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Ragnar Lothbrok
Portrayed by Travis Fimmel
Ragnar c1
Status: Alive
Home: Scandinavia
Livelihood: Viking
Farmer
Title: Earl of Kattegat
Significant Other/s: Aslaug (second wife)
Lagertha (former wife)
Children: Bjorn (son)
Gyda † (daughter)
Ubbe (son)
Hvitserk (son)
Sigurd (son)
Siblings: Rollo (brother)
Character Information
Season/s: 1, 2
First appearance: Rites of Passage
Appearance Count: 16

Ragnar Lothbrok is a mighty Viking warrior who believes he is destined for greatness. He is driven not only by his thirst for battle and glory, but also by his thirst for knowledge and inquisitive nature.

Once merely a farmer and a frequent member of the sea raiders along with his fellow Norsemen, Ragnar has since risen to power, beginning with his successful and infamous raids of the west, and even became the Earl of Kattegat. Ragnar's adventuring spirit brings him into conflict with powerful men who try to block his ascent, from farmer to leader—to untold heights.

Ragnar identifies with the god Odin, who traded his eye for knowledge, and believes himself to be descended from him. According to the Icelandic sagas, Ragnar was the son of Sigurd Hring, a legendary king of Sweden and therefore a descendant from the Ynglig dynasty.

Biography Edit

Early Life Edit

At one point, Ragnar went to Lagertha's home to confess his love to her, but he was set upon by a bear and an enormous hound who guarded her home. Ragnar killed the bear with his spear and strangled the hound with his bare hands, thus gaining Lagertha's hand in marriage. 

The Seer had once prophesied that Ragnar will have many sons. Bjorn is the first of these. 

Season 1 Edit

In the beginning of the series, Ragnar is in the Eastern Baltic alongside his brother, Rollo, fighting several Baltic tribesmen. After they dispatch the eastlanders, Ragnar sees a vision of Odin, in the guise of the Wanderer, directing the Valkyries in taking up the spirits of fallen Northmen to Valhalla. Sometime thereafter, Ragnar returns to the small farming and fishing hamlet where he and his family reside, not far from the village of Kattegat, with what little plunder he can take from the Baltic.

Frustrated by the restrictive policies of his local chieftain, the short-sighted Earl Haraldson, Ragnar has evidently put much thought into his plans of sailing across the ocean to plunder the west, where he believes great riches lie in wait.

Ragnar then prepares his son, Bjorn, for his rite of manhood, where he shall receive his first armring from the Earl. On the way, Ragnar tells his son that he is dissatisfied with the current policies of the Earl and how he longs to travel to the Western lands and see what great riches might be there. He also prepares Bjorn for the possible consequences that might come about by his challenging of the Earl, telling him that he will soon make a decision that changes everything.

The next day, Ragnar and Bjorn arrive in Kattegat, where Rollo awaits them. Ragnar tells his brother of his plans to travel West, and also of how he was visited by a wanderer who gave him special devices by which he can navigate the open sea - a sunboard and a sunstone.

After demonstrating the effectiveness of these objects, Ragnar, Rollo and Bjorn attend the Thing. There, Bjorn passes the rite and gains his armring; thus becoming a man. The Earl, Haraldson, then tells the warriors that they shall again raid the Eastern lands and Russia; places as materially poor as the Vikings are. Ragnar then declares that the alternative is to instead raid the West, but Haraldson dismisses such a thing as an unfounded speculation and deluded fantasy.

Ragnar is later summoned in private to Haraldson's chambers, where the Earl tells him that his suggestion in the hall insulted him and that he shall never challenge him again. After Ragnar leaves, Harladson places tabs on him.

Ragnar then visits Floki, a good friend of his. A shipwright of great skill, Floki resolves to build for him a ship that will safely brave the western ocean. After some time, Floki has successfully designed the longship; which Ragnar and Rollo test. They find that it is perfect and will safely see them to the west.

