Tag Archive | Vikings season 4 preview

Tracing my past back to Rollo!

In my previous post, I shared my personal timeline going back to Uhtred the Bold, Bamburgh Castle and early Northumbria. Within that lineage, I found one Judith of Lens who married Waltheof of Northumbria and gave me that link back to the history of Northumbria. What is important and special about Judith of Lens is that she also takes me back to Rollo of Normandy! Many of us  know Rollo for his current claim to fame in the Vikings Saga. If you follow this blog, you are well aware that I have always had a certain affinity or fondness for Rollo. Of course, it does help that Clive Standen does such a fine job of portraying him and probably makes him much more appealing to watch than the real Rollo would have been.  As I’ve watched the series unfold, I have become much more interested in the character and true history of Rollo than that of Ragnar. That is not because of Clive’s portrayal of the character although that does not hurt, but because of the actual history and the importance of Rollo and Normandy.  If you look at the history of the Vikings and compare the events or accomplishments of Ragnar and Rollo, it is clear that as far as Viking history and events go, Rollo of Normandy had a far more important and long lasting impact than Ragnar Lodbrok.  Ragnar is more of a myth or legend and his claims to fame have come more from the actions of his sons than any of his own accomplishments. When you look at his sons, even their claims to fame were relatively short lived and can not really be documented much deeper than their individual involvements in the Great Heathen Wars that constituted one portion of the Viking era in England.  Rollo of Normandy though, left a dynasty and legacy of many future generations that is verifiable and documented. 

 

Season 4 of the Vikings Saga will soon be upon us and we will see how Michael Hirst’s version of the Viking era plays out. While we should all be in agreement that this show is more historical fantasy than actual history, Mr. Hirst has made numerous assurances and promises that he will present Rollo’s story more according to actual historical events than fantasy. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Rollo’s life and accomplishments are more historically sound than the events of Ragnar’s or even Ecbert’s…

By including Rollo in this family story as a brother of Ragnar, I think in a way that Hirst  painted or wrote his way into a corner with Rollo’s story. Now, he must find a way to get Rollo out of that corner, separate him from the confines of Ragnar’s story and from the events that will take place in England. So far, he has made a start at this separation by creating the rivalry and possible betrayal of Ragnar on the part of Rollo.  He has set up a scenario whereby it will be possible to set Rollo’s story up as separate from Ragnar and his family.  If you look at the truer history of Rollo, there is little actual documentation of his Danish or Norse family ties so it would seem that for what ever reason, Rollo did indeed separate himself from any of those family ties.  That is not to say that he separated himself from his Viking heritage, traditions or beliefs because throughout his life he seemed to hold on to many of those traditions and beliefs.  What we glimpse in previews of season 4 is Rollo realizing that he must choose between family and personal destiny. 

Rollo must follow his own destiny even if it means a betrayal of his brother Ragnar. I know that this story arc has in a way turned into an us against them, team Ragnar vs team Rollo following or feeling but in reality, this confrontation and closing has to take place for the story to move on.  Perhaps Rollo does have to betray Ragnar in order to achieve his own goals, his own success in life. If he has to betray Ragnar, so be it… Ragnar will be dead before Rollo anyway.  As for the future that the preview shows us, my bigger concern is for Bjorn- it appears as though power may be corrupting him and going to his head bit?  

Now, back to Rollo… he seems to be adjusting to the Frankish customs and life rather well if you ask me!

12494942_10156478820890249_6442139554579576026_n

credit to @teamStanden for the photos of Rollo!

rollo season4

I am digressing and getting a bit side tracked here because my main intent for this post is to share more about the real Rollo and my personal connection to him, ancient and distant as it may be! So, let us return to the original focus of this discussion- which is my path back to Rollo through Judith of Lens.  Let’s play a quick game of six degrees of separation… How are these people connected to each other?

Rollo and Uhtred

I have spent the past few weeks trying to sort through the tangled webs and branches of my tree and figure out this connection. There were some extremely tangled branches due that pesky habit they had back then of marrying relatives, casting off wives, disowning each other or legitimizing children of concubines and mistresses, and that does not include the habit of listing heirs or offspring by their land titles or such instead of a common surname! Anyway, I have now untangled enough to trace a lineage back through Judith of Lens to Rollo.

For those of you unfamiliar with Judith of Lens, you can read her story in this previous article.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/my-ancestor-path-to-normandy-northumbria-and-even-a-uthred-the-bold/

You can also read more about her and Waltheof of Northumbria in a book by Elizabeth Chadwick called the Winter Mantle. The book is historical fiction- I definitely would not call it historical romance unless of course you consider a husband who commits treason and gets beheaded for it, and a wife who turns bitter and resentful a romance? Elizabeth Chadwick provides excellent historical details and events while creating two stories that cover the time and lives of Judith of Lens, Waltheof of Northumbria, their daughter Maude of Huntington and her husband Simon De Senlis. She also includes some a not so likable or pleasant portrayal of  Judith’s Mother Adelaide of Normandy who was a sister to William the Conqueror.  It is more of an epic lifetime saga than a romance and my only minor disappointment was in the fact that she ended the story before Simon’s death and Maude’s marriage to King David of Scotland! I will admit that had she included that portion, the book would have gone beyond the bounds of epic and been far too long for most people to keep going with the story. I am probably one of few who would endure the added length in order to read the rest of Maude’s story unfold! 

the winter mantle2

Judith of Lens

Judith of Lens

Maude of Huntington

Maude of Huntington

Adelaide of Normandy

Adelaide of Normandy

Waltheof of Northumbria

Waltheof of Northumbria

After picking through all of the threads of my lineage, here is my connection back to Rollo through Judith of Lens.

