|“||It gladdens me to know that Odin prepares for a feast! Soon I shall be drinking ale from curved horns. This hero that comes into Valhalla does not lament his death. I shall not enter Odin’s hall with fear. There, I shall wait for my sons to join me. And when they do, I will bask in their tales of triumph. The Aesir will welcome me. My death comes without apology. And I welcome the Valkyries to summon me home!||”|
Ragnar "Lothbrok" Sigurdsson (Old Norse: Ragnarr Loðbrók, Ragnar means "keeper of the fort" and Lothbrok means "shaggy breeches") is a Viking farmer and warrior who yearns to raid the rumored riches of undiscovered England. His first wife is Lagertha, and they have two children named Gyda and Bjorn. His second wife is Aslaug, and they have four sons named Ubbe, Hvitserk, Sigurd, and Ivar. Ragnar is the younger brother of Rollo. He becomes King of Kattegat.
According to the Seer, Ragnar was born and raised in the lands near Kattegat, in southern Norway, and earned a reputation as a clever boy. When Ragnar was fifteen, King Froh of Svealand invaded Norway and killed the Norwegian King Siward. Ragnar joined with Siward-loyalists to drive out Froh. King Froh was famous for carrying tame serpents around his neck in battle who would bite his enemies while he fought them. For the purpose of fighting Froh, Ragnar fashioned a coat and breeches from a hairy animal hide. In the battle that followed, Ragnar faced off with Froh and the serpents could not bite through the hide because of all the hair. Thus, Ragnar earned his name "Lothbrok," which means "the hairy-breeches."
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 prophesied that Ragnar will have many sons. Bjorn is the first of these.
Ragnar is in the Eastern Balts 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 arm-ring 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 will change 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 arm-ring, thus becoming a man. 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 west, but Haraldson dismisses such a thing as 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, Haraldson orders that he be observed.
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 huge and 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 an appreciable horde of treasure 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 Earl Haraldson's 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 England again. Haraldson sanctions the raid, but on the condition that a warrior he trusts accompanies Ragnar's warband. Knut, a warrior present at the secret meeting with Ragnar, but who did not come with him on the first raid, is chosen to oversee Haraldson's interests.
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 arouses. 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 Farm. 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 housecarls and escape. Afterward, he is taken to the house of Floki, where the shipwright slowly nurses him back to health.
While recovering, Ragnar learns from his friend 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 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 their second son, much to his elation.
Several months later, Ragnar and his warriors 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 Æthelwulf, a brother of King Aella. Taking the noble as a valuable hostage, the Vikings extort the Anglo-Saxons for 2,000 pounds of gold and silver to leave their country and to return Æthelwulf to Aella. 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 this 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 gods 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 him 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 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 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. 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, because they need to be 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 a loyal friend who agrees to be sacrificed, seeing it as a great honor. 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 Götaland 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 to 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 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 that in the meantime, he visit the famed ash tree of Götaland. 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 and how she wishes for 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 claimed that it is Yggdrasil, 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 Götaland 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 his 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 Götaland.
Season 2 begins with Ragnar and his men discovering Rollo has betrayed them for Jarl Borg. Ragnar sends Arne to Borg's camp to attempt to talk Rollo out of his betrayal, but Rollo stubbornly refuses, and Arne leaves angry and disappointed. The two armies face off against each other in a small field. Ragnar stares at the enemy army with pure hatred while Rollo taps into his jealousy and rage to work himself up into a frenzy before the battle. The two Viking armies fight but are evenly matched as they use the same tactics and battle styles. During the fighting Rollo leaps over Ragnar's line and begins killing numerous warriors, prompting Floki to attempt to stop him. Unfortunately Floki, even with the aid of two others, is unable to stop Rollo and is defeated even quicker when Jarl Borg joins the fight. Before they can finish Floki however Ragnar, Torstein, and Arne save him, with Ragnar and Torstein taking Floki to get help while Arne remains behind to fight Rollo. Rollo easily defeats Arne and kills him, lifting him on a spear for all to see. Ragnar and Torstein see this and cut their way through the battle to confront Rollo. Rollo, realizing he cannot fight his own brother, surrenders, and this ends the battle.
