of the Anglo-Saxon heathens; whether it be the village of Thursley, named after Thor, which was near to my childhood home, or the ancient pagan barrows I used to camp on as a teen. I realised that through the landscape I had a personal relationship with the pre-Christian inhabitants of England and wondered how many other people had developed this strange fascination. Initially I had never intended to present From Runes to Ruins, but after the production house I was working with dropped the project, I no longer had the funds necessary to pay for a famous presenter. Financial constraints necessitated my stepping in to the presenting role, but this allowed me to put a personal slant on the documentary, using the pagan landscape of my own past to communicate the culture of a far more distant one. I hope that From Runes to Ruins sparks a new interest in the pagan religion of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors and also encourages people to look at the land itself as a beautiful, spiritual inheritance which brings us closer to nature, our ancestors and each other.
You can rent the entire video here:  http://fromrunestoruins.vhx.tv/
It is well worth  the 3.99 rental fee!
Now you know way too much about the early history of Angles, Saxons and Jutes in Britain… far more than you probably wanted to know! I do hope that it has given you some different perspective of the Anglo-Saxons, their reasons for moving to this land along with their justification for staying and fighting for it. Perhaps the next time you read a book or watch a movie about them, you will have some second thought about how they are portrayed.  In future articles, we will look at each of the four Kingdoms that remained during the later Vikings saga- Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria and East Anglia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Horik and Ragnar, part of the oldest monarchy in Europe!

 

Horik and Ragnar their paths to ruling a dynasty

Previous related post: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/i-am-king-really-why-and-how/

In our previous discussion of Kings, I said that I would look at each King and group in more detail in relationship to their path and claims to Kingship. In this discussion, we will look at Horik, Ragnar and the history of monarchy in Denmark. We will not bother with Erlandeur because besides being fictional, his chance for the crown of Denmark has already pretty much been usurped and destroyed by Ragnar Lothbrok. We will however look at Bjorn Ironside, some of his history and his eventual rule in Sweden. The more southern portions of Sweden were long fought over and often controlled by Denmark, so Bjorn Ironside ruling there would make sense in some ways.

Before we look at how and where Horik and Ragnar fit in the dynasty of Denmark’s rulers, let us first look briefly at the history of Denmark and it’s monarchy in general. I say briefly because Denmark’s history and that of it’s monarchy is lengthy and complex!

The history of Denmark as a unified kingdom, first begun in the 10th century, but historic documents describes the geographic area and the people living there – the Danes -, as early as 500 AD. These early documents include the writings of Jordanes and Procopius. With the Christianization of the Danes c. 960 AD, it is clear that there existed a kingship in Scandinavia which controlled roughly the current Danish territory. Queen Margrethe II can trace her lineage back to the Viking kings Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth from this time, thus making the Monarchy of Denmark the oldest in Europe. The area we now know as Denmark, has a rich prehistory, having been populated by several prehistoric cultures and people for about 12,000 years, since the end of the last ice age.

 Agricultural settlers arrived around 3000 BC. Many dolmens and rock tombs date from this period. The Nordic Bronze Age period in Denmark from about 1500BC featured a culture which buried its dead, with their worldly goods, beneath burial mounds. The many finds of bronze from this era include beautiful religious artifacts and musical instruments, and provide the earliest evidence of social classes and stratification.

In a previous article I wrote about Lindholm Hoje, where a massive burial site of stone ships from pre-Viking and Viking eras is located.  Some of these grave mounds date back as early as the 6th century and continuing on up through the 11th century. You can read more about this site and these ancient grave here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/our-viking-adventure-begins/

Lindholm-Hoje_web Lindholm hoje near Aalborg Denmark

 

The Roman provinces, whose frontiers stopped short of Denmark, nevertheless maintained trade-routes and relations with Danish or proto-Danish peoples, as attested by finds of Roman coins. The earliest-known runic inscription dates back to ca. 200 — literacy as well probably came from the south. Depletion of cultivated land in the last century BC seems to have contributed to increasing migrations in northern Europe and increasing conflict between Teutonic tribes and Roman settlements in Gaul. Roman artifacts are especially common in finds from the 1st century. It seems clear that some part of the Danish warrior-aristocracy served in the Roman army.

The Chronicon Lethrense explains how the Roman Emperor Augustus battled Denmark in the time of David,  Denmark consisted of seven territories Jutland, Funen, Zealand, Møn, Falster, Lolland and Skåne which were governed by King Ypper of Uppsala. He had three sons, Nori, Østen and Dan. Dan was sent to govern Zealand, Møn, Falster, and Lolland, which became known jointly as Videslev. When the Jutes were fighting Emperor Augustus they called upon Dan to help them. Upon victory, they made him king of Jutland, Funen, Videslev and Skåne. A council decided to call this new united land Danmark (Dania) after their new king, Dan. Saxo relates that it is the legendary Danish King Dan, son of Humbli, who gave the name to the Danish people, though he does not expressly state that he is also the origin of the word “Denmark”. Rather he tells that England ultimately derives its name from Dan’s brother Angel. Going by this early description of the area that Denmark, or Danmark encompassed, in those earlier years, Skane (Sweden) was a part of the earliest Danish empire and did not come into it’s own entity and identity until much later in history. Swedish Kings or rulers would have been considered as a sort of sub-king under the control of the Danish empire.

The earliest mention of a territory called “Denmark” is found in King Alfred the Great‘s modified translation into Old English of Paulus Orosius’ Seven Books of History Against The Pagans (“Historiarum adversum Paganos Libri Septem”), written by Alfred when king of Wessex in the years 871–899. In a passage introduced to the text by Alfred, we read about Ohthere of Hålogaland’s travels in the Nordic region, during which ‘Denmark [Denamearc] was on his port side… And then for two days he had on his (port side) the islands which belong to Denmark’.

In the Treaty of Heiligen, which was signed at Heiligen in 811 between Denmark and the Frankish empire, it mentions King Hemming and Charlemagne. Based on the terms of the accord, the southern boundary of Denmark was established at the Eider River. Moreover, the treaty confirmed the peace established by both signatories in 810.

The first recorded use of the word “Denmark” within Denmark itself is found on the two Jelling stones, which are rune stones believed to have been erected by Gorm the Old (c. 955) and Harald Bluetooth (c. 965). The larger stone of the two is popularly cited as Denmark’s baptismal certificate (dåbsattest), though both use the word “Denmark”, in the form of accusative ᛏᛅᚾᛘᛅᚢᚱᚴ “tanmaurk” ([danmɒrk]) on the large stone, and genitive “tanmarkar” (pronounced [danmarkaɽ]) on the small stone. The inhabitants of Denmark are there called “tani” ([danɪ]), or “Danes”, in the accusative.   In the Song of Roland, estimated to have been written between 1040 and 1115, the first mention of the legendary Danish hero Holger Danske appears; he is mentioned several times as “Holger of Denmark” (Ogier de Denemarche).

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

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

Some of the earliest literary sources back as far as the 6th century mention the Danes or the Dani.  In his description of Scandza, the ancient writer Jordanes says that the Dani were of the same stock as the Suetidi (Swedes, Suithiod?)  expelled the Heruli and took their lands.  The Old English poems Widsith and Beowulf, as well as works by later Scandinavian writers — notably by Saxo Grammaticus (c. 1200) — provide some of the earliest references to Danes. This early Roman map shows the land of the Herull which was taken over by the Dani. It also shows the land of Angill, Saxone and the isle of Brittania. As the Dani took over land, the Angells and the Saxones would eventually migrate to Britannia.

early roman map showing Danmark and Britannia

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

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

This is an early map of the area named Scandza which shows the place of Danen and interestingly, it also shows an area named Ranaricii which could be the place of the earliest accounted King Randver/Ragnar who appeared in the line of Kings around 756.

Scandza

early map of the area called Scandza

The history of Danish rulers goes almost as far back as the general history of the area. It’s earliest beginnings can be traced back to before the 5th century. Some of the ruling history is linked to the early lands and history of the Angells or Angeln, whose lands they took over or merged with the people so well that it became part of Danmark as Angeln made migration to Brittania. Important and interesting to note is that as part of this merging, many Danes would probably have made the migration along with the Angles. This would have set up the earliest migrations of Danes into Britannia, long before the Viking era!

A Danish kingdom seems to have been established by the late fifth century, but the earliest records of its kings is fragmentary and sometimes allusive. However, some data can be built up from those records, especially from the Old English poems, Beowulf and Widsith, and the fragment commonly known as The Fight at Finnesburg. Many of the notes regarding fifth and early sixth century Danes are taken from the Alan Bliss/JRR Tolkein examination of the latter. A distinctly separate Danish ‘province’ existed in Jutland between the sixth and ninth centuries, perhaps initially wholly or semi-independently as one of the early rival states.

I am not going to list the entire length of succession here, which dates all the way back to the early 4th  century with a Ruler shared in common with the Angles. The earliest known ruler was Skiold.  Skiold or Scyld, first of the Scyldings, is the founding father of the Danes in southern Sweden, but is also a highly important figure in the list of kings of Angeln.   The earliest rulers seem to have been common between the Angles and the Danes with the first true and separate Danish ruler being listed as Dan mikilláti / Dan the Magnificent in the early 4th century. From then on the Danish rule became separate, well established and generally followed along right to rule principles for succession. Each successive ruler had some blood connection to the previous one.

Dan mikilláti / Dan the Magnificent

Son of Danp , who was the brother-in-law of Domar.

 

Dan is the legendary founder of the (ancient) Danish kingdom. He is mentioned in several medieval Scandinavian texts, which establish that he is either the son of Danp or one of the sons of King Ypper of Uppsala (the other two being Nori, who later rules Norway, and Østen, who later rules the Swedes (possibly the Östen of the late sixth century)). Whatever Dan’s reality in history, his coming suggests that a new dynasty is founded, or at least that a sideshoot of the same dynasty of ancient rulers of the Dene takes over.

For a detailed look at these earliest lines and the right to rule principle, you can find more detailed information in the following links.

History Files, Kingdoms of Scandinavia and Demmark

http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsEurope/ScandinaviaDenmark.htm

Dacians in Denmark:

http://romanianhistoryandculture.webs.com/daciansindenmark.htm

For our purposes, we are most interested in the later time periods in which Horik and Ragnar Lodbrok would have shown up.  As I mentioned in the previous discussion of Kings, we are going to look at these men from a historical perspective first and foremost and then see what bearing the historical information has on our fictional representations of these men.  To do this, we need to jump ahead to Denmark in it’s more present context… if you call the year 756 current!  For us, it simply means that from about that period on, their history was better documented to a certain extent.

In 756, the first account of a Ragnar shows up on the ruler timeline… This account of a Ragnar seems similar to later accounts of Ragnar Lodbrok, so it could be a case of errors in recounting history or mixing of the legends. None the less, it is listed so has to be taken into some account. It is also mentioned in later accounts of another ruler/relative, Sigurd Hring so for that reason too, it bears mentioning now as the origin of Ragnar.

756 – 794

Randver / (Ragnar?) / (Ongendus?)

Generally believed to be the first king of Denmark (& Sweden).

794

Jarl Eystein of Sweden defeats an attack by Eric and Agnar, two of Randver’s sons, but falls during a subsequent attack by Randver’s wife and two remaining sons, one of which is Björn Järnsida, Once Randver himself passes away, Björn becomes king of the Swedes.

horik tells floki I am not interested in deals  Ragnar will come to the right conclusion and make the right decision

Let’s deal with King Horik before we attempt to place Ragnar on the timeline and into the dynasty.  In order to better understand Horik’s story, we need to look at the history of his Father’s rule. Horik’s Father was Gudfred or Godfred. King Godfred (ruled from 804 or earlier until 810) was a Danish king before Viking era. Gudfred was the younger son of King Sigfred. The interesting part of Gudfred’s reign is two-fold… First of all, he chose not one of his many sons as his successor, but his nephew, Hemming. There is no real explanation or reason for this other than possibly he didn’t trust any of his sons to rule? This set off a chain of events that would cause a long period of civil wars in the Kingdom with fighting over the succession. It resulted in his own death by one of his sons…and then much dispute and fighting between sons, with Horik being the sole survivor to take over the throne.

In 809, King Godfred and emissaries of Charlemagne failed to negotiate peace. In 810, Gudfrid led 200 ships to plunder the Frisian coast, and forced the merchants and peasant to pay 100 pounds of silver and claimed Northern Frisia as Danish territory. To protect the northern coast of the Frankish Empire, Charlemagne began paying Viking chieftains to protect sections of the coast from the Schlei west to the Weser River. That same summer King Godfred was killed by one of his housecarls. According to Notker of St Gall, the bodyguard who murdered King Gudfred was one of his own sons.

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

Of course, there is no mention of which son was actually responsible for the murder… and all of the sons eventually banded together to depose Hemming of his rule. A series of battles and ovethrows ensued with Horik being the sole surviving son left to rule.

Hemming did not last long. Horik and another of Gudfred’s sons took power in 811, later expelling a rival named Harald Klak, who took refuge at the court of Charlemagne’s son and successor, Louis the Pious. In 819, Louis forced Gudfred’s sons to accept Harald as co-ruler. Harald converted to Christianity in 826, with Louis standing as his godfather, but Harald was driven out of Denmark for the second and final time one year later. By then Horik was the only son of Gudfred’s still alive, making him the sole king of the Danes.  Horik refused to convert to Christianity, as it was his enemies’ religion, and resisted attempts by Archbishop Anskar of HamburgBremen to proselytize the Danes. In 845, Horik’s army attacked Hamburg and destroyed St. Mary’s Cathedral there. It was Horik’s last major war in East Francia.