Later, Ragnar gains the aid of his trusted friend: Erik, a mighty warrior and leader who gathers the warriors who will later become the core of his warband. Ragnar successfully wins the men to his cause and later goes on the raid to the west as he promised. After many days of sailing, they finally reach the monastery of Lindisfarne in Northumbria. What would later be known as the first recorded Viking raid in Western Europe thus unfolds, with Ragnar claiming unimaginable treasures and a Christian prisoner known as Athelstan

Ragnar and his warband return to Kattegat as great heroes, men who have discovered a whole new land and who have returned with great plunder. Ragnar is summoned to great hall, where the Earl asks them how they found the new land. Ragnar, unwilling to give up the secret of the sunboard, evades the question. However, the Earl confiscates the treasure, leaving Ragnar and his men with only one item each. Ragnar decides to keep the Christian monk Athelstan as his slave, reasoning that he can use his knowledge of the west to attain more treasure. 

After manipulating Athelstan into telling him of England's customs and teaching him its languages, Ragnar persuades Haraldson to allow him to raid west. Haraldson sanctions the raids, but on the condition that a warrior he trusts accompanies Ragnar's warband: Knut, a warrior present at the secret meeting with Ragnar and did not come with him the first time.

The Vikings then travel to Northumbria and are met by Saxon soldiers, Ragnar is able to communicate with them and seems interested in the prospect of peaceful trade with the Saxons. However, mutual distrust leads to violence between the parties and the Saxons are massacred. With no recourse but to continue on, the Vikings find a large Saxon town and assault it during their Sunday mass and plunder it with little bloodshed.

While returning to their longship, they are faced with a large force of Saxons who had been notified of their presence by a survivor from the previous altercation on the shore. Ragnar's uncanny leadership and the Viking's fighting skill carries them to victory again.

Ragnar returns to Kattegat, where yet another complication arouse. While raiding the village, Knut, after attempting to rape her, was killed by Lagertha. In order to protect his wife, Ragnar falsely confessed to killing Knut. Haraldson promptly has him arrested and put on trial, but testimony from Rollo sees Ragnar exonerated. A celebration is then made at the house of his ally, Erik. However, they are attacked by assassins sent by the vengeful Haraldson, the warband overcomes the assailants but Erik is killed. 

The death of his longtime ally fills Ragnar with rage and grief, and he resolves finally to defeat Haraldson to avenge his death. At the same time, Haraldson visits the Seer to learn about their mutual fates; Haraldson asks the Seer whether Ragnar desires to be Earl, to which the Seer enigmatically replies; "if he kills you, would it not be so?".

Resolving finally to end this threat before it can become unstoppable, Haraldson launches an attack on Ragnar's household. Ragnar catches wind of this and fights his way through multitudes of the Earl's men to reach his family. Despite defeating every foe handily, he is heavily wounded. Eventually, he reaches the house and leads his family to safety, diverting Haraldson's attention by apparently surrendering himself. Trapped, Ragnar calls upon the aid of his father, Odin, to help him escape his captors. Seemingly, the god of war answers, and Ragnar manages to fight his way through Haraldson's huskarls and escape. Afterwards, he is taken to the house of Floki, where the shipwright slowly nurses him back to health.

While recovering, Ragnar learns from his frend Torstein that Haraldson has captured Rollo and is torturing him to learn Ragnar's whereabouts. Though still gravely wounded, Ragnar is outraged by this and calls upon Floki to go Kattegat and challenge Haraldson to a personal combat with him, making it clear that if Haraldson refuses then shame will stalk him forever and Odin will never allow him into his halls.

Floki arrives at Kattegat and relays Ragnar's challenge to the Earl. Though initially reluctant to accept, Haraldson realizes their fates have brought them together and that the only way to end Ragnar's threat is to face him in battle. Thus, he agrees to the duel.

