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Warriors don't show their heart until the axe reveals it.
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Harald "Finehair" Halfdansson is a Scandinavian warlord and king. His dream is to become the first King of all Norway. His brother is Halfdan the Black.

Biography

Early life

Hailing from the Yngling clan, descending from King Ingjald of Svealand and Olof the Woodcarver, Harald was born in a place called Tamdrup. When he was a young man, he fell in love with a princess named Ellisif. Getting rejected for not being important enough, Harald decided to make himself king of all of Norway to get her affection.

Season 4

King Harald arrives in Kattegat to meet Ragnar after hearing of his exploits in the conquest of Paris. He wants to participate in the next raid on Frankia and announces that soon his brother Halfdan "The Black" will arrive with his fleet. He becomes familiar with Ragnar's young sons.

Harald and his brother lead an ambush on the Frankish scouts and capture several of them. Later, they take several of the captives and tie them to the Frankish signal fires. As the men are burned alive, Harald and the other warriors cheer and praise Odin while urinating on the unfortunate Franks.

When the Vikings travel upriver towards Paris, the ships are shot at from the forts by Frankish soldiers, led by Rollo. When the Franks raise a huge chain between the two forts to block the ships progress, Harald's ship is capsized and sunken. Harald and his brother swim to Ragnar's ship, where they defend against the Frankish assault.

Harald and Halfdan lead a raid on a small Frankish farm. They discover a family inside, and brutally kill them all, after raping the two daughters. They burn the farm afterward.

Harald and the other Vikings battle the Franks head-on in in brutal combat on the river. Harald fights alongside his brother and is dismayed when Halfdan is shot by a Frankish crossbowman. Harald is last seen retreating with the Viking fleet after a crushing defeat by the Franks.

In the years following the defeat at the Second Siege of Paris, King Harald is busy expanding his realm, conquering the Kingdom of Rogaland, and killing King Arnarson and his earl Eyolf. He also defeated King Svein from an unspecified Norwegian kingdom. Harald, along with his brother, Halfdan, joins Bjorn in his expedition to the Mediterranean Sea and assures Bjorn he has no intention of threatening Kattegat. When Bjorn seeks a truce with his uncle Rollo, Harald is captured along with the other Norse leaders. He questions Bjorn's judgement in trusting Rollo. Eventually, they are released when Bjorn agrees to allow Rollo to join the expedition.

As the expedition runs short on fresh water and food, Harald privately questions Bjorn's leadership and suggests he might be cursed, like he considers Ragnar. He relents to Halfdan and brings up that their overthrow of the Lothbroks is inevitable in his quest to become king of Norway. Eventually, the fleet comes upon Algeciras and sacks the city. Floki prevents Harald and Halfdan from murdering praying Muslims: Harald directly stops his brother from entering a conflict with Floki.

As the fleet returns to Scandinavia, Halfdan presents Harald to Egil "the Bastard." Harald recruits Egil as his agent and indirectly promises to make him earl. Egil begins to infiltrate Kattegat and locate weaknesses in its defenses. As the Lothbroks gather the Great Heathen Army, they ally with them once more. As forces from all over Scandinavia gather in Kattegat, Harald spots Ellisif. He reacts nervously upon seeing her and his brother encourages him to talk to her. When Harald meets Ellisif in the Great Hall, he tells her that he will soon be worthy of her, and he can finally cut his hair and marry her. However, Ellisif confesses that she is already married to a Danish earl, a man of lower social status and fame than Harald. Harald angrily reminds her that he was already a king when she refused him and is hurt by her rejecting him for a man he considers "a nobody," stating he has based his whole life around her.

Meanwhile Halfdan draws an axe to kill her. Ellisif begs him not to, and Harald lets her go. Later Halfdan suggests that they must kill Ellisif because she has taken Harald's honor. Harald refuses and reveals that he only loves two people: Halfdan and Ellisif. Harald states he will kill all those who threaten her.

As the Great Heathen Army lands in Northumbria, Harald partakes in the Battle of York. In camp, Harald kills Ellisif's husband, Earl Vik, to avenge the offense that has gnawed away at him. Later, he falls for Ellisif's pretention of renewed interest in him, and they start to make love. Before it goes too far, however, Ellisif pulls a blade and tries to kill him to avenge her husband's death. Halfdan, however, had been suspicious and watching, and kills her. Harald is left distraught by Ellisif's attempt to kill him and to have lost the only woman that he has ever loved.