Relationship to me

Robert I Rollo The Viking Rolf the Ganger Prince of Norway & Saint De Normandie Count of Rouen Ragnvaldsson (846 – 931)
34th great-grandfather
William I Longsword of Normandy 2nd Duke of Normandy (893 – 942)
son of Robert I Rollo The Viking Rolf the Ganger Prince of Norway & Saint De Normandie Count of Rouen Ragnvaldsson
Richard (The Fearless) of Normandy I (933 – 996)
son of William I Longsword of Normandy 2nd Duke of Normandy
Richard (The Good) Normandy II (963 – 1026)
son of Richard (The Fearless) of Normandy I
Robert I of Normandy (1000 – 1035)
son of Richard (The Good) Normandy II
Adelaide Normandy (1027 – 1090)
daughter of Robert I of Normandy
Judith of Lens (1054 – 1086)
daughter of Adelaide Normandy
Simon II Earl of Huntington De St Liz (1090 – 1153)
son of Maud Matilda Queen Consort of the Scots, Countess of Huntingdon and Northumbria
Simon III de Senlis (1138 – 1184)
son of Simon II Earl of Huntington De St Liz
Simon de Senlis (1181 – 1250)
son of Sir Simon IV Huntingdon DeSaintElizabeth DeSenlis St Liz*
William DeSaintElizabeth DeSenlis (1246 – 1286)
son of Simon De Saint Elizabeth de Senlis
Sir William St . Elizabeth Senlis (1274 – 1313)
son of William DeSaintElizabeth DeSenlis
Lady Alice De St Elizabeth (1300 – 1374)
daughter of Sir William St . Elizabeth Senlis
Richard Woodville De Wydeville (1385 – 1441)
son of Isabel “Lady of Swanbourne” de Lyons Godard
Joan Maud Wydville (1410 – 1462)
daughter of Richard Woodville De Wydeville
William Hathaway (1470 – )
son of Sir William XIII, Keeper of the Forest Dene, Hathaway
Robert Hathaway (1500 – 1545)
son of William Hathaway
Joan Hathaway (1536 – 1584)
daughter of Robert Hathaway
William Workman (1568 – 1628)
son of Joan Hathaway
John Workman (1590 – 1640)
son of William Workman
John William Workman (1600 – 1647)
son of John Workman
Dirck Jans Woertman (1630 – 1694)
son of John William Workman
Jan Derick Woertman (1665 – 1712)
son of Dirck Jans Woertman
Abraham Woertman Workman (1709 – 1736)
son of Jan Derick Woertman
William P Workman (1746 – 1836)
son of Abraham Woertman Workman
Amos Workman (1764 – 1844)
son of William P Workman
William Workman (1819 – 1906)
son of Isaac A. Workman
Charles W. Workman (1862 – 1956)
son of William Workman
Ward Harlan Workman (1924 – 1994)
son of Clarence Bertrand Workman
Judith Ann Workman
You are the daughter of Ward Harlan Workman
 So, Judith of Lens connects me to both Uhtred of Northumbria and Last Kingdom fame, and Rollo of history and Vikings Saga fame! In my previous post, I shared some of the history I learned about Northumbria. Now, I will share  more of the history surrounding Rollo and his dynasty. If you browse through my archives, you will find that I have already shared much of his history so I am not going to repeat all of it again. I am just going to add some of the history I’ve found about the family- the real family, not Mr. Hirst’s version of it, or the numerous variations and versions presented by Norse Sagas.  Because I am attempting to stick to the more factual details and documented evidence while tracing my ancestors, I am not going any further back than Rollo because there is just no concise or conclusive proof of anything beyond Rollo’s existence. One could include the information from Norse Sagas and such but that information is varying depending on which Saga one goes by. It’s difficult enough trying to piece together the sketchy documents there are for this far back let alone try to sift through numerous oral renditions written down centuries after the events. I have not included any of those possibilities in my family tree and will not include them here. Yes, I do know there are a great many stories and legends that take Rollo’s ancestry further back but at this point there is just not enough evidence to say conclusively exactly who his family really was. Historians can not even agree whether he was of Norse descent or Danish. Some documents list his origins as Danish and others list it as Norse. The only thing certain is that he was a Scandinavian Viking raider who managed to cut a good deal with a Frankish King for some coastal land which later became Normandy!
We know little or nothing factual about Rollo’s earlier life before Normandy but in reading through information on his son and grandson, we find that he did have a loyal group of Vikings that stood with him, supported him and went on to look after his interests/family after his death in 931. 
the warriors staying behind with rollo for the winter
When Rollo’s son William took over rule in 927, many of the men loyal to Rollo would eventually rebel against his son.  Rollo’s son William proved to be a bit of a disappointment to most.
William_longsword_statue_in_falaise
 It appears that he faced a rebellion early in his reign, from Normans who felt he had become too Gallicised. Subsequent years are obscure. In 939 William became involved in a war with Arnulf I of Flanders, which soon became intertwined with the other conflicts troubling the reign of Louis IV. He was killed by followers of Arnulf while at a meeting to settle their conflict in abt 940.  After having made rather a mess of his reign and the land of Normandy, his death also left the future uncertain because his heir was a young child at the time.  The age of Richard was not his only obstacle to his inheritance.  He was also the son of William I and a mistress and so was illegitimate. There were many who tried to take advantage of this for their own gain.
assassination of William Longsword

assassination of William Longsword

Richard was born to William I Longsword, princeps (chieftain or ruler) of Normandy, and Sprota. His mother was a Breton concubine captured in war and bound to William by a more danico marriage.  He was also the grandson of the famous Rollo. Richard was about 10 years old when his father was killed on 17 December 942.  William was told of the birth of a son after the battle with Riouf and other Viking rebels, but his existence was kept secret until a few years later when William Longsword first met his son Richard. After kissing the boy and declaring him his heir, William sent Richard to be raised in Bayeux. After William was killed, Sprota became the wife of Esperleng, a wealthy miller; Rodulf or Ralf  of Ivry was their son and Richard’s half-brother. 
Sproata, concubine of William I of Normandy

