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Jarl Borg

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Jarl Borg
Portrayed by Thorbjørn Harr
Jarl c1
Status: Deceased
Death: Blood Eagle
Manner of Death: Executed by Ragnar via the blood eagle
Home: Götaland
Title: Jarl of the Geats
Significant Other/s: Unknown wife† (first wife)

Torvi (second wife)

Children: Son by Torvi
Character Information
Season/s: 1, 2
First appearance: All Change
Latest appearance: Blood Eagle
Appearance Count: 8

Jarl Borg was the fierce and cunning Jarl of Götaland.

Biography Edit

Season 1 Edit

Jarl Borg is a powerful and important leader in Götaland. When he was narrowly elected as Jarl after his father's death, his brother- formerly one of his close allies- sought to usurp him. When Borg threw a feast to celebrate, his brother attempted to poison him and his supporters; the Jarl survived only because his new wife drained the cup intended for him. Borg claims he is never able to forget his wife's death-screams as a result. He punished his brother by blinding him, then burning him alive.

He believes himself the legal owner of some lands King Horik also claims as his. Wanting to resolve the land dispute, the king sent Ragnar Lothbrok. When Ragnar arrived, Borg continued to refuse to cede his land to King Horik, whom he considers to be a foreign king with no legitimate claim to anything. He remained unwilling to make deals or compromise, and insisted that he will not accept the king's payment for him to renounce his claim. Ragnar then sent the king's emissaries on their way, and it was then clear that the only path they were taking was heading towards war. While Ragnar allied himself with King Horik, Jarl Borg manipulated Rollo, using his insecurities to his advantage, and convinced him to fight with him.

Season 2 Edit

Alongside Rollo, Jarl Borg fought against the united forces of Ragnar and King Horik. The battle ended, however, when Rollo gave up, unable to fight Ragnar himself. During the assembly that followed, Borg and Horik continued the battle with an argument, only to be stopped by Ragnar and his speech about raiding the West. Persuaded, Borg and Horik finally agree on terms, in addition to raiding together some day.

Four years after, Borg travels to Kattegat, eager for the raids. King Horik, however, still finds himself unable to trust him, so he had Ragnar take him out of their plans. Jarl Borg was furious to find out that they decided to break their agreement. He had even tried to coax Rollo into betraying Ragnar again, though he failed and was instead punched in the face.

At the feast of his wedding to Torvi, Jarl Borg announced that they will be attacking Kattegat in retaliation of Ragnar and Rollo's betrayal. Although he blamed King Horik more, he wanted to take advantage of the vulnerability of Kattegat. Borg's ships sailed up the fjord to Kattegat, with Borg fighting his way into the town, wielding an axe in each hand. The attack was a success, killing most of the town's defenders. Borg sought out Rollo, intent on vengeance for his treachery and blaming him for putting them in their situations in the first place. Though Rollo escaped, Jarl Borg still reveled in his victory, entering Ragnar's hall with mirth. When he went to the Seer for a reading, the Seer predicted an eagle in his future. Borg's wife soon became pregnant.

When Ragnar returned to Scandinavia after hearing of the invasion on Kattegat, Jarl Borg was ecstatic upon hearing about Ragnar's return, looking forward to fighting and defeating him. Unbeknownst to him, Ragnar had since received support and reinforcements from his son Bjorn and ex-wife Lagertha. In the night, they sneak into the village to burn the winter supplies of grain. Jarl Borg, enraged by this attack and taking the bait, is drawn out of Kattegat with his forces to hunt down thosee responsible for the intrusion, only to be confronted by Ragnar and his men and allies. After a brief but fierce battle with casualties on both sides, Jarl Borg escaped with his remaining men, retreating from Kattegat.

After their attack on Wessex, the forces of Horik had been greatly reduced. Horik advised Ragnar to reestablish their alliance with Jarl Borg, who had ships and men to allow them to raid in the West again. At Horik's suggestion, Ragnar sent Rollo to Jarl Borg with the proposal. Borg, after consulting with the skull of his dead first wife, accepted Ragnar's offer and soon came to Kattegat with his ships and men. That night, Rollo had the barn sheltering Borg's forces set afire and captured Jarl Borg, without the knowledge of King Horik . Ragnar had Borg brought into the Great Hall and, barely containing his vengeful fury, informed him that, for threatening his family, he'd be subjected to the blood eagle, a horrible and torturous form of execution.

Jarl Borg is held captive in Kattegat awaiting execution. King Horik tries change Ragnar's mind about executing Borg, as they need his men and ships to attack Wessex. Ragnar, however, has sent word to other possible allies to replace Jarl Borg in their alliance. King Horik, with the help of Siggy, secretly visits Jarl Borg and is proposed a deal in which Horik would help Borg escape so he can kill Ragnar, who seems to have the ambition to rise above being earl, possibly even replacing Horik as king. King Horik tells Jarl Borg he agrees to his proposal and and that he has men not as loyal to Ragnar as they seem who are willing to help Jarl Borg escape his execution. However, Ragnar's former wife Lagertha, now an earl herself, arrives as a new ally with four ships and around one hundred warriors. Having no use for Borg anymore, King Horik voices no further objection to Jarl Borg's execution. He allows Borg to continue to hope, however, since hope would make death even more horrible.

