ragnar lothbrok pictures and images

Ragnar Lothbrok, the Fearless Viking Hero of Norse History

Ragnar Lothbrok was a Danish Viking warlord and a renowned hero of Norse history who lived in 9th century. Both the name Ragnar and “the nickname” Lothbrok, which must not be confused with a surname,  had many variations in the accounts of the age. Sometimes his name could be written as Regnar or Regner whereas his surname could be written as Lodbrok or Lodbrog. The Danish Viking hero was also known as Ragnar Sigurdsson as some stories claimed that he was the son of Danish King Sigurd Ring (or Hring)

The word “Lothbrok” could be interpreted as “hairy breeches” in the Old Norse language and it was believed that this name was derived from his breeches which he wore while fighting against a serpent that breathes poison (or a dragon according to some stories).

Stories and historical accounts in medieval literature regarding Ragnar Lothbrok differ from each other in terms of details, however, the essential part about him being a fearless Viking warrior who raided France and England seems to be almost identical in every story.

ragnar vikings photosIn addition to that, Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a chronological account of the age which is considered a highly reliable source, confirms the story of Ragnar Lothbrok, his deeds, which made a significant impact on the history of 9th century, and his sons carrying on his legacy.

According to the accounts of French historians, Ragnar ruled as a king in Denmark and he and his sons raided France ruthlessly.  Another account links Ragnar to Reginheri (Reginherus), the Viking who attacked Paris, hanged 111 Christians and died of a disease shortly thereafter.

ragnar wife pictures

Ragnar Lothbrok became famous as a warlord and made his fortune by raiding the lands and kingdoms in the west. He allegedly attacked people when they were in the church.

He was told to be a witty leader and ruin the well-organized and disciplined forces of France with his furious army sometimes using blitzkrieg (sudden charge) tactics to surprise the enemy.  He captured Paris and made King Charles pay 7000 pounds as ransom on one occasion.

As a common point in many stories telling us the legend of the great Viking hero, Ragnar  Lothbrok had three wives; Lagertha, the shield maiden,  Aslaug, the warrior queen and Thora Town-hart (Borgarhjort), a noblewoman who was the daughter of the earl Herrauðr of Götaland.  Ragnar’s wives gave him many sons; the most famous ones being Bjorn Ironside, Ubba (Ubbe/Hubba), Halfdan Ragnarsson and Ivar the Boneless (Inwaer).


Ragnar Lothbrok’s Death – How did Ragnar Lothbrok die?

There are two versions of the story about Ragnar Lothbrok’s death. One identifies him with Reginheri and suggests that he died of a deadly disease similar to diarrhea right after he ravaged Paris. The description regarding the disease in question and the manner of his death given in several accounts points to dysentery as his cause of death.

The second version, as it is told in some historical accounts, particularly, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, tells us that Ragnar Lothbrok meets death in the hands of his enemies.

ragnar lothbrok pictures

According to this version, on his way back home after he was forced out of  Paris, Ragnar’s ship washed ashore on the coast of the Kingdom of Northumbria where he attacked and held to ransom numerous times.

Longing for getting revenge on Ragnar Lothbrok for a long time, King Aella of Northumbria captured and threw Ragnar into a pit of snakes, leaving him to a painful and gruesome death. Legend has it that, right before he died, Ragnar Lothbrok sang a Norse hymn and warned King Aella that his sons would come for vengeance. The Great Heathen Army (the Great Viking Army, a combined army of Vikings from Denmark and Sweden) led by Ragnar Lothbrok’s sons invaded England and killed King Aella in 866.

Ragnar Lothbrok’s legacy continued and his descendants actually kept on making an impact on the structure of the region even long after he was dead. Around two centuries after Ragnar’s passing, some of the Vikings, who descended from his sons, settled in the west coast of France turning this area into “the land of Northmen”, Normandy as we know it in the present day.

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21 Responses to Ragnar Lothbrok, the Fearless Viking Hero of Norse History

  1. Will March 24, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

    Too Cool.

  2. Heilan Yvette Grimes September 28, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    My book “The Ring: The Legend of the Niebelungenlied: The Volsungr Saga and The Saga of Ragnar Lodbrokr” has a complete translation of the Saga of Ragnar Lodbrokr.

    The book is a retelling of the Ring Saga (much bloodier than Wagner’s Teutonic Ring Cycle). Most storytellers end with the deaths of the Sigurdr and Brynhildr. However, the saga ends when the last Volsung is dead, and that would be Sigurdr and Brynhildr’s daughter, which is part of the Saga of Ragnar. Ragnar’s first wife is Sigurdr and Brynhildr’s daughter. But, he’s a lousy husband.

  3. Daphne February 27, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    Dysentery is a much believable death for the time, actually, and one must take into account what writers want to push forward about their ancestors. Of course we want to believe the pit of snakes, but history and logic support dysentery. Besides, dysentery would account for the hairy breeches (dirty breeches) nickname: in more than one account, Ragnar’s death was described as his bowels spilled to the earth.

    • Met_Ozer
      Met_Ozer March 25, 2015 at 3:54 am #

      Hello Daphne, first of all, thank you for the detailed info. Ditto on the dysentery situation. My sources mentioned a disease but not a “specific” one. This will be included to the article soon. About beliefs; of course, the pit of snakes version fascinates people more and they settle the story like that in their minds. Plus, there are almost always at least several versions of a story if it involves mythology/myths or parts of history about which there may not be enough information. That is why I am always writing “according to some accounts ..” etc. Thanks again for your insight.