Sproata, concubine of William I of Normandy

It is with young Richard that we find the men who had been loyal to Rollo stepping up to save the boy and the future of Normandy. With the death of Richard’s father in 942, King Louis IV of France seized the lands of the Duchy of Normandy. The king installed the boy Richard in his father’s office, and placed him in the custody of the count of Ponthieu.  He then split up the Duchy, giving its lands in lower Normandy to Hugh the Great. The King used the excuse that he was seeing to the young nobleman’s education, but at the same time was giving some of Richard’s lands in Lower Normandy to Hugh the Great, Count of Paris.    Louis IV thereafter kept Richard in solitary confinement at Lâon, but the youth escaped from imprisonment with assistance of Osmond de Centville, Bernard de Senlis (who had been a companion of Rollo of Normandy), Ivo de Bellèsme, and Bernard the Dane  (ancestor to the families of Harcourt and Beaumont).  According to legend, Richard refused to eat while in captivity.  Because he appeared ill, the guard on him was relaxed. Osmond de Centville secretly entered Laon and smuggled Richard out of his confinement, reportedly by hiding him in a truss of hay. They then took refuge with Bernard of Senlis. In 1854 Charlotte Yonge retold the story of Richard in a series of stories called “The Little Duke.”  These stories, in turn, inspired Mark Twain’s book, “The Prince and the Pauper.”

Richard the fearless

Richard the fearless

Besides these men, another Viking is often mentioned in relation to Richard.  By 944 Louis IV’s soldiers had invaded Normandy again, and had seized control of Rouen, while Hugh the Great, Count of France invaded Lower Normandy around Bayeux. The alliance between Louis and Hugh, always historically unstable, broke down, when Bernard the Dane suggested to Louis that Hugh was getting more than his share of Normandy land. Hugh, in response to the King’s hostility, joined an alliance of Normans loyal to Richard and Danish Vikings under Harold (Harald) of Bayeux or of The Bassin.  This alliance ultimately defeated King Louis.  Harald continued to be of assistance to Richard and Normandy.    According to Flodoard, King Louis was invited to a meeting with this Harold in order to discuss peace terms.  Louis arrived with only a few men; Harold killed most of his men and Louis fled to Rouen where other Northmen, previously thought to be friendly to Louis, captured him.  He was only released to Hugh the Great when Louis gave his son Charles as a hostage at Rouen.  Although Louis was eventually given his freedom, the new alliance of Hugh of France and Richard of Normandy was now the new power in the region.

In 946, Richard agreed to “commend” himself to Hugh, the Count of Paris. At the age of 14, Richard allied himself with the Norman and Viking leaders in France, drove king Louis IV’s army out of Rouen, and successfully took back Normandy from him by 947.  Richard with the backing, the council and advice from those much older Viking Warriors took control and it might be said that he was the one most responsible for turning his Grandfather’s dream into a solid reality, a Kingdom to be reckoned with and if not liked, at least respected and possibly feared by other countries.   By 966 he was using the title “Marquis des Normands.” He never used the title Duke of Normandy, though some historians have retroactively assigned it to him. Richer of Rheims refers to him as “dux pyratorum” or “leader of the pirates”. In no sense did he mean “dux” as an official title.  Richard was also given the nickname of “Sans Peur” or The Fearless.  

Throughout Richard’s reign, there was continued connection and involvement with Viking factions which would suggest that while his Grand father Rollo may have severed personal family ties, he did not severe his connection to the Vikings.  In 961 a Viking band arrived in the Seine Valley and conducted raids towards the Brittany border and around Chartres.  It is possible these Vikings had the tacit support of Richard because the raids provoked hostility between Richard and an alliance of King Lothair and Theobald, Count of Chartres and Blois. Theobald attacked the Norman cities of Évereux and Roeun, and the Normans, in return, attacked Dunois and burned Chartres.  This conflict raged for four years. It is reported that Harold the Dane again came to the aid of Richard in 962.  Unless the medieval historians confused this war with the one of 945, this may be the same Harold who resided in the vicinity of Bayeux when William Longsword died. 

Eventually Richard did swear allegiance to Louis’ successor Lothar [Lothaire] in 965 at Gisors and the King acknowledged Richard’s rule over the Bessin, the Contetin and the Avranchin regions of Normandy. Richard promised to rebuild and restore the monastery of Mont. St. Michael, which he acquired in the agreement.    Other than these early conflicts, Richard’s long reign was relatively peaceful. After 965, Viking raids in the area ceased. Richard quarreled with King Æthelred (Ethelred) II of England.  At the time the Danes had invaded England and taken control over much of the eastern part of country.  Apparently the Normans had been purchasing a lot of the loot. In 991 Richard agreed to a non-aggression pact with King Æthelred, probably to keep either side from sheltering Viking marauders.

Gunnora wife of Richard the fearless

Gunnora wife of Richard the fearless

Gunnora

Gunnora

 Further evidence of the continued connection to the Danes is Richard’s relationship and eventual marriage to his concubine or mistress, Gunnora who was said to be of a noble family of Danes.  It is known that Richard had more than one mistress and one of these, Gunnora, he eventually married some time before 989.  Richard and Gunnora had eight children. She is sometimes called “Gunnora of Crépon” because she had a brother named “Herfast (Artfast) de Crépon” and nephew named “Osborn de Crépon.”  The term de Crépon was never attached to Gunnora’s name during her lifetime and, though Crépon is a town in Lower Normandy near Bayeux, there is no direct evidence that this was a location in which she ever lived.

