A popular Viking warrior, Ragnar Lothbrok is one of those whose existence will never be proven . The one who calls himself Ragnar at the Hairy Braies is a semi-legendary character. It could be the grouping of several historical people found in literary sources: King Harek, King Reginfrid, Reginherus or a simple Viking leader. No one will ever be able to prove it. But what is the real story of Ragnar , the one told in the historical books?
Who is Ragnar Lothbrok?
The question everyone is asking:
Did Ragnar Lothbrok exist?
It cannot be confirmed, however many sources confirm its existence.
Ragnar Lothbrok is a Jarl, the equivalent of the current Western Earl. The Viking, originally from Denmark , is said to have lived between 750 and 850 AD . A former farmer, Ragnar Lothbrok would have rebelled against his own jarl, determined to discover the world through his own expeditions. What he does, leaving with some of his relatives: the Father of Bjorn Côtes-de-Fer , Ivar the Boneless , Ubbe, or even Hvitserk.
Where did Ragnar Lothbrok live?
According to our current knowledge, Ragnar lived in Denmark and Sweden where he ruled as king.
Where is Ragnar Lothbrok buried?
Since it can't be determined if Ragnar actually existed, we also don't know where he might have been buried.
According to some, he is still in his snake pit somewhere in England...
Ragnar, true warlord
His very first expedition was a clandestine expedition . He sails towards the island of Lindisfarne , where he plunders, with his companions of adventure, a monastery.
In the year 845, Ragnar Lothbrok devastated Rouen, France. Then, sailing on the Seine, his army of nearly 5,000 Vikings arrived in Paris, where abbeys and monasteries were looted. Charles the Bald, King of France, finally pays 7,000 pounds for Ragnar and his troops to leave.
Ragnar Lothbrok is a fearsome and intelligent warrior. His strategy during the looting? Launching his army on holy festivals and Christian holy days . During these times, many soldiers were in the church and therefore could not defend the city properly. Ragnar Lothbrok was an ambitious Viking, but above all thirsty for glory. He would also have been the father of the great Viking army, which plundered and conquered England at the end of the 19th century.
The Women of Ragnar Lothbrok
Not all literary and historical sources grant the same number of wives to Ragnar Lothbrok. Most give him three:
- Aslaug / Kraka
The story of the meeting between Ragnar and Lathgertha is told in the book of the "Gesture of the Danes". The king of Sweden, Fro, invades Norway and kills the Scandinavian king. The women who were close to the latter are sent to the brothel. Faced with this news that Ragnar learns, he sets sail for the neighboring country. On foot, he is welcomed by several women, including Lathgertha. She has the body of a young woman but the temperament of a man. Lathgertha is of noble blood but is a true fighter . Which pleases the Viking entirely. Ragnar then asks for her hand. She refuses. At the entrance to her home, Lathgertha has a dog and a bear tied up to prevent Ragnar from coming to see her there. They won't stop him, since the viking kills one with an arrow and strangles the second. So he ends up marrying Lathgertha.
Ragnar's second wife would be Thora. Ragnar also divorces Lathgertha to be able to date the one he now loves . It was during their meeting that the Viking found his nickname "Hairy Braies".
Thora is the daughter of the King of Sweden , Herothus. The legend says that the young woman had been offered two snakes by her father. Snakes that have become large, poisonous and above all dangerous. The King of Sweden then launches a challenge to the men who wish it: that of fighting the two snakes to win the hand of his daughter. Ragnar Lothbrok tries it. The Viking warrior makes himself a coat and breeches covered with hair and pitch, in order to protect himself from snakes. He triumphs and marries Thora.
