Vikings: 5 Things That Are Historically Accurate (And 5 That Are Inaccurate)
For a long time, when people thought of the History Channel, they thought of endless memes involving ancient aliens and certain experts with unique ways of expressing themselves. However, in recent years, attention has shifted to his hit shows, the most notable of which is vikings. In vikingsfans follow Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons through the most influential period in Viking history.
The show is on the History channel and tries to be as historically accurate as possible, however, its accuracy has been called into question more than once. After all, it’s hard to walk the line between objective history and interesting, flowing narrative. The facts always seem to adjust a little whenever the two mix.
Updated on 30 August 2022 by Stuart Kilmartin: The world of Vikings continues to expand with the sequel series Vikings: Valhalla on Netflix. While the original Vikings series focused on the legendary Ragnor Lodbrok and the rise of the Vikings as one of the dominant forces in northern Europe, Vikings: Valhalla explores the end of the Viking Age. So how accurate is Vikings? Both series do their best to incorporate Viking accuracy and historical truth as much as possible. However, both series also bend the truth of history to fit their narratives, as is the case with most historical fiction, whether in film or television.
Although a fierce warrior, Rollo was known throughout history to be an impulsive and jealous man. As the first Duke of Normandy, he left behind some of his former life to better blend in with other Anglo-Saxon cultures. However, it is not historically confirmed if he was a Viking in origin. The man did a good job of covering up his past. Conqueror and leader, he ruled Normandy in his own brutal way.
His legacy survived many generations in power only because of his fiercely militaristic and ruthless nature. As for comparing history and the vikings wow, the story seems to have his personality, even if they altered some serious facts about his heritage.
While the show certainly makes its characters look as attractive and interesting as possible, the Viking look they give them is not fake. The Vikings really embraced black eye paint and favored slicked-back, braided hairstyles. They reveled in looking fierce and wild, even if their tactics could be far more organized. Or, in some cases, as wild as they looked.
The Vikings believed in looser social rules and in the battle of the moment. They may have had few fights of tradition and traditional aspects, but they remained strong and attractive in their own way. They could intimidate any enemy with eye makeup like that.
THE CHILDREN OF RAGNAR
While Ragnar is almost mythical, none of his sons are. All his children are descended from true warriors and leaders of history. Although none of them can be confirmed as his real children, they made a huge impact during their time. Bjorn Ironside was a true Swedish Viking chief who headed a Swedish royal dynasty. Ivar The Boneless and Ubbe invaded England. Sigurd became king of Denmark.
All of these men’s names were included in certain stories of Ragnar’s sons. So, although it is not confirmed, it is not impossible that they really were his children. Regardless of parentage, most of these sons were true Vikings, and many of them became great kings, helping to shape and change Europe.
This one is a little tricky, because the general answer is yes. Strong warrior women were real in Viking culture. However, they were not yet so involved to the point vikings portrays it Befitting modern sensibilities, Lagertha is portrayed as an intimidating warrior and leader. The truth, however, is that actual shield maidens were few and far between. Also, they were rarely given much power in the military. At best, they were just additional forces.
More commonly, women were trained with a sword and shield to defend their homes or join men in war only for dire situations. Women generally had more freedoms and could fight in wars, but it is doubtful that any of them were as powerful, free, or skilled in battle as Lagertha.
NO HORNED HELMETS
Skyrim distorted many people’s ideas about Norsemen, thinking they all wore horned helmets and shouted things. Although it seems they shouted a lot, vikings set the record straight by keeping your characters helmetless.
The Vikings had certain helmets they wore, but they weren’t the iconic horned ones. Between keeping the characters recognizable and cleaning up those myths, helmetless is a lot easier. A lot of people imagine Vikings in a certain way, and that’s impressive vikings it does its best to at least preserve the true aesthetic, even though they play around a lot with character backstories and timelines.
THE BROTHERHOOD OF RAGNAR AND ROLLO
In vikings, Rollo and Ragnar are brothers. One is driven by his belief in his own greatness, while the other is driven by his jealousy and desire to find his own greatness. It’s not easy being the elder Ragnar’s brother. Ultimately, this leads to a love-hate relationship with a lot of confrontation and conflict.
Unfortunately, however, this key relationship is completely fabricated. Rollo and Ragnar were never brothers. Rollo was the Duke of Normandy, and it is not known if he was a Viking, although it is not known where Ragnar existed. At least the pair were never brothers at war.
VIKING BATTLE STYLE
Although the Vikings were stronger raiding fighters, they hardly fought in the traditional way fans are used to. The show sets up many wars like this, one enemy standing on another’s turf. However, it is highly unlikely that the Vikings would ever engage in these types of battles. After all, they preferred raids. This not only means fierce combat, but also an element of surprise. Their battle tactics are closer to guerrilla style than classic field battles.
On television, however, pitched battles are the norm. It’s no surprise vikings decided to favor a grander style that can really pump up the crowd. The clash of armies feels much grander and more epic than tons of tactics and surprise raids.
THE TIME LINE
Unfortunately for vikings, the most exciting events in Viking history aren’t exactly together. However, for the show and the benefit of the fans, time has been chosen to connect the best moments together. However, this means that the Vikings coming “to the west” and invading England are nowhere close in the timeline. There are tens, and sometimes hundreds, of years between major raids. Lagertha definitely shouldn’t have been able to be a viking woman before the west and during the Paris attack.
While it makes for great television to see fan-favorite characters during all of these historical events, it means that many of the stories of vikings they are completely historically inaccurate.
During a particularly dark and terrible time, the Christians crucified Athelstan for his consort with the Vikings and abandoned the faith. Although he did not abandon Christianity, they did not see it that way. Despite being a moving and heartbreaking scene, it is completely false.
A large part of the Christian faith is mourning the crucifixion of Christ. They believe that sacrifice is sacred. If they really thought Athelstan was a heathen, they wouldn’t do anything so meaningful to him. Also, Christians were not known for arbitrary crucifixions. Narratively, it was a powerful moment for Athelstan, but historically, it’s not accurate.
THE EXISTENCE OF RAGNAR
Unlike his sons and many other characters in the show, Ragnar Lothbrok’s existence cannot be confirmed. There are known Norse legends about him as a powerful and influential Viking, but actual accounts of his real life are non-existent. For a pinnacle of the Viking mythos, the fact is that it is more likely than not that it never existed.
Despite the lack of historical facts surrounding his existence, he is such an important figure in Viking mythology and legends mention famous leaders such as Bjorn Ironside and Ivar the Boneless as his “sons”.
NEXT: 5 Things in Spartacus That Are Historically Accurate (And 5 Things That Are Completely Made Up)