However, Danish raids against Frisia continued. The Franks lacked an effective fleet, so the Danes could raid more or less with impunity. The Danes sacked the silver minting center of Dorestad in 834, 835, and 836, and plundered Walcheren in 837. In 845, a Viking warlord named Ragnar Lodbrok  attacked Paris and had to be bought off with 7,000 French livres (pounds) (2,570 kilograms (5,670 lb)) of gold and silver.

King Horik  disapproved of these raids, for successful raiders constituted possible rivals (especially if these successful raiders were also relatives with a possible claim to the throne). Occasionally, Horik even punished raiders. In 836,  Horik sent an embassy to King Louis declaring that he had nothing to do with those early raids on Frisia, and that he had executed those responsible. In 845, following Ragnar’s mysterious death or disappearance, he had Ragnar’s remaining followers massacred. Horik may have insinuated to Frisia that Ragnar was dead but in reality, perhaps Ragnar had just managed to escape and disappear from Horik’s reach.  Perhaps, Horik exiled or banished him from the Kingdom, because if we look at some of various versions of  history, Ragnar was alive in 860 and up until 865 when he was noted as having been killed by King Aelle in Northumbria.  In 854, King Horik I was killed by a nephew whom he had driven into exile. While in exile, the nephew had become a successful raider. Again, no mention is ever made of just who the exiled nephew is, only that he became a successful raider… Perhaps this was a case of Horik making an error in judgement and allowing Ragnar to live for some reason- for example if Ragnar was indeed possibly a distant relative? It would have been a case similar to that of  the Ragnar in Michael Hirst’s version of the saga making a mistake in allowing Horik’s son Erlandeur to live only to have him return later seeking vengeance and retribution. I should note here too that in history, Horik’s young son, still a child, did inherit the crown for a while. This scenario that I’ve suggested might be a case of Ragnar being involved in the murder somehow but not necessarily directly responsible for the actual deed. This event with Horik also gives us some insight as to how Michael Hirst might have used it in putting together his version of what happened to Horik. Someone close to him did kill him and it very well could have been Ragnar Lodbrok! This is just added validation that Mr. Hirst does follow lines of history closer than most might assume when watching his version of history play out.

horik and son return from wessex

If we look at Horik’s right and claim to rule, he did have right to the rule of Denmark as one of his Father’s sons. But, there had to have been some reason that Gudfred did not want his sons ruling the dynasty? Did he have some good reason for not trusting them with the future rule of Denmark? Did he look at them and see them all as unworthy of ruling? Did he for what ever reason, foresee what chaos and turmoil they might put the country in with their fighting for control. What ever his reasons were, he was intent on his sons not ruling and Hemming ruling instead.

horik watches everything

I did present some of the history of Horik and Hemming in a previous post on the importance of  Hedeby, so you can read more of that here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/vikings-lagertha-kalf-and-why-is-hedeby-so-important/

ragnar

How does Ragnar Lodbrok or Lothbrok fit into all of this dynasty? For that we need to look at what little we know of him historically and assume that, yes he did actually exist during some part of this time period. As most historians would agree on, there is too much mention of him in numerous  historical accounts from differing sources and documentations of the era for him not to have existed. His historical information however gets so mixed up and weighed down in exaggerations of his life that he takes on a more legendary and god like quality than any real man. We need to sort through those legends and mythical accounts of him to find a truer picture of who he might have been and what part he may have played in actual history.  He was not a God, he was not married to any Goddess- as much as he might have claimed, or his children and future descendants may have added to the stories! His claim to be descended from Odin… well, that gave him some God like link or advantage which he used to his full advantage as many other rulers have.

vikings_s3_ragnar-E

As I presented earlier, a first account of him shows him as possibly being one of the first Kings of Denmark and Sweden in 756. But, later accountings put him as being a King of Sweden/Denmark during a later period of  860-865

c.860 – 865

Ragnarr Lothbrok

King in Sweden (860-865)? Apparently also powerful in Denmark.

 

Ivarr the Boneless

Son. Viking king of Dublin (853-873).

 

Halfdan

Brother. King of the Scandinavian kingdom of York (875-877).

865 – 878

Ivarr the Boneless, king of Dublin, and his brothers, the sons of Ragnarr Lothbrok, lead the first Viking army to invade mainland Britain in search of conquest rather than pillage. Landing in East Anglia, they ravage the kingdom for a year before heading into Northumbria in 866. That kingdom falls in 867 and a puppet king is installed. The Great Army moves south, campaigning during the spring and summer. East Anglia falls in 869, and the capital of Alt Clut is sacked in 870. Ynys Manau also falls to them in around 870, and between 870-871, Ivarr’s brother, Bagsecg, is involved in the attacks, leading the Great Summer Army into England and adding his forces to those of Ivarr and Halfdan.

Bagsecg is killed at the Battle of Ashdown in Wessex in 871, and the following year the Great Army is back in Northumbria. It winters in late 872 and early 873 at Torksey on the River Trent in Lindsey, before moving west into Mercia, which is defeated in 874 and a vassal king is installed on its throne. Later that year the army divides, with one half going to Cambridge and the rest heading towards the Tyne and eventually settling in York.

He is mentioned in Horik’s history during the year of 845 when he led an invading army to raid Paris.  Now, realistically all of these accounts of his life can not be accurate! So let us look at what we do know. For that, we need to go by what information we know of his sons who were part of the Great Heathen army that invaded England in the 860s. From some documented evidence, we can also piece together that one Ragnar Lodbrok was killed in Northumbria by King Aelle  prior to 865-866. His sons, who would obviously have been adults by then, took revenge on Aelle and killed him.

The Great Heathen Army marched on Northumbria in the late summer of 866, seizing York on 21 November 866.  Symeon of Durham, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Asser, and Æthelweard all recount substantially the same version of events in varying detail. Symeon’s Historia Regum Anglorum gives this account of the battle on 21 March 867 where Osberht and Ælla met their deaths at the hands of the Vikings:

In those days, the nation of the Northumbrians had violently expelled from the kingdom the rightful king of their nation, Osbryht by name, and had placed at the head of the kingdom a certain tyrant, named Alla. When the pagans came upon the kingdom, the dissension was allayed by divine counsel and the aid of the nobles. King Osbryht and Alla, having united their forces and formed an army, came to the city of York; on their approach the multitude of the shipmen immediately took flight. The Christians, perceiving their flight and terror, found that they themselves were the stronger party. They fought upon each side with much ferocity, and both kings fell. The rest who escaped made peace with the Danes.

The sagas of Ragnar’s sons embellished the event greatly and listed  all of the various sons of Ragnar who may have participated in the revenge.  Ragnarssona þáttr (The Tale of Ragnar’s sons) added  great  colour to accounts of the Viking conquest of York. This associates the semi-legendary king of Denmark and Sweden Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons, Hvitserk, Björn Ironside, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, Ivar the Boneless, and Ubba. According to the stories, Ragnar was killed by Ælla, and the army which seized York in 866 was led by Ragnar’s sons who avenged his death by subjecting Ælla to the blood eagle.  Earlier English sources record that both Ælla and Osberht died in battle, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle stating that “both the kings were slain on the spot.  The main figure in the revenge tales is Ivar.  The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle does not name the leaders in Northumbria, but it does state that “Hingwar and Hubba” slew King Edmund of East Anglia (Saint Edmund) some years later.  Hubba is named as a leader of the army in Northumbria by Abbo of Fleury, and by the Historia de Sancto Cuthberto. Symeon of Durham lists the leaders of the Viking army as “Halfdene, Inguar, Hubba, Beicsecg, Guthrun, Oscytell, Amund, Sidroc and another duke of the same name, Osbern, Frana, and Harold.  An interesting  point in Symeon’s listing is that he does not list Bjorn Ironside in his accountings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%86lla_of_Northumbria

What we need to do is sort out the embellishments and colorings of his legend and determine some real historical accounting for him if that is possible. Needless to say, the same Ragnar could not have been king on Denmark/Sweden from  before 756-794, then proceeded to continue on to raid Paris in 845 and become King yet again in 860!  What could very well be is that there was a Ragnar in 756 and Ragnar Lodbrok is one his descendants. This would make some sense, and  would  account for how stories of the two might have gotten woven together.  If this was the case, it gives Ragnar Lodbrok a tie or blood connection to the ruling dynasty of Denmark as well! This is important because as we have already seen, the ruling dynasty of Denmark was well set, established and it would have been highly unlikely that one who was completely unconnected in any way would have just walked in and taken over the rule as the Ragnar of our saga did.

My personal thought after researching the history and the legends is that somehow, somewhere along the line in the oral history of Denmark, the two Ragnars got tied together in their stories and became one person. So, what we can do is try to separate the two histories as much as possible. The first Ragnar is most likely the one of the earliest legends of Ragnar as king… the second Ragnar is most probably a descendent of the first and might have embellished  stories of the past to give himself greater fame, using the legends to his advantage. 

All of the various Norse sagas were written down some centuries after the facts so by then, the stories would have been so woven together that it would have been difficult to prove what was accurate and what was not. Also, there were a number of different sagas, each one telling the history from a slightly different perspective depending on which country or nationality was recounting the history.

  

The stories are all so intertwined that it is almost impossible to separate and differentiate them. What may have happened with some of the stories as they were told is that as I said, there was a second Ragnar who was a descendent of the first, and who would have been a raider or warrior under the rule of Horik. He probably was a relative of Horik’s. A clue to this is found in the Norse sagas where it is mentioned that Ragnar Lodbrok was related to King Gudfred and also a son of Sigurd Hring. The legend of Sigurd Hring involves the time period of the earliest mention of Ragnar/Randver  around 750. The time span of Gudfred and his son Horik is later, and would conceivably cover the time of the Ragnar Lodbrok who is involved in events with Horik including the attack on Paris in 845. If you look for some grain of truth and connection in the legends it could be that the first King Ragnar/Randver was related to Sigurd Hring and that some descendant of his as in Ragnar Lodbrok would have been related to Gudfred at the later point.  In looking at the history of Gudfred, he was said to be a grandson of the first King, Ragnar/Randver/Ongendus. This would connect all of them as relatives or descendants of the original Ragnar of 756. The various sagas about Sigurd Hring give differing representations but do provide some interesting points of insight. One legend speaks of Sigurd placing a shieldmaiden on the throne, which could tie or connect to the legend of Lagertha the shieldmaiden that Ragnar Lodbrok eventually married. Most historians debate the existence of Lagertha and put her in the category of myths and legends related to Ragnar but perhaps underneath all of the myth in her story is some grain of truth as well.

Lagertha shieldmaiden

Lagertha shieldmaiden

Another point of interest is that the sagas mention Sigurd Hring having ties to England or Angleland. Another saga source also mentions that Ragnar Lodbrok went to the place in Angleland of which his forefathers owned.  This would tie in with the fact that the Angles who had originated in lands around Denmark had already migrated to parts of Britain as early as the 5th century. If you look at that piece of legend, it would be a case of Ragnar already knowing something of the land of Britain and not just a case of him sailing off on great adventure. Some of the sagas mention that he visited this Angleland and was initially welcomed into their court of royalty. Then he was lured into visiting King Aelle in Northumbria and was murdered by him. This event set off a great war when the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok found out about it and came to seek revenge upon Aelle. Looking at the story in this context suggests that Ragnar was accepted in the land and was acquainted with Aelle on some level where he accepted the invitation and set off to visit Aelle thinking of nothing traitorous or malicious on Aelle’s part otherwise why would he have gone there in the first place. It suggests that there was some other underlying feud or grievance against Ragnar on Aelle’s part. Those early portions of the sagas  made no mention of raiding or invasions even though the earliest known raids on  England did take place as far back as 794 when an attack was recorded on Lindesfarne.  In looking for those grains of truth in the legends and going with the idea that Ragnar may have been banished or exiled by Horik, it stands to some reason that he could have went to some distant relatives residing in this Angleland, thinking he would be safe from Horik’s reach in this place. But, perhaps Horik’s reach stretched further than one might imagine… perhaps it stretched as far as Aelle in Northumbria? I am only proposing ideas here and there is nothing so far to give credence or evidence to this thought so do not attempt to cite me, quote me or argue with me on this line of thinking! I am just putting forth ideas on these earliest events! If one were to go with this random thought on all of it, perhaps Aelle was connected to his possible ancestral homeland. We know next to nothing about Aelle or his true history! Perhaps there was a group there in Northumbria and other places who did have some remaining ties to Denmark and have reasons to either support Horik or support Ragnar… So, Ragnar may have been involved in the murder of Horik and then Aelle responded by murdering Ragnar, not for any raiding accusations but for some other personal motives.

King Aella of Northumbria

 Lastly and possibly, most important to our line of reasoning is that some sagas mention Sigurd Hring as a son of Ragnar/Randver while others mention him as Father of Ragnar? Perhaps this is where the missing link or connection between the two versions of Ragnar are. The sagas concerning Sigurd Hring are sketchy and limited. According to Bósa saga ok Herrauds, there was once a saga on Sigurd Hring, but this saga is now lost. In the old sources,  he is notable for winning the  Battle  of  the  Brávellir  against Harald Wartooth and for being the father of Ragnar Lodbrok.  If you put the pieces of these varying stories together, what you get is that Sigurd Hring was a son of Ragnar/Randver and the Father of Ragnar Lodbrok! This would make a great deal of sense in looking at the time line of the Ragnars ranging from 756 to 865. Sigurd Hring would be both son and Father of  a Ragnar but because his sagas were lost over the years, any important information differentiating the two Ragnars would have been lost as well.