Richard’s formal marriage to Gunnora was certainly carried out in order to legitimize their children, especially his eldest son and heir Richard II and his second son Robert who Richard had appointed as the Archbishop of Reoun.
All we know about Gunnora is that she was from a “noble family of Danes”, and so her family was probably one of the many Nordic settlers or their descendants that lived in Normandy.  According to Legend the young Richard was hunting in the forests of Normandy when he met and was attracted to a young lady named Sainsfrida (Senfrie), the daughter of a forester of Arques. Sainsfrida was, however, married and so sent her sister Gunnora to Richard.   The chronicles do not give the name of her parents.  Since their eldest son Richard II was born about 953, their relationship must have begun some time before this date.  In spite of conjecture in many family trees, there is absolutely no evidence that she was the daughter of Harold Bluetooth, King of Denmark.  She was referred to as Gunnora Harldsdottir but it is likely that she may have been the daughter of the previously mentioned Harald the Dane who, contrary to some popular assumption is not the same Harald as Harald Bluetooth. 
In looking at the differences between the failures of William and the successes of his son Richard, we probably need to look at them in relation to Rollo. By the time he was awarded Normandy, Rollo was a hardened professional warrior who was used to fighting for what he wanted. He most likely had not lived any easy life, nor had anything handed to him. When he finally achieved his goal of  wealth and land, he still had to work to hold on to it. He was a Viking and for the most part lived by Viking traditions and customs. One example of those customs was his “wife” Poppa of Bayeux.  The generally accepted theory is that Poppa was the daughter of Berenger II of Nuestria and was taken captive by Rollo during an attack on Bayeux in about 885. She was Rollo’s concubine or wife “more danico” in Norse/Danish tradition. She was not a slave and was most likely of high nobility.
statue of Poppa

statue of Poppa

Poppa of Bayeux

Poppa of Bayeux

 A more danico marriage meant “in the Danish manner” or “by Norse customary law“. It designates a type of traditional marriage practiced in northern Europe during the Middle Ages. It is possible, therefore, that marriage more danico was neither informal marriage nor even legitimized abduction, but simply secular marriage contracted in accordance with Germanic law, rather than ecclesiastical marriage.  More danico permitted polygyny (serial or simultaneous), but is not synonymous with it. The “putting away” of a more danico wife could apparently be done at the mere wish of the husband; the rights of the wife are unclear. Often the putting away was done with the intention of marrying a still higher-ranking woman more christiano; but since there are numerous instances of the husband returning to themore danico wife, it is possible that the relationship had merely been deactivated or kept in the background. The union could also be fully dissolved, so that the wife was free to marry another man. Her consent in the matter may or may not have been required; again, the consensual aspect is unknown.  By tradition and customary law, the children of such a relationship were in no way considered of lesser rank or disadvantaged with respect to inheritance. Many sons more danico went on to become dukes or kings by succession or conquest.
By accepting baptism and vassalage under a Christian prince under Charles the Simple after the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte in 911, Rollo had placed the Vikings of Normandy on the inevitable path of Christianization; but they clung to some old customs. 
 

 Norman chronicler William of Jumieges uses the term explicitly to refer to two relationships:

  • Rollo, founder of the Norman dynasty, had taken captive at Bayeux, Poppa, daughter of a count, Berengar. Dudo of Saint-Quentin relates that they had been joined in marriage (“connubium”), William of Jumieges describing that Rollo had joined himself to her by more danico. She was mother of his son William Longsword. It is related that he put Poppa aside to marry Gisela, daughter of Charles the Simple, and that when Gisela died, he returned to Poppa. However, the absence of any record of this royal princess or her marriage in Frankish sources suggests the entire supposed marriage to Gisela may be apocryphal.
  • William Longsword in his turn, had a son and heir by a woman whose name is given as Sprota. William of Jumieges reports that Longsword was bound to her pursuant to the mos danicus (“danico more iuncta”).  The chronicler Flodoard refers to her simply as Longsword’s ‘Breton concubine’ (“concubina britanna”).  William would formally marry Luitgarde of Vermandois, daughter of Heribert II, count of Vermandois. [Dudo iii, 32 (p. 70)], who following William’s death remarried to Thibaut, count of Blois. Sprota, who was mother of Longsword’s heir, Richard I, Duke of Normandy, is said to have been forced to become concubine of Esperleng, the rich owner of several mills, by whom she became mother of Rodulf of Ivry, although it is unclear if this occurred at the time of William’s marriage to Luitgarde, or at his death.
  • Richard I carried on the tradition of more danico with Gunnora. She was his wife more danico or concubine as early as sometime in 950s even though he entered into a Christian marriage with Emma daughter of Hugh the Great, Count of Paris.  She was born about 943 and died after 19 Mar 968. After her death he eventually married Gunnora in the Christian manner to ensure legitimacy of their many children after the church began taking a stricter approach and view on the more danico marriages. 

While many may perceive the relationship between Rollo and Poppa as that of her being a captive slave or just a mistress, in reality it was more likely a relationship and marriage of importance in terms of alliances and politics of the time. Being of some high status herself, Poppa would probably have taken this relationship seriously and expected to be treated with the respect due her rank and status. When she gave birth to son William in 893, she provided the much needed heir to the dynasty and would have sealed an alliance between Normandy and Bayeux. William was the heir apparent most likely would have been treated with high regard and esteem… given advantages and a much easier life than Rollo had.  There is reference to Rollo being well attached to his son and at one point he sent William to Bayeux to learn more of the Norse ways of Northmen residing within Bayeux.  From most accounts though, William was far more interested in becoming more Frankish and as a result his own people rebelled against him. It seems that this may have been a case of  William possibly being over indulged, given too much advantage and not having had to truly work for his title… not such an uncommon occurence for many heirs or children of a parent who has worked to achieve wealth and standing.  William was born in 893 while Rollo was working towards his greatness. This meant that Rollo was absent during most of William’s youth so his upbringing was most likely left predominantly to Poppa who was of Noble birth and would have raised William within that context of privilage and esteem. Rollo ruled until 927, which put William well into adulthood with little chance of ruling… it probably seemed to him that Rollo was going to live forever! This situation left William as a well privelaged adult with not a whole lot to do besides enjoy his Father’s wealth. When Rollo turned over the rule to his son in 927, he may have had concerns but probably felt that his son was capable of ruling and continuing along the path he had set. He also had few other choices… William was his only son and at the time, he was the legitimate heir.  Had Rollo chosen someone else to rule, there would have been rebellion from some faction.

Rollo died in 931 and William quickly began to make changes and rebelling against his Father’s policies. He set about building up his allegiances and alliances to the French Kings which caused the Norman Nobles to dissent. In 935, he went so far as to marry his younger sister Gerloc to  William, Count of Poitou with the approval of Hugh the Great. At the same time he At the same time Longsword married Luitgarde,  daughter of Count Herbert II of Vermandois whose dowry gave him the lands of Longueville, Coudres and Illiers l’Eveque.  In addition to supporting King Raoul, he was now a loyal ally of his father-in-law, Herbert II, both of whom his father Rollo had opposed. 