After the battle, Borg meets with Horik and Ragnar to discuss terms. Though Horik offers some concessions Borg insists the land is his, prompting a frustrated Ragnar to berate them both, saying that they should unite to raid west instead of fighting amongst themselves. This convinces Borg and Horik, who agree to raid west together. Ragnar, Torstein, a wounded Floki, and a restrained Rollo sail back to Kattegat, where the townspeople jeer Rollo and mourn Floki. Rollo's fate is to be decided by a Lawgiver rather than the Earl, as Ragnar is Rollo's brother. The Lawgiver proclaims Rollo should live, that if the gods wanted him dead they would have killed him in battle. Torstein urges Ragnar to overrule the Lawgiver's judgment but Ragnar refuses and it is later revealed he bribed the Lawgiver. Meanwhile, Ragnar's family life is further complicated when Bjorn reveals to Lagertha that Ragnar had an affair with Aslaug. Lagertha is enraged and forces Ragnar to promise he will never see her again. This promise is quickly broken when a very pregnant Aslaug arrives in Kattegat. Ragnar holds a feast to celebrate their arrival, where he drunkenly offers Lagertha to take Aslaug as a second wife. Though Aslaug seems on board with the idea, Lagertha is disgusted and leaves the feast. Later she decides to leave Ragnar and asks Bjorn to come with her, but Bjorn chooses to stay with his father. When Ragnar is informed she left he chases after her and angrily confronts her for leaving. She says she must leave as he has humiliated her, and Bjorn arrives saying he switched his mind and wants to go with her. Ragnar tearfully bids them goodbye and watches them leave.
Four years have passed and a fully recovered Floki has built a new fleet of boats for the expedition west. Meanwhile, Aslaug has given Ragnar two more sons and is pregnant with a third. King Horik arrives in Kattegat early, stating he was too excited to wait, but his excitement is soon dampened by Jarl Borg's arrival. The tension between the two is evident, and King Horik informs Ragnar he still does not trust Jarl Borg and does not want to raid west with him. Ragnar informs Jarl Borg of Horik's decision, and Jarl Borg leaves in rage and disappointment.
Ragnar is approached by Rollo, who has fallen into obscurity and disgrace following his betrayal and was urged by Siggy to attempt to become part of Ragnar's inner circle once more. Rollo asks for forgiveness and permission to participate in the raid west, but Ragnar still harbors doubts. He says he forgives his brother, but he will not permit Rollo to sail west with him. Jarl Borg takes advantage of this and attempts to lure Rollo back to his side, but Rollo simply punches the Jarl in the face.
With King Horik's forces Ragnar sails west, however, rough waters and storms cause them to lose a few ships and throws them off course. When they land they are viciously ambushed almost immediately but emerge victoriously. With knowledge Athelstan obtained from a captured Saxon, Ragnar realizes he is not in Northumbria, but in Wessex, a completely different kingdom with a cunning and ambitious king. Horik and Ragnar's forces sack the monastery at Winchester and gain much treasure but also gain the attention of King Ecbert, the ruler of Wessex. He invites Ragnar to discuss terms and asks why Ragnar hasn't left with his plunder. Ragnar reveals his interest in setting up a Viking colony in England, as he has seen how the soil is much better for crops and can provide a better standard of living for his people. Ecbert hints that he may be willing to give some land to Ragnar in exchange for Ragnar's service in helping Ecbert carry out his ambitious plans. Ragnar later returns to the Viking camp and tells Horik and his men Ecbert is interested in discussing terms
Ragnar's joy at the success of his raid is cut short by news that Jarl Borg has invaded Kattegat in his absence and forced his family into hiding. Ragnar decides to leave immediately but allows Athelstan to remain behind. Unfortunately in the voyage back Ragnar loses most of his ships and soldiers. This means that even with the warriors Rollo has recruited, Ragnar does not have enough men to successfully retake Kattegat. Ragnar later attempts to have sex with Aslaug but she urges him not to as if they do not wait three days the child will be a monster. Ragnar ignores her prophecy and forces himself onto Aslaug.