Sigurt_verbrennt_Haralds_Leiche

  The event in Paris where Ragnar Lodbrok is said to have invaded and conquered is probably close to truth, as is probably his reception when he retuned to Horik afterwards where was some disagreement over what happened. This second Ragnar most likely did go on to raid in England after his disagreements with Horik. And, what is so interesting about all of this is the last accounting of Horik being killed by an “exiled” nephew who went on to become a great raider? He was killed in 854. What was Ragnar Lodbrok doing during this time? Where was he? Legends say nothing about time periods or make mention of anything of what happened to Ragnar after his raid on Paris, his return to Horik and Horik’s disapproval and disavowels to the Frankish Empire that he had nothing to do with the raid. It would be highly possible that he exiled this Ragnar and possible as well that Ragnar could have had some sort of involvement in the death of Horik.  Historically, Horik’s son did inherit the throne of Denmark, but he was a child and his time on the throne lasted from 854 to about 865. During that time, Ragnar is listed as ruling a part of Sweden and being powerful in Denmark as well  from 860-865.  It was at the end of this period that he showed up in England and presumably met his death at the hands of King Aelle.  If you put this all into some sort of historical context or plausibility the way I have suggested, it is possible or feasible that there are two separate Ragnars of the same lineage and the second one might have ruled in some same way as Hirst has presented his version of Ragnar.  What Michael Hirst has done is take the pieces of history/legend and tied them together in the portrayal of  Ragnar Lodbrok that most of us are more aware of.  Hirst has given us a version that does not include the earlier legends of Ragnar and a first family save for Bjorn Ironside.    Also, if you put it in terms of recounting a great warrior or ancestor’s fame, one Ragnar Lodbrok probably would not have wanted to admit to any involvement in such an event as killing his relative, King Horik when telling of his great exploits to others. That action might not endear you to those people of that place you were wanting to claim rulership of.  This is one theory of his representation on the timelines. Later, we will look at another theory that Ragnar Lodbrok died in 845 at the hand of King Aelle.

the city of Paris behind it's walls and gates  where are those poor stragglers!

the city of Paris behind it’s walls and gates where are those poor stragglers!

After 865 the throne of Denmark was passed on eventually to Ragnar’s son Sigurd and we will discuss his taking of the rule later.

 It was during that time that Ragnar’s sons were busy making names for themselves in England and in Ireland. Ivar the Boneless was listed as a King of Dublin from 853-873, while another brother Halfdan was listed as King of York or Jorvick from 875-877.  Other brothers are not noted or listed as ruling anywhere during this time but later history will document descendants of Sigurd Snake Eye as being in England, participating in the revenge killing of Aelle, then going on to marry Aelle’s daughter. The one son that there is little mention of being involved in the invasion and conquest of England other that his name being mentioned in the long list of Ragnar’s many sons who may or may not have actually been there was Bjorn Ironside. As I mentioned earlier, in some accounts of the Heathen invasion, Bjorn is not listed at all.

Can you do that Bjorn  can you lead with your head and set your heart aside bjorn explains our king is very ill and can not travel

There seems to be some confusion about Bjorn Ironside or which family he may have belonged to. In the earliest accounts of the first Ragnar, King of Denmark/Sweden, Bjorn is listed and accounted for as a son of that Ragnar who goes on to rule Sweden. Prior to this time, Denmark and Sweden were closely tied with Ragnar/Randver being King of both areas. After this Ragnar’s death, Bjorn takes over full rule of Sweden- it becomes more of a separate identity and it’s rule is more solidly rooted in history. What  is important in determining a better connection for Bjorn is to look at what we can find in any documented evidence of him in order to figure out where he might actually or feasibly fit into the timeline? Our earliest account of 794 states that after Ragnar/Randver passes away, Bjorn becomes King of the Swedes. What we do not know for certain is when Ragnar/Randver actually dies.

This following timeline is one listed for the Kingdom of Sweden and it lists Bjorn as being King of Swedes from 794-804 or around 860- the same time frame as Ragnar Lodbrok is listed as ruling Denmark. We also do not know of any birth date or death for Bjorn so it is difficult to place him in the families.  This timeline would place him as a son of Ragnar/Randver and of Ragnar Lodbrok much like Ragnar/Randver and Ragnar Lodbrok are accounted as being both Father and son of Sigurd Hring.

794

Jarl Eystein of Sweden defeats an attack by Eric and Agnar, two of Randver’s sons, but falls during a subsequent attack by Randver’s wife and two remaining sons, one of which is Björn Järnsida, Once Randver himself passes away, Björn becomes king of the Swedes.

c.780s – 794

Jarl Eystein defeats an attack by Eric and Agnar, two of the sons of King Randver of Denmark, but falls during a subsequent attack by Randver’s wife and two remaining sons, one of which is Björn Järnsida. It seems possible that, given the Dano-Swedish control of Raumarike in Norway, the subsequent ruler of Raumarike could be a son of Eystein – one Sigtryg Eysteinsson.

Once Randver himself passes away, Björn Järnsida becomes king of the Swedes. With this act Sweden’s kings become more solidly rooted in history. Björn’s supposed barrow cemetery on the island of Munsö gives the dynasty its name, but it is also known as the Ynglings (probably an attempt establish continuity with the ancient Swedish kings), and the house of Uppsala. The Norse Hervarar saga is one of the best sources for establishing the genealogy of the kings in this period.

794 – 804

Björn Järnsida (‘Ironside’)

Or c.856. Son of Randver.

804 – 808

Erik Björnsson

Or d.c.870. Son. Not included in the numbering for Erics.

One can easily follow the succession of Bjorn’s descendants in the ruling dynasty of Sweden. The only break or discrepancy in this line comes in about 860-865 when once again Ragnar Lodbrok  shows up in the line? After his short rule, it reverts right back to Bjorn’s descendants with no real explanation or reason for the interruption. 

  What you also need to remember is that often in the past, relatives even distant ones might have been referred to as cousin or nephew. It was also easy to confuse family lines and lineages or descent because quite often, a descendent might refer to themselves as “son or daughter” of some great ancestor in terms of speaking of the importance of such relationship to themselves or to those they were speaking to. This could have been the case for a Ragnar Lodbrok in 845 or 860 when speaking of his ancestor, or of those who claimed to be his sons in 865. They might have been descendant of that first one and made such comment as to reflect the importance, “I am a son of Ragnar Lodbrok” The evidence for some of them being a Ragnar Lodbrok’s direct son is probably true. Those who were a vital part of the Heathen Army, and who were directly mentioned as being at Northumbria and revenging his death- that was probably accurate. Others who were attributed as to being sons may have been relatives, even distant ones at that.

One way of sorting any of this out is to look at the various threads of history, legendary sagas and Anglo-Saxon Chronicles  to see where there might be common ground, or where there might be enough difference as to suggest the possibility of separate families?  Please keep in mind that these are only my own personal thoughts and guesses at sorting out the tangled web of Ragnar Lodbrok and his overly long, prolific life! I am looking at it from the premise that in every legend or myth, there is some grain of truth. I am also going about it from a perspective of genealogy- one which I know has a habit of misinterpreting and misrepresenting information regarding ancestors who have common names! I have spent a great deal of time mired in searches of families who all named their offspring the same names in honor of family ancestry and patriarchs. It has become extremely difficult  and at times almost impossible to differentiate the separate branches of  my Father’s family tree for this reason! The only positive aspect of it is that you immediately recognize when one family line does not fit because the names vary too much from that list of original ones.

Going with the reasoning and assumption that Ragnar did not live for over 100 years and raid England well into his most elderly years, let us try to separate the events and possibly the families without dealing with the legends or the myths.

The first Ragnar/Randver shows up as King of Denmark/Sweden in 756. He has sons Eric, Agnar, Bjorn and an un-named son. There is a battle with the ruler of Sweden, Jarl Eystein and the two older sons are killed. Randver’s wife and other two sons retaliate and Eystein is killed. Later, after Ragnar/Randver’s death, son Bjorn becomes King of Sweden. Some of this is recounted in various versions of Norse sagas.  It is within those various sagas though that the histories may have begun to merge together as they were initially told in the oral tradition. Eric and Agnar along with a son,  Fridleif are consistently named as sons of Ragnar and wife, Thora. Though in one Saxon interpretation, Fridleif is listed as the son of Lagertha. .  My personal theory is that Thora and her sons were most probably the family of the Ragnar who was King in 756. 

In some of the sagas, Bjorn is listed as one of the sons of Ragnar and Aslaug but in the legend of Aslaug, Bjorn is not listed as one of her sons.

painting of Aslaug the legend

According to the thirteenth-century Tale of Ragnar Lodbrok, Aslaug was the daughter of Sigurd and the shieldmaiden Brynhildr,  but was raised by Brynhildr’s foster father Heimer. At the deaths of Sigurd and Brynhildr, Heimer was concerned about Aslaug’s security, so he made a harp large enough to hide the girl. He then traveled as a poor harp player carrying the harp containing the girl.  They arrived at Spangereid at Lindesnes in Norway, where they stayed for the night in the house of the peasants Áke and Grima. Áke believed the harp contained valuable items and told his wife Grima. Grima then convinced him to murder Heimer as he was sleeping. However, when they broke the harp open, they discovered a little girl, whom they raised as their own, calling her Kráka (“Crow”). In order to hide her beauty – the accepted sign of her noble origins– they rubbed her in tar and dressed her in a long hood.

However, once as she was bathing she was discovered by some of the men of the legendary king Ragnar Lodbrok. Entranced by Kráka’s beauty, they allowed the bread they were baking to burn; when Ragnar inquired about this mishap, they told him about the girl. Ragnar then sent for her, but in order to test her wits, he commanded her to arrive neither dressed nor undressed, neither hungry nor full and neither alone nor in company. Kráka arrived dressed in a net, biting an onion and with only a dog as a companion. Impressed by her ingenuity and finding her a wise companion, Ragnar proposed marriage to her, which she refused until he had accomplished his mission in Norway. She gave him four sons: Ivar the Boneless, Hvitserk, Ragnvald the Mountain-High and Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye.

When Ragnar visited viceroy Eysteinn Beli of Sweden, Eysteinn persuaded him to reject Kráka and marry his daughter, Ingeborg. On his return home, three birds had already informed Kráka of Ragnar’s plans, and so she reproached him and told him of her true noble origins. In order to prove she was the daughter of Sigurd who had slain Fafnir, she said she would bear a child whose eye would bear the image of a serpent. This happened and she bore the son Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye. When Eysteinn learned of Ragnar’s change of mind, he rebelled against him but was slain by Ragnar’s sons at Kráka’s behest.

When Ragnar was about to undertake his fated expedition to England, his failure was due to his not heeding Kráka’s warnings about the bad condition of the fleet. When King Ælla threw Ragnar into the snake pit, Ragnar was protected by an enchanted shirt that Kráka had made. It was only when this shirt had been removed that the snakes could bite Ragnar and kill him.

***An interesting side note and thread running through the legends of Ragnar are the snakes… according to legends, snakes were involved in his meeting and marriage to his first wife, Thora. When Sigurd Hring dies, Ragnar succeeds him as the king of Sweden and Denmark. Many foreign kings come to take parts of his kingdom as they think Ragnar is too young to defend it.  Herrauðr, the earl of Götaland and one of Ragnar’s vassals had a daughter, Þóra Borgarhjǫrtr, who was very beautiful. He gave her a lindworm, but after some time, it encircles her bower and threatens anyone who approaches it, except for her servants who fed it with an ox every day. At his symbel, Herrauðr promises his daughter to the man who kills the serpent.  When Ragnar hears of this, he goes to Västergötland and dresses himself in shaggy clothes that he had treated with tar and sand. He took a spear and approached the serpent which blew poison at him. Ragnar protected himself with his shield. He speared the serpent through its heart. He then cut off the serpent’s head, and when the people found out what had happened, he married Thora.Then, he proceeded to liberate his kingdom.  A different version of the legend says that Thora  was fond of snakes and raised them as pets until they threatened to over run the kingdom and the people were in fear of both the snakes and Thora because of her uncommon fascination with them. Her Father offers her hand in marriage to anyone who can get rid of the snakes.  Ragnar succeeds in killing them and wins Thora.****

Þóra Borgarhjǫrtr

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%9E%C3%B3ra_Borgarhj%C7%ABrtr

If we go by the theory that a Ragnar/Randver was the Father of Sigurd Hring, and Sigurd Hring was then the father of Ragnar Lodbrok, the following genealogy chart that I have found would make some sense and provide for some  dates to  go by in placing Ragnar Lodbrok and his families. These dates are still highly improbable but do give a slightly better time frame. This chart suggests that Ragnar died shortly after his excursion to England and his meeting with Aelle probably between 845-850. Going by this chart, the accountings of Ragnar being a King of Sweden around 860-865 would have been an error. What is possible is that his sons, such as Ivar were referring to his Royal lineage and his being King at some point in his past. The rulership of Denmark was in such upheaval throughout the early Viking era that there may have been gaps in the kingship and Ragnar was placed erroneously in that later time period by later historians. In placing Ragnar erroneously, they may have also placed Bjorn the same way.

