For history buffs, it is always exciting to try and work out which aspects of the Viking sagas the History Channel will use in Vikings. With the new trailer for Season 4 released at San Diego Comic-Con, there are plenty of clues to suggest the Great Heathen Army is on its way. But what does that mean in regards to Ragnar Lothbrok?
Spoiler Alert: This article discusses the historical aspects of the character Ragnar Lothbrok that may spoil upcoming storylines in Season 4 and 5 of History’s Vikings. Please proceed with caution if you wish to avoid potential spoilers.
While many parts of Vikings uses creative license when it comes to the characters and storylines, the show’s writer, Michael Hirst, also includes plenty of historically accurate sections of Viking history and culture to give the show an interesting blend of fact and fiction. When the trailer was released for the Season 4 return of Vikings, there were plenty of clues to suggest the Great Viking Army is on its way out of the history books and onto the screen.
So what is the Great Heathen Army?
For fans of Vikings who haven’t read a lot of Viking history, the Great Heathen Army (also called the Great Danish Army or The Great Viking Army) was formed around 865, with a Viking called Ivar the Boneless as one of the commanders. This great army was formed in an effort to conquer all of England. It was a strong force in England for many years after it first arrived. This part is known from recorded history. However, according to the Viking sagas (some of which were recorded by the English writer, Saxo Grammaticus), the Great Heathen Army was formed by Ivar to seek revenge for the murder of his father, Ragnar Lodbrok (known as Ragnar Lothbrok in the Vikings TV series), by King Aella after the king threw Ragnar into a pit of venomous snakes.
In the Season 4 Vikings trailer, it certainly appears a great army is forming, led by Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen). After all, Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford) is seen asking a prisoner how many Vikings are in the army — hundreds or thousands, indicating a large mass of Vikings is forming. One of Ragnar’s sons is also heard claiming the army they are forming will be twice the size of the one Ragnar took to Paris, a fair indicator that the Great Heathen Army will arrive in Season 4 of Vikings. There are also plenty of images from the trailer showing a large force of Vikings being led by Ivar the Boneless. Ragnar, however, appears to be absent. If this is the case, could it mean Ragnar will die in the second half of Season 4 before the Great Heathen Army attacks, just like history tells us?
What does the Great Heathen Army mean for Ragnar?
We know from the trailer for Season 4 of Vikings that Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) intends to return to England. Ragnar revealed in the first half of Season 4 the burden he bore in relation to knowing King Ecbert (Linus Roache) had slaughtered a Viking settlement that was supposed to be safe. So it is likely Ragnar is returning to England to settle the score with King Ecbert in relation to this matter. While it is King Aella in the Viking sagas who kills Ragnar, could History change it up a little bit by having Ecbert kill Ragnar instead? Perhaps, but only by tuning into the Season 4 return of Vikings will all be revealed.
There are several parts in the Season 4 trailer for Vikings that show Ragnar with his son, Ivar. Ragnar is telling Ivar to be ruthless at one point, and at another time, he claims that people will fear eventually Ivar. Another still (seen below) from the Season 4 trailer shows Ragnar captured at spear point and placed in a cage. Could this be the capture of Ragnar by one of the kings of England? However, it seems Ragnar might get a chance to speak to Ivar after this capture as he is telling Ivar that he “must seek revenge.” If this is the case, Ragnar must know his death is certain.
What do you think will happen to Ragnar Lothbrok in the Season 4 return of Vikings? Let us know your thoughts and theories by commenting below!
Vikings will return later in 2016, and the series has been renewed for Season 5 by the History Channel.
[Image via History]