I value great writing of all genres. That includes television teleplays. Winter and early spring are the best time of year to catch well-written scripted dramas such as PBS’s Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge, AMC’s Mad Men, SyFy’s 12 Monkeys and History’s Vikings.
As you can see, for the most part, I have a weakness for historical fiction.
Of all these series, the one that caught me the most by surprise was Vikings. The Middle Ages have never been a period that captured my interest, yet this series has become one of my favorites thanks to its well-written scripts and on-point acting. What’s more, it’s loosely based on Norse legends.
Ragnar Lothbrok, the main character on the series, lived in the late 700s and early 800s. He was a Danish king who led many raiding campaigns. He was killed by the king of Northumbria who threw him into a snake pit.
Literature records his wives as a Thora Town-Hart, Lagertha and Aslaug, and his sons as Bjorn, Ivan the Boneless, Ubba, Sigurd and Hafdan. In some accounts, there are more children.
He, however, does not appear in historical records or literature until nearly two centuries after his death.
Bjorn Ironside, Ragnar’s son, continued raiding after his father’s death including raiding France numerous times. He and his brothers, seen in the series as children, seek revenge after their father’s death.
The Old Norse legend the Tale of Ragnar’s Sons, says Bjorn is Aslaug’s son, not Lagertha’s as he is in the series.
According to legend, he, and later his sons, become kings of Sweden.
Just as in the series, Lagertha was a shield maiden and Ragnar’s ex-wife. They had a son and two daughters. She later went on to kill her second husband and usurp his lands.
The series also features Ragnar’s brother Rollo. However, the Rollo of history is not a Lothbrok.
The real Rollo was Duke of Normandy. He was born in the 840s, and was a Viking, although his nation of origin is debated.
He raided Paris on more than one occasion. Eventually he was defeated and converted to Christianity, taking the name Robert. He married Poppa and Gisela and had children.
He is the three-times great-grandfather of William the Conqueror.
Are you a fan of Vikings?