6 of your favourite Vikings characters based on actual Vikings (probably)
From fanatical conquerors to calculated queens, Vikings has an axe-wielding warrior for everyone. Now that the first half of Season 5 is available on Showmax, take a moment to learn about your favourite barbarians’ true-life inspirations.
As Season 5 of the addictive historical drama Vikings has just premiered on Showmax, you’ll be reintroduced to some of the most eccentric, charming, sexy, and brutally ambitious Norse folk to grace the small screen. Most of the series’ main characters are based on actual Scandinavian leaders and legends. Here are six fan favourites.
The show’s main character for the past four seasons (all available on Showmax) is based on possibly the most legendary Viking ruler ever: Ragnar Lothbrok. He terrorised the peoples of Anglo-Saxon England and continental Europe, leading the pagan hordes deep into foreign lands and giving the Vikings their reputation for fearsome, ruthless raiding parties. Historians disagree over whether Ragnar actually existed or if he was an amalgamation of various Viking heroes of the era. Strangely, historians are certain all of Ragnar’s sons were real people.
Floki was introduced in Season 1 as a quirky, mischievous, and highly intelligent Norwegian warrior who used his ship building skills to send Ragnar Lothbrok and his armies to new lands. He is imbued with the trickster spirit of the Norse God Loki and is loosely based on Flóki Vilgerðarson, the first Norseman to deliberately sail to Iceland. During the voyage, Flóki sent ravens to find land and gauge the distance to shore; a skill which earned him the nickname Raven-Floki or Hrafna-Floki. In Season 5, Floki’s story begins to follow that of the historical Flóki more closely.
You won’t find a more formidable female in Vikings than Lagertha, the legendary shieldmaiden who fought skilfully on the battlefield alongside Ragnar. In the show, she becomes Earl of Hedeby and then seizes Kattegat to become Queen. The Lagertha of lore was probably a mortal representation of Norse goddess, Thorgerd. This explains why some of the more sensational aspects of the heroine, like her ability to fly, were excluded from the show. But this doesn’t stop her from kicking absurd amounts of ass.
According to legend, Aslaug was Ragnar’s alluring second wife and bore him five sons, one of whom, Ivar, suffered a terrible curse because Ragnar refused to wait three nights before consummating their marriage. The myth of their meeting includes a test of intelligence put to Aslaug by Ragnar. He requested that Aslaug come to him neither dressed nor naked, neither hungry nor full, and neither alone nor in company. In response, she appeared draped in a net, eating an onion (replaced by a much sexier apple in the series) and accompanied by a dog.
Ivar the Boneless
In many ways season 5 of Vikings belongs to Ragnar and Aslaug’s eldest son, Ivar, played with Ragnar-esque charm by Alex Høgh Andersen. Historians believe the nickname most likely referred to his being afflicted with brittle bone disease; a more likely explanation than a curse from the gods. Despite this very un-Viking condition, Ivar refused to be overshadowed by his able-bodied brothers and became a master tactician, leading the Great Heathen Army into England and conquering great cities like York and perhaps even London.
Fiercely loyal at first, Ragnar’s brother Rollo begins to envy and loathe Ragnar as the series progresses, eventually defecting to the Franks during Season 4. In history, Rollo may be the most significant Viking to inspire a character in the show. The real Rollo became the Duke of Normandy in exchange for protecting the Frankish Empire from subsequent Viking raids. His son, William Longsword, later conquered England in the Norman Invasion of 1066. His descendants went on to conquer Sicily and Antioch in modern-day Turkey.