This is a family chart for the family ancestry that can be found here:

http://www.mathematical.com/sigurdssonragnar765.html

*Ragnar “Lodbrok” “Lothrocus” “Hairy Britches” Sigurdson King of Dacia (Denmark)
born about 0754 Uppsala, Sweden

died 0845 Northumbria, England

father:
*Sigurd “Ring” Randversson King in Sweden
born about 0730 Denmark

died 0812

mother:
*Alfhild Gandolfsdotter
born about 0735 Denmark

married about 0759 Uppsala, Sweden

siblings:
Miss Sigurdsdotter born about 0760 Uppsala, Sweden

spouse:
*Aslaug Sigurdsdotter
born about 0765 Denmark

married about 0783 Denmark

children (from this marriage):
*Bjorn “Ironside” Ragnarsson born Denmark
*Ivar “The Boneless” Ragnarsson King of Dublin & York born about 0787 Denmark died 0873
*Sigurd “Snake-Eye” Ragnarsson born about 0786 Denmark
Hvitserk Ragnarsson born about 0790 Denmark
Rognvald Ragnarsson born about 0791 Denmark
*Halfdan “White Shirt” Ragnarsson King of Dublin died 0877 Ireland
Ragnhildir Ragnardottir
Alof Ragnardottir
Ubbe Ragnarsson

other spouse (or consort):
*Thora Herraudsdatter
born about 0756

children by this union:
*Eirik Ragnarsson
born 0788 Denmark

If you piece together some of these threads with the legends, you come out with a time line of a  Ragnar Lodbrok being born around 756-760 and plausibly being King in 790s with a marriage to Thora and then to Aslaug, with his younger sons being those of Aslaug. The key in connecting Bjorn to which Mother is to look at Bjorn’s family chart and compare it to the dates given as approximations of birth dates for those younger sons. If we assume that the early information of Bjorn Jarsida becoming King of Sweden in late 790s or early 800s is close to accurate, then this following family chart does make sense and it would place him as much older than the younger sons belonging to Aslaug. There is no birth date or death given for Bjorn, but his oldest son is listed as being born around 796 in Sweden, with another son Erik being born around 798. This gives us a clue as to an approximate birth era for Bjorn. We could reasonably place him between 15-20 at the birth of the first child which would put his birth around 775. Please remember these are all approximations- that is all we can go by here! In 775, if Aslaug’s birth date was close to correct, she would have been a bit young to have birthed Bjorn! Thora, however, was listed as being born around 756 so it is more conceivable that Thora was his Mother, not Aslaug.

Ragnar and young Bjorn

*Bjorn “Ironside” Ragnarsson
born Denmark

father:
*Ragnar “Lodbrok” Lothrocus king of Dacia (Denmark) Sigurdson
born about 0765 Uppsala, Sweden

died 0845 England

mother:
*Aslaug Sigurdsdotter
born about 0765 Denmark

married about 0783 Denmark

siblings:
*Ivar “The Boneless” Ragnarsson King of Dublin & York
born about 0787 Denmark died 0873 England

*Sigurd “Snake-Eye” Ragnarsson born about 0786 Denmark
Hvitserk Ragnarsson born about 0790 Denmark
Rognvald Ragnarsson born about 0791 Denmark
*Halfdan “White Shirt” Ragnarsson died 0877 Ireland
Ragnhildir Ragnardottir
Alof Ragnardottir
Ubbe Ragnarsson

spouse:
unknown

children:
*Refill Bjornsson born about 0796 Sweden
Asleik Bjornsson born about 0812 Sweden died 0850
Erik Bjornsson born about 0798 Sweden

We know little history or accurate dates for events in Bjorn’s life but we can get a somewhat clearer picture of them when we look at a brother of his that is mentioned in some of his history.  A brief and very basic sketch of Bjorn’s life is that he was a legendary king of Sweden who lived sometime in the 9th century.   Björn Ironside is said to have been the first ruler of the Munsö dynasty. In the early 18th century, a barrow, on the island of Munsö was claimed by antiquarians to be Björn Järnsidas hög or Björn Ironside’s grave. Hög, from the Old Norse word haugr, means barrow or mound. 

Bjorn Ironside's grave site at Munso

Bjorn Ironside’s grave site at Munso

Björn and his brother Hastein conducted many (mostly successful) raids in France in a continuation of the tradition initiated by their father Ragnar Lodbrok. In 860, Björn led a large Viking raid into the Mediterranean. After raiding down the Spanish coast and fighting their way through Gibraltar, Björn and Hastein pillaged the south of France, where his fleet over-wintered, before landing in Italy where they captured the coastal city of Pisa. They proceeded inland to the town of Luna, which they believed to be Rome at the time, but Björn found himself unable to breach the town walls. To gain entry, he sent messengers to the bishop to say that he had died, had a deathbed conversion, and wished to be buried on consecrated ground within their church. He was brought into the chapel with a small honor guard, then amazed the dismayed Italian clerics by leaping from his coffin and hacking his way to the town gates, which he promptly opened, letting his army in. Flush with this victory and others around the Mediterranean (including in Sicily and North Africa) he returned to the Straits of Gibraltar only to find the Saracen navy from Al-Andalus waiting for him. In the desperate battle that followed, Björn lost 40 ships, largely to a form of Greek fire launched from Saracen catapults. The remainder of his fleet managed to return to Scandinavia, however, where he lived out his life as a rich man.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bj%C3%B6rn_Ironside

Little is known of Hastein’s early life, described as a Dane in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he is often given as a son of Ragnar Lodbrok. He is first recorded taking part in the Viking attack on the Frankish Empire, occupying Noirmoutier in 843 and on the Loire again in 859 for his great raid into the Mediterranean. One of the most famous Viking raids was Hastein’s voyage to the Mediterranean (859-862AD), having set out with Björn Ironside, another son of Ragnar Lodbrok with 62 ships from the Loire.  At first the raiding did not go well, with Hastein being defeated by the Asturians and later the Muslims of the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba at Niebla in 859. Success followed with the sacking of Algeciras, where the mosque was burned, and then the ravaging of Mazimma in the Idrisid Caliphate on the north coast of Africa, followed by further raids into the Umayyad Caliphate at Orihuela, the Balearic Islands and Roussillon.

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

The main reason these events and time frames are important is that it places Bjorn as in the middle of these important and documented raids during the time that one part of the timeline sets him as becoming King of Sweden. It seems to me that he would a little busy with raiding in the Mediterranean sea and North Africa to have made a quick trip home to grab the crown and dash away again just as quickly. I suppose it is possible but perhaps it was more likely that he might have ruled earlier on as a younger man and left the crown to a son who was old enough to trusted with ruling in his place.  It also gives some credence to the thought or theory that he was not actively involved in the events taking place in England during that time if he was otherwise occupied in the Mediterranean and then sailing home to live out his remaining years as a rich man.

We have one other piece of evidence that ties Bjorn to Thora rather than Aslaug and places him on the timeline. This accounting is given in a history of Ivar the Boneless, son  of Ragnar and Aslaug. While the history and existence of Ragnar may be disputable,  the existence of Ivarr, Ragnarr’s eldest son, as an historical figure is in no doubt. His exploits are recorded in contemporary historical documents, and it is possible to trace his movements with relative certainty.

Ivar is what he is  you know that

Much of Ivar’s history is taken from the Norse Sagas and filled with as much color and exaggeration as the stories of his Father.  Some of it though can be documented and one might assume that Ivar had input in the recording of some of his family history even if he like so many others of the time paid a Bard or story teller great wealth to embellish the facts. This particular accounting puts his approximate birth as after 790 and his death was documented as 873. He died a very wealthy old man with no wives or heirs to cause an early death for him!

In the accounting of Ivar’s family history and Ragnar’s wives, Lagertha is listed as the first wife, Aslaug as second, Thora as third and Svanloga as a fourth wife. One reason for Thora possibly being listed as third might be as previously suggested in other charts, that she was not a true wife but a concubine. It might also have been Ivar’s way of implying greater importance to his Mother, Aslaug than to Thora.

http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/FeaturesBritain/EnglandIvarr.htm

Ivarr the Boneless

   

Born

Place unknown

Estimated to AD 794.

Acceded

856 – Dublin

 

Died

873 – Dublin

 

Notes

Active in East Anglia, Dublin and York.

Father

Ragnar Lothbrok

(Hairy breeches) Chieftain of Denmark and Sweden.

Mother

Aslaug

Second wife of Ragnar.

Married

 

Brother 1

Halfdan

(of the Wide Embrace) son of Thora, third wife of Ragnar.

Brother 2

Sigurd / Siyard

(Snake-in-the-Eye) son of Aslaug.

Brother 3

Ubbi

Son of Esbern’s unnamed daughter.

Brother 4

Bjorn Ironside

Son of Thora.

Brother 5

Rathbarth

Son of Thora.

Brother 6

Dunyat

Son of Thora.

Brother 7

Agnar

Son of Thora.

Brother 8

Regnald

Son of Svanloga, fourth wife of Ragnar.

Brother 9

Vithserk

Son of Svanloga.

Brother 10

Erik Wind Hat

Son of Svanloga.

Brother 11

Fridlef

Son of Lathgertha, first wife of Ragnar.

I know this trip through history and genealogy has been long and confusing much of the time. Now  you understand what Genealogists go through on a daily basis when researching your family tree for you. If you wonder and complain at the prices they charge for such a task, now perhaps you can appreciate just how difficult their job is! It is made even more challenging in the respect that in order for their findings to be accepted as legitimate, they must have verified and documented evidence for every link or branch that they add to the tree for you. If they do not provide this documented evidence, your tree is basically worthless in any legitimate claims to your history. There are of course some instances when it would be impossible to find such documented actual evidence and they must go by some general consensus or assumption. In those cases, they must make this clear and note that in their research. This research involves a great deal more than going to such places as Ancestry.com and searching through often misleading and unverified information! I have a number of issues with such sites but will reserve those thoughts for some other time and post!  For our research on Ragnar’s history, we are almost finished! I know many of you who have stuck with this are now sighing a huge breath of relief and muttering, “Thank Gods for that!”

We have one set of information left to look at and decipher. The timelines state that one Ragnar Lodbrok was King of Denmark from 860-865. We have already looked at much of the history that would suggest otherwise, such as him dying shortly after 845 in England. We have also looked at his sons Bjorn and Ivar and their connections to the family. There is one son left to look at here as far deciphering some of the historical information. That son is Sigurd-snake in the eye.

sigurd snake in the eye

Sigurd is found in Ivar’s family listing as a brother, with his Mother being Aslaug.  He is also listed in some accounts of the Great Heathen army invasions,  he is listed in a number of sagas and genealogies as well. This Sigurd is an important link and connection from the better documented lineage of Danish Royalty that begins with Gorm the Old.

In the accounts of Sigurd’s history we find out a bit more about Ragnar as well. Sigurd’s accounting states that Ragnar died in 865 rather than 845, but this still could be a case where it is listed as 865 because that is when Sigurd actually found out about it.

Sigurd Snake-in-the-eye (Old Norse: Sigurðr ormr í auga) was one of the four sons of Ragnar Lodbrok. The “Snake-in-the-eye” part of Sigurd’s name denoted the fact that that he was born with a mark in his left eye, described as the image of the Ouroboros (a snake biting its own tail) encircling the pupil of his eye. The snake mark had been prophesied by his mother Aslaug, the daughter of the Valkyrie Brynhildr. In modern times, it has been suggested that the mark in Sigurd’s eye was a result of a congenital mutation of the PAX6 gene. As a boy, Sigurd was close to his father and accompanied Ragnar on a hazardous expedition through Russia to the Hellespont. Later on in life he is said to have sojourned for a time in Scotland and the Scottish Islands.   In 865 King Ella of Northumbria killed Ragnar Lodbrok in a pit of serpents. When Ragnar was suffering in the pit he is reputed to have exclaimed: “How the young pigs would squeal if they knew what the old boar suffers!”

Sigurd and his siblings learned of their father’s death when the king Ælla sent an envoy to alert them of it. When the brothers heard of their father’s death Sigurd is said to have cut himself to the bone with a knife he held in his hand and his brother Björn Ironside gripped his spear so tightly that the imprint of his fingers was left in the wood.

Sigurd and his brothers swore they would avenge his killing in time-honoured Viking tradition. The legend says that their first attempt failed, but through the treachery of the youngest brother, the notoriously cruel and cunning Ivar the Boneless, Ella was duped into a battle he could not win. In 866 they crossed the North Sea with a large army. This Great Heathen Army sacked York, met King Ella in battle and captured him. They sentenced him to die according to the custom of the Blood Eagle), an exceedingly painful death. It consisted of cutting away the ribs from the spine and pulling the lungs backward through the cavities formed to form the shape of an eagle.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigurd_Snake-in-the-Eye

This information is found only in the various sagas and there is no mention in the Saxon Chronicles. The date is listed as 865, and as I have already suggested, it could have been set as that because that is when they were made aware of it. It mentions that Aelle sent an envoy to boast of his accomplishment, but it could have taken some years for such an envoy to make the voyage, find the right people and finally deliver the message. It then might have taken some considerable time for the brothers to unite and plan their vengeance. It does state that an early attempt was made but failed. This would mean that the brothers would have had to return home, re-group and plan a better attack- that too could have taken some length of time. Given this theory, it would still be feasible that Ragnar died in the earlier time frame rather than 865. 

