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Aslaug Sigurdsdottir is the second wife of Ragnar Lothbrok. She is the former Queen of Kattegat and the mother of Ubbe, Hvitserk, Sigurd, and Ivar. She is believed to be a völva, meaning she can see the future through visions.


Biography

Earl Life

Aslaug is a Götaland princess. She is the clever and beautiful daughter of the famed dragon slayer Sigurd, a hero in the sagas who slew the dragon Fafnir, and shield-maiden Brynhildr. Both of her parents died before she got to know either of them, and she learned social skills and refinement over a warrior's skills.

Season 1

Ragnar, distressed and upset over the loss of his son with Lagertha due to a miscarriage, goes on a pilgrimage to Uppsala, hoping to receive answers from the gods. Ragnar asks the gods who will be the mother of the many sons promised to him if it won't be his wife Lagertha who appears barren.

Acting for King Horik, Ragnar and a small party of his followers travel to Götaland to resolve a land dispute. While there, two of Ragnar's men, Arne and Torstein, stumble upon the beautiful and clever Aslaug, who is bathing. The men are reprimanded by her shield-maidens, and Aslaug demands an apology from their Earl on their behalf.

Intrigued, Ragnar sees her as a challenge the gods have given him. Interested less in her beauty and more in her wit, Ragnar agrees to meet with her if she comes to them "neither dressed nor undressed, neither hungry nor full, and neither in company nor alone." Aslaug obliges, arriving dressed in a net, biting an apple, and with only a dog as a companion. Impressed by her ingenuity, Ragnar fulfills his end in the bargain and apologizes. Smitten with each other, the two soon become lovers, which angers his son Bjorn, who has travelled with his father and is intensely loyal to his mother. Shortly thereafter, Aslaug tells Ragnar that she is carrying his child. After asking Odin what he should do, he goes to visit her in her room. Bjorn almost stops him but doesn't when he sees a raven in the window, which has repeatedly foretold the beginning of an important event.

Season 2

Ragnar returns to Lagertha and admits to his affair with Aslaug. Though upset, Lagertha decides to set aside her anger. This changes, however, when the heavily pregnant Aslaug arrives in Kattegat. The two women, understandably, do not get along. Aslaug's pregnancy is a reproach to Lagertha's infertility and failure to carry a child to term. To keep his unborn son, Ragnar suggests marriage to both Lagertha and Aslaug. Aslaug is open to the idea but Lagertha is hurt and humiliated and leaves Ragnar instead, and Bjorn leaves with her.

Four years later, Aslaug is living comfortably with Ragnar, having given birth to two sons, and is pregnant with a third. She delights in her children, but knows she is not first in Ragnar's heart. Aslaug becomes suspicious when Ragnar starts a conversation with Hild, a new young servant girl. Aslaug later warns the girl to be careful with whom she is familiar. Later that night, Aslaug confronts Ragnar, accusing him of wanting to sleep with the servant, amongst other women, which he denies. Aslaug then claims to be a völva, which Ragnar laughs off. To convince Ragnar, she prophesies that their next son will with a "snake in the eye." While Ragnar and his men raid England, Aslaug gives birth to a healthy son she names Sigurd "Snake-in-the-Eye," after her father. As she had prophesized, the child's eye bears the image of Fafnir.

In Ragnar's absence, Jarl Borg attacks Kattegat for revenge. Aslaug and her children, led by Siggy and Rollo, manage to escape into the countryside. Aslaug is distressed about her new living conditions, saying the filth is bad for her children.

Word soon reaches Ragnar of Jarl Borg's invasion and he immediately heads back home, glad to find his wife safe. Lagertha rallies to him, bringing both warriors and their son Bjorn to help retake Kattegat. Ragnar and Bjorn sneak into Kattegat and destroy their grain stores and capturing Jarl Borg. Ragnar is thrilled to see his son again, but is conflicted about seeing Lagertha. He later tells The Seer he wants both women. Aslaug sees how admired Lagertha is and tells Ragnar she wishes she could be like her and offers to leave if Ragnar wants Lagertha instead. Lagertha, married to the Earl of Hedeby, returns home while Bjorn remains in Kattegat. Aslaug and Lagertha exchange farewells and appear to harbor no resentment towards each other.

