If you are a Viking enthusiast, chances are that you have heard of the name Ragnar Lothbrok. In Norse Viking sagas, Ragnar Lothbrok was a great Viking hero. Like Odin the Allfather, Ragnar had a lot of sons who were as great as their father. This blog post will present x sons of Ragnar who allegedly formed the Great Viking Heathen Army seeking revenge for Ragnar’s death.
Ivar the Boneless
Ivar Ragnarsson or Ivar Boneless was a Viking leader who once invaded what is now England. According to saga, Ivar was the son of Ragnar Lothbrok and Aslaug a seeress.
The reason for “Boneless” name remains a matter of debate. Many claim that Ivar was born with some physical disabilities, other believe it refers to male impotence. In the saga, when Ragnar came home after a long voyage, he couldn’t wait to see his beautiful wife. Aslaug warned him to wait for three nights before they could consummate but he didn’t listen a word. Ivar was the product of that night and he was cursed which made him unable to walk properly.
But the physical disability could not prevent a great mind like Ivar to be a warband leader. He earned respect and admiration from his people for the cunning mind and the military talent which he inherited from Ragnar.
Around 865, Ivar and his brothers formed a coalition declaring war against Anglo-Saxon kingdoms (East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Mercia, Northumbria, Sussex, and Wessex). The Chronicle of Anglo Saxon called this Viking army as Great Viking Heathen Army. Ivar led the army to seek revenge for Ragnar’s death.
Cool thing is that people continue discussing whether Ivar was the embodiment of any god in Norse mythology? Personally I think he was. Yet, he could have embodied not only one god. First, he could have embodied Baldur the Shining God – son of Odin the Allfather and Frigg (a seeress and Queen of Asgard). Ivar was the son of Ragnar and Aslaug who was also a seeress. In the meantime, he could also be Vidar God of Revenge. In Norse mythology, Vidar killed Fenrir the Wolf that swallowed Odin. And in the tales of Ragnar’s sons, Ivar led the Great Viking Heathen Army to seek revenge for Ragnar’s death.
Hvitserk was one of sons of Ragnar Lothbrok and Aslaug. This meant he was the sibling of Ivar the Boneless. Although some sources claimed that Hvitserk was a compilation of many historical figures, Tales of Ragnar’s sons mentioned him as one of the leaders of Heathen Army.
After revenging for father’s death, Hvitserk parted with the brothers and went on raiding on his own. He once waged war and pillaged the Rus. When hearing the Ivar, his brother, was slain by Eyestein son of King Olaf of Dublin, Hvitserk turned back to seek revenge for his brother. However, he lost to the hand of Eyestein and went back to Ireland where he was overwhelmed by a potent foe. When asked how he wished to die, he decided to be burnt.
Another son of Ragnar Lothbrok and Aslaug was Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye. Nicknames in the Viking saga and probably in Viking Age were the result of physical traits. As the name mentioned, Sigurd had a “snake” in the eye. It was a mark of Ouroboros – an encircling snake.
When Sigurd was a boy, he had a close relationship with his father. Ragnar even brought him on the expedition to new land which was to train his son to a fierce warrior. On hearing the death of Ragnar Lothbrok, Sigurd was the one that revealed his great grief as he cut his hand to the bone.
However, many sources told Sigurd later married Blaeja the daughter of King Aella of Northumbria. King Aella was legendarily the killer of Ragnar Lothbrok – father of Sigurd.