What is far more important about Sigurd’s connections is the rest of his history. Eventually, Sigurd  showed  up in the timelines as ruler of Denmark after 865. As I  have mentioned previously, there is some discrepancy and unrest with the ruling dynasties from about 860 until 866 when Sigurd shows up as ruling Denmark. Ragnar was listed as a King of Sweden during that time, as was son Bjorn. The histories of that time period  are uncertain.  I have already discussed the idea that there was a great deal of chaos during that time and it is more probable that Ragnar and Bjorn ruled at some earlier points. What is possible, is that in 866 or shortly after there was unrest and dispute over the rule after the death or de-throning of Horik’s son. Sigurd may have come forward with his claim to the throne through Ragnar as an earlier King and was able to win the title in that way. Ivar already had rule of Ireland, Bjorn was settled in Sweden so Sigurd may have had no brothers disputing or wanting this rule. What ever the case, Sigurd showed up in 866 as ruler and from then on the line continued from him, his descendent Gorm the Old on to present day!

Ragnarssona þáttr informs that when his father died, he inherited Zealand, Scania, Halland, the Danish islands, and Viken. He married Blaeja, the daughter of king Ælla of Northumbria and they had the children Harthacanute and Aslaug, who was named after her grandmother Aslaug. 

Harthacanute succeeded Sigurd as the king of Zealand, Scania and Halland, but he lost Viken. He was the father of Gorm the Old, the king of Denmark. Gorm succeeded his father as king and married Thyra, the daughter of the Jutish chieftain Harald Klak. When Harald died, Gorm took his kingdom too, and united Denmark.

Harald succeeded his father as king and married Gyrid of Sweden. They had a son named Sweyn Forkbeard. Sweyn succeeded his father as king and married Gunhild. They had a son named Cnut the Great. Sweyn also ruled England in his lifetime and established the Danish Empire. When Sweyn died, his elder son Harald Svendsen became the King of Denmark, as England’s former king, Ethelred reclaimed it. However, as Harald did not marry, his brother Cnut the Great became king, re-established the Danish Empire, and married Emma of Normandy. They had a son named Harthacnut. When Cnut died, Harthacnut became king of the Danish Empire, however, he lost England to Edward the Confessor in 1042.

Ok, we have now looked at most of the history and legend surrounding Horik and Ragnar…  it has left all of us bleary eyed and just as confused as ever. Yes, that does include me! So, where does all of this assorted information leave us or lead us? While it’s all of varying interest to those curious about this sort of thing, do we have any better understanding, ideas or clarity on what it all means or of what importance any of it actually is to the beginning premise or thought of either Horik, Ragnar Lodbrok or any of his descendants having some right to rule according to history?

I think that from what we have learned in piecing together the history and the legends, we can see that yes, there are definitely grains of truth in the legends. Because of this, we can not discount the legends in relation to actual history. I believe that I have managed to sort through those legends for the connecting bits of truth in them and present a view of history that brings the legends and history together. Hopefully, you have stuck with it and all of it makes some better sense to you.

Here is a brief summary of what we have learned.  All evidence leads us to some proof that a Ragnar/Randver and or a Ragnar Lodbrok did actually exist beginning with a time frame from possibly early 700s, stretching to and end in either 845 or 865. This is a span of  well over 100 years. Knowing this would be impossible if we look at him in the context of being a real person, we have come up with the theory that there was most likely more than one Ragnar. Ragnar/Randver is most likely the original patriarch of this entire dynasty of the Danes. King Horik has been proven through some history as having been a real ruler of the Danes and his ancestry puts him as a descendant of this earliest Ragnar. Ragnar Lodbrok was most probably a descendant of that early Ragnar as well, and would have been a relative of King Horik’s. Horik managed to claim the rule despite his Father’s insistence on a different relative ruling instead. Some time during the 840s Ragnar Lodbrok was involved in an attack of Paris and then suffered retribution for it from King Horik. Horik swore to the Frisians and Franks that he had no involvement in the attacks and that he had dealt with those responsible. After this point, Ragnar’s history and existence became murky, he disappeared from Denmark and later showed up in England as an unfortunate guest of King Aelle. Meanwhile, Horik was killed during that same time frame by an un-named exiled relative who went on to become a great raider. His son, Horik II became ruler as a child and ruled until about 866. During the 860s, sons of Ragnar Lodbrok were involved in the great Heathen invasions of England. It was during this time that they made claims of their Father, Ragnar Lodbrok being a King in Denmark. Some time after the initial invasions, when Horik’s son Horik II either died or was de-throned in Denmark, Ragnar Lodbrok’s son Sigurd took over rule and the line then continued through him on to his descendant, Gorm the Old to the present day. 

Gorm the Old

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

What all of the historical and legendary information leads us to is that both Horik and Ragnar Lodbrok could feasibly claim some blood inherited right to rule. For some reason, Horik’s Father, Gudfred had serious doubts about his own sons’ abilities to rule effectively and chose to leave the rule to a nephew, Hemming. Naturally, Gudfred’s sons disputed this decision, one of them killed Gudfred, Hemming was eventually defeated and the last son standing, Horik, claimed the throne. Ragnar Lodbrok was a part of this dynasty and may have actually ruled himself at one point during the early era. So, both men had some  legitimate right to the rule which would have allowed for Ragnar’s son Sigurd to claim the rule at a later point.  Horik’s line ended with his son and probably opened the door to Sigurd to step in and place his legitimate claim!

 

 

Vikings Season 4: Coming soon to a village near you!

 

peter-franzen-jasper-paakkonen-and-dianne-doan

peter-franzen-jasper-paakkonen-and-dianne-doan

Just a quick heads up on who will be arriving in Season 4! Peter Franzen, Jasper Paakonen and Dianne Doan will be sailing to our shores next raiding season.

Franzen, 43, will portray King Harald Finehair, a Scandinavian warrior and potential threat to Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), while Paakkonen, 34, is set to take on the role of Halfdan the Black, Finehair’s younger brother. Doan, on the other hand, will portray Yidu, a new and unique Chinese character who will have a big role in upcoming installment.

Franzen and Paakkonen are Finnish actors who both starred in the 2003 Finnish crime drama flick “Bad Boys,” which is also known as “Pahat pojat.” The film was the second most successful film in Finnish theatres after “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in 2003, taking in $4.78 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

Franzen recently appeared in the action thriller film “The Gunman,” which also stars Sean Penn, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance and Javier Bardem. His U.S. TV acting credits includes “True Blood” and “CSI: Miami.”

Doan, on the other hand, appeared on ABC’s fairy tale drama “Once Upon a Time” in 2013. She played Isra in Season 2, Episode 18, titled “Selfless, Brave and True.” She will be next seen in the TV movie “Descendants” and in the comedy flick “Last Night in Suburbia,” which will be out later this year.

http://www.designntrend.com/articles/49961/20150505/vikings-season-4-to-introduce-three-new-characters-actors-who-are-playing-them-spoilers.htm

I can only make some vague guesses as to whether or not any of these characters could be based on history. I am guessing that Doan’s unique Chinese Character is probably a fictional one, but it would go along with the history and fact that the Vikings traveled around to a wide variety of places. Historically, they traded with any number of other countries and cultures, and many of their larger port cities or villages would see these different travelers, either as trading merchants or as traded slaves. It will be interesting to see how she arrives and what important role her character ends up playing!

diane doan2

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3999319/

Jasper Paakonen’s character of Halfdan the Black is most likely based on the real Halfdan the Black of Viking history. This Halfdan should not be confused with another Halfdan that is mentioned in history as a son of Ragnar Lodbrok…

Halfdan the Black (Old Norse: Halfdanr Svarti) (c. 810 – c. 860) was a ninth-century king of Vestfold. He belonged to the House of Yngling and was the father of Harald Fairhair, the first king of Norway.

According to Heimskringla and Fagsrkinna, Halfdan was the son of the Yngling King Gudrød the Hunter. Heimskringla also names his mother, as Åsa, daughter of King Harald of Agder, and his half-brother as Olaf Geirstad-Alf. Heimskringla relates that when Halfdan’s father was killed, Åsa took the 1 year-old Halfdan and returned to Agder, where Halfdan was raised. When he was 18 or 19 years old, Halfdan became king of Agder. He quickly began adding to his kingdom, through political negotiation and military conquest. He divided the kingdom of Vestfold with his brother Olaf and, through military action, persuaded King Gandalf of Vingulmark to cede half his kingdom. Based on the formulaic nature of his ties to his predecessors, his strong affiliation with Agder, and the failure of an early saga dedicated to him to name any family connections, some scholars have suggested that the linkage to the earlier Yngling dynasty of Vestfold was a later invention, created to associate a conquering Halfdan and his son Harald Fairhair with the family glorified in the Ynglingatal, whom he had displaced.

Halfdan next is said to have subdued an area called Raumarike. To secure his claim to Raumarike, Halfdan first defeated and killed the previous ruler, Sigtryg Eysteinsson, in battle. He then defeated Sigtryg’s brother and successor Eystein, in a series of battles. This established Halfdan’s claim not only to Raumarike, but also to half of Hedmark, the core of Sigtryg and Eystein’s kingdom. These details are only mentioned in Heimskringla.

Fagrskinna and Heimskringla both agree that Halfdan’s first wife was Ragnhild, daughter of King Harald Gulskeg (Goldbeard) of Sogn. Halfdan and Ragnhild had a son named “Harald” after his grandfather, and they sent him to be raised at his grandfather’s court. Harald Gulskeg, being elderly, named his grandson as his successor, shortly before his death. Ragnhild died shortly after her father, and the young king Harald fell sick and died the next spring. When Halfdan heard about his son’s death, he travelled to Sogn and laid claim to the title of king. No resistance was offered, and Halfdan added Sogn to his realm.

The narrative in Heimskringla then adds another conquest for King Halfdan. In Vingulmark, the sons of Gandalf of Vingulmark, Hysing, Helsing, and Hake, attempted to ambush Halfdan at night, but he escaped into the forest. After raising an army, he returned to defeat the brothers, killing Hysing and Helsing. Hake fled the country, and Halfdan became king of all of Vingulmark.

According to Heimskringla, Halfdan’s second wife was also named Ragnhild. Ragnhild Sigurdsdotter was the daughter of Sigurd Hjort, king of Ringerike. She was kidnapped from her home by Hake, a “berserker” who encountered her father in Hadeland and killed him. In turn, Halfdan had her kidnapped from Hake, so that he could marry her. Fagrskinna does not mention any of these details, but calls Ragnhild the daughter of Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, who in Heimskringlas version is her great-grandfather. Both sagas agree that Ragnhild and Halfdan had a son who was also named Harald.

Norwegian_petty_kingdoms_ca__860

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

Jasper Paakkonen

jasper Paakkonen2 Jasper Paakanen

Jasper Pääkkönen (born 15 July 1980) is a Finnish film actor who has appeared and starred in over 15 films. According to a calculation published by Finnish tabloid IltaSanomat, Pääkkönen is “the most profitable film actor in Finland”[1] for having starred in numerous box office hits during his career.[2] Many of Pääkkönen’s films have made #1 in the Finnish box office, including Pahat Pojat (Bad Boys – a true story) which is the all time most successful film in Finnish box office. Other Pääkkönen’s commercial successes include Matti, Frozen Land and Lapland Odyssey. For his role in Pahat Pojat, Pääkkönen was awarded Best Actor Award in Brussels International Independent Film Festival. He has earned international praise from film critic Michael Giltz from Huffington Post magazine who called the actor “handsome and compelling” in his role in Lapland Odyssey. Film critic Leslie Felperin from Variety named Pääkkönen a “rising thesp, showing impressive range” at his starring role in Matti.[4] In 2006 the European Film Promotion introduced Pääkkönen as the Shooting Star of Finland  at the Berlin international film festival.

In 2009 Pääkkönen founded the Pokerisivut.com poker magazine together with film producer Markus Selin. In 2010 Pokerisivut.com was awarded Best Overall Affiliate at the London 2010 iGB Affiliate Awards.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jasper_P%C3%A4%C3%A4kk%C3%B6nen

Peter Franzen will portray a King Harald Finehair, a Scandinavian warrior and potential threat to Ragnar. My guess is that Hirst is tweaking the history and doing some combination of it in the characters of Harald Finehair and brother, Halfdan the Black.  In history, Halfdan the black was father to a son, Harald Fairhair!

Harald Fairhair (Old Norse: Haraldr Hárfagri, Norwegian: Harald Hårfagre; c. 850 – c. 932) was remembered by medieval historians as the first King of Norway. According to traditions current in Norway and Iceland in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, he reigned from c. 872 to 930. Most of his life remains uncertain, since the extant accounts of his life in the sagas were set down in writing around three centuries after his lifetime. A few remnants of skaldic praise poems attributed to contemporary court poets exist which seem to refer to Harald’s victories against opponents in Norway. The information supplied in these poems is inconsistent with the tales in the sagas in which they are transmitted, and the sagas themselves often disagree on the details of his background and biography.  Two of his sons, Eric Bloodaxe and Haakon the Good, succeeded Harald to become kings after his death.

The only contemporary sources mentioning him are the two skaldic poems Haraldskvæði and Glymdrápa, which have been attributed to Þorbjörn Hornklofi or alternatively (in the case of the first poem) to Þjóðólfr of Hvinir. The first poem has only been preserved in fragments in 13th century Kings’ sagas. It describes life at Harald’s court, mentions that he took a Danish wife, and that he won a battle at Hafrsfjord. The second relates a series of battles Harald won.

His life is described in several of the Kings’ sagas, none of them older than 12th century. Their accounts of Harald and his life differ on many points, and some of the content may be uncertain but it is clear that in the 12th and 13th centuries Harald was regarded as having unified Norway into one kingdom. Some modern historians have assumed that his rule was limited to the coastal areas of southern Norway though there is no contemporary evidence to support their claim nor any other concerning the life of Harald.

