'Vikings' Season 4, Episode 19: Historically, Who Is King Harald Finehair And Is He A Threat To Kattegat?

For quite some time now in History Channel's Vikings, King Harald Finehair has been trying to become the king of all Norway in an effort to win the hand of Princess Ellisif. Will Episode 19 of Season 4 be his chance to overrun Kattegat and claim another title?

SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses Episode 19, of Season 4 of History Channel's Vikings, as well as historical aspects of some of the characters. Please proceed with caution if you wish to avoid spoilers.

Ever since King Harald Finehair (Peter Franzen) arrived in Kattegat in Episode 4 (entitled "Yol") of Season 4 of Vikings, he has claimed he will become the "king of all Norway." Harald decided to take on this epic task after Princess Ellisif (Sophie Vavasseur) told him she would not marry him until he had conquered all of Norway. Episode 18 of Vikings, however, saw Harald Finehair discover Ellisif was now married to someone else and probably never loved him anyway.

So, Historically, Who Is Harald Finehair?

According to the Viking sagas, a man called Harald Finehair did exist, although he went by the name, Harald Fairhair. He is likely the same character seen in Vikings, regardless of the name difference, though, as Harald Fairhair also wanted to become the king of all Norway thanks to the insistence of a woman. However, in the sagas, this woman's name was Gyda, the daughter of Eirik, king of Hordaland, and she rejected Harald's marriage proposal until he could unify all of Norway. Harald is supposed to have succeeded in unification and then ruled over Norway during 850 – 932.

The Saga of Harald Fairhair appears in the historical text called the Heimskringla, or the Chronicle of the Kings of Norway. It was written in Iceland by Snorri Sturluson around 1230 CE, some 300 years after his supposed reign. However, there are earlier sources that also speak of Harald Finehair. Two earlier fragmented skaldic poems, Hrafnsmal and Glymdrapa, also tell of Harald Fairhair. However, the earlier recorded source found about Harald, the king of all Norway, was found in the Islendingabok, an Icelandic source that was recorded by the Icelandic priest, Ari Thorgilsson, sometime prior to his death in 1148. This still places the story of Harald Fairhair as being recorded 200 years after the actual events.

History Channel's 'Vikings,' Season 4 Part 2, Episode 19, Halfdan the Black, Bjorn Ironside and Harald Finehair
[Image by Bernard Walsh/History Channel]

If these events are the inspiration for History Channel's Vikings, could it be possible that Harald Finehair could take over Kattegat from as early as Episode 19 of Season 4? Where is the TV show currently, time-wise, in the Viking Era?

Harald Fairhair ruled Norway from 850. Currently, Vikings Season 4 has seen the formation of the Great Heathen Army in Episode 17 and their attack on Northumbria in Episode 18. This means a date can be placed as to where the show is on the Viking Era timeline since the Great Heathen Army's attack on England has been proven not only by historical texts such as the Anglo Saxon Chronicle recording this event, but thanks to archaeological evidence found in a mass grave in Repton, England, and digitally recorded via BBC's dig reports. According to the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, the Great Heathen Army wintered at Repton in 873, which is confirmed by archaeology. While the TV show is not yet at this point, it is likely the year is somewhere around 865 when the Anglo Saxon Chronicle first recorded evidence of the Great Heathen Army.

History's 'Vikings,' Season 4, Part 2, trailer, Great Heathen Army, Viking warriors, Episode 19, Harald Finehair
The Great Heathen Army as depicted in History Channel's 'Vikings [Image by History Channel]

So, as you can see, there is a time discrepancy between when Harald ruled Norway and the current timeline in the Vikings TV series. However, Harald was recorded as having a very long reign, up until 932, indicating that he still has time left in the TV series to take over Norway.

Will Lagertha Lose Kattegat To Harald Finehair?

In order for King Harald Finehair to take over all of Norway, he will need to take over Kattegat. Now, considering the Episode 19 trailer released by Carter Matt for Episode 19 of Vikings Season 4 shows Kattegat under attack, it seems likely Harald might attack in next week's episode.
However, Harald is currently in England with the Great Heathen Army. So, could that mean Episode 19 of Vikings Season 4 will feature a time jump?

This is possible, although, considering Harald Finehair and his brother, Halfdan the Black (Jasper Paakkonen), have been negotiating with Egil (Charlie Kelly) about breaking through Kattegat's defenses, it seems more likely that an army headed by Egil on Finehair's behalf will attack Kattegat. However, only by tuning into Episode 19 of Vikings will reveal if Harald Finehair is successful in his attempt to usurp Lagertha.

Do you think Harald Finehair will become the king of all Norway in History Channel's Vikings Season 4? Let us know your thoughts and theories by commenting below.

Vikings returns to History Channel with Episode 19 on Wednesday, January 25, at 9 p.m. ET.

According to History Channel's schedule, Episode 19 of Vikings will be titled "On The Eve." The synopsis for this episode as follows.

"The Viking army causes panic in the English countryside as King Ecbert and Aethelwulf plan the defense of the realm."
[Featured Image by Jonathan Hession/History Channel]