Ragnar is met with a pleasant surprise after Lagertha and Bjorn arrive with warriors from Hedeby, a land ruled by Lagertha's new husband, Earl Sigvard. Ragnar is overjoyed to see his adult son but is awkward around his ex-wife. Despite Lagertha's reinforcements, Rollo says they still have too few men to drive Jarl Borg out of Kattegat. They need to lure him out where they can fight him in battle. Ragnar decides to burn the winter stores of food to force Borg to come to find them. Ragnar chooses Bjorn to accompany him and together they succeed. Jarl Borg takes the bait and leaves Kattegat to find those who burned his winter stores. Borg later fights a battle with Lagertha, Ragnar, and their men and is defeated. Ragnar triumphantly reenters Kattegat with Lagertha, who is cheerfully welcomed by the village, to Aslaug's concern. Ragnar confesses to the Seer he loves both Aslaug and Lagertha and wants them both and subtly asks Lagertha to stay with him in Kattegat. Lagertha, however, says she must remain faithful to her new husband and return to Hedeby, but allows Bjorn to remain behind.
Shortly afterwards, King Horik returns from Wessex in defeat, stating that after Ragnar left Ecbert attacked and that Horik and his son were barely able to escape and Athelstan was left behind. Horik is eager to return to Wessex to get revenge, but with his losses in Wessex and Ragnar's losses in his fight against Jarl Borg, the two have too few men and ships to go west again without a third ally. Horik asks Ragnar to go back to Jarl Borg and offer him an alliance again, but Aslaug urges Ragnar not to, as Borg forced her and their children to hide in filth and she desires revenge against him. Ragnar decides to send Rollo, who is now back in Ragnar's inner circle after leading the defense of Kattegat and helping retake it, to Götaland to talk to Jarl Borg. Jarl Borg agrees to the alliance and comes to Kattegat with his men. However, Ragnar has Borg's men burned alive and has Jarl Borg beaten and brought before him. He then sentences Borg to death by Blood Eagle, which horrifies Jarl Borg.
Horik is displeased with Ragnar's decision, as he had urged Ragnar to ally with Borg again and so sees the betrayal as Ragnar ignoring his orders. Horik's insecurity is furthered when he visits Borg, who tells him that Ragnar may aspire to usurp Horik's throne. Horik asks Ragnar to hold off on executing Jarl Borg until they find a new ally, as betraying and blood-eagling an ally, even a former enemy, may dissuade others from joining their alliance. Ragnar agrees, and when confronted by Rollo about why he keeps making concessions to Horik, simply replies, "He is the king." A new leader, Earl Ingstad, offers to ally with Ragnar and go west, but when Ragnar meets the earl it is revealed to be Lagertha, who killed her abusive second husband in self-defense and took over his position. With his new ally, any obstacles to the execution of Jarl Borg are gone. In a gruesome and barbaric torchlit ceremony before all of Kattegat's residents, Ragnar inflicts the Blood Eagle on Borg, who suffers his grisly and horrific fate stoically, not crying out, dying like a true Viking and proving himself worthy of Valhalla.
Aslaug's prophecy about bearing Ragnar a monster comes true when she gives birth to a deformed son, his legs do not function and he will never walk. Ragnar urges Aslaug to put the child out of his misery bu she defends him, saying she cannot kill her own child. Ragnar attempts to kill the baby and takes it out into the woods but he finds he cannot harm his own son. Instead, he leaves him next to the river, where Aslaug rescues him. After deciding to keep the baby Ragnar and Aslaug name him "Ivar the Boneless," for the apparent lack of bones in his legs.