In Heimskringla, which is the most elaborate although not the oldest or most reliable source to the life of Harald, it is written that Harald succeeded, on the death of his father Halfdan the Black Gudrödarson, to the sovereignty of several small, and somewhat scattered kingdoms in Vestfold, which had come into his father’s hands through conquest and inheritance. His protector-regent was his mother’s brother Guthorm.

The unification of Norway is something of a love story. It begins with a marriage proposal that resulted in rejection and scorn from Gyda, the daughter of Eirik, king of Hordaland. She said she refused to marry Harald “before he was king over all of Norway”. Harald was therefore induced to take a vow not to cut nor comb his hair until he was sole king of Norway, and when he was justified in trimming it ten years later, he exchanged the epithet “Shockhead” or “Tanglehair” for the one by which he is usually known.

In 866, Harald made the first of a series of conquests over the many petty kingdoms which would compose all of Norway, including Värmland in Sweden, which had sworn allegiance to the Swedish king Erik Eymundsson. In 872, after a great victory at Hafrsfjord near Stavanger, Harald found himself king over the whole country. His realm was, however, threatened by dangers from without, as large numbers of his opponents had taken refuge, not only in Iceland, then recently discovered; but also in the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Hebrides Islands, Faroe Islands and the northern European mainland. However, his opponents’ leaving was not entirely voluntary. Many Norwegian chieftains who were wealthy and respected posed a threat to Harald; therefore, they were subjected to much harassment from Harald, prompting them to vacate the land. At last, Harald was forced to make an expedition to the West, to clear the islands and the Scottish mainland of some Vikings who tried to hide there.

The earliest narrative source which mentions Harald, the 12th century Íslendingabók notes that Iceland was settled during his lifetime. Harald is thus depicted as the prime cause of the Norse settlement of Iceland and beyond. Iceland was settled by “malcontents” from Norway, who resented Harald’s claim of rights of taxation over lands, which the possessors appear to have previously held in absolute ownership.

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

Peter Franzen:

peter franzen2 peter franzen3 Peter_Franzén4

Peter Franzén (born 14 August 1971) is a Finnish actor who has appeared in over 40 films and TV series. Of these, the most famous are A Summer by the River, Ambush, Mustan kissan kuja, Badding, On the Road to Emmaus, Rölli ja metsänhenki, Kuutamolla, Bad Boys, Dog Nail Clipper, Matti, Hellsinki and Kerron sinulle kaiken. For his role in Dog Nail Clipper, Franzén was awarded a Jussi Award for Best Actor  as well as earning praise from film critic Jay Weissberg from Variety magazine who called the actor “one of the most talented and versatile thesps in Finland”.

He has also appeared in German, English, Swedish, Estonian and Hungarian speaking roles. Franzén had a role as a Russian corpse in one episode of CSI: Miami, and more recently was cast for a small part as a police officer in the movie Cleaner by Renny Harlin. In 2009, Franzén had a small role as a Swedish Viking in the True Blood episode Never Let Me Go.

Franzén was born in Keminmaa. In 1999, Franzén moved to Los Angeles with his actress wife, Irina Björklund, where they have lived ever since.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Franz%C3%A9n

An interesting side note for these two characters… In some variations of the Norse history sagas, there is debate and difference of who Halfdan married. According to Heimskringla, Halfdan’s second wife was also named Ragnhild. Ragnhild Sigurdsdotter was the daughter of Sigurd Hjort, king of Ringerike. She was kidnapped from her home by Hake, a “berserker” who encountered her father in Hadeland and killed him. In turn, Halfdan had her kidnapped from Hake, so that he could marry her. Fagrskinna does not mention any of these details, but calls Ragnhild the daughter of Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, who in Heimskringlas version is her great-grandfather. Both sagas agree that Ragnhild and Halfdan had a son who was also named Harald.

What is most interesting for next season is that with the jump in time that Hirst has already confirmed,  I think that we will see many more portrayals and representations of actual, documented historical figures from Viking history. The history will become far more documented rather than legends as the groups move forward in their expansions and raids in various parts of the world!

So, Ragnar must not only contend with his current ailments and personal agendas in the future, he will also face fierce competition for his lands and his title on his home front! From the sounds of it, he had best recover quickly both in mind and body to face this new force waiting for him! As the Seer has reminded him, Things do not bode well for you Ragnar Lothbrok!

ragnar watches rollo from the boat

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings Usurper: Bjorn’s Destiny

 

sword of kings

Well, we arrived back in Kattegat and it went much as I expected. Rollo was devastated by the news of Siggy, just I as feared. I think his devastation and grief went much deeper though, and the loss of Siggy was just the final breaking point for him?

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/vikings-a-long-held-secret-revealed-deleted-scenes/

Just to give you a better understanding and feeling for Rollo’s unsaid feelings about Siggy, you can view this deleted scene in which he expresses his rage when Siggy put distance between herself and him.

/3×01-rollo-siggy-extended-scenehttp://voices-in-the-breezes.tumblr.com/post/111615649799

I believe that Siggy knew in her heart that it was not their fate to be together. Perhaps she was already having premonitions about the future.  Some would say that her treatment of him was cold, harsh and even cruel but I think that she knew his destiny and path would go elsewhere and she wanted him to be strong enough to face it on his own without her. She was one of the few people who could push him to that limit and force him to face himself and his fears. So,  yes he was devastated and broken by her loss, it also caused him to face all of the losses and failures in his life. The question now is, how will he choose to go on with his life. Siggy saw something great within him but he needs to see it himself and stop doubting himself. Ahhhh, he should also probably stop drinking to excess… it is causing him nothing but problems and seriously clouding his judgement!

Rollo and the Seer  I paid you good spit for that advice

Before we go on with everything else that has happened, we should talk about that mysterious advice the Seer gave to Ragnar and Rollo about the future. It was a cryptic message, “Not the living but the dead will conquer Paris and The Bear will be crowned by a Princess” He told Ragnar that this did not bode well for him, but he told Rollo that if he knew the things the God has in store for him he would dance naked on the beach!

ragnar seeks advice and recieves a criptic answer that does not bode well for his future

ragnar seeks advice and recieves a criptic answer that does not bode well for his future

Not living  but the dead will conquer Paris

Not living but the dead will conquer Paris

I tell you as I told Ragnar The bear will marry a princess and you will be there in attendance to see it

I tell you as I told Ragnar The bear will marry a princess and you will be there in attendance to see it

I don lie but sometimes I with hold things for human beings can not bear to much of reality

I don lie but sometimes I with hold things for human beings can not bear to much of reality

As I said, this was a stranger than usual message and many have speculated over it’s possible meanings? Some have pondered on whether this pertains to Rollo himself marrying a Princess… I have it on good authority that he does eventually, but this may not be exactly what the Seer was referring to.  A long time ago, Ragnar asked the Seer about his sons and the Seer foresaw much greatness for one who would travel the seas and become most powerful… I believe that the Seer is again making reference to one of Ragnar’s sons in this most recent message.

Bjorn

In order to understand this message better, we need to know more about the history and the futures in store for some of these men… namely Rollo and Bjorn! I have read a great deal about Rollo’s destiny and have never read any reference to him being referred to or described as a bear. Bjorn, however is a different matter… his name literally means Bear! So, let us look at what the future, or history tells us of Bjorn?

Björn Ironside (Old Norse: Bjǫrn Járnsíða, Icelandic: Björn Járnsíða, Swedish: Björn Järnsida) was a legendary king of Sweden who lived sometime in the 9th century. Björn Ironside is said to have been the first ruler of the Munsö dynasty. In the early 18th century, a barrow, on the island of Munsö was claimed by antiquarians to be Björn Järnsidas hög or Björn Ironside’s grave. Hög, from the Old Norse word haugr, means barrow or mound.

 

Bjorn Ironside's grave site at Munso

Bjorn Ironside’s grave site at Munso

 

The Tale of Ragnar’s Sons (Ragnarssona þáttr) tells that he was the son of the Scandinavian king Ragnar Lodbrok and Aslaug, and that he had the brothers Hvitserk, Ivar the Boneless and Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, and the half-brothers Fridleif, Eric and Agnar.

 

Later Björn and his brothers pillaged in England, Wales, France, and Italy, until they came to the town Luna in Italy. When they came back to Scandinavia, they divided the kingdom so that Björn Ironside took Uppsala and Sweden.

History of House of Munso:

 House of Munsö
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
The House of Munsö  is one of the names of a protohistoric Swedish dynasty. Its early members of the 8th or 9th century are legendary or semi-legendary, while its later scions of the 10th to 11th centuries are historical.

It is also known as the House of Ivar Vidfamne, the House of Uppsala, or simply the Old Dynasty. Munsö is the island where a barrow has been claimed to be the grave of Björn Ironside, a legendary founding member.

The sagas, such as the Hervarar saga, contain extensive information on this dynasty for as many as 10 generations, but although, some of the 9th-century kings are held to be historical,  modern Swedish historiography begins it with the late 10th-century king, Eric the Victorious. The king Björn, who was the father of Eric the Victorious, according to the sagas, is not accepted as historical by critical historians. Uunlike another 10th-century king named Emund Eriksson who appears in the work of Adam of Bremen.

For easy reference on legendary, semi-legendary and historical members of the dynasty (including some generations before Björn Ironside), the following family tree is based on Hervarar saga, and the uncertain identification of Styrbjörn the Strong and Tyra as the parents of Thorgils Sprakalägg.  The connection with the House of Estridsen which began with Sweyn II of Denmark is consequently uncertain (the Swedish kings are in bold):

            Sigurd Ring
                 |
           Ragnar Lodbrok
                 |
     ------------------------------------------------------
     |           |              |           |             |
  Ivar [9]  Björn Ironside [10] Sigurd [11]  Ubba     Halfdan/Hvitserk
                 |
        ------------------
        |                |
 Erik Björnsson        Refil
         |               |
         |           Erik Refilsson
         |               
       ----------------------
       |                   |
 Björn at Hauge      Anund Uppsale
                           |                     
                    Erik Anundsson
                           |
                   Björn (III) Eriksson                      Gorm "den Gamle (the Old)" King of Denmark
                           |                                                        |         
           --------------------------------                             Harold I "Bluetooth" of Denmark
           |                              |                                    |
   Eric the Victorious             Olof (II) Björnsson                  ---------------  
           |                              |                             |             |
   Olof Skötkonung                 Styrbjörn the Strong    Tyra            |        
           |                              |                             |             |
           -------------------------      -------------------------------             |
           |                       |                     |                            |
   Anund Jacob                Emund the Old       Thorgils Sprakalägg[12]         Sweyn Forkbeard
                                   |                     |                            |
                                   |                     |                            |
                      Anund Emundsson, heir              |                            |
                                                         |                            |
                                                     Ulf Jarl               Estrid Svendsdatter
                                                         |                            | 
                                                         ------------------------------
                                                                        |
                                                                 Sweyn Estridson
                                                                        |
                                                                   Danish kings

Full list of Swedish kings. The names in parentheses are kings who are not mentioned in Hervarar saga, but who are mentioned in other sources:

Aslaug, Ragnar’s wife and the mother of his sons, was the daughter of Sigurd, whose ancestor Sigi was a descendant of Odin. Therefore, the entire house of Munso (and all their descendants) are descended from Odin.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Muns%C3%B6

There has been no mention of who Bjorn’s wife ever was, so we can not say for certain who he marries. Does former slave girl turned shieldmaiden, Porunn recover enough from her physical and emotional injuries to marry Bjorn? At this point, unless she is withholding some unknown secret as to her identity and really is a princess, I doubt that this will happen. I think ultimately, Porunn and Bjorn are probably history… even though she does bear him a child. She is suffering emotionally from her injury and I’m just not sure whether their relationship will withstand the pressure and turmoil that she is putting on both of them.

porrun's face in the mirror

porrun’s face in the mirror

porunn how can you help me no one can help me

porunn how can you help me no one can help me

I do not want help from anyone!

I do not want help from anyone!

She has told Bjorn to leave her alone and he takes her at her word, saying she is a grown woman, if she needs my help, she will ask for it. So, Bjorn leaves her alone and goes on with his own plans to head to Paris with his Father.  The proposed attack on Paris brings us to the Seer’s message of “Not the living, but the dead shall conquer Paris”. This message could be referring to an event  that  Bjorn Ironside was involved in.  A powerful Viking chieftain and naval commander, Björn and his brother Hastein conducted many (mostly successful) raids in France in a continuation of the tradition initiated by their father Ragnar Lodbrok. In 860, Björn led a large Viking raid into the Mediterranean. After raiding down the Spanish coast and fighting their way through Gibraltar, Björn and Hastein pillaged the south of France, where his fleet over-wintered, before landing in Italy where they captured the coastal city of Pisa. They proceeded inland to the town of Luna, which they believed to be Rome at the time, but Björn found himself unable to breach the town walls. To gain entry, he sent messengers to the bishop to say that he had died, had a deathbed conversion, and wished to be buried on consecrated ground within their church. He was brought into the chapel with a small honor guard, then amazed the dismayed Italian clerics by leaping from his coffin and hacking his way to the town gates, which he promptly opened, letting his army in. Flush with this victory and others around the Mediterranean (including in Sicily and North Africa) he returned to the Straits of Gibraltar only to find the Saracen navy from Al-Andalus waiting for him. In the desperate battle that followed, Björn lost 40 ships, largely to a form of Greek fire launched from Saracen catapults. The remainder of his fleet managed to return to Scandinavia, however, where he lived out his life as a rich man.

In history, Rollo was also involved in raids on Paris.