At the time of his arranged marriage to Luitgarde, William had a wife more danica, Sprota as well as his son and heir, Richard. This new marriage left Sprota and Richard in a difficult situation.  He did provide for her and Richard during this period as there was reference to her living in her own household at Bayeux under his protection but she was now looked on as a cast off concubine rather than a wife. Richard was left to endure the being the subject of ridicule, the French King Louis “abused the boy with bitter insults”, calling him “the son of a whore who had seduced another woman’s husband.” 

William’s actions during this time led to his ultimate downfall and death which in turn led to his young son Richard having to fight against all odds to reclaim his title and regain control of Normandy. So, essentially Richard was in much the same position as his Grandfather Rollo had been, fighting and working to achieve his worth and his fame.  After regaining control of Normandy in about 960, Richard spent the remainder of his lengthy reign focused on Normandy itself, and participated less in Frankish politics and its petty wars. In lieu of building up the Norman Empire by expansion, he stabilized the realm and reunited the Normans, forging the reclaimed Duchy of his father and grandfather into West Francia’s most cohesive and formidable principality. Rather than outright war, Richard  used marriage to build strong alliances. His marriage to Emma of Paris connected him directly to the House of Capet. His second wife, Gunnora, from a rival Viking group in the Cotentin, formed an alliance to that group, while her sisters formed the core group that were to provide loyal followers to him and his successors.  His daughters forged valuable marriage alliances with powerful neighboring counts as well as to the king of England.  He also strengthened ties to the church presumably understanding how important the church alliances were. Richard also built on his relationship with the church, restoring their lands and ensuring the great monasteries flourished in Normandy. His further reign was marked by an extended period of peace and tranquility.

While William may not have been successful in his reign or achievements, his son Richard more than made up for his inadequacies. Also, William’s decision to marry his sister into the house of Poitou and Aquitaine would prove to be one of his better decisions. 

gerloc Adeila of normandy

Gerloc (or Geirlaug), baptised in Rouen as Adela (or Adèle) in 912, was the daughter of Rollo, first duke of Normandy, and his wife, Poppa. She was the sister of Duke William Longsword.  In 935, she married William Towhead, the future count of Poitou and duke of Aquitaine. They had two children together before she died on 14 October 962:

Through her son William IV of Aquitaine, she would be ancestor to Dukes of Aquitaine and to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her daughter Adelaide would go on to become a Queen of France. 

Dukes of Aquetaine

Dukes of Aquetaine

Adbelahide or Adele or Adelaide of Aquitaine (or Adelaide of Poitiers) (c. 945 or 952 – 1004) was the daughter of William III, Duke of Aquitaine andAdele of Normandy, daughter of Rollo of Normandy.  Her father used her as security for a truce with Hugh Capet, whom she married in 969.  In 987, after the death of Louis V, the last Carolingian king ofFrance, Hugh was elected the new king with Adelaide as queen. They were proclaimed at Senlis and blessed at Noyon. They were the founders of the Capetian dynasty of France.

Picture Name Father Birth Marriage Became queen Ceased to be queen spouse
Adelaide of Aquitaine.jpg Adelaide of Aquitaine William III, Duke of Aquitaine c. 945 970 3 July 987 1004 Hugh
Susanna of Italy.jpg Rozala of Italy Berengar II of Italy c. 937 988 996 7 February 1003 Robert II
Berthe de Bourgogne.jpg Bertha of Burgundy Conrad of Burgundy c. 952 996 1035?
Konstancie Arles.jpg Constance of Arles William I, Count of Provence 986 1003 25 July 1034
Of Frisia Matilda.jpg Matilda of Frisia Liudolf, Margrave of Frisia c. 1024 1034 1044 Henry I
Anne Kiev.jpg Anne of Kiev Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Kiev c. 1024 19 May 1051 1075
Bertha of holland.jpg Bertha of Holland Floris I, Count of Holland c. 1055 1072 1094 Philip I
Bertrade-montfort2.jpg Bertrade de Montfort Simon I de Montfort c. 1070 15 May 1092 1117
Adelaidesavojska.jpg Adélaide de Maurienne Humbert II, Count of Savoy 1092 3 August 1115 18 November 1154 Louis VI
Illus-050-1-.jpg Eleanor of Aquitaine William X, Duke of Aquitaine 1122 22 July 1137 1137 21 March 1152
annulment
1 April 1204

The list of the Capetian dynasty is actually much longer. This above list is just a partial list of Queen Consorts for the Dynasty which continued until the death of Charles the IV in 1328.  The dynasty had a crucial role in the formation of the French state. Initially obeyed only in their own demesne, the Île-de-France, the Capetian kings slowly, but steadily, increased their power and influence until it grew to cover the entirety of their realm. For a detailed narration on the growth of French royal power, see Crown lands of France.

As you’re wading through all of this you may be wondering where Gisela of France is, and why she is not mentioned anywhere in this information?  Well, Gisela is not here because there simply is not enough verifiable evidence to back up her existence let alone her marriage to Rollo.   

Gisela of France, also called Gisella or Giséle (fl. 911), was traditionally a French princess and the consort of Rollo, duke of Normandy. Gisela had no children.  According to tradition, Rollo was betrothed to Gisela, daughter to the king of West Francia, Charles the Simple, after his conversion to Christianity upon his ascension as ruler of Normandy in 911. The marriage and the existence of Gisela are not confirmed. This excerpt from a book called Dictionary of Heroes gives an account of the supposed legend pertaining to Rollo and Gisela and also reaffirms the lack of any proof or evidence to back up the story.  If she did exist and did marry Rollo, she died childless and he maintained his previous relationship with Poppa, the Mother of his children.  So, for the purposes of lineage and ancestry or descendants of Rollo she would be inconsequential. Also, the accounts taken from the treaty of Saint Clair Epte only state that Rollo offered to marry her as a goodwill gesture. Since there is no definitive proof or documentation of any such actual marriage taking place, perhaps Rollo or Charles decided that the baptism would suffice and there was no need to carry things to such extreme as the marriage between the Viking and a Princess of France!