The next day, Ragnar and Haraldson meet each other on the field and after a short but vicious fight Ragnar defeats the Earl. Ragnar calms the earl, telling him that Odin is with them, waiting to see who he shall bring to the great hall with him; thus, Haraldson goes to his death proudly, believing he will finally rejoin his dead sons in Valhalla. Though shattered by his passing, the Earl's wife Siggy is nonetheless the first to recognize Ragnar as the new Earl.

Ragnar then retires to the great hall and takes the throne at the urging of the people of Kattegat, and receives the oaths of his subjects. He also meets the great elder warrior known as Tostig, who asks for the chance to die in battle. Ragnar grants him thus, resolving to bring him on his next raid.

Just as the man he had just slain had admitted to his wife that he respected Ragnar, Ragnar admits to Athelstan that he also respects the previous Earl, saying that he was a great man and warrior; so he grants Haraldson a big funeral. During the festivities, Lagertha tells Ragnar she is pregnant with his second son, much to his elation.

Several months later, Ragnar and his warband take to the seas on their longships and arrive again on Northumbrian soil. While there, they handily defeat a Northumbrian fighting force led by Lord Athelwulf, a brother of King Aella. Taking the noble as a valuable hostage, the Vikings extort the Anglo-Saxons for 2000 pounds of gold and silver to leave their country and to return to Aela his brother. Aella agrees, but only on the conditions that Ragnar and his warriors remain in their camp and cease their attacks on the Northumbrian people and their property, to which Ragnar agrees. Aella also makes the stipulation that one of the Vikings agrees to be baptized into Christianity, which Ragnar and the other Vikings; all being staunch pagans, laugh at. However, Rollo agrees to do so in order to seal the deal, much to Ragnar's annoyance.

After Rollo's baptism and a charged reprimand from Floki, Ragnar's sentries spy a wagon carrying large chests. At first, they take this to be their payment; but after examining them it becomes apparent that Aella has double-crossed the Northmen and sent a massive army to destroy them. Ragnar has planned for this, however, and has laid a trap for the Saxons. A spiked barricade is launched upwards at the Saxon horse charge, killing many men and robbing them of their momentum. With this, the Saxon force is thrown into momentary disarray and the Vikings swiftly move in to annihilate them. After a pitched battle in which few of them are lost, the Vikings crush the Saxon warriors. With Rollo slaughtering more than anyone else in order to prove his commitment to the Norse faith, which Ragnar and Floki watch with approval. 

Ragnar, rich with plunder and victory, returns to his earldom only to find that his wife has miscarried and his unborn son has died. Ragnar is filled with grief at his and wonders why the gods give with one hand and take with the other. 

The important festival at the Temple at Uppsala is now approaching. Originally he had not planned to go on account of all the new duties he had to do as Earl, but now he feels that he must go to understand why it is that the Aesir are angry with him. Athelstan also agrees to come, to which Ragnar expresses relief; as he would have taken him even if he was unwilling. 

Ragnar, his family, and his hird arrive at Uppsala. Ragnar enters the great temple and goes to a statue of his patron god Odin. Ragnar asks his divine father to help him understand his will and begs him to be pleased with the offering he is going to give him. He also asks the All-Father who it is that will bear his sons, if it is not Lagertha.

Rumors soon circulate that King Horik of Denmark will also attend the festival. Ragnar knows that this is not a mere rumor, but that Horik is indeed coming. Ragnar remarks on the many stories he has heard of King Horik's might and expresses his admiration of him. Sure enough, the next day, Horik arrives at Uppsala and tricks the priests of the temple by throwing a rooster at them while they sleep. Amused, Horik later retires to his tent in the evening where Ragnar meets with him. The king receives the raider-cum-Earl warmly and expresses his great admiration for his strength and skill, telling him how he has heard the stories of his great victories in the Western lands. Ragnar in turn expresses his respect for the king, and due to that, offers Horik his fealty in the living presence of the Northern gods. Horik is silent for a moment, but accepts Ragnar's pledge 'with a glad heart' and asks him what he can do for him in return.