Ragnar, Lagertha, and Horik then decide to sail west again and land back in Wessex. Ragnar sends his friend Torstein to inform Ecbert of their return and Ragnar's desire to discuss terms. Horik, however, is infuriated as he only wants revenge on Ecbert and sees Ragnar sending Torstein without consulting him as a challenge to his authority. He forces Ragnar to promise never to do anything without consulting him again, reminding him they are not equal. When Ecbert sends his son, Aethelwulf, to the Viking camp to arrange a meeting, Horik has his son Erlendur ambush and kill the envoys on their way back, sparing only Ecbert's son. This makes conflict inevitable, and Ragnar is angered Horik ruined his chances of negotiating terms with Ecbert. Horik replies by reiterating his authority in making final decisions, as he is the King and is higher than Ragnar. "You seem to forget Earl Ragnar," Horik states, "I am King." Horik's insecurity about Ragnar's rising star becomes evident as he takes every opportunity to assert his authority. When the Viking army marches to confront Ecbert's troops, Ragnar spots a small number of Saxon soldiers in a clearing at the bottom of a series of hills. Ragnar suspects a trap and urges them to wait, but Horik, blinded by his desire for vengeance and his eagerness to assert his authority over Ragnar, orders an attack. The resulting battle is an overwhelming Viking defeat, and Ragnar confronts Horik, who refuses to take responsibility for the defeat despite leading the army into a trap. Ecbert later sends Athelstan, who was captured and reconverted to Christianity and the Saxon way, to convey his desire to discuss terms to the Vikings. Ragnar, Lagertha, and Horik meet Ecbert who offers them generous terms. Ragnar and Lagertha eagerly agree, but Horik does so grudgingly.
Ragnar and the Vikings return to Kattegat, with Athelstan), where Horik has his family come to celebrate the alliance. However, Horik's intentions are revealed when he attempts to lure Floki, who appears to have become distant and bitter towards Ragnar, to his side. He first has Floki kill Torstein to prove his loyalty, then informs Floki he intends to kill Ragnar and all his family the next day. While Ragnar is taught the Lord's Prayer by Athelstan, Horik launches his attack on Kattegat. When he attempts to capture Ragnar however it is revealed Floki never did kill Torstein and betrayed Horik's entire plan to Ragnar. Horik, his men, and all his family, except his son, are killed and Ragnar assumes the title of King, the final shot of the season being Ragnar perched on a cliff looking over his new kingdom.
Ragnar tells Björn that he never wanted to be king, but only to explore and farm. Ragnar decides to sail back to Wessex to claim land for farming as outlined in their treaty. When Ragnar and his warriors arrive in Wessex, King Ecbert informs Ragnar that to receive their land, the Vikings must fight for Princess Kwenthrith to appease King Ecbert's nobles. Ragnar and his vassals then decide to fight for the restoration of the throne for Mercia for Princess Kwenthrith. In the meantime, Lagertha stays behind in Wessex with Athelstan and King Ecbert to start constructing their settlement. Ragnar wins a battle against the Mercians but Torstein's arm is injured. A celebration is held in honor of the victory. Torstein's left arm becomes gangrenous and he asks Floki to amputate. Kwenthrith asks for the head of her uncle. When Ragnar questions her hatred, she admits to having been sexually abused as a child by him and her oldest brother. Ragnar and his warriors begin climbing the mountain to fight Kwenthrith's brother and his army. Kwenthrith asks Ragnar to spare her brother. Torstein volunteers to go first to make sure the army is there and dies valiantly. In the battle, Þórunn is severely injured. Aethelwulf ambushes the Mercians and Prince Burgred surrenders. Ragnar and his warriors return to Kattegat, and they learn of Siggy's death. Ragnar is suspicious about why Aslaug was not watching the children. A messenger arrives to tell Lagertha that her earldom has been usurped by Kalf and she asks Ragnar to help her win it back. Ragnar tells the men that they will raid Paris in the spring. Ragnar returns with Lagertha to speak with Kalf, although he decides not to help fight for Lagertha. Floki tells Ragnar that Aslaug slept with Harbard and that Harbard is another name for Odin. Ragnar does not believe that. Rollo reveals that Athelstan no longer wears his arm-ring. Floki receives a sign that "blood must be spilled," and kills Athelstan while he is praying. Ragnar carries Athelstan's body up to the side of the mountain for burial, devastated. Ragnar's Viking fleet, also reinforced by Earl Siegfried arrives in Frankia. Ragnar shocks the Viking army when he decides to leave Floki in charge of the attack. The Vikings attack Paris. Lagertha, Kalf, and Erlendur lead an attack on the city gate. Meanwhile, Floki, Ragnar, Bjorn, and Rollo try to breach the walls from boats on the river. Princess Gisla manages to restore faith in the Frank troops by revealing the Oriflamme. Eventually, the defense holds, repelling the Vikings. Ragnar manages to see the city of Paris for a moment but is thrown from the walls he then finds Bjorn badly wounded. At the camp the warriors have to deal with their wounded. With the Vikings still recovering, Ragnar orders another attack. Led by Rollo, Lagertha, and Kalf they manage to pass the bridge, but they are once again pushed back. Siegfried is captured and executed. Ragnar's wounds won't heal, leaving him weak. Trying to restore his leadership, he secretly meets the Franks. Although offered gold and silver, Ragnar doesn't accept. Knowing his end is drawing near, he asks to be baptized and to be buried inside the city. The Franks pay gold and silver to the Vikings, but they show no sign of leaving. Many people are still shocked at Ragnar's Christening, and when the badly wounded leader dies, Bjorn is in charge. The warriors place Ragnar into a wooden coffin and escort it to the gates of Paris, where they meet the Bishop. The coffin is brought inside the Cathedral to be blessed, but Ragnar suddenly jumps out of the coffin alive. He takes Princess Gisla as a hostage and forces the guards to open the gates, allowing the Vikings to enter the city. Most of the Vikings then set sail for home, but a small party, led by Rollo, remain. While sailing home Ragnar tells Floki that he knows he is Athelstan's killer.