Later, he partakes in the Battle of Repton, as Aethelwulf's forces are crushed.

Season 5

King Harald heads back to Kattegat and parts ways with his brother, who sailed from England to the Mediterranean once more with Bjorn. When he arrives, Lagertha suggests that Harald was expecting to find Egil in her place, so he could take over the kingdom. Harald confesses and dares that she kill him, but she captures him instead. Harald is held prisoner by Lagertha. He proposes an alliance with her through marriage, but she refuses and rapes him. Harald's men free him and capture Astrid they leave Kattegat and Harald offers Astrid the same proposition that he had to Lagertha.

Back in Harald's home village of Tamdrup, Astrid is initially visibly repulsed by the town, a fishing and whaling village. However, she agrees to Harald's proposal, and they are married. Ivar arrives for a meeting in Harald's kingdom, to negotiate an alliance with him and they agree to attack Kattegat in two moons' time. The arangement being thar Ivar become King and Harald succeading him after his death.

Although Astrid convinces Harald that she is a happy and willing participant in their marriage, she goes behind his back and sends a group of fishermen from his village to warn Lagertha of his attack plans. The fishermen force Astrid to submit to sex with them before they agree. This shows the degree of her loyalty to Lagertha. The fishermen keep their deal and warn Lagertha soon after. Not long after, Astrid announces she is pregnant. Harald assumes it is his child and is extremely happy.

During the First Battle for the Kingdom of Kattegat the forewarning helps Lagertha's army to be the victors. During the Second Battle for the Kingdom of Kattegat, Harald comes face-to-face with his brother Halfdan and doesn't hesitate to kill him. "I will see you in Valhalla" he says repeatedly as Halfdan slips away in Harald's arms. Meanwhile, Astrid comes face-to-face with Lagertha and tells her she wants Lagertha to kill her. Lagertha refuses and Astrid lunges at her to provoke the reflex of Lagertha raising her sword in defense. Astrid and her unborn baby are killed, leaving King Harald without both wife and child. Harald joined their Frankish reinforcements when they were brought in and the battle was quickly won, as the enemies retreated.

Harald and Ivar enter Kattegat and celebrate their victory as Ivar establishes himself as king. Harald admits to feeling hollow after the los of his brother, wife, and unborn child, but if comforted by Ivar reminding him that life goes on. Rollo arrived in Kattegate to strike a trading deal as repayment for supporting Harald and Ivar, as well as having them swear to support him with warriors if he is attacked in the future. 

Harald is present as Ivar announces that he is marrying. Harald deduces that Ivar is doing so in order produce an heir to strengthen his claim to Kattegat, which is an violation to their previous arrangement. He is however informed by Margrethe and Hvitserk that Ivar is incapable of having children, something that releases him. Later, however Ivar reveals that his wife is pregnant, much to Haralds dismay.

Harald goes to England in order to raid in Wessex with his men and stops by York which had previously been ceased by the Lothbroks. There he meets it's commander Jarl Olavsonn, Harald invites him to raid with him in Wessex and suggests that after they return to Kattegat to overthrow Ivar. Olavsonn eventually agrees to this and recognises him as King of York. On their way to Wessex, Harald is introduced to Olavsonn's wife Gunnhild, whom he shows an desired interest in.

Harald and his army reach Wessex and make camp. Ubbe comes on behalf of King Alfred to reach a compromise and offers to pay Harald to leave Wessex provided he gives them a price. He agrees and tells him to return the next day to hear his price. Magnus a man claiming to be another son of Ragnar Lothbrok wishes to fight with him and reveals that Alfred is with his army. Upon hearing this Harald realizes that Ubbe had outsmarted him, to gain time to move the Saxon army into place of their chosen battleground. Harald moves his army to face them and walks into the Saxons trap as they engulf the surrounding ground in fire making escape impossible. With no choice Harald rallies his army and starts to fight. Harald kills some Saxons, but is soon outmatched and orders a retreat after heavy losses. He returns with his men to York and kills Crowbone and his men when they say to him that they won't never follow him and takes over York's leadership. 