In a moment of prophecy, Aslaug warns Ragnar he must delay having sex with her for three days or the child she carries will be born a "monster." He doesn't believe her, yet again, and they have sex anyway. After a particularly difficult pregnancy and birth that nearly kills both mother and child, Aslaug delivers another son. As prophesied, the child is born with malformed legs. Ragnar wants to abandon the infant to die because he believes letting their son grow up handicapped in an able-bodied warrior culture would be a fate worse than death. Aslaug refuses to let her child die and brings him back from the wilderness. She insists that he be allowed to live, standing up to Ragnar who is one of the most powerful and feared leaders oof the Norsemen. They name him Ivar. The people of Kattegat whisper and gossip about the new child and wonder what may be wrong with him. Aslaug does her best to care for Ivar while Ragnar openly rejects him.

One night Aslaug shares Ragnar with Lagertha. He smiles as the two women sleep next to teach other. It is unknown if they had sex all together, or if they just shared Ragnar.

Season 3

Ragnar and his warriors prepare to depart for Wessex, returning to claim land that was promised to them by King Ecbert. Aslaug is unhappy because she believes that Ragnar is not in love with her anymore. She remains in Kattegat with Siggy and Helga. Winter comes.

Aslaug, Helga, and Siggy spend the days together caring for the children, weaving, and spinning. Helga starts speaking of a strange dream she had while strolling in the market, about a stranger. Aslaug and Siggy reveal they have had the same dream. Helga asks if Siggy knows what it means, but she says she does not know.

Sometime later, a mysterious man appears before Helga, injured and asking for a place to stay. He calls himself Harbard, a wanderer who injured his hand. He tells the women he "sings for his meal" and is a capable storyteller. He proves this later at dinner by recounting a fascinating tale which he claims to have witnessed. Though Siggy is suspicious of him, Aslaug grows increasingly interested. Her interest grows further when Harbard is able to stop Ivar's suffering, calming the child like no other can. Her interest leads to an affair. Siggy and Helga are well aware of where Aslaug is going when she leaves the children in the care of Siggy.

Upon Ragnar's return, he is furious with Aslaug when he learns his sons nearly died and Siggy did saving them. Aslaug is questioned as to why she was not caring for their sons. He is highly suspicious of her story, enough so that he even refrains from making love to her. Aslaug is angry and asks if he had too much sex in England.

Season 4

Growing tired of Ragnar and their marriage, Aslaug asks the Seer if a woman will take the throne of Kattegat. Aslaug, of course, implies that she will be that woman. The Seer says that he has seen it so, but does not say who the woman is. Elsewhere, Bjorn has rejected his daughter, Siggy, because she looks too much like her missing mother, Pórunn. Aslaug is not heartless and tells Bjorn that she will take care of her instead.

In the passing years, Aslaug and Ragnar's sons have grown. She raises them with fantastic tales of her father, the great hero Sigurd. Perhaps insinuating her own husband simply doesn’t measure up. Later, a group of Frankish traders arrive with some slaves and Aslaug purchases a young Asian woman named Yidu who catches Ragnar's eye. While Aslaug is aware that her relationship with Ragnar has soured and grown cold over the years, she intends to keep him otherwise occupied.

Meanwhile, Bjorn has taken it upon himself to imprison Floki. He feels Floki should have to pay for killing Athelstan, a sentiment not shared by Ragnar, and even less so by Aslaug. Ragnar intervenes, though Floki later manages to escape. Asalug tells her husband that Floki did nothing wrong, for Athelstan was only a Christian. Enraged, Ragnar slaps his wife, telling her that it is not about religion, but rather loyalty, something that he feels neither her nor Floki understands as he feels betrayed by both of them. For Aslaug this is the end of her love for Ragnar.

Sometime later, Floki is recaptured and tortured, but he is eventually freed by Ragnar. Aslaug takes her youngest son, Ivar, to Floki and Helga in order to formally ask a favor of Floki. She claims that Ragnar cannot teach her son how to be a Viking. She asks Floki to teach Ivar to be a true Viking, to love the gods as she does, and to be a warrior. Shortly after this, to the surprise of all of them, and Ivar himself, Ivar ends up physically assaulting another child who was teasing him by picking up an axe and throwing it at the child, killing him.

Later, Aslaug asks Ragnar if he would like to spend some time with her new slave, Yidu. He does, and the two leave the village to spend some time alone, just as Aslaug intended. While Ragnar is away, a man named Harald comes to Kattegat and asks to see him. Aslaug instead entertains him and asks why he has come. Harald tells her that he had courted a princess, but she refused him because she had received much better marriage offers. Aslaug says that he could have just taken her, and Harald agrees but says he liked her spirit and felt he should become worthy of her, and the only way to do that, is to become king. Aslaug understands this language of threats and replies that in order to do so, he must overthrow her husband Ragnar.