Ragnar decides to attack Paris again. The real reason for him wanting to attack Paris is because he wants to kill his brother Rollo, who has betrayed everyone by turning to the Franks. Ragnar's forces are repulsed by Rollo who uses two forts and a chain to prevent the longships from reaching the city. Ragnar and Floki move the longships over to the other side of the river and attack Paris from behind, but Rollo manages to repulse this attempt with Paris's navy.
Ragnar, after being defeated in Paris, disappears from Kattegat for about ten years. When he returns, his people part the way for him but he feels unwelcome. He greets his sons then challenges each to put him out of his misery. He challenges anyone to fight him for the kingship. Ubbe steps forward but Ragnar embraces him. Ragnar meets with all of his sons alone and tells them he is going to return to England and asks if any of them want to join. Bjorn tells him of his other plans to go to the Mediterranean Sea. None of them want to go, however, he does not extend the invitation to Ivar.
Ragnar starts saying goodbye to people starting with a visit to Floki's. He stays with him. Then before departing, he asks Floki to watch over his family and tells Floki that he loves him. He then journeys to see Lagertha and expresses deep regret about the failure of the English settlement and of their marriage. He kisses her goodbye with no regrets. On the trip home, he tries to hang himself but is unsuccessful. Back in Kattegat, he invites Ivar on a voyage to England and he is quick to accept the invitation. Bjorn gives them ships and they scrape together a crew. Lastly, Ragnar says goodbye to Aslaug.
The sea is very treacherous on the journey to England. Ragnar saves Ivar from drowning and they shipwreck on the shore of England. Only a handful of their crew survive and all of their ships were lost at sea. They hardly have any weapons so Ragnar leads them into the wood to cook and camp. He tells Ivar that he never intended to make it home and they must get rid of the others. They slaughter their remaining countrymen in their sleep.
Ragnar carries Ivar to King Ecbert's village. He tells Ivar that once they are inside they will be separated so Ivar must act like a good boy. As they approach the gate, Ragnar shows the guards that he is unarmed and tells them that he is a very good friend of King Ecbert's. They escort Ragnar and carry Ivar into the courtyard where they are greeted by Prince Aethelwulf. As soon as he sees Ragnar, he orders him to be seized. They put Ragnar in a cage and Aethelwulf demands to know where the rest of his raiding party is. Ragnar tells him that he and his son killed them so it is only the two of them now.
Ecbert returns and eats with Ragnar while keeping him in the cage. Ecbert apologizes for killing the Viking farmers that had settled in England. Then he introduces Ragnar to his son, Magnus, by the deceased Queen Kwenthrith. Ragnar tells the boy that he is truly a miracle as he never had sex with his mother. Ecbert lets Ragnar out of his cage and they drunkenly argue about Valhalla verses Heaven and how one is more ridiculous than the other. They discuss their mutual love of Athelstan. Ragnar is very emotional when he meets Alfred, Athelstan's son.