Kraka, say Aslaug:
Kraka, also called Aslaug, is the daughter of the Valkyrie Brünnhild and the hero Sigurd . Orphaned and taken in by her adoptive parents, she went to live in Norway. She meets Ragnar while she is carried away by illness. He resumes his expeditions and anchors his ship in a small bay. From there, he goes to the farm where Kraka is staying. Ragnar's men are captivated by her beauty. They tell Ragnar who then asks them to leave a note for the young girl: “Ask her to come and see me! I will meet her and I wish to marry her. But I demand that she be neither clothed nor undressed, that her stomach is neither full nor empty, and that she does not come alone, but no one must accompany her. Kraka promises to come find Ragnar. To meet the requirements of the Viking, she wraps herself in a fishing net, so as not to be overdressed. She eats an onion so as not to have too full a stomach, and is followed by the farm dog so as not to be too alone. The test of wisdom is amply passed by the young woman. Ragnar, conquered, brought him back with him.
The book "Gesture of the Danes" gives Ragnar Lothbrok two more wives, but makes no mention of Kraka.
Three of Ragnar Lothbrok's sons are particularly well known today:
- Björn iron coast
- Ivar the Boneless
- Sigurd snake eye
Björn , first, who is the oldest of the Vikings. He is the son of Lathgertha and is nicknamed Iron Ribs, for his prowess in battle.
Ivar , next, says Ivar the Boneless. He is fathered by Kraka, on the couple's very first night. His nickname comes from his peculiarity of being born without bones, being affected by osteogenesis. These are replaced by cartilage, which forces Ivar to move around using crutches.
Sigurd (or Serpent-in-the-Eye), then, also fathered by Kraka.
According to some literary sources, he is said to have had three children with Lathgertha, seven with Thora, three with Suanlogha, and a last child by Hesbern's daughter. He is therefore also known as son Ubbe , Halfdan Ragnarsson or even Hvitserk . Among his daughters we can name Gyda, whom he had with Lathgertha.
The terrible death of Ragnar, how did he die?
Already aged, Ragnar Lothbrok sets out on a crusade against King Ecbert . He gets captured. The two men make a deal: Ragnar will be delivered to King Aelle , his old enemy, so that Wessex will not be assaulted. The viking is then delivered to the king of Northumbria Aelle, and finds himself thrown into a pit filled with living snakes . Ragnar dies there in atrocious conditions.
In revenge, his sons are said to have led an attack on Northumbria and killed King Aelle by inflicting the ordeal of the Blood Eagle on him.
Even today, Ragnar Lothbrok remains known to the general public and fans of Viking mythology. He is also the main character in the series "Vikings" and the rest for four seasons.
What does the name "Ragnar Lothbrok" mean?
Ragnar can mean several things. First of all, we can translate this name by "Warrior of the gods" or "Guardian of the fort".
Regarding his surname "Lothbrok", it is translated as "Braies velues", ie "fur pants". Indeed, this is how the members of his clan dressed at the time.
Ragnar in the Vikings series
Ragnar begins as a farmer in Kattegat in the Vikings series. He is accompanied by his wife, Lagertha .
From the start, he was ambitious and wanted to discover the West. While Jarl Haraldson refuses and wants to attack as usual in the East, Ragnar claims to him that there are rich lands in the West.
Eventually he will lead an expedition and arrive at the Anglo-Saxon coasts, specifically at the monastery of Lindisfarne . There he will meet Athelstan, a Christian monk, who will become his faithful companion for the rest of the adventure.
Subsequently, Ragnar becomes Jarl and leads expeditions west. He will even go so far as to besiege Normandy and enter Paris.
He will eventually die, captured by the enemy. It was then his sons who would lead the rest of the war and avenge their father with the help of the Grande Armée .
Which actor plays Ragnar?
This is Travis Fimmel. Initially a model, this Australian actor had the perfect look to play Ragnar during the Vikings series.
You can learn more about him in our dedicated article: The Actors of the Vikings Series
How old is Ragnar in the Vikings series?
According to our estimates, Ragnar must have been around 31 years old in season 1 of Vikings.
When he died in Season 4, he would have been 54 years old.
Ragnar has a beard that changes with the seasons. It's a guaranteed Viking style to have the honor of wearing the same beard. In order to help you in your quest for the perfect beard, we have produced a guide to having a beautiful Viking beard .