Rollo and Gisela from dictionary of heroes

There is a Gisela listed as a daughter of Charles the Simple and his first wife Frederuna, daughter of Dietrich, Count in the Hamaland. Together they had six daughters:

  • Ermentrude
  • Frederuna
  • Adelaide
  • Gisela, wife of Rollo (existence doubtful)
  • Rotrude
  • Hildegarde

There is always the possibility that having six daughters, Charles may have been willing to part with one of them in order to achieve some sort of peace but it does seem rather doubtful that a Carolingian King would allow for such an arrangement with one of their princesses that were so highly valued and esteemed. My one thought on this is that the daughter must really have annoyed and irritated him- obviously she would not have been a favored daughter for him to so willingly have traded her to a heathen Viking warrior. Hmmm come to think of it, perhaps it did happen and perhaps Hirst has given us a somewhat more accurate portrayal of history than we give him credit for?

gisla is still a young girl wanting her own way

gisla he disgusts me he makes me want to vomit charles with a rather unhappy Gisla at the mass rollo and gisla

If Mr Hirst goes for more historical accuracy with Rollo’s story, perhaps this will be a short lived marriage… Gisla will meet some sort of untimely or unfortunate demise and a woman named Poppa will show up. It’s hard to say where Mr. Hirst will take any of the story but at least now you know truer details of Rollo’s dynasty and legacy that includes so many generations of famous descendants as well as ordinary peons like myself.

And, at least now I know why I feel so compelled to remain loyal to Rollo despite his many faults, flaws and errors in judgement! 

 

 

 

 

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Vikings Comic-Con Panel now available!

Just a really quick post to share the Vikings Comic-Con Panel discussion video! I promised to share it here as soon as it was made available- it is now up on Youtube. If you were unable to attend comic-con or get into the panel discussion… don’t worry or feel bad, you are not alone! My representatives got as far as the waiting line but could not through the crowds. Now, you can enjoy the video in the comfort of your own hearth space along with a goodly amount of mead and not be bothered by all of those crowds!

A closer look at the Vikings season 4 preview

I promised earlier to take a closer, more in depth look at the season 4 preview released at Comi-con. I spent much of yesterday doing just that. It’s amazing how long it can take to watch and re-watch a 1 minute trailer. It’s  also amazing how much you can pull out of it when you slow it down, pay close attention and manage to catch somewhat hidden flashes! I believe that I have accomplished that and will share some of those half hidden bits with you here.

Before we get into the trailer, it’s content and what it all might mean, I want to remind everyone of a few very important things pertaining to this and other promo trailers. First and foremost, as I have mentioned previously, these trailers are a collection of various scenes and events splice together- often in random order- to pique your interest and grab you attention. If you watch closely, you will see that those events and scenes have been taken apart and re-inserted at random perhaps not so random… but more pivotal moments that will cause you to start guessing and making your own assumptions as to what is happening or will happen. A promo trailer is designed to do just that, to immediately draw you in and create those doubts in your mind so that you want to watch the future episodes to find out if your assumptions and guesses were correct!  You also need to be aware that episodes and scenes are not shot consecutively or in any linear fashion. Scenes and events are shot according to things such as location availability and cost effectiveness as far as shooting as many scenes as possible at one place and time with as many cast members as possible in a given location at the same time.  So, while the production may have just begun recently, that does not mean that all of these clips are necessarily from just the beginning episodes.  Lastly, please remember that I am presenting my personal thoughts on the preview. I was as confused, baffled and curious about what all of this means as the rest of you probably are. This is my attempt to sort through it and make some sense of it for myself and hopefully others of you who are just as confused!

 

If you missed the trailer, here it is again. If you’ve already watched it, it never hurts to watch again and refresh your memory or your thoughts on it as we begin our discussion of it!

The entire preview was a bit eerie for me and threw me from the very beginning, listening to Athelstan’s narration of it. Here are his words

               “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher. Vanity of vanities. Who is vanity? What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away,

                      and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.”

                                                                                                                       Athelstan

After listening to his words throughout the preview, we were then presented with a flash of one who resembles him so much that it becomes one of those curious wtf moments…

Does Athelstan reappear

Please note that I have stated that this is a flash of one who closely resembles Athelstan… we all know that Athelstan is dead. So, short of resurrecting him, I can only assume that this either a vision, or it is one in the future who will bear a great resemblance to him? I am not even going to guess on this one because I really have no clue! Some have put forth the idea that this may be a glimpse of the future when all of the sons are grown and perhaps this is Athelstan’s son Alfred?  I do think that with the number of episodes set now at somewhere between 16 and 20, that there could possibly be more than one time jump to get the story to a point where the next generation fully takes over. Hirst  has confirmed at least one time jump of a few years, but that would not put the children as old enough to take over on their own. My own thought is that at some later point in the season, perhaps as next season reaches it’s finale there will be that other time jump to all of the children as adults ready to begin that next stage of the Viking era.

Now that we have that first curious and mysterious overall feeling out of the way, the biggest WTF moment for most people was of course Floki’s situation! It has left many with conflicted thoughts on it. Even those who have come to hate Floki and want him to receive his justly deserved punishment seem to be a bit unsettled by these scenes of his arrest, his punishment and his possible demise. I have watched the trailer more than a few times and still confused by these scenes of Floki, and Bjorn’s announcement of his arrest. There is just something about the situation and how these clips present it that lead me to wonder about all of it.  First of all throughout the trailer, we do see other scenes of Floki, alive and well, fighting with the others. My immediate thought on that is, Ok- do those scenes take place before or after this arrest and his torture?  The initial thought would be that they must take place prior to this event, while they are making their way home… which Hirst does say will take a good deal of time- almost two years. So, during that two years, they say nothing of Floki’s betrayal, allowing him to spend that entire time waiting, wondering when the axe will drop on his head…

a puzzled floki floki fighting later in the preview

 