Ragnar tells Ecbert that he must kill him but Ecbert says he cannot do it. Ragnar suggests that Ecbert hand him over to King Ælle but Ecbert confesses that he would rather set Ragnar free. Ragnar tells him that his sons know he has come to Wessex to see him and once they hear of his death they will seek vengeance on Ecbert for their father's death. Ragnar convinces Ecbert to get Ivar home safely and Ivar will tell his brothers that Ragnar and King Ecbert were sworn friends. Ivar will say King Ælle was solely responsible for Ragnar's death. Ragnar asks to speak to Ivar alone, for the final time. He tells him the plan for Ecbert to hand him over to Ælle. He tells him that they must seek revenge, but not on Ælle, on Ecbert.
Ragnar gives Alfred Athelstan's cross and Ragnar is put into a carriage to be taken to Ælle. The man driving the carriage is blind. The driver tells Ragnar, "I can see you, Ragnar Lothbrok. I can see you." This fulfills the Seer's prophecy that there would come a day when the blind man would see him. Ragnar struggles with many visions on his journey to death. King Ælle beats and tortures Ragnar and cuts a cross into his head, but Ragnar will not repent. The reason King Ælle cuts a bloody cross into Ragnar's forehead as part of his torture is because Ragnar painted a bloody cross on Ælle's brother, Æthelwulf of Northumbria's, forehead prior to killing him in A King's Ransom. He remembers Athelstan teaching him to pray. Ragnar does not utter a word when being tortured. When it is finally time for him to die, he roars a poem at the top of his lungs about Odin and Valhalla. He says he is not afraid and he welcomes the Valkyries. He is then thrown into a pit of venomous snakes.
Ragnar is a complicated person. He is smart, curious, ambitious, and not without his flaws. He can have times of great despair, impulsivity, doubt, and being overly fascinated with his death. Ragnar can struggle with the two sides of who he is, the man and the legend he becomes. He begins as a family man and often describes himself as a farmer even after he becomes a king. On the other hand, he is known throughout Scandinavia and England as a fearsome warrior and bloodthirsty conquer. While described by the Saxons as a pillaging murderer, he’s not worse than any other Viking in his culture. Ragnar intentionally plays up this conception of him as a form of psychological warfare. He has an extramarital affair that drives away his loving wife and partially alienates him from his eldest son. He can occasionally be selfish, prone to rage, and sometimes seems to have lost his mind. However, Ragnar also can be compassionate, understanding, and supportive. He is protective of his people and his family.
Ragnar always strives to embodies the ideals of Norse society. He claims kinship with the god Odin and takes him for his patron god. He also has the common Norse belief that one’s fate has already been decided. He attributes the twists and turns in life to the whims of the gods. He is often grimly fatalistic about the future. However, upon meeting Athelstan and befriending him, Ragnar learns about Christianity and this leads to him questioning the gods and fate. Ragnar tells the Seer, “You and your gods are wrong. You see I guided my fate, me not you, not the gods.” In the end, Ragnar returns to his faith. His faith can be so strong at times that it rubs off on those around him. For example, Lagertha is originally skeptical about fate, but later embraces it as much as Ragnar when she witnesses the strength of his belief in it. Ragnar’s adoption of Christianity may have been more of a show of respect and love for Athelstan than due to any real belief in Christ. Evidence of this includes him slaying the priest who baptized him without a thought. Although this is complicated by the instance when Ragnar is seemingly dying of his wounds and is visited by a vision of Athelstan. As Ragnar reaches out toward him, Athelstan is transformed in Jesus. They are interrupted by Odin who leaves Ragnar lying in a pool of blood.
Like all Norse warriors, Ragnar is brave in battle and respects worthy adversaries, such as Earl Haraldson and King Ecbert. Even though he killed Haraldson in single combat, Ragnar honors him with a great funeral and says he was “a great man and warrior who earned his renown in this life and now in death.” He suffers from a lack of approval as King of Kattegat when the fate of the Wessex settlement finally comes to light as well as his role in covering it up so he could invade and conquer Frankia. However, he still commands sufficient respect in the north that most people still outwardly treat him with honor. And his legend was still so strong that his sons forbade the election of another king in his ten-year absence. Of course, he later orchestrates his death in Britain in such a way that it completes the rehabilitation of his reputation and incites a massive invasion of thousands of Norse warriors to destroy the kingdoms of Wessex and Northumbria.