Björn and Gunnhild come to York and to join forces in Harald in overthrowing Ivar, as Harald had previously intended. Harald agreed to this and they begin planning their attack. Harald mentions his arrangement with Ivar concering him succeading him as King of Kattegat and Björn insist on them make the same arrangement, Harald is however not trustful of Björn. He is envious of Björn relationship with Gunnhild, whom he still admittingly desires, creating further tension between Harald and Björn. It eventually culminates into a fight between them after arriving in Norway. It is abdruply ended by Gunnhild pointing out that their problems can wait as they need to focus on taking Kattegat.

They decide to attack Kattegat from two fronts and Harald and Hvitserk lead one of the assault during the siege on Kattegat. The first attack is a failure, Magnus is killed in front of Harald, but the second one is a success after being let inside the walls. They all engage in a fight with Ivar's bodyguards and Harald choses to save Björn life despite their disagreements. He is seriously wounded as he fends off several of the bodyguards. 

Season 6

Harald is assumed to have been killed in action, but has in fact been retrieved by King Olaf. Olaf nurses the king to health, but occupies his kingdom. Harald is kept prisoner and tended to by Canute. The two form a friendship of sorts, but Canute remains skeptical to Harald's attempts to seduce him with power to set him free.

Olaf sends messangers to Bjorn, claiming to be Harald's, to lure him to come to Harald's aid. Bjorn attempts a sneak attack by swimming into the harbor of Tamdrup with his warriors. But Olaf has poured oil in the water and has the bay set on fire. Bjorn loses many men and is forced to take refuge on an island, surrounded by Olaf's men. Olaf is in fact planning to gather the various kings, jarls, and earls of Norway and have them vote for a single king to rule the entire land. Olaf intends to push for Bjorn in this position. Using Harald's captivity and Bjorn's vulnerable position, Bjorn and Harald are forced to accept.

During the election, Harald is one of the four candidates to stand as king and he himself votes for Bjorn. Harald however receives more votes and is crowned king of all Norway. During the feast afterwards, he privately admits to Olaf that he won by promising the electors whatever they wanted in return for choosing him and didn't care if he can't deliver on it. He later thanks Kjetill in helping him get elected, in return Kjetill asks to be made king of Iceland. Harald assures he has no plans for Bjorn but is angered due to him not being at the feast.

Kjetill realizes that Harald plans to assassinate Bjorn whom he warns in time and the two escape with the help of the outlaw Erik. Later on, Harald has Olaf imprisoned for refusing to swear loyalty to him. He later learns from a survivor of the sack of Istrehagan about strange people slaughtering them. Olaf warns that the raiders were there stake a claim on the land and will come back as a conquering army. After Bjorn learns that the Rus had attacked his forces while scouting Kattegat's defenses, he sends Erik to suggest an alliance to Harald believing they intend to invade.

Harald initially intends to have Erik executed, but agrees to listen to him after Olaf reminds that he risked his life to come to Vestfold. From him, he learns that both the rulers' realms had been attacked by Rus and agrees to ally with Bjorn on the condition that he along with his forces come to defend Vestfold instead of Kattegat. Bjorn agrees, however only Jarl Thorkell and a few others answer Harald's call to defend Vestfold. While the Vikings mount the defenses, Harald acquires a desire for Bjorn's second wife Ingrid and rapes her.

During the Battle for Vestfold, the Rus attack from the beach and from through the river in the north. Harald alongside Bjorn and Erik leads the Viking army in defending the beach, but they are soon surrounded by the Rus after they breach the Viking defenses and climb the mountain in-between the river and the capital. Harald is gravely wounded in the clash. When Erik while retreating tries to rescue him, he tells him to leave him and to go find a new home.