They finally reach home where a number of things await Ragnar’s attention besides Floki’s past betrayal… it would seem that while they were gone so long Aslaug was contemplating her own thoughts of power and reign over Kattegat. Now, realistically, why would she not? If they were gone such a length of time and she had no idea whether they were alive or dead, why would she not think about such a thing. She was in control of the kingdom while Ragnar was gone and the people probably accepted her reign. She went so far as to seek the Seer out for his thoughts on such an event as woman ruling Kattegat. His answer was cryptic as usual but he did say that one day a woman would rule Kattegat. As to whether she would be that woman was left unsaid…

the seer says a woman will one day rule kattegat will a woman ever rule the kingdom of kattegat

It was unsettling to see that the Seer ventured out of his hut into daylight sunshine for once… he should be more careful though, it looks like he may have been out there too long… his skin was probably not used to such exposure and unfortunately, there was no such thing as sunscreen back then!

the seer comes out in daylight

So, Ragnar finally makes it home to find that his people may be having second thoughts about who their ruler is… Bjorn must set them all straight on that count. Aslaug does not look too happy about this?

bjorn and aslaug

These boys, whom we later recognize as Ragnar’s sons, are quite vocal in their allegiance and praise of their King and father…

to whom do we owe our allegiance

Another couple who do not look quite as enthusiastic about it are Floki and Helga..

who is your King

Perhaps that is because the next clip we see is Bjorn ordering the arrest of Floki for the murder of Athelstan…

Bjorn:  I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn: I order the arrest of Floki

I order the arrest of Floki

I order the arrest of Floki

helga at Floki's arrest

helga at Floki’s arrest

We then see the result of Floki’s arrest and what appears to be his torture… which has a great resemblance to some parallel or symbolism related to Athelstan? We would assume this to be Floki tortured and hanging in some cave at a later point.

athelstan's punishment begins

What we see in between Floki’s arrest and his later torture is Ragnar’s comments to Floki.

ragnar to athelstan you betrayed my trust

ragnar to athelstan you betrayed my trust

you betrayed my love of you

you betrayed my love of you

What we see later are two things that speak of some serious change in Ragnar’s character.  We know that his thoughts and his actions are turning more to the dark side…so could these two action be predictions of that darker side? We see what appears to be his very physical reprimand or treatment of Aslaug- something he has never resorted to previously.

ragnar looking pissed as usual of late ragnar 2 aslaug is reprimanded by someone

And, then we see this treatment of  Floki…

floki suffers an even worse punishment

My own personal thought on this scene of Floki being tortured is that I do wonder whether this is out of context to throw us off and assume that it is Ragnar’s doing and that Floki meets his end here. I could see this being Ragnar’s personal revenge upon Floki, especially seeing how his mind is now working. I could also see Ragnar doing this act to show the villagers of Kattegat just who is in charge, and using Floki as an example to show his force and his power. What I can not see or  understand is Bjorn and the other villagers completely going along with this act. In their minds, Floki killing a Christian would not have warranted such a punishment and torture as this.  Bjorn was Floki’s friend from childhood, he even agreed with Floki on the matter of the Christians and their religion.  For Ragnar to make such a public display and example of Floki in this way would not draw these people to remain loyal to him out of trust and belief in him but more out of fear of him and his reprisals… in this way he is becoming more and more like those he fought against- Earl Haraldson and King Horik! If this is truly the path he going down, then his people would most likely looking for some way out from under his control…  What I could more easily envision is if Ragnar did do this to show his supreme authority, then others might be willing to secretly rescue him from this fate and send him on his way to some exile with warnings to never return to face Ragnar’s wrath… I could even see Bjorn going along with something such as this if he comes to realize his Father’s darker path. If Bjorn were to aid in such an act and others knew of it, then it would set Bjorn up as a better leader to follow than Ragnar…

Perhaps an act such as this is part of why Bjorn sets off on a solitary journey or quest to clear his mind and his heart. In the Comi-con discussion, it was revealed that on learning of Porunn’s departure, Bjorn leaves on this quest to find himself and his true destiny or fate… during which he has the fateful and already famous encounter with the bear.

bjorn in the wilderness Bjorn's Holy Fuck moment

At some point Bjorn does find time to bond with his young half brothers… interestingly, it’s Bjorn’s bonding we see and not Ragnar’s!

Ragnar's sons  and another generation takes it's place

Another event has set many on edge and to the point of taking sides is of course, the matter of Rollo and his ultimate betrayal of Ragnar and his own blood- his own people. We all knew that it would  come down to this and surely Rollo knew that it have to happen eventually as well. Some have noted rightly, that had Ragnar been well enough to make the decision, he would never have left Rollo there in the first place knowing full well what the Seer’s prophecy was. This decision by Bjorn could foreseeably put him and his Father at odds in the future. What ever the case, Rollo had to follow his own fate, his own heart and his destiny knowing fully that he would have to side with the Franks in any future battles against the Vikings. These are the decisions and choices that men, and women must make in their quests for their own power, fame or reputation. Hirst has  given fair warning and confirmation that Rollo’s future path will follow closely to that of the real Rollo of history. In that historical context, Rollo pledged his alliance and allegiance to Charles, and he held himself to that oath for as long as Charles was alive.  After Charles died, however, all oaths were off the table and Rollo was on good terms with his Viking blood.

The preview trailer naturally plays up this ultimate betrayal of his own people, but what we do not know yet is what the reason or context is surrounding this battle and betrayal. What we do see is Rollo coming into his own power within the Frankish dynasty.  I personally have no issue with any of this… I have been waiting for three seasons to see Rollo step up and take his own power, his own destiny. I am anxiously awaiting the story of Rollo and his battle for a foothold, a new dynasty in this place that will come to be Normandy, land of Northmen! Three long seasons, I have been by his side in the filth and muck that was his previous life and now finally am rewarded with his upswing, his conquest of both Normandy and Gisla! It appears that we will indeed get to see at least a glimpse of a Royal Wedding, even though neither the Bride or Groom looks all that happy about it. The Bride’s father seems to be the only one remotely happy about it?

charles appears rather calm and even a bit happy

rollo and gisla rollo at his wedding a tearful gisla

We also see a glimpse of the unhappy and still rather childish Gisla attempting to take matters of the wedded bliss into her own hands and make herself a widow by morning…

A wtf moment for rollo

A Royal Wedding

As to what Rollo’s reaction will be at awaking to find a dagger at his throat remains to be seen…. I have a hunch that what ever his reaction, Gisla will not be allowed to play with sharp objects any time soon!

