Ragnar Lodbrok

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Ragnar Lodbrok (Ragnar "Hairy-Breeks", Old Norse: Ragnarr Loðbrók) was a Norse legendary hero from the Viking Age who was thoroughly reshaped in Old Norse poetry and legendary sagas.[1][2]

Contents

Life as recorded in the sagas

The namesake and subject of “Ragnar’s Saga”, and one of the most popular Viking heroes among the Norse themselves, Ragnar was a great Viking commander and the scourge of France and England. A perennial seeker after the Danish throne, he was briefly ‘king’ of both Denmark and a large part of Sweden. A colorful figure, he claimed to be descended from Odin, was linked to two famous shieldmaidens, Lathgertha in the Gesta Danorum, and Queen Aslaug according to the Völsungasaga.

He told people he always sought greater adventures for fear that his (possibly adoptive) sons who included such notable Vikings as Björn Ironside and Ivar the Boneless would eclipse him in fame and honor. Ragnar raided France many times, using the rivers as highways for his fleets of longships. By remaining on the move, he cleverly avoided battles with large concentrations of heavy Frankish cavalry, while maximizing his advantages of mobility and the general climate of fear of Viking unpredictability. His most notable raid was probably the raid upon Paris in 845 AD, which was spared from burning only by the payment of 7,000 lbs of silver as danegeld by Charles the Bald. To court his second wife, the Swedish princess Thora, Ragnar traveled to Sweden and quelled an infestation of venomous snakes, famously wearing the hairy breeches whereby he gained his nickname. He continued the series of successful raids against France throughout the mid 9th century, and fought numerous civil wars in Denmark, until his luck ran out at last in Britain. After being shipwrecked on the English coast during a freak storm, he was captured by Anglian king Ælla of Northumbria and put to death in an infamous manner by being thrown into a pit of vipers.

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