As winter ends, Ragnar decides it is time to raid Paris again, and informs Aslaug that he will be taking their eldest sons with him. Aslaug protests, saying they are too young to fight, but Ragnar tells her that they are not too young to watch. Ragnar sails away with Lagertha, Bjorn, Ubbe, Hvitserk, Floki, Harold, his mistress Yidu, and a huge war band, leaving Aslaug behind with their youngest sons, Sigurd and Ivar. Not long after, Sigurd becomes bored with his only playmate and Aslaug tells him to play with Siggy instead while she breastfeeds Ivar. Sigurd objects because Siggy is dirty and can only barely walk.

While Ragnar is busy fighting abroad, Aslaug receives a visitor, Harbard, who returns with a promise to end Aslaug's suffering and make her free. Harbard claims that he was unaware that Ragnar was gone and the two kiss, with Sigurd secretly watching. Aslaug starts to hope that Harbard will become her next husband. Unfortunately, Harbard's promise fails when Sigurd shows his mother that he is sleeping with other women in the village. Aslaug is furious, while Harbard insists that he only sleeps with them so he can free them of their troubles. As he did with Ivar, Harbard claims, he takes into himself a person's troubles. Apparently in the case of women it means having sex with them. Aslaug is naturally skeptical and tells him that she has longed for only his presence since he last left. Harbard replies that possession is the opposite of love and with that, he leaves town again.

Aslaug takes his departure badly, spending her time drinking and playing games with Ivar, who easily beats her in her drunken state. Sigurd runs home with news that Siggy has died. He found her muddy body face down in the creek. "Who?" Aslaug asks, before finally understanding who the child was. Aslaug is unconcerned, she assumed someone else was watching her. When Ivar says that no one cares Siggy is dead, Sigurd storms out, and Aslaug smiles at her favorite son.

After the defeat in Paris, Ragnar disappears from Kattegat, leaving Aslaug as the sole ruler for ten years. Under her rule the town blossoms and becomes a large and wealthy city. Ragnar returns, and ultimately reconciles with Aslaug, expressing his gratitude for her grace and fairness in the face of his abandonment. Lagertha, on the other hand, warns her that she will never truly become queen and that she has never forgiven her for taking away her husband and the life she once had. With the help of Torvi and Margrethe, Lagertha conquers Kattegat with Astrid and her army. Aslaug accepts defeat on the condition that she be given safe passage to go wherever she chooses. Lagertha feigns acceptance, only to put an arrow through her back moments later, making Lagertha Queen of Kattegat. A sacrifice is made and Aslaug is given proper funeral rites. Her body is sent out to sea in an adorned raft which is then ceremoniously set on fire.

Aslaug is seen for the last time in the episode All His Angels, during Ragnar's flashbacks before his death at the hands of King Aelle.

Personality

Aslaug appears sweet and gentle at first, but never forget she is the daughter of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer and Brynhilder the shield-maiden and Valkyrie. Aslaug tends to treat friends and enemies with equal disdain. She is overconfident and arrogant. This tendency increases once Ragnar disappears. She’s become vindictive enough to find amusement in the fact that the settlement that Ragnar helped set up in Wessex was completely obliterated, disregarding all the people that lost their lives. While at first, she is witty and intelligent enough to match Ragnar, this changes very quickly. She lacks social awareness and skill. For example, she is clumsy and unsuccessful in connecting with Lagertha and Bjorn. She also seems to lack common sense sometimes. For example, unlike Rollo and Siggy, Aslaug didn’t seem to realize that being refugees wanted by a powerful warlord like Jarl Borg meant keeping a low profile was necessary to survive.

Aslaug also leans toward fundamentalism, almost to the same extent as Floki. In her capacity as regent, she has a Christian missionary go through a trial by fire to prove his faith. She smirks softly when he fails. When Ragnar is angry about Athelstan’s death, she says that his killer had done nothing wrong since Athelstan was a Christian.

Perhaps her most notable trait is her rather epic tantrums when things aren’t going her way and her self-centeredness. One time that stands out is when she discovers Harbard is sleeping with half of Kattegat and not just her. Another instance is after Jarl Borg attacks Kattegat and Rollo and Siggy lead Aslaug to safety, she objects to taking refuge in a small village because it doesn’t provide the wealthy lifestyle she’s used to. She doesn’t even acknowledge that everyone in Kattegat who could wield a weapon just died to secure her escape. Later, Aslaug insists that Ragnar shouldn’t ally himself with Jarl Borg again. Not because she considered it a bad move or because of what he did to Kattegat, her main reason is that he insulted and humiliated her.

