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Profiles

  • Sigurd "Snake-in-the-eye" Ragnarsson (aft.780 - bef.890)
    Mentioned in the " Cronicle of Roskilde" Alt Birth Dates: c. 786, c. 776, c. 782 Alt Death Dates: c. 873, c. 799, 866, 803 Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, Jarl of Zealand, Halland, Scania, Denmark & Vik...
  • Åslaug Sigurdsdatter, {Ragnars Saga} (765 - d.)
    Aslaug is a mythological person currently in the historical tree. She corresponds to Áslaugr Sigurðardóttir in Hversum Noreg byggdist , and to the fictional Áslaugr Sigurðardóttir in Volsunga saga . ...
  • Ragnar "Lodbrok" Sigurdsson (aft.740 - c.840)
    Kindly do not split the various wives and children from the tree, as it leaves the profile incomplete The evidence to suggest Ragnar ever lived is scarce, but, crucially, it does exist. Two referen...
  • Rognvald Ragnarsson (deceased)
    Rognvald is named as a son of Ragnar and Aslaug in the Tale of Ragnar Lodbrok .
  • Hvidserk Ragnarsson (c.790 - 877)
    .................................................................................................................................................. Halvdan Ragnarsson, også kalt Halvdan Kvitserk, tiln...

Ragnar Lodbrok (Ragnar Hairy-Breeches) was a legendary viking king whose exploits are described in several sagas and other records of the time. He supposedly led many raids into England and France until he was shipwrecked on the Northumbrian coast, captured by Ælla of Northumbria and killed by being thrown into a pit of snakes. The invasion of England by the Great Heathen Army in 865 is described in the sagas as a revenge attack for Ragnar's murder led by several of his sons, although this is not supported by contemporary English records.

Sources

The two sagas that provide the majority of what we know about of Ragnar are Ragnars saga Loðbrókar (Tale of Ragnar Lodbrok) and Ragnarssona þáttr (Tale of Ragnar's Sons). Another important source is Saxo Grammaticus who mentions both Ragnar and his sons in detail.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/photos.geni.com/p13/1d/30/74/a4/5344483de8dc8cc1/ragnar_lodbrok_medium.jpg

Was he real?

There is a great deal of doubt about whether Ragnar Lodbrok was a real person. The original sources that tell his story have contradictions of timing and events that make it impossible they are completely accurate. He would have had to live more than 100 years and have had children in at least three different generations. Also, many of the deeds attributed to him were also attributed to other, historically attested kings and heroes.

There are three schools of thought about him:

  1. The majority of modern experts believe Ragnar is probably an invention to connect his famous sons to the families of the equally famous (and also legendary) Sigurd Ring, Sigurd Fafnirsbane, and the valkyrie Brunhilda. The argument for this view is summarized by Stewart Baldwin, Was Ragnar Lothbrok historical?
  2. Some experts believe there might have been an original Ragnar Lodbrok, but his story has grown in the telling so that we have a composite picture several different men but with no way to separate truth from fiction. This was the view of Hilda Ella Davidson, who argued that the 12th century Gesta Danorum seems to be trying to make sense of many different confusing and contradictory events by combining them into the reign of a single king called Ragnar (Saxo Grammaticus (1980)).
  3. Many non-academic writers believe Ragnar Lodbrok might have been an historical person, and that it might still be possible to reconcile the discrepancies in the sources in a way that does not fictionalize him.

His family

According to the sagas Ragnar was the son of Sigurd Ring and his wife Álfhildr.

Ragnar’s wives and children

As the various texts do not align, they give different versions of which woman was mother of which child and which children were full or half siblings.

Wives and children as mentioned in the Tale of Ragnar Lodbrok:

  1. Thora – no children are specifically named but Aslaug’s sons have two elder brothers are named Erik and Agnar who are presumably Thora’s children.
  2. Aslaug - four sons;
    1. Ivar "Boneless"
    2. Bjørn "Ironside"
    3. Hvitserk
    4. Rognvald

Wives and children as mentioned in the Tale of Ragnar’s Sons:

  1. Thora - Erik and Agnar are mentioned as stepchildren of Aslaug, as Thora was Ragnar’s wife before Aslaug they must be her sons.
  2. Aslaug - four sons;
    1. Ivar "Boneless"
    2. Bjørn "Ironside"
    3. Hvitserk
    4. Sigurd "Worm in Eye"
  3. Un-named mother(s) of Husto and Yngvar - two sons are mentioned as Ivar’s brothers born out of wedlock.

Wives and children as mentioned in Saxo’s Gesta Danorum:

  1. Lagertha - two daughters of unknown name, one son Fridleif.
  2. Thora - six sons;
    1. Radbard
    2. Dunvat
    3. Sivard
    4. Bjørn
    5. Agnar
    6. Ivar
  3. Svanloga - three sons;
    1. Ragnald
    2. Hvitserk
    3. Erik
  4. Un-named mother of Ubbe - Ragnar fathers Ubbe with a unnamed noble woman. Her father, who is described as Ubba’s grandfather, is named Esbern.

Wives and children as mentioned in Landnámabók:

  1. Un-named mother(s) of Ragnar’s son, Bjørn "Ironside", and daughter, Alof.

Further Reading

  • Heimskringla - is a Norwegian web site, that has many of the sagas in the original language.
  • Ragnar's page at Wikipedia
  • Ragnar's page at Encyclopedia Britannica
  • Baldwin - on the likelihood that Ragnar was a historical person.
  • McTurk - on the paternity of historical vikings Ivar and Hubba and the possible feminine source of Lodbrok.
  • Landnámabók mentions Ragnar at least twice in relation to a daughter Álöf and a son Björn.
  • Eyrbyggja saga mentions Ragnar as grandfather of Sigurd's daughter Thora.