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

In 885, Rollo was one of the lesser leaders of the Viking fleet which besieged Paris under Sigfred. Legend has it that an emissary was sent by the king to find the chieftain and negotiate terms. When he asked for this information, the Vikings replied that they were all chieftains in their own right. In 886, when Sigfred retreated in return for tribute, Rollo stayed behind and was eventually bought off and sent to harry Burgundy.

Later, he returned to the Seine with his followers (known as Danes, or Norsemen). He invaded the area of northern France now known as Normandy. In 911 the Vikings under Rollo again launched an attack on Paris before laying siege to Chartres. The Bishop of Chartres, Joseaume, made an appeal for help which was answered by Robert, Marquis of Neustria, Richard, Duke of Burgundy and Manasses, Count of Dijon. On 20 July 911, at the Battle of Chartres, Frankish forces defeated Rollo despite the absence of many French barons and also the absence of the French King Charles the Simple.   

While Rollo’s historical conquest of Paris ended in defeat, he did end up making an alliance with King Charles. 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. So, while he may have lost Paris, he gained Normandy and a princess for a wife!  This fact causes us to wonder just which of the two men the Seer is referring to in his prophecy of the Bear and the Princess!

My personal thought is that it has more to do with Bjorn right now, since the Seer made reference to Ragnar that it would not bode so well for him? Of course seeing Rollo best him in this way would not necessarily sit well with him… but there is more the idea that a Father holds jealousy of  sons and fears of his sons achieving more greatness than him. In the Tale of Ragnar’s sons, Ragnar was jealous of his sons.

Ragnar was jealous with his sons’ successes, and set Eysteinn Beli as the jarl of Sweden, telling him to protect Sweden from his sons. He then went east across the Baltic Sea to pillage and to show his own skills.

Ragnar’s sons Eric and Agnar then sailed into Lake Mälaren and sent a message to king Eysteinn that they wanted him to submit to Ragnar’s sons, and Eric said that he wanted Eysteinn’s daughter Borghild as wife. Eysteinn said that he first wanted to consult the Swedish chieftains. The chieftains said no to the offer, and ordered an attack on the rebellious sons. A battle ensued and Eric and Agnar were overwhelmed by the Swedish forces, whereupon Agnar died and Eric was taken prisoner.

Eysteinn offered Eric as much of Uppsala öd as he wanted, and Borghild, in wergild for Agnar. Eric proclaimed that after such a defeat he wanted nothing but to choose the day of his own death. Eric asked to be impaled on spears that raised him above the dead and his wish was granted.

In Zealand, Björn, Aslaug and her son Hvitserk, who had been playing tafl, became upset and sailed to Sweden with a large army. Aslaug, calling herself Randalin, rode with cavalry across the land. In a great battle they killed Eysteinn.

Ragnar was not happy that his sons had taken revenge without his help, and decided to conquer England with only two knarrs. King Ælla of Northumbria defeated Ragnar and threw him into a snake pit where he died.

Björn and his brothers attacked Ælla but were beaten back. Asking for peace and wergild, Ivar the Boneless tricked Ælla into giving him an area large enough to build the town of York. Ivar made himself popular in England and asked his brothers to attack again. During the battle Ivar sided with his brothers and so did many of the English chieftains with their people, in loyalty to Ivar. Ælla was taken captive and in revenge they carved the blood eagle on him.

There is something else, a forgotten event from the past that makes me think this has much to do with Bjorn right now. That has to do with the events of King Horik’s death and his son’s return with new wife Torvi. Before King Horik died, he had a discussion with his son about the importance of the sword? “This is sword of Kings, one day if the Gods will it, it will belong to you.”

this is the sword of kings one day if the gods will it this will belong to you

this is the sword of kings one day if the gods will it this will belong to you

Ragnar of course killed Horik, and the last image we saw of that sword was in Bjorn’s hand.

the sword of kings in bjorn's hand

Bjorn’s destiny….

 

 

Bjorn, the Bear, will eventually be crowned a King… will he marry a princess? Or is the Seer leading us all along and mixing the prophecies just to confuse us more than we already are? And, if he has a destiny to be crowned by a princess or married to a princess, who is that princess.   For historical purposes, let’s clear up a bit more on this prophecy. While Rollo does indeed marry a princess, he is never crowned a King or a prince… He held the title of Duke or Count of Normandy. That would preclude him from being the one crowned. Ragnar is already a King and already has wife so that leaves him out as far as this prophecy goes. The only one remaining would be our Bjorn, so who might he marry? Well, we have already discussed the improbability of Porunn unless as I’ve mentioned, she has a secret past that even she is not aware of. We can not rule that out completely because stranger things have happened! But, if we are talking about secrets, strange twists and the guessing game of possibilities here… my thought is of another one young woman whom we know very little about other than the fact that she has just recently shown back up. That young woman would be the poor victimized Torvi!

I refer to her as victimized because I think she is just another pawn in the ways of men who rule her life. If you recall, Torvi is the widow of  Jarl Borg. When we last saw her, she was enduring life with Jarl Borg and his first wife…

jarl borg and his wives at home jarl borg caressing his wife's skull Jarl borg and his second wife   This is a disgusting place I want to leave here

After Jarl borg’s demise, she disappeared and we knew not what had happened to her and her unborn child. Just recently, she has arrived in Hedeby married to King Horik’s son Erlanduer… Yes, that would be the same young son who is now missing his rightful sword and crown! Erlandeur has come to visit Kalf in some as yet unknown scheme to overthrow all of the Lothbroks. I have no idea what will happen there as Kalf later decides to throw his lot in with Ragnar on the trip to Paris… and brings Erlandeur along?

you may recall the fate of Ragnar's enemy  Yarl Borg

you may recall the fate of Ragnar’s enemy Yarl Borg

we are natural allies against the Lothbroks and all their kith and kin

we are natural allies against the Lothbroks and all their kith and kin

Torvi does not look any happier in this new marriage than she did in her first. Now, though she also has a son and heir to be concerned for. Her son is the heir of Jarl Borg and now at the mercy of any treachery that Erlandeur might be capable of.  Obviously, Erlandeur married Torvi to gain acess and claim Jarl Borg’s land and title, and once he has it, I fear this child and even Torvi could fall victim to some “accidental” death?

meet my wife Torvi

meet my wife Torvi

Jarl Borg's heir apparant

Jarl Borg’s heir apparent

Erlandeur did not appear too excited or happy about Kalf’s comments concerning the baby being the very image of his esteemed father, Jarl Borg…

Ahhh look he is the image of the great jarl borg

Ahhh look he is the image of the great jarl borg

I know that I am far stretching the boundaries of guesses and predictions here but, we know very little of Torvi’s past, or who she is related to. She would most likely have some good ties or connections for Jarl Borg to have married her in the first place, and for Erlandeur to then marry her as well.  Now, my predictions and guesses are just that… I have no in with the Seer and I’m all out of spit to pay him?

Seer as counselor  What do you think

My thoughts and guesses are just where my mind wanders to in the middle of  the night as I wonder about the future! Torvi has some reason or meaning in showing up now with the sleazy little slime Erlandeur… She does not look happy to once again be involved in these power schemes but has little choice in the matter right now.

As I mentioned, Kalf has supposedly set aside his scheming with Erlandeur to accept Ragnar’s  invitation to join the raid on Paris. This whole situation has not set well with Lagertha but that is a whole different story! The Seer and ummm yes, previews have shown that Kalf and Erlandeur head to Paris with Ragnar. Now, Ragnar is no fool, he most likely knows  of these behind his back plots and has his own plans to counteract them.

kalf ready to raid ragnar greets kalf torvi not helga xkalf-brings-erlendur-along-vikings-s3e6_jpg_pagespeed_ic_-CKb7sGodaCSJbPdY55R

So, now here is where I go out on my limb with far fetched guessing and predictions. The powers that be- as in Michael Hirst, the creator, have already stated that Kalf is a long term character. That being stated, he obviously will not meet his demise in Paris… but sleazy weasel, Erlandeur- who Ragnar should have done away with immediately… My humble prediction is that Kalf is working with Ragnar and Erlandeur may meet his timely demise there in Paris. That would leave the widow Torvi a widow once again, and realistically since Erlandeur was once a Prince, wouldn’t that in a way make her a princess? She would have a much better future with Bjorn that with any of her other prospects, and besides if Bjorn marries her in the end, that pretty much puts an end to the land and title squabbles other than the one over Hedeby… Kalf has been told that he will have to work that squabble out with Lagertha as it seems to be a personal matter between them…” And, good luck with that” was Ragnar’s parting comment to Kalf on that subject!

you betrayed me and you planned a long time to do it

you betrayed me and you planned a long time to do it

that is between you and my ex-wife  and I wish you good luck on that one!

that is between you and my ex-wife and I wish you good luck on that one!

you desired me  what am I suppose to do with that

you desired me what am I suppose to do with that

what do you want to do with it

As to the events in England, and the fate of Athelstan, I am so distressed over them that I will deal with them when the fallout hits us this week! I am praying for poor Judith… it does not bode well for her or her child, and in that vein I pray for Athelstan as well. I think he may not survive the continued religious warring that is coming full force.

I do need to add that the most recent events were so terrifying and troublesome, they left me heavy hearted but in all of that darkness, there was one ray of light… Ragnar rallied his villagers to the cause of Paris, worked magic on the crowd for the most part and you could feel hope for the future in the star struck and awe filled face of one little girl as she listened to his speech. If she survives and heads on to the future, I can imagine her filled with this inspiration and passing it down to her own descendants. Who knows what greatness she might instill in them, maybe from this one lasting moment her descendants will be the likes of those such as Leif Erickson!

Ragnar inspires even the youngest

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

And, out of tragedy come resilience in the form of two women who will be forever tied together by one great fallen Warrior, Torstein. I believe that they will set aside any petty personal squabbles and raise their two children together, honoring their brave Father’s memory!

a look of shared grief from both women the women leave together

Tribute to Torstein

My last lighter thoughts before we head to Paris…  Some new hair for our men! I have to say, Rollo- I am lovin that battle hair you’ve got and I can’t wait to meet you in Paris! And, Kalf… Kalf, I hardly recognized you in your new battle mode-I hope it’s a good omen and you don’t turn out to be such a bad guy after all! cause even though I agree with you partially on the whole Earldom situation with Lagertha, you went about it in all the wrong ways. She did not deserve that and if you’re gonna turn decent now, you got a lot sucking up to do to make up for that!

rollo's new hair do ragnar greets kalf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Viking history and culture: Shetland celebrates Up Helly Aa Viking fire festival

While I was preoccupied with the past history of the Vikings, the Shetland Isles in northern Scotland were busy celebrating their own connection and Viking heritage!

Shetland’s annual Up Helly Aa fire festival has been celebrated, culminating in the burning of a replica Viking ship.

The spectacular event celebrating Shetland’s Viking heritage was held in Lerwick on Tuesday.

A band of latter-day Viking warriors known as the Jarl Squad marched through the town, recreating its history.

Hundreds processed with flaming torches which were thrown into a longship that had been dragged through Lerwick.

Volunteers had built the boat and produced more than 1,000 torches, with preparations for the event beginning in October.

 

Up helly Aa Viking festival on shetland Isles Up hely Aa festivalup helly Aa festival

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-30999590

Up Helly Aa (/ˈʌphɛliə/ UP-he-lee-ə) refers to any of a variety of fire festivals held in Shetland, in Scotland, annually in the middle of winter to mark the end of the yule season. The festival involves a procession of up to a thousand guizers in Lerwick and considerably lower numbers in the more rural festivals, formed into squads who march through the town or village in a variety of themed costumes.

The current Lerwick celebration grew out of the older yule tradition of tar barrelling which took place at Christmas and New Year as well as Up Helly Aa. Squads of young men would drag barrels of burning tar through town on sledges, making mischief. After the abolition of tar barrelling around 1874–1880, permission was eventually obtained for torch processions. The first yule torch procession took place in 1876. The first torch celebration on Up Helly Aa day took place in 1881. The following year the torchlit procession was significantly enhanced and institutionalised through a request by a Lerwick civic body to hold another Up Helly Aa torch procession for the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh.  The first galley was introduced and burned in 1889.

There is a main guizer who is dubbed the “Jarl“. There is a committee which a person must be part of for 15 years before one can be a jarl, and only one person is elected to this committee each year.

The procession culminates in the torches being thrown into a replica Viking longship or galley. The event happens all over Shetland and is currently celebrated at ten locations – Scalloway, Lerwick, Nesting and Girlsta, Uyeasound, Northmavine, Bressay, Cullivoe, Norwick, the South Mainland and Delting.

After the procession, the squads visit local halls (including schools, sports facilities and hotels), where private parties are held. At each hall, each squad performs its act, which may be a send-up of a popular TV show or film, a skit on local events, or singing or dancing.

According to John Jamieson‘s Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language (1818),  up is used in the sense of something being at an end, and derives from the Old Norse word uppi which is still used in Faroese and Icelandic, while helly refers to a holy day or festival. The Scottish National Dictionary defines helly, probably derived from the Old Norse helgr (helgi in the dative and accusative case, meaning a holiday or festival), as “[a] series of festive days, esp. the period in which Christmas festivities are held from 25th Dec. to 5th Jan.”,  while aa may represent a’, meaning “all

Up Helly Aa Official website:  

http://www.uphellyaa.org/

Heritage: Up Helly Aa is a chance for multiple generations on the Shetland Isles to celebrate their Norse heritage!

