Season 5 of History Channel’s Vikings has seen Astrid kidnapped and, subsequently, married by Harald Finehair. However, is Astrid really changing alliances from Lagertha to Harald? If so, can the history books shed some light on what might happen moving forward in Season 5 of Vikings?
SPOILER ALERT: This article contains information from Season 5 of History Channel’s Vikings. Please proceed with caution if wish to avoid spoilers.
Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) and Astrid (Josefin Asplund) started Season 5 of Vikings on good terms but it quickly went downhill when Harald Finehair (Peter Franzen) escaped Lagertha’s captivity and took Astrid hostage. He returned to his homeland and proceeded to work on Astrid, hoping she would marry him and help in his endeavor to become the king of all Norway. Episode 4 of Vikings then saw Astrid relent and marry Harald. but how much of this is Astrid’s attraction to Harald or the power he potentially possesses, and how much of this could be Astrid scheming in favor of Lagertha? What do the history books say about the matter?
The Viking story that involves Lagertha, the Gesta Danorum, makes no mention of her connection to Harald Finehair. She is involved in a conflict with a Viking called Harald. However, it is never clearly defined who this Harald is. Besides, that dispute arises in relation to Ragnar and Harald, and really has nothing to do with Lagertha, other than her deciding to assist on Ragnar’s side. So, potentially, this battle for Kattegat–which isn’t even a real place in Scandinavia, but, rather, a sea between Sweden and Denmark–does not present itself in the history books.
What about Astrid?
According to the show’s creator, Michael Hirst, Astrid is a product of his fascination for The Beatles and a German woman called Astrid Kirchherr rather than being based on a historical figure from the Viking age according to an interview he did with Entertainment Weekly. Added to this is the fact the Gesta Danorum does not mention Lagertha as having any female companions. After marrying another when Ragnar put her aside in his pursuit of Aslaug, Lagertha did kill this new husband in favor of ruling his lands by herself. This passage does not indicate whether Lagertha had any other partners after that, and, in fact, is where her story ends in the Gesta Danorum. This makes it seem unlikely Lagertha had any female companions and certainly doesn’t mention anyone by the name of Astrid, so can shed no light on whether Astrid will double-cross Lagertha.
So, that leaves Harald Finehair. Can we find out anything from the history books that could indicate whether Harald ruled with a queen called Astrid?
According to some historical sources, Harald–who is known as Harald Fairhair–did want to become the king of Norway. According to the Saga of Harald Fairhair in the Heimskringla text, Harald set out on this task because a woman, Gyda Eiriksdottir of Hordaland, told him she would not marry him until he became the king of all Norway. As a result of this, Harald made a pact not to cut his hair until this task was complete and he could wed Gyda, something he accomplished some ten years later. Fans of the television version of Vikings will know a similar story to this. However, in the series, Harald did not end up marrying the woman who set him the task.
While Harald did have to battle many regions within Norway to become the united king of the country, and it is possible Lagertha’s region could be one of them, there is no direct mention to an area that was ruled by a female leader. There is also no mention of him marrying a woman who he kidnapped from another.
While it seems like Harald did not marry someone called Astrid, one small sentence suggests that Harald could have married someone with a similar name to Astrid. In Chapter 19 of the History of Harald Finehair in the Heimskringla, a list of Harald’s many wives is listed. One line, in particular, is interesting.
“Lastly, King Harald had Ashild, the daughter of Ring Dagson from Ringerik, and their children were Dag and Ring, Gudrod Skirja and Ingegerd.”
Nothing else is mentioned about this union between Harald and Ashild. Although, the fact that they had four children could indicate their union could have been affectionate. At the very least, it was productive. There is also no mention here as to how they met or whether their union was a result of a hostile takeover. Which means fans of Vikings will now have to wait until further episodes of Vikings to find out whether Astrid has sided with Harald against Lagertha or whether she has another hidden agenda not revealed yet.
What we do know for certain is that the battle for Kattegat will continue on until the mid-season finale according to an interview Michael Hirst did recently with Variety.
“The battle for Kattegat is always going to be intense between the sons because that’s where their father ruled. Ragnar didn’t like to be king particularly but he was and now they want to be. It’s a father-son thing. You wait until you see episode 510 [Episode 10 of Season 5]. That battle for Kattegat is the most extraordinary thing we’ve shot so far.”
Vikings returns to History Channel on Wednesday, December 20, at 9 p.m. ET. Zap2It writes the following synopsis for Episode 5 (titled “The Prisoner”).
“Ivar meets his match in Bishop Heahmund; Floki returns to Kattegat; Bjorn receives a lavish welcome in North Africa.”