Ragnar explains his ambition to send larger raiding parties west to plunder and fight, but also to explore other lands that lie to the west aside from the Saxon kingdoms which he has learned from his monk, Athelstan. After Athelstan explains his background as a Christian missionary, Horik remarks on how he has heard of Christians and asks if he still is one. Athelstan says he is not, to which Horik replies, "of course not, how could you be Christian and walk amongst our gods?".

Horik joins forces with Ragnar, saying he will be honored to have his name linked with his when the poets talk of how the Norsemen sailed west and conquered new worlds. 

Over a game of Hnefatafl, Ragnar and Horik discuss their future plans. Horik says that he wishes Ragnar to go as his emissary to Götaland's Jarl, for his fame is widespread and he is highly respected in all the Norse lands; he wishes him to speak to Jarl Borg, who claims rights over some of Horik's lands and to get him to abandon his illegal claims. Horik tells Ragnar that if he can do this, he will be eternally in his debt. 

The next day, Ragnar's intent in bringing Athelstan is finally revealed. The one of the priests at Uppsala reveals to Athelstan that he has been brought in as a sacrifice. However, it is later learned that Athelstan has not fully abandoned Christianity as was thought, and is therefore unacceptable as a sacrifice to the gods; which needs to be an individual who is both willing and a worshiper of the Aesir gods. Later on, the question is posed of who shall take Athelstan's place at the sacrifice lest the gods punish all of Midgard. After some deliberation, it is Leif - one of Ragnar's top warriors and loyal friend who agrees to be sacrificed, seeing it as a great honour as the Norse belief says it is. 

The next day, Ragnar and Athelstan attend the great sacrifice and watch sadly as their mutual friend is killed. Leif gives his friends one last smile before Horik brings his sword down on his throat.

Sometime after, Ragnar and his warriors travel to Gotland to carry out the duty Horik has given them. After many days of perilous travel they reach Jarl Borg's hall, though he is at first inconsiderate of them the Jarl quickly becomes more courteous when he realizes that it is the great hero Ragnar Lodbrok who Horik has sent to him. Borg has the hero and his warriors seen to and tells him that they will speak again in the morning.

Ragnar, Rollo and Borg discuss the matter of the disputed land. Borg tells his fellow Earl that the lands in question possess a vast wealth of valuable minerals, and thus he is reluctant to withdraw his claim. Ragnar states that Horik demands he withdraw and tells him also that the Danish king will pay him whatever price to do so. Borg suggests that perhaps he could instead lease the land to Horik, but Ragnar asserts that he has not been given the authority to make such detailed negotiations. Borg suggests that perhaps he should send a man to ask Horik and also that in the mean time, he visit the famed ash-tree of Gotland. The Jarl does ask however that one of Ragnar's men remain as security, and he leaves Rollo with him. He then calls on Floki to travel to Denmark and speak with Horik.

On his way to the ash-tree, Ragnar's men see a woman known as Aslaug, and are enamored of her beauty. They later tell their Earl of their encounter of how she wishes an apology from him for his men's lust. Ragnar is intrigued more by her wit than her form and tells his men to give her a riddle; 'to come neither dressed nor undressed, neither hungry nor full, not alone and nor in company'. Sure enough, Aslaug comes to Ragnar as he asked and he is impressed with her intelligence. They later reach the ash tree and marvel at it, for Borg has clamed that it is Yggdrassil; the World-Tree Odin hung himself upon for nine days and nights to find runes of knowledge for man.  Filled with reverence, Ragnar recites a short poem which tells of Odin's great sacrifice. 

Ragnar and Aslaug later become close, much to Bjorn's distaste and eventually Ragnar beds her. Bjorn is angered by this and makes Ragnar swears this will never happen again. Seeking to appease his son, Ragnar swears it will be so and reminds his young boy that he loves him. 