  4. rozi March 6, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    Watched every single episodes…too incredibly facinating n too awesome…

    • Met_Ozer
      Met_Ozer March 25, 2015 at 3:42 am #

      Hi Rozi, yes, one of the best shows on TV as of now in terms of acting and directing.

  5. Adrienne March 25, 2015 at 1:35 am #

    Norse History is fascinating. There is so much more to be known. There are records of islands where some Norsemen lived a 1000 years ago that are presently under water, in the higher northern latitudes. I’m happy the Viking program on the History Channel is being presented.

    • Met_Ozer
      Met_Ozer March 25, 2015 at 3:39 am #

      Hi Adrienne, yes, definitely. Haven’t heard about the islands in question, but will definitely make some research now. And yes, we owe the History Channel 😉

  6. Mari April 17, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

    Haven’t missed one episode! Best historical drama on television in some decades!

    • Met_Ozer
      Met_Ozer April 19, 2015 at 8:22 am #

      True that Mari! Same here.

  7. Dennis Lisoway April 22, 2015 at 6:31 pm #

    This has been the best series that has ever been told about the Norsemen. History Channel I thank you and hope the series carries on for another season. Even though it looks like Ragnar may meet his end according to History I would like to see his sons carry on as well as his family. With my family from Norway its fun to think f the Vikings as distant relatives.

  8. Deborah April 27, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    Love this series, I have watched each series twice. I would like to see more docu-dramas that deal with the Norse people.

  9. 2mm August 9, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    Great show always a great pleasure to watch

  10. Charles August 23, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    My uncle has spent a few years researching our ancestry. He has it linked to Ragnar Lothbrok. Even further but Ragnars father apparently had a son by a mistress of which her name was not recorded. This made going back further difficult to trace.

    • Met_Ozer
      Met_Ozer August 24, 2015 at 3:35 pm #

      That’s interesting to hear (about Ragnar’s father) and you should definitely be proud to be his descendant since Ragnar Lothbrok was a real Viking hero. :)

  11. Kielan September 10, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

    I am really enjoying the series, I do wish they would make it a bit more realistic though.

    The victories on the first series are rather cheap considering how poorly the opponents conducted themselves.

    The first encounter is understandable, they where taken by surprise, the second time Saxon troops famed for shield war battle decided to attack in a column and throw themselves against the shield wall, what really would have happened is shield wall would have fought against shield wall and more Viking casualties.

    The night raid on the King of Northumberland’s brother who was a competent commander, was just ridiculous… if camped near the enemy, many guards are usually posted to watch at night, yet they did not show any being quietly bumped off.

    The lack of convincing victories in this series pretty much it’s only downside.

    • Met_Ozer
      Met_Ozer September 14, 2015 at 3:42 am #

      Hi there Kielan, thanks a lot for the insight. True that, the series is amazing but yes, actually weak about that and the battle scenes. Mostly, victories were a bit too easy. I should also add I expected more crowded battles, especially after Ragnar Lothbrok/Lodbrok became the king and took command of more territories. Who knows, might be a budget issue. Thanks for noting the details, much appreciated.

  12. Benjamin October 14, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

    What do you think of the new series “The Last Kingdom” In it they have Ragnar’s death by burning to death. He is asleep and a former viking which Ragnar banished blocks the doors and sets fire to it. Ragnar exits fully engulfed in flames. He does manage to kill a couple men but succumbs to the flames.

    As they are only one episode in, it seems like a cheap attempt to recreate the Majesty of Vikings.

    • Met_Ozer
      Met_Ozer October 15, 2015 at 1:21 am #

      Hi there Benjamin. Yes, I also watched the pilot of “The Last Kingdom” – which mostly impressed me as a production. There are two Ragnars apparently in that show; the Young Ragnar and his father Earl Ragnar (who probably is the protagonist of “The Vikings” by the History Channel). His death and the events before that were not close to any myth or belief I’ve read about real Ragnar Lodbrok’s death. I have searched about any possible relation and the thing is “The Last Kingdom” is a TV series adapted from fiction; Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Chronicles Seriesand although some characters in the TV show were important real life figures (the main character Uhtred of Bebbanburg was inspired by Uchtred the Bold, the ealdorman of Northumbria), the events, as they were/will be displayed in the series, might contradict what really happened in history as it was adapted from the book (“the books” actually as there are more than one). Thanks for dropping a few lines, I was kinda expecting someone to comment about Ragnar in that new show 😉

  13. Brad November 16, 2015 at 11:03 pm #

    The only problem I have with this series are the battle scenes. Each opponent is basically hit once, and then dies on the spot. Even if you’re stabbed in the gut, you still have some fighting left in you. If I was mortally wounded, I’d definitely go down swinging – as I’m sure most men trained as warriors would also do.

    • Met_Ozer
      Met_Ozer November 17, 2015 at 4:00 am #

      Hi Brad. That made me smile :) And yes, that is true indeed. Maybe, it is the budget of the show or the total time they can allocate to each episode. Also, maybe it is just me, I don’t know, but it seems to me the number of fighting men never change in spite of a lot of deaths and Ragnar becoming king and gathering all troops under his command (except when they travel to Paris in many boats).

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