Lagertha and Ragnar had a very loving relationship. Ragnar seems to value her opinions and was proud of her accomplishments as a shield-maiden. Lagertha fell madly in love with Ragnar after she watched as he killed a bear with his spear and strangled a hound to death with his bare hands in the same fight. However, when Ragnar becomes obsessed with the Seer's prophecy that he would have many sons Lagertha miscarries and has become barren, due to this revelation, Ragnar becomes increasingly distant towards her. Her son Bjorn then witnesses Ragnar cheating on her with Aslaug while traveling to Götaland on a diplomatic mission for King Horik. Bjorn tells Lagertha about the affair and she confronts Ragnar about it. Ragnar's temper then flared and then turned his eyes on his son asking him what he told her. Lagertha then angrily warns Ragnar to never do it again. All things seemingly go well until Aslaug arrives in Kattegat pregnant, much to Lagertha's shock and dismay. When Ragnar suggests that he take Aslaug as a second wife, her feelings of betrayal are deepened and she resolved to divorce him and leave Kattegat completely heartbroken. But even after leaving Ragnar, she knew in her heart that she still loves and admires Ragnar. This was when her second husband who was simultaneously abusive and pathetic, questioned her actions supporting Ragnar's retaking of his earldom and no relationships she engages with before and after his death rivaled the relationship the young couple shared. They were also willing to work together to co-parent Bjorn, and were on the same wavelength about safely retrieving Athelstan from Wessex as she knew him for years, she is openly affectionate with Ragnar's younger sons. While Lagertha isn't quite as forward thinking as Ragnar is, she supports his decisions almost instantaneously, clearly trusting and respecting his decisions inside and outside of battle. Lagertha greatly mourns Ragnar after his death, and it is hinted that she joins him in Valhalla.
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 which forced a heartbroken Lagertha to leave him along with her son much to Ragnar's dismay. While Ragnar is openly affectionate towards their sons and Aslaug’s pregnant belly, and he abides by his duty as a loving husband and father but realizes that he does not love Aslaug the same as Lagertha. By Season 4, they openly loathed each other. Ragnar and Aslaug's marriage has now fallen apart. With Aslaug not appreciating being treated like a brood mare instead of a wife as Ragnar no longer cares for or even respects her in the slightest due to her actions and personality. Ragnar repeatedly dismissed Aslaug’s prophecies and warnings, which he ended up regretting. 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 which deeply hurt and angered Ragnar. Ragnar slaps her across the face for it before walking away in shame and anger. Which intensified the already broken marriage between Ragnar and Aslaug. She complains to Ragnar about his lack of attention and affection to her which led to her having an affair. 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 by Lagertha who wanted revenge for stealing away her ex-husband with whom she recently reconciled with before his death.
Rollo is Ragnar's brother and rival. As young men they both pursued a romantic relationship with Lagertha. Lagertha even going as far to have a sexual relationship with Rollo. Ragnar doesn't trust Rollo and this is not without merit. Rollo betrays Ragnar multiple times. While the two brothers love each other, Rollo’s increasing resentment of Ragnar’s fame, and Ragnar’s blindness to that resentment, lead to tearing of their relationship and the Battle of the Brothers. Ragnar ultimately forgave his brother but the two men would never fully regain their trust of each other which eventually resulted in Rollo betraying Ragnar for the second and final time resulting in the Second Invasion of Paris.
The second Ragnar and Athelstan meet, they have a connection. Though Athelstan's ability to speak Old Norse helps him avoid being killed, there is something that draws the two together over and over again. When Ragnar meets Athelstan, he is immediately curious about him because of the knowledge Athelstan can provide him with. Their relationship is never romantic, but they still always choose each other over just about anyone else. Their friendship supersedes cultures, religions, and wars. In a way, they are soulmates. Unlike the majority of their peers, the two men are not blinded by intolerance, but see the human side of other people, regardless of where they are from.
While Athelstan starts out as Ragnar’s slave, he eventually is freed and becomes a member of the Lothbrok family. Through Athelstan, Ragnar learns a lot about Anglo-Saxon culture, including how to speak Old English, and learns to see the world in a different way. Ragnar knows that Athelstan never fully abandons his Christianity, and lets Athelstan get away with his secrets. Ragnar even learns more about the Christian faith himself in an attempt to better understand his friend.