Aslaug visits Ragnar in the night and tries to bed him once more, Ragnar firmly tells her no and she departs disappointed. After some time, she reveals to Ragnar that she is carrying his child which Ragnar is shocked by.

Floki returns to Gotland and at a feast, is asked of Horik's reaction to Borg's suggestions. Floki tells the Jarl that Horik remains obstinate - either Borg will abandon his claims to Horik's territory or there will be war. Borg is angered, and asks Ragnar if he will side with the Danish king or with him. Ragnar's silence speaks loud and clear, and Borg leaves the feasting hall in disappointment at the hero's decision.

Ragnar is torn by a torrent of conflicting emotions as he realizes the full gravity of what his actions might mean. On one hand, it seems the gods have shown him to his new wife. But at the same time he wonders about the family he already has, and of how this turn of events will affect his son. Ragnar cuts his hand to offer the blood to his patron, Odin and prays for guidance. 

Ragnar steels himself and goes to Aslaug's chambers with a dagger in hand. He barges into the quarters of the daughter of Brynhildr with murder in his eyes and Aslaug is terrified of the Earl's wrath. Though the knowledge that this woman might be carrying his prophesied sons gives the Viking pause. Ragnar places his ear to Aslaug's womb and realizes that what she has said is true, and that this mysterious woman well and truly bears his son. The revelation brings forth a torrent of conflicting emotion even greater than what was felt before in Ragnar, and on his face is writ a look shock and horror.

Meanwhile, Jarl Borg has sunk his talons into Rollo. Preying upon his jealousy of Ragnar's great success and fame in order to turn the fearsome warrior to his cause. Though it pains him to do it, the desire to move out of Ragnar's shadow causes his brother to side with the Jarl of Gotland.

Personality Edit

Ragnar is a fearsome and unstoppable warrior. He is a man driven by a lust for glory and fame, but also of curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. All of which makes him a fearsome warrior who is dedicated to his cause. 

In battle, Ragnar is swift and ferocious, and his blows carry incredible force behind them which allows him to defeat any enemy in battle. He is a warrior born, a master of axe, sword and spear. His speed and strength are such that he is able to defeat multiple foes at a time, and his fortitude is such that he can endure a great deal of punishment and yet fight on through sheer will. In terms of raw physical strength, he is capable of overpowering even his larger bother Rollo; who wields his massive battle-axe as if it weighed nothing at all. 

Ragnar is an ambitious man, who seeks after fame and riches. Dissatisfied with the conservatism of Earl Haraldson, he endeavors instead to sail west despite his orders, showcasing a great deal of daring and enterprise. His intellect serves him at least as often as his strength, and his ability to think long term is another testament to his sharpness of mind.

Ragnar embodies the Norse ideals of devotion to the gods; taking for his patron the god of war and wisdom, Odin. This veneration also takes with it a degree of ancestor worship, for Ragnar claims kinship with the All-Father. Thus leading to his utter faith in the plan of the Norse gods, and his frequent attribution of the twists and turns in his life to their whims. He also shows a deep knowledge of Norse legends, being able to easily recall details such as the location of Thor's hall, Thrudheim. Ragnar also embodies the grim fatalism of the Vikings, in that he fully believes and submits to the will of the gods and to the fate that was spun for him by the Norns. As a result, Ragnar will often go into battle without second-thought, for his fate is already decided. His incredible piety also rubs off on those around him, such as his wife; who is originally skeptical of fate, but later embraces it as much as her husband when she witnesses the strength of his belief.

