As season 3 of the hit TV series Vikings gets underway, I’m sure everyone is dying to know will Lagertha and Ragnar will ever get back together?
What most people don’t realize that Lagertha is loosely based on a real historical figure. Lagertha according to legend was a Danish shieldmaiden from what is now Norway, and the wife of the Viking raider Ragner Lodbrok in around 840 to 865 AD, her story as recorded by a Saxon chronicler in the 12 century, may mirror tales about Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr, a Norse deity.
Her career as a warrior began when Frø, king of Sweden, invaded Norway and killed the Norwegian king Siward, Frø put the women of the dead king’s family into a brothel for public humiliation.
When Ragner heard of this he attacked with an army to avenge his grandfather Siward. Many of the women Frø had ordered abused dressed themselves in men clothing and fought on Ragnar’s side. Chief among them, and the key to Ragnar’s victory was Lagertha.
From this point on the pairs lives were destined to be entwined, and on killing both a bear and a vicious hound that Lagertha set on him Ragner at last won the right to marry her.
Later still annoyed that Lagertha had set the beasts onto him Ragner divorced her in favor of Þóra Town-Hart, the daughter of king Herrauðr of Sweden.
On returning to Denmark Ragner was again faced with civil war, so he sent to Norway for support, and Lagertha, who still loved him, came to his aid with 120 ships.
When Siward, Ragners son was wounded in battle, Lagertha saved the day yet again with a ferocious counter attack:
“Lagertha, who had a matchless spirit though a delicate frame, covered by her splendid bravery the indination of the soldiers to waver. For she made a sally about, and flew round to the rear of the enemy, taking them unawares, and thus turned the panic of her friends into the campn of the enemy.”
Upon returning to Norway, she quarreled with her husband, and slew him with a spearhead she concealed in her gown.
Saxon records conclude that she then “usurped the whole of his name and sovereignty; for this most presumptuous dame thought it pleasanter to rule without her husband than to share the throne with him.