Yes, there is indeed some sort of battle that ensues between the Franks with Rollo included, and a force of Vikings. We do not know who this group of Vikings are or what their reason is for being in France. Nor do we know when this takes place… we would assume that it takes places some time after that two years of Ragnar’s travel home but we can not be certain of that either. All we know for now is that yes there is a battle and Rollo fights with the Franks, thereby as the wounded warrior states, betraying his own blood and people. We do not even know for sure who this wounded warrior is, whether he is one of Rollo’s men or a warrior from the other side. Now, when Rollo signed his oath of allegiance, his men would have sworn along with him and profited along with him from that decision. Rollo along with his men profited a great deal from this allegiance and would have received land grants in return. That is how Normandy was founded, through those land grants. Perhaps this warrior was a disgruntled man of Rollo’s. I am sure that were would have been some who were not in so much agreement on this decision, or some who might not have taken into consideration everything that the agreement would entail. The initial reward may have been appealing to them but then at some later time such as this, some of them would realize just what this bargain really involved.  It also could have been an opposing warrior who is giving the warning that Ragnar will hear of this, he will come to revenge us…  We shall have to wait to see what this battle is actually all about!

seiging a castle rollo2

warriors on the move victorious warriors rollo facing his own battle a fallen warrior warns Rollo

We shall also have to wait to see what this person’s  part in the battle is and what if any importance they might be?

a woman is down in the forest a woman meets her death in the forest a warrior in fear

We do see the return of another rather mysterious character who has as yet not had any real significance in the story… could that be changing though, will we see more of Roland’s story?

Roland's story

As to the news that Ragnar is on his way… Rollo knew that fact would be inevitable and this time he will present a much different face and force than in the past. This time, Rollo has come into his own power, his own right and destiny. This time, Rollo is fighting with the entire force of the Franks on his side. He is also fighting now as a Landowner defending what is his. He should not be taken so lightly this time!

Ragnar is on his way

With that all in mind, it would appear that Ragnar does eventually come…

Two brothers two destinies

Rollo's destiny

We see a voyage to somewhere that includes at least one of Ragnar’s young sons… We can’t be certain of where this particular journey is to because Hirst makes mention of a number of places this next season. In looking these pictures though, it does not really look like the landscape of France but I could be mistaken!

Ragnar's sons  and another generation takes it's place ragnar is on his way  to where we're not sure boys are old enough to join in battles

 

In a few other less obvious and more hidden glimpses, we see someone who looks much like Torvi in her own difficulties once again…

not sure if this is torvi or helga think it's probably torvi one of those wtf moments is this torvi or helga

Torvi’s difficulties bring us to her current husband, Erlandeur who for no good reason to me, still seems to be alive and well! His appearance is linked to the events surrounding Lagertha and Kalf. Lagertha seems to be having some difficulties as well but has not killed off Kalf  yet as previously threatened.  She and Kalf remain together for the time being and Kalf gives off an appearance of being in some control and continuing to display a calm form of leadership.  What we see of Lagertha seems to be of two separate events,  one being some sort of interrupted celebration in which she ruins that beautiful dress with the usual blood stains that seem to follow her! It’s hard to see or know what the interrupted event was or what set her off…

Lagertha one generation passes away and another takes it's place lagertha and her shieldmaidens lagertha shame that she has destroyed that beautiful dress

 

The other event involves that earlier traitor, Einar, whom she has apparently finally caught up with after these few years of travel.

lagertha faces more battle

It also perhaps involves Kalf, and yes even sleazy Erlandeur is involved as a bystander…

She and Kalf seem to be on somewhat good terms with each other… as I said, at least she has not killed him off yet?

lagertha and kalf are still together

It would appear that Einar may not be so lucky?

Now, in watching these scenes and deciphering some of them by looking at their attire in the separate clips… that does give a clue as to putting things together, there is something else going one in the following scenes that has Lagertha concerned, puzzled or even a bit fearful.  It’s difficult to know for sure whether this takes place before or after her treatment of Einar.

something unexpected an unpleasent is happening around lagertha lagertha looking concerned

Her revenge of Einar, with Kalf looking on calmly and seemingly giving some approval? Ohhhh yes, and Sleazy Erlandeur is here watching as well…

lagertha takes revenge on Einar sleazy Erlandeur and Kalf look on while Lagertha prepares to unman Einar kalf waiting for something kalf seems to be in charge and giving a signal

kalf and lagertha

 

Last but certainly not least by any means, there is Wessex and England to think about because really, this where the future for the Vikings will be most played out and give them their most talked of fame.  This is where the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok will eventually leave their mark and do battle with ones such as that grandson of Ecbert, Alfred the Great.

King Ecbert still holds his power and gives warning that Ragnar Lothbrok could return at any moment.

ecbert

We do catch a glimpse of Kweni so yes, she is still alive and plotting… but she does appear somewhat rattled or fearful? Interestingly enough, it looks like she’s in a dungeon… and she’s not looking too well if you ask me!

Kweni is back but looking a bit rattled

Judith, on the other hand seems to be faring much better? She’s survived some serious difficulties in the past but looks like she finding her way to playing to the power game.

judith is smiling that's some good sign judith

At the end of last season, we saw her making a start at realizing that she might have some chance in this game. I will update her story soon to include this beginning realization. Good for Judith, I can’t wait to see her figure this all out!

judith holds her own in this game of power

One last thing of interest…. we seldom see Ragnar with a look of real fear on his face but something has put this look on him in the next season!

it's not often we see fear on Ragnar's face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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