Ragnar abides by the Nordic ideals of courage, as well. He is brave in battle, and respectful to worthy adversaries such as Earl Haraldson. Whom he honored with a great funeral as he was 'a great man and warrior' who 'earned his renown in this life and now in death'. Ragnar also keeps to his word without fail, even when it would disadvantage him. Such as when he agreed to remain confined in his camp while King Aella attempted to 'gather his payment'. However, while to a fellow Northman Ragnar an exemplar of virtue, his beliefs and his devotion to his beliefs makes him appear as a bloodthirsty force of nature to outsiders like the Saxons; to whom his cultural nuances are terrifyingly alien. Predictably, Ragnar intentionally plays up this conception for the purposes of psychological warfare.

Despite his qualities all pointing him as a fearsome warrior and bloodthirsty conqueror, Ragnar is a devoted family man as well. He is a fine husband to his wife, Lagertha but an even better father to his children; whom he adores. Particularly his son Bjorn, whom he dotes on. Ragnar also cherishes his brother Rollo, though his love for his brother blinds him to his resentment for him. Ragnar also cherishes the lives of his friends and reciprocates their loyalty to him. He is deeply protective of his follower's lives, and to harm them is to invite his vengeance, as Haraldson would later find out when he ordered the dishonorable murder of Erik.

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

Trivia Edit

  • Ragnar's nickname Lothrbok/Lodbrok means "hairy breeches".
  • The historical Ragnar Lodbrok is believed by historians to have lived as late as the 860's CE (when the invasion of England by the Great Heathen Army occurred) and the Danish Viking Siege of Paris in 845 CE is often attributed in Frankish sources to a chieftain named Rheginherus, who is often equated with Ragnar Lodbrok. The Series' depiction of Ragnar, however, begins his story in 793 CE as a relatively young adult, even though he was likely to have been born at least a decade later.
  • Though called an "Earl" in the series, Ragnar should more accurately be known as a Jarl, rather than the English-language earl, which was the proper term for a territorial ruler in the Old Norse language.
  • Before he became the ruling earl of Kattegatt after slaying Earl Haraldson in Burial of the Dead, Ragnar's social status may have been that of a Hersir, a middle-class warrior and landowner in early Scandinavian culture, who would lead a warrior band of between twenty to a hundred warriors, or a single ship's crew.
  • As a Hersir, Ragnar would have been the leader of a district known as a Vapnatak (literally 'weapon-take'), a regional district which was also known as a Herred, or 'hundred' in reference to the number of households in the area. When Earl Haraldson's men attacked Ragnar's farming community in the fifth episode of the First Season, the villagers killed in the attack may have been citizens of Ragnar's 'Hundred'.
  • On his first two expeditions to England, where he commanded a single ship, Ragnar would have been known as the Steorsman (steerman) or the Hilmir (helmsman) in this capacity.
  • The Old Norse term Drottinn, meaning "host leader" was used to describe a chieftain in his capacity of leading armies and expeditionary forces, which Ragnar has done through the course of the series.
  • However, since King Horik has taken to accompanying Ragnar on overseas raids and therefore the overall commander, this would somewhat relegate Ragnar to the status of Stallari (often translated as 'marshal'), a title which denotes a military second-in-command of the king's Hird in Norse culture.
  • Ragnar's tactic of waiting until mass when assaulting Christian settlements is accurate to history.
  • Ragnar's referring to his son Bjorn as a 'little pig' is a reference to his historical personage's famous declaration when King Aelle executed him; "how the little pigs would grunt if they knew how the old boar suffers", referring to the vengeance that his sons would later wreak on his enemies.
  • Historically, Ragnar Lodbrok was considered a leader of the Danes during his lifetime. However, his homeland in the series appears to be located along the western coasts of Norway and Sweden, contiguous to the Skegerrak and Kattegat straights. The fact that the historical raid on Lindisfarne in 793 CE was done by Vikings from Norway may lend weight to the possibility that the Series' depiction of Ragnar as a Norwegian. It should be considered, however, that concepts of nationality as we know them didn't exist prior to the modern period. So Ragnar and his people may be considered "Danes", at least for no other reason than that Ragnar is an oath-bound vassal to the Danish King Horik.
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