After the Battle for Vestfold, he is revealed still alive but captured by Oleg and his army along with King Olaf. Harald succeeds to escape but King Olaf is killed by Igor on Oleg's orders. Bjorn becomes the only King of Norway despite his death as unifing all Vikings against the Rus army. After Bjorn's death, Harald tries again to become King of Kattegat. Ivar convinces him to fight one last time in the Wessex against King Alfred and his army. Harald captures Alfred's wife Elsewith but she succeeds in escaping. Harald is finally killed by Bishop Aldulf, Alfred's second-in-command. In front of his imminent death and seeing his brother Halfdan coming for to take him to Valhalla, Harald uses his last breath to kill Aldulf with his dagger before dying. His death avenges the deaths of all the people who have died because of him and his brother, including Astrid.

Personality

Harald is very outspoken and charismatic, making Aslaug smile soon after arriving in Kattegat. He befriends her sons as well and seems to be very popular among them, but not with their half-brother, Bjorn, who distrusts him and suspects his ambitions are greater than Harald has revealed. Harald constantly tries getting close to Floki, distancing him from Ragnar, and taking advantage of the quarrel between Ragnar and his boatbuilder.

Harald has great ambitions, often stating that he wants to become king of all Norway, despite the fact that it would cause a dispute with Ragnar. He is more dominant when compared to his brother Halfdan, though the two get along very well, being very close together. Unlike Halfdan, he is more controlled by his emotions and at the mercy of his passions. At the same time, he is louder and more boisterous than his brother. Harald's and Halfdan's shared extreme hatred of the Christians brings him to commit horrible acts against them when raiding, including rape and torture.

Despite his ambitious and leading character, he is able to admit that Ragnar is a powerful king and a better strategist than himself. He also seems to have genuine feelings for Ellisif, refusing to harm her when she has dishonored him in the eyes of others. After marrying Astrid, Harald tries to be a good husband and is overcome with joy when he finds out Astrid is pregnant.

Harald is a relentless and highly skilled warrior, always in the front lines. Harald loves killing his enemies and often displays a sadistic grin when in the heat of battle.

Trivia

  • Harald Finehair/Fairhair (Old Norse: Haraldr inn hárfagri) was the son of Halfdan the Black (Haldanr Svarti), who, like Ragnar Lothbrok, was a descendant of the Yngling dynasty. This would make him a descendant of of the fertility god Freyr according to Norse legend.
  • Before he unified Norway, Harald ruled over the petty kingdom of Vestfold in southern Norway.
  • The name of the woman whose hand Harald sought in marriage was Gyda, daughter of King Eirik of Hordaland in central Norway.
  • Harald was the father of over 20 sons, among them Haakon the Good (King of Norway) and Eric Bloodaxe (King of Norway and Northumbria).
  • Peter Franzén who plays Harald, previously appeared as a viking in HBO's True Blood, playing opposite Alexander Skarsgård, Gustaf Skarsgård's (Floki) brother.
  • Harald's warcry is a quote from Hávamál: Heilir hildar til, Heilir hildi frá, Koma þeir heilir hvaðan - Whole into battle, Whole from battle, Coming whole from there hence.
  • The song Harald likes to sing is a song written by Icelandic poet and viking Egill Skallagrímsson, who was contemporary with Harald's son Eirik. Thus it's an anachronism.
  • In some of the sagas, Harald is described as the grandson or alternatively great-great-grandson of Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye and King Ælla's daughter Blæja, making Ragnar Lothbrok his ancestor. Most of the sagas make them distant relatives anyway, by way of having the common ancestor Ingjald
  • Harald's title as king of Norway was Einvaldskonungr, a compound of einvalds- (a word describing autocratic status) and -konungr, king. 
  • The colors on the flags and shields of King Harald's warriors are red and yellow. These are the colors of the royal house of Norway.

Appearances

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
Season five appearances
The Departed Part 1 The Departed Part 2 Homeland The Plan The Prisoner
The Message Full Moon The Joke A Simple Story Moments of Vision
The Revelation Murder Most Foul A New God The Lost Moment Hell
The Buddha The Most Terrible Thing Baldur What Happens in the Cave Ragnarok
Season six appearances
New Beginnings The Prophet Ghosts, Gods, and Running Dogs All The Prisoners The Key
Death and the Serpent The Ice Maiden Valhalla Can Wait Resurrection The Best Laid Plans
King of Kings All Change The Signal Lost Souls All At Sea
The Final Straw The Raft of the Medusa It's Only Magic The Lord Giveth The Last Act