Episode 12 of History’s Vikings left the fates of Ragnar Lothbrok and his son, Ivar the Boneless, up in the air. According to the history books, though, what is the likelihood of them surviving?
SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses Season 4 of History Channel’s Vikings as well as historical aspects of some of the characters from this show. Please proceed with caution if you wish to avoid spoilers.
In Episode 12 of Vikings, Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) had a vision that saw her son, Ivar the Boneless (Alex Hogh), perish at sea if he followed his father, Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), to England. Despite this warning, Ivar decided to go anyway, saying he would rather die at sea with his father than stay behind in Kattegat and continue to receive everyone’s pity.
The episode concluded with Ragnar and Ivar trapped under their boat as the storm raged on over them. So, is this the way it happened in the history books?
As Michael Hirst pointed out in an interview with Variety, Ragnar could have died of cholera and battle wounds sustained after the battle of Paris. However, considering Ragnar survived this attack on Paris in Vikings, it seems likely History will follow the other traditional version of Ragnar’s death.
According to the ninth book in Saxo Grammaticus’ Gesta Danorum, which tells a lot of Ragnar’s story, Ragnar did not die at sea. In fact, he made it to England, but was captured by King Aelle and put to death. So, regardless if Ragnar Lothbrok survives this sea voyage or not, it seems his death could be imminent anyway.
Although, as Linus Roache (who plays King Ecbert in Vikings) explained to AOL Build recently, a confrontation between Ragnar and King Ecbert is imminent in upcoming episodes of Vikings. This could indicate that perhaps Ragnar will die at the hands of Ecbert and not Aelle in History’s version of Vikings.
But what about Ivar? How did he die according to history? Once again, it is needed to turn to the ninth book in the Gesta Danorum, a tome written by an English scholar sometime after the events occurred. Ivar, distraught at the death of his father, Ragnar, seeks his revenge on King Aelle and forms what is known as the Great Heathen Army (also known as the Great Danish Army or Great Viking Army).
This army is a massive group of Vikings that banded together and helped attack the four kingdoms of England in AD 865. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, written some time late in the 9th century, the Great Heathen Army was led by three of Ragnar’s sons, one of them being Ivar the Boneless.
A historical dig at Repton also confirms the Great Heathen Army did exist, as Michael Hirst points out in an interview with Mashable.
“I was at the archaeological dig at Repton over the summer, where the great heathen army led by Ivar wintered when they went to revenge the death of Ragnar, and we were trying to dig up Ivar’s grave and it was astonishing — it was very moving to think that I was that close to the bones of the Boneless.”
In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Ivar the Boneless is listed as dying in AD 870. It is also possible Ivar was buried at the site at Repton, according to a dig site report by the BBC.
So, it is highly unlikely Ragnar and Ivar will die as a result of Aslaug’s vision in Episode 12 of Vikings. However, just because the history books suggest how these characters will die in the TV adaptation does not necessarily mean it will happen exactly that way, and only by tuning into Episode 13 of Vikings will reveal their fate.
What do you think will happen to Ragnar and Ivar in Episode 13 of Vikings? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below!
Vikings returns to History Channel with Episode 13 on December 14, Wednesday, at 9 p.m. ET.
The synopsis for Episode 13 (entitled “Two Journeys”) is below.
“Ragnar’s fleet is shipwrecked and washes up on the Wessex coast, but without enough survivors to form a credible force, Ragnar and Ivar have a difficult decision to make. Rollo meets his Viking comrades again and can’t resist the urge to join Bjorn’s voyage, risking his marriage and his new Frankish identity. Ragnar too is taking a risk as he carries Ivar towards the Royal Villa in Wessex – throwing himself and his son upon the mercy of King Ecbert.”
[Featured Image by Jonathan Hession/History]