Blood Eagle - The Death of Jarl BorgEdit

Someone enters Jarl Borg's cell in Kattegat, late at night. At

Jarl Borg walks to his fate - the Blood Eagle.

first, Borg thinks it's King Horik coming to free him. Unshackled, Jarl Borg exits his cell, carrying the skull of his late first wife, thinking his escape is at hand. Emerging into the torchlit center of Kattegat, Borg's hopes are dashed. The entire population of Kattegat awaits. Seeing that no hope of escaping his fate exists, Borg is seemingly resigned to the inevitable.

Kattegat is decked out in barbaric splendor for the grim spectacle. Drums beat and mounted skulls seem to grin mockingly in the flickering torchlight as the doomed jarl approaches a platform erected in the center of the village. Waiting on the platform is a grim-faced Ragnar, clad in a long, white tunic, not a trace of mercy in his icy eyes.

Removing his cloak, Borg throws the garment to his pregnant wife, Torvi. Assuming the position between two posts, Borg places the skull of his late first wife on one of the posts, then kneels. Ragnar starts with a skinning knife, opening Borg's back up the spine. The planks of the platform are soon slick with the blood of the jarl. With the flesh of the back laid wide open, Ragnar takes a hatchet and proceeds to hack the ribs away from their moorings on either side of the spinal column causing the rib cage to spring open and expose the lungs. During the process, overcome with the grief and horror of her husband's suffering and imminent death, Borg's wife, laden with the unborn child the jarl will never see, faints to the ground. Taking Borg's lungs in his hands and drawing them from the gaping chest cavity, Ragnar drapes them over the stoically-suffering jarl's shoulders.

Jarl Borg, a true Viking to the last, dies worthy of Valhalla.

Without the diaphragm to expand and contract the lungs, the jarl of Götaland dies not long thereafter from suffocation.  The last sight Jarl Borg sees as the darkness of death descends is an eagle - a pet of Ragnar's - perched nearby. Jarl Borg smiles as the eagle returns his gaze. Having endured his torturous, horrific death without so much as uttering a cry, Jarl Borg - a Viking to the last - proves himself worthy of Valhalla.

Trivia Edit

  • Jarl Borg belongs to a distinctive Norse tribe known as the Gautar, a people referred to in English works such as Beowulf and Widsith as the 'Geats', and related to the Germanic Goth tribes which invaded the western Roman Empire. The Gautar have since been assimilated by the Swedes in the Medieval period.
  • Jarl Borg, as a powerful Geatish lord of near-kingly powers, may have been a member of the royal clan of the Wulfings (descendents of the wolf) who traditionally ruled over the Gautar of Ostergotland.
  • A report that the Wulfings claimed descent from Odin- {} just as Ragnar Lodbrok did.
  • Jarl Borg and his peers, King Horik and Ragnar Lodbrok, appear to belong to different tribes of Norse Vikings: Jarl Borg is a Swedish-based Geat (Goth), Ragnar and his people of Kattgat are likely Norwegians, and King Horik is the overlord of the Danish people.
  • In the episode Eye For An Eye, Jarl Borg visits the seer asking for his prophecy. The Seer tells him that an eagle hovers above him, but simultaneously he is the eagle. Jarl Borg takes this as a good sign, as eagles are signs of good fortune. The Seer cryptically remains silent, neither confirming nor denying this. The Seer's prophecy is shown to be negative for Jarl Borg, as when the Seer said he was an eagle, he was referring to how Jarl Borg would look like one after being blood eagled. The eagle hovering over him could also be a reference to Ragnar, as Ragnar experienced great fortune and even had a pet eagle, and later Ragnar descended on and killed Borg.
  • Jarl Borg was originally supposed to be a Swedish Jarl, living in Sweden. But Swedish actor Gustaf Skarsgård, who plays Floki, told Micheal Hirst that "Sweden" did not exist as such in the time of the Vikings and that Uppsala would be located within it if it did. Hirst then changed Borg to a Geatish jarl, since there would not be any motivation for Ragnar going home to Kattegat before visiting Borg if he was already in Svealand (Land of the Swedes).


Jarl Borg's fighting technique is one used by many norse warriors. He wields two hatchets, which he uses well given his speed and agility. Rather than fighting in the shield wall and participate in the shoving match, Jarl Borg prefers fighting behind it, picking off stragglers that have managed to break through or targeting specific people in the wall. Jarl Borg uses his cunning more than his brute force in battle, as he often observes the battle and makes strategic decisions rather than simply throwing himself into the fight. In the fight against Ragnar and Lagertha, he is seen pacing behind the wall, fighting to help strengthen weaknesses in his shield wall. He also makes the strategic decision to pull back some men and then rush back into the shield-wall contest, hoping to shatter Ragnar's. This makes Jarl Borg a very dangerous enemy, as he is both a skilled fighter but an even more skilled tactician. Despite his cunning tactics, at the same time Jarl Borg's personal courage and ferocity have compelled him to go head-to-head against Ragnar and Rollo. 

Appearances Edit

Season one appearances
Rites of Passage Wrath of the Northmen Dispossessed
Trial Raid Burial of the Dead
A King's Ransom Sacrifice All Change
Season two appearances
Brother's War Invasion Treachery Eye For an Eye Answers in Blood
Unforgiven Blood Eagle Boneless The Choice The Lord's Prayer

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