Despite having some less than intelligent moments, Aslaug has proven to be a very capable ruler. During Ragnar’s absences, Kattegat is shown to be doing far better with Aslaug as Queen Regent than it ever did with Ragnar as king. It is possible she could be the most competent of the Norse rulers, given Horik’s numerous military failures, Lagertha’s loss of Hedeby, and the utter failure of Ragnar as leader more often than not.

Relationships

Ragnar Lothbrok

Aslaug and Ragnar have a relationship that quickly fizzles out and lacks any sort of foundation. On their first meeting they sleep together once. Aslaug tells him she’s carrying his son, but Ragnar doesn’t believe her. Then she turns up several months later in Kattegat, heavily pregnant and indeed bears his son. Ragnar marries her mainly because he suspects she is the one the gods have fated to bear his many sons after he suspects that Lagertha is barren and because Lagertha has left him. While Ragnar is openly affectionate towards their sons and Aslaug’s pregnant belly, he is rarely loving towards her. By Season 4, they openly loathe each other. Ragnar doesn’t like, or even respect, her as a person. And Aslaug does not appreciate being treated like a brood mare. Ragnar repeatedly dismisses Aslaug’s prophecies and warnings, usually to his regret. In the episode Kill the Queen (Season 4 Episode 2), Aslaug very unwisely taunts an already furious Ragnar about Athelstan’s death, saying that he deserved to die at Floki’s hand because he was a Christian. Ragnar slaps her across the face for it. She complains to Ragnar about his affairs when she herself cheats on him. She also very clearly resents Ragnar for not helping her raise their children, but the moment he’s gone on raids, she ignores the children in favor of sleeping with Harbard. After years of indifference, Ragnar tells her that he’s grateful that she didn’t turn their sons against him. This brings Aslaug to tears, but she is killed shortly after.

In History

Aslaug is based on the figure in Norse mythology named Aslaug, who appears in the Edda, the Völsunga saga, and the saga Tale of Ragnar Lodbrok. In the Tale of Ragnar Lodbrok, Aslaug is the daughter of Sigurd and the shield-maiden Brynhildr, but was raised by Brynhildr's foster father Heimer. Upon the deaths of her parents, Heimer hid Aslaug inside a large harp and traveled with her to Norway. While staying in the house of a peasant couple, Áke and Grima, Áke murdered Heimer believing he was hiding treasure inside the harp. When the couple opened the harp they found Aslaug. They decided to raise the girl as their own, calling her Kráka, which means "crow."

Quotes

We women bear heavy burdens.

– Aslaug , Paris

It is the Gods that have woven our destinies, not ourselves.

– Aslaug , Paris

What does it matter what you call someone? Whether she’s Viking or not Viking is not important. What is important is that you love and nurture her.

– Aslaug to Porunn, Paris

But remember, your grandfather, my father, was the greatest warrior of all time. He slayed the dragon Fafnir and is spoken of in the sagas. Surely you will inherit his warlike gifts. All of you will be great warriors.

– Aslaug to her sons, A Good Treason

Floki, I came to deliver my precious son into your hands. This is Ivar, who I love more than anyone else alive. And, Floki, I know he is clever. I want you to teach him the ways of our Gods. Teach Ivar the true path. Teach him to hate the Christian God as you hate the Christian God! Only you can do it, not Ragnar. I will bring him to you every day. Teach him to be a Viking. Teach him the deep, and ancient, ways.

– Aslaug to Floki, Yol

Trivia

  • Aslaug's father, Sigurd the Dragonslayer, was a king of Götaland and a scion of the Volsung clan, descendants of Odin. Her mother was the shield-maiden Brynhildr, daughter to King Budli of the Svear (Swedes). The Asmundar Saga mentions King Budli's ties with the Huns through his daughter Hildir's marriage to Helgi, son of Hildebrand.
  • In the Tale of Ragnar Lodbrok, Lagertha does not exist. Thus, Aslaug is Bjorn's mother.
  • The shield carried by Aslaug's personal guard is the symbol of the oldest Swedish noble family: Natt och Dag. Fittingly, the family hails from Götaland.

Gallery

Appearances

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
Season three appearances
Mercenary The Wanderer Warrior's Fate Scarred The Usurper
Born Again Paris To the Gates! Breaking Point The Dead
Season four appearances
A Good Treason Kill the Queen Mercy Yol Promised
What Might Have Been The Profit and the Loss Portage Death All 'Round The Last Ship
The Outsider The Vision Two Journeys In the Uncertain Hour Before the Morning All His Angels
Crossings The Great Army Revenge On the Eve The Reckoning