After Ragnar's return to Wessex, Athelstan goes with him back to Kattegat instead of staying in England. His bond with Ragnar is too strong to ignore. Their relationship is riddled with tough situations and dangerous confrontations, but together the pair weather them all. While standing side by side puts them in more danger, it is also the only way their survive. Being so different, the two constantly teach each other new things that make them stronger and smarter. For example, Ragnar teaches Athelstan to fight and about the Viking culture. In return, Athelstan teaches Ragnar about Christianity and diplomacy. Ragnar says that Athelstan is the only person he can truly trust, and when Athelstan dies, it permanently changes Ragnar. Athelstan acted as a conscience to Ragnar, and with his death almost all moral restraints placed on Ragnar disappears with him.
Bjorn and Ragnar are devoted to each other as father and son. Like his father, Bjorn also lusts for glory and fame and is curious about other cultures. Although they often have disputes due to Bjorn’s impulsive nature. Bjorn can chafe under his father’s rule and lacks the patience necessary to secure victory. Bjorn often struggles to see Ragnar’s decisions for the long plays that they will impose. Ragnar becomes upset with Bjorn after he arrests Floki for the murder of Athelstan. Ragnar had planned to confront Floki alone and in confidence, but Bjorn arrested Floki in a public setting. Ragnar had deemed Athelstan’s death as the act of an errant friend and disliked having his hand forced by Bjorn. Bjorn nonetheless deeply loved and respected his father remarking that "Despite all of his failings, he is still the greatest man in the world to me."
|“||Dear child, Gyda, you are not gone because you are always in my heart. They say that a man must love his sons more, but a man can be jealous of his sons, and his daughter can always be the light in his life.||”|
– Ragnar, Brother's War
|“||You're a brave man, Athelstan. I always respected you for that. You taught me so much. You saw yourself as weak and conflicted, but to me, you were fearless because you dared to question.||”|
– Ragnar, Born Again
|“||Power is dangerous. This I have always known. Look at what power has given me. Since I invaded Paris I found myself thinking, what use is power? You see, the problem with power is that the more you have, the more others want it. And in my world, power can only truly be built with blood. Only fools believe they can live forever by avoiding the fight. I embrace the idea of death. Will I get into Valhalla? I don’t know.||”|
– Ragnar, Vikings Season 4 Promo
|“||Don't waste your time looking back. You’re not going that way.||”|
–Ragnar, What Might Have Been
|“||When everyone wanted you dead, I kept you alive.||”|
|“||In my mind, I wish I had never left the farm.||”|
|“||It gladdens me to know that Odin prepares for a feast! Soon I shall be drinking ale from curved horns. This hero that comes into Valhalla does not lament his death. I shall not enter Odin’s hall with fear. There, I shall wait for my sons to join me. And when they do, I will bask in their tales of triumph. The Aesir will welcome me. My death comes without apology. And I welcome the Valkyries to summon me home!||”|
|“||How the little piggies will grunt when they hear how the Old Boar sufferd.||”|
|“||I don't believe in the gods' existence. Man is the master of his own fate, not the gods. The gods are man's creation, to give answers that they are too afraid to give themselves.||”|
- 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 Ælle 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.
- Since the end of Breaking Point Ragnar can be considered the first baptized King of Denmark. For he doesn't actually follow the Christian faith but used it in a ploy to break into the city of Paris.
- Ragnar's converted dead entrance in Paris was actually made by his son Bjorn years after his death in the city of Luna in Italy. A city that Bjorn believed was Rome. There is the possibility that Bjorn will use the same tactic made by his father in the future. Coincidentally in A Good Treason, Bjorn is shown seeing a map that he got in Paris. It clearly shows "Rome" over Italy and "Gaul" over France. When Ubbe asks him what it is, Bjorn answers that "it's his future."
- While the Ragnarssons are all historical figures, Ragnar himself is classified as legendary and puts doubt on whether those the sagas refer to his sons were indeed brothers.
|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|
- Ragnarok (uncredited; vision)