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2929223/Vikings-descend-Shetlands-Hundreds-fire-wielding-visitors-march-town-annual-Helly-Aa-festival-marking-Islands-ancient-past.html#ixzz3Q6yznygF

up helly Aa fest2 up helly Aa fest3 up helly Aa fest4

 

Shetland (/ˈʃɛtlənd/; Scottish Gaelic: Sealtainn), also called the Shetland Islands, is a subarctic archipelago of Scotland that lies north-east of the island of Great Britain and forms part of the United Kingdom.

Shetland-Islands-006 shetland

The islands lie some 80 km (50 mi) to the northeast of Orkney and 280 km (170 mi) southeast of the Faroe Islands and form part of the division between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east. The total area is 1,468 km  (567 sq mi)[1] and the population totalled 23,167 in 2011.  Comprising the Shetland constituency of the Scottish Parliament, Shetland is also one of the 32 council areas of Scotland; the islands’ administrative centre and only burgh is Lerwick.

Humans have lived there since the Mesolithic period, and the earliest written references to the islands date back to Roman times. The early historic period was dominated by Scandinavian influences, especially Norway, and the islands did not become part of Scotland until the 15th century. When Shetland became part of the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707, trade with northern Europe decreased.

The local way of life reflects the joint Norse and Scottish heritage including the Up Helly Aa fire festival, and a strong musical tradition, especially the traditional fiddle style. The islands have produced a variety of writers of prose and poetry, many of whom use the local Shetlandic dialect.

The islands’ motto, which appears on the Council’s coat of arms, is Með lögum skal land byggja. This Icelandic phrase is taken from Njáls saga and means “By law shall the land be built up.

In AD 43 and 77 the Roman authors Pomponius Mela and Pliny the Elder referred to the seven islands they call Haemodae and Acmodae respectively, both of which are assumed to be Shetland. Another possible early written reference to the islands is Tacitus‘ report in AD 98, after describing the discovery and conquest of Orkney, that the Roman fleet had seen “Thule, too”. In early Irish literature, Shetland is referred to as Inse Catt—”the Isles of Cats”, which may have been the pre-Norse inhabitants’ name for the islands. The Cat tribe also occupied parts of the northern Scottish mainland and their name can be found in Caithness, and in the Gaelic name for Sutherland (Cataibh, meaning “among the Cats”).

The oldest version of the modern name Shetland is Hetlandensis, the Latinised adjectival form of the Old Norse name recorded in a letter from Harald count of Shetland in 1190,  becoming Hetland in 1431 after various intermediate transformations. It is possible that the Pictish “cat” sound forms part of this Norse name. It then became Hjaltland in the 16th century.

As Norn was gradually replaced by Scots, Hjaltland became Ȝetland. The initial letter is the Middle Scots letter, “yogh“, the pronunciation of which is almost identical to the original Norn sound, “/hj/“. When the use of the letter yogh was discontinued, it was often replaced by the similar-looking letter z, hence Zetland, the misspelt form used to describe the pre-1975 county council.

Most of the individual islands have Norse names, although the derivations of some are obscure and may represent pre-Norse, possibly Pictish or even pre-Celtic names or elements.

 

Due to the practice, dating to at least the early Neolithic, of building in stone on virtually treeless islands, Shetland is extremely rich in physical remains of the prehistoric eras and there are over 5,000 archaeological sites all told.  A midden site at West Voe on the south coast of Mainland, dated to 4320–4030 BC, has provided the first evidence of Mesolithic human activity on Shetland.  The same site provides dates for early Neolithic activity and finds at Scord of Brouster in Walls have been dated to 3400 BC.  “Shetland knives” are stone tools that date from this period made from felsite from Northmavine.

Pottery shards found at the important site of Jarlshof also indicate that there was Neolithic activity there although the main settlement dates from the Bronze Age. This includes a smithy, a cluster of wheelhouses and a later broch. The site has provided evidence of habitation during various phases right up until Viking times.  Heel-shaped cairns, are a style of chambered cairn unique to Shetland, with a particularly large example on Vementry.

Numerous brochs were erected during the Iron Age. In addition to Mousa there are significant ruins at Clickimin, Culswick, Old Scatness and West Burrafirth, although their origin and purpose is a matter of some controversy.  The later Iron Age inhabitants of the Northern Isles were probably Pictish, although the historical record is sparse. Hunter (2000) states in relation to King Bridei I of the Picts in the sixth century AD: “As for Shetland, Orkney, Skye and the Western Isles, their inhabitants, most of whom appear to have been Pictish in culture and speech at this time, are likely to have regarded Bridei as a fairly distant presence.”  In 2011, the collective site, “The Crucible of Iron Age Shetland“, including Broch of Mousa, Old Scatness and Jarlshof, joined the UKs “Tentative List” of World Heritage Sites.

 

The expanding population of Scandinavia led to a shortage of available resources and arable land there and led to a period of Viking expansion, the Norse gradually shifting their attention from plundering to invasion.  Shetland was colonised during the late 8th and 9th centuries,  the fate of the existing indigenous population being uncertain. Modern Shetlanders have almost identical proportions of Scandinavian matrilineal and patrilineal genetic ancestry, suggesting that the islands were settled by both men and women in equal measure.

Vikings then made the islands the headquarters of pirate expeditions carried out against Norway and the coasts of mainland Scotland. In response, Norwegian king Harald Hårfagre (“Harald Fair Hair”) annexed the Northern Isles (comprising Orkney and Shetland) in 875.  Rognvald Eysteinsson received Orkney and Shetland from Harald as an earldom as reparation for the death of his son in battle in Scotland, and then passed the earldom on to his brother Sigurd the Mighty.

The islands were Christianised in the late 10th century. King Olav Tryggvasson summoned the jarl Sigurd the Stout during a visit to Orkney and said, “I order you and all your subjects to be baptised. If you refuse, I’ll have you killed on the spot and I swear I will ravage every island with fire and steel.” Unsurprisingly, Sigurd agreed and the islands became Christian at a stroke.  Unusually, from c. 1100 onwards the Norse jarls owed allegiance both to Norway and to the Scottish crown through their holdings as Earls of Caithness.

In 1194, when Harald Maddadsson was Earl of Orkney and Shetland, a rebellion broke out against King Sverre Sigurdsson of Norway. The Øyskjeggs (“Island Beardies”) sailed for Norway but were beaten in the Battle of Florvåg near Bergen. After his victory King Sverre placed Shetland under direct Norwegian rule, a state of affairs that continued for nearly two centuries.

What is important to remember in any discussion of Viking history and about these islands it that while we tend to group all of the Vikings into one singular category, there were actually two separate groups of Viking invaders and raiders.  This map shows a basic representation of those groups and where they sought out territories. The Norse Vikings followed paths to Northern Scotland and Ireland, including the Shetland and Orkney Isles, and from Ireland they raided the western coasts of Britain. The Dane Vikings followed a more southern path in historical accounts, landing them in southern Britain, northern Germany, and eventually parts of France.  I have made mention of this aspect before in discussions of the Vikings saga and their landing at Lindisfarne. It was more likely that it was Norse Vikings landing there in 793 than Ragnar and his Danish Vikings! But, understandably, the Lindisfarne event did provide a good story point for Michael Hirst to use in developing the Vikings story line.

Lindisfarne793

In a more accurate look and comparison of the two groups, The Norse Vikings were more successful in their conquest of the northern areas. They maintained control of the Orkneys and the Shetland Isles until the 1400s. The Dane Vikings were successful in the southern portions for a much shorter length of time. Their demise came with the death of the Danish king Cnut in 1035.

Cnut the Great  (Old Norse: Knútr inn ríki;  c. 985 or 995 – 12 November 1035), more commonly known as Canute, was a king of Denmark, England, Norway, and parts of Sweden, together often referred to as the Anglo-Scandinavian or North Sea Empire. After his death, the deaths of his heirs within a decade, and the Norman conquest of England in 1066, his legacy was largely lost to history. Historian Norman Cantor has made the statement that he was “the most effective king in Anglo-Saxon history”, despite not being Anglo-Saxon. 

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

Cnut the great

Cnut the great

 

One interesting theory and legend about the Shetland isles does connect to Ragnar Lodbrok and  Rollo of history, but not necessarily Ragnar or Rollo of the Vikings saga!

Rognvald Eysteinsson (fl. 865) sometimes referred to with the bynames of “the Wise” or “the Powerful” was the Earl of  Møre in Norway and a key figure in the founding of the Earldom of Orkney. Three quite different sources for the creation of the Norse earldom on Orkney and Shetland exist. The best known are those in the Norse Sagas but older evidence is found in the Historia Norvegiae and the Fragmentary Annals of Ireland. This last source refers to a “Ragnall son of Albdan” who was active in Orkney in 865. The Historia includes a brief reference to Rognvald, which events are also referred to in the saga material.

The saga sources have much to say about Rognvald, his relationship to the Norwegian king Harald Fairhair, his brother and sons, and the founding of the Orkney and Møre earldoms. However, these are not contemporary, having been written down some three centuries after the events described, and must be treated with considerable care.

The oldest account that may refer to Rognvald and the earldom of Orkney is that found in the Fragmentary Annals of Ireland.

The annals make Rognvald the son of “Halfdan, King of Lochlann.” This is generally understood to mean Halfdan the Black, which would make the Rognvald of the annals the brother of Harald Fairhair. However, the later Norse sagas claim that Rognvald’s grandfather was named Halfdan.

These events are placed after an account of the devastation of Fortriu, dated to around 866, and the mention of an eclipse confirms a date of 865. The entry goes on to describe Ragnall’s older sons raiding in Spain and North Africa but there is no specific mention of the earldom and it is by no means certain that this Ragnall is to be identified with Rognvald Eysteinsson. Runic inscriptions found inside Maeshowe dating to the 12th century mention that the mound was “built before Loðbrók”, perhaps meaning Ragnar Lodbrok and it has been suggested that the Irish fragment may refer to this legendary 9th century saga character.

Norse sagas

“Snorri Sturluson”, 13th century compiler of the Heimskringla by Christian Krohg (1890s)

The saga accounts are the best known, and the latest, of the three surviving traditions concerning Rognvald and the foundation of the Earldom of Orkney. Written, long after the events they describe, their contents must be treated with caution as a literal or accurate version of history.

In the Orkneyinga saga Rognvald was made the Earl of Møre by King Harald Fairhair. The Heimskringla recounts that Rognvald caused Harald Fairhair to be given his byname by cutting and dressing his hair, which had been uncut for ten years on account of his vow never to cut it until he was ruler of all Norway.  Rognvald then accompanied the king on a great military expedition. First the islands of Shetland and Orkney were cleared of vikings who had been raiding Norway and then continued on to Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. During this campaign Rognvald’s son Ivarr was killed and in compensation Harald granted Rognvald Orkney and Shetland. Rognvald himself returned to Norway, giving the northern isles to his brother Sigurd Eysteinsson.  Sigurd had been the forecastleman on Harald’s ship and after sailing back east the king “gave Sigurd the title of earl”.  The Heimskringla states specifically that Sigurd was the first Earl of Orkney.

Family

The Orkneyinga saga says that Rognvald was the son of Eystein Ivarsson, himself the son of Ívarr Upplendingajarl.  and was married to a daughter of Hrólfr Nose called Ragnhild,  although in the Heimskringla she is called Hild.  Their son Hrólfr “was so big that no horse could carry him”, hence his byname of “Ganger-Hrólf”,  and he is identified by the saga writers with Rollo of Normandy ancestor of the Dukes of Normandy  who signed the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte with King Charles the Simple in 911. In addition to Ivar and Hrólfr, both sagas also refer to Rognvald’s son Thorir the Silent, and three more sons “by concubines” called Hallad, Einarr and Hrollaug, all three being “grown men when their brothers born in marriage were still children”.

Rognvald having given his earldom to Sigurd, according to the Orkneyinga Saga, the latter died in a curious fashion after a battle with Máel Brigte of Moray. Sigurd’s son Gurthorm ruled for a single winter after this and died childless.

Rognvald’s son Hallad then inherited the title. However, unable to constrain Danish raids on Orkney, he gave up the earldom and returned to Norway, which “everyone thought was a huge joke.”[19] The predations of the Danish pirates led to Rognvald flying into a rage and summoning his sons Thorir and Hrolluag. He predicted that Thorir’s path would keep him in Norway and that Hrolluag was destined seek his fortune in Iceland. Turf-Einar, the youngest, then came forward and offered to go to the islands. Rognvald said: “Considering the kind of mother you have, slave-born on each side of her family, you are not likely to make much of a ruler. But I agree, the sooner you leave and the later you return the happier I’ll be.”

His father’s misgivings notwithstanding, Torf-Einarr succeeded in defeating the Danes and founded a dynasty which retained control of the islands for centuries after his death.

Death and legacy

Earl Rognvald was killed by King Harald’s son Halfdan Hålegg and Gudrod Gleam who engineered a sudden attack, surrounded the house in which he was staying, and burned it to the ground with the earl and sixty of his men inside it. Harald “flew into a rage” when he heard about this and sent out a “great force” against Gudrod who was then banished. Halfdan escaped into the western seas and Rognvald’s death was later avenged by Torf-Einarr who killed him on North Ronaldsay and then made his peace with Harald. Harald made Rognvald’s son Thorir Earl of Møre and gave his daughter Alof to him in marriage.   The sagas thus identify Rognvald as the apical figure of the Norse Earls of Orkney who controlled the islands until the early 13th century, and a forerunner of important Icelandic families. Furthermore, through his son Hrolfr Rognvald he is an ancestor of the Dukes of Normandy who, following the Norman conquest of England in 1066, became the kings of England.

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