Ragnar Lothbrok – History, Facts & Legendary Achievements
The ancient Scandinavian sea warriors, commonly known as the Vikings, survived under the strangest of circumstances. Guiding them in the 9th century was Ragnar Lothbrok – the legendary king and warrior hero of the Vikings.
The jury is still out as to whether, Ragnar Lothbrok – the Scourge of England and France – was actually real or a mythical figure narrated over and over again in order to instill fear in their enemies. In order to understand why and how his name continues to remain famous, even close to a millennium after his death, we shall delve right into the history, facts, and achievements of Ragnar Lothbrok.
Biography of Ragnar Lothbrok
In popular Viking tales, Ragnar was a man who loved wars and raiding villages. His father was the Swedish King Sigurd Ring who ruled from 770 to 804. Ragnar ascended the throne when his father died in 804. In 845, the Vikings invaded the West Frank’s kingdom. Though there are reservations about this tale, Ragnar Lothbrok was the leader of the Norse invasion group.
Somewhere in 841, Charles the Bald gifted a land in Frisia to Ragnar, but Ragnar was later dispossessed of the land. Shortly after that, his relationship with Charles deteriorated. In 845, while en route to Seine (in France), Ragnar and his Vikings invaded Rouen. In an effort to counter the attack from Ragnar, Charles the Bald divided his army into two groups to face Ragnar. When they clashed, Ragnar tore down a division of Charles’ forces. He captured 111 men as prisoners. The captives were never spared – Ragnar allegedly killed them on a Seine island, sacrificing the prisoners of war to Odin, the supreme god and ruler of Asgard in Norse mythology. The sacrifice was also meant to serve as a deterrent to his remaining enemies.
After defeating Charles, Ragnar and his men entered Paris around Eastertime. They occupied the city until Charles the Bald paid a ransom of 5,665 pounds (2560 kg) of gold and silver.
Interesting Facts about Ragnar Lothbrok
The following are some major and interesting facts about Ragnar Lothbrok – the brave Viking hero who took delight in raiding England and France:
Ragnar’s Existence as a Real Human is Questionable
Ragnar is more like a mythological character such as the legendary King Arthur. Ragnar’s name has appeared several times in Norse mythology, but that doesn’t make his existence to be real. There is no question that the Vikings existed, but Ragnar’s status as a human Viking leader is highly debatable. Even if he existed as a real person, there are still doubts as to whether he went by that name.
Ragnar had numerous Wives and Children
Legends have it that he married 3 women. They were: Thora Borgarhjotr (a noblewoman), Aslaug (a Norse queen) and Lagertha. His wives brought forth great children such as Ivar the Boneless, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye and Bjorn Ironside. Plenty schools of doubt also surround those supposed children of Ragnar. Viking history purports that the stated children really existed, but the big question is: how can real children have a mythological parent such as Ragnar?
He Sailed to Invade England
In Norse legends, Ragnar gathered an elite force of sailors and fighters and set his sights for England. With only 2 ships, his intention was all about going to conquer the territory so that he could prove to his sons that he was far better than them. When his wicked plans backfired, Ragnar found himself in deep waters. King Aella’s army was able to overpower Ragnar. They then threw him into a snake-infested pit. While imprisoned abroad, Ragnar prophesied that his Great Heathen Army would one day arrive on the shores of England.
It is believed that Ragnar perished while in captivity. But true to his words, in 865, Britain suffered under the hands of Viking invasions led by a son of Ragnar, Ivar the Boneless.
Legendary Stories about Ragnar Lothbrok’s Achievements
Here are some famed stories, or myths, about Ragnar Lothbrok’s amazing feat of achievements:
He Fought a Dragon
According to legends, Ragnar squarely faced a dragon. But he was very careful in his fight with the dragon. Clad in his protective garments, Ragnar used a spear to strike down the dragon.
As a Viking King, Ragnar Waged and Won Wars
Ragnar Lothbrok commanded the Great Heathen Army to conquer territories. That was the Viking way of life – sailing across seas and oppressing defenseless victims. When he led his army to lay siege to Paris, they defeated the Franks and took home ransom worth thousands of pounds of gold and silver. For the Vikings to leave his kingdom, Charles the Bald had no option than to settle the ransom.
His Name Has Featured in Many Books, TV Shows, Novels and Movies
Ragnar’s name lives on, even though the mythological Viking hero supposedly died multiple times some centuries ago. His name has been a central theme in novels such as “Sea Kings” by Edwin Atherstone and “Sword of Ganelon” by Richard Parker. In movies, Ragnar’s name could not be left in “The Vikings, 1958”. The BBC also dedicated a series to Ragnar and his remarkable super hero life in the hit TV series, “Vikings“.
His Sons Avenged His Death
On their arrival in Britain in 865, the Ragnar’s sons and the Heathen Army made way to Anglia (an English region). There, they ensured the death of Edmund the Martyr – the East Anglian king. The reason why very few records of St Edmund exist is that the Vikings destroyed all evidence of his reign. After devastating the shores of East Anglia, Ragnar’s son(s) moved farther northwards to York City and avenged their father’s death by torturing King Aella to his last breath.
All in all, Ragnar’s descendants and the Heathen Army went on to terrorize virtually all of England, as well as some parts of France. As a result of the lasting impact they had on those areas, very few people to this day doubt Ragnar sons'(and Vikings’) presence in Britain.
In summary, Ragnar Lothbrok, as well as all those who claimed lineage to him, is one of the few mythological heroes whose names have left indelible marks on English history.