History Channel’s ‘Vikings’ Season 5B Premiere: Historically, Was Bjorn Ironside Really Duke Rollo’s Son?

Duke Rollo claims he is Bjorn Ironside's father, but what do the history books have to say about this?

Clive Standen as Duke Rollo and Alexander Ludwig as Bjorn Ironside
Jonathan Hession / History Channel

Duke Rollo claims he is Bjorn Ironside's father, but what do the history books have to say about this?

The Season 5B premiere episode of History Channel’s Vikings revealed a potential bombshell in relation to Bjorn Ironside’s (Alexander Ludwig) parentage. But, historically speaking, how accurate is this information?

SPOILER ALERT: This recap contains information about Episode 11 (titled “The Revelation”) of History Channel’s Vikings Season 5. Please proceed with caution if you have not yet viewed this episode and wish to avoid spoilers.

Vikings creator Michael Hirst had previously hinted to Metro that Duke Rollo (Clive Standen) could be Bjorn Ironside’s (Alexander Ludwig) father. Now, as the Season 5B premiere airs, this suggestion was set in motion after viewers saw a conversation occur between Duke Rollo (Clive Standen) and Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) that suggested they had a relationship around the time Bjorn was conceived. Then, another conversation had between Rollo and Bjorn saw this idea developed further. Bjorn, in the end, though, decided that he wasn’t really Rollo’s son as he felt he bore no resemblance to Rollo.

However, what do the history books have to say about Bjorn Ironside’s parentage?

There is a little confusion regarding Bjorn’s parents. However, the confusion arises from his mother, and not who his father was. In all the sagas involving Bjorn Ironside, he is always considered the son of Ragnar Lodbrok (known as Ragnar Lothbrok in History Channel’s Vikings).

Alexander Ludwig as Bjorn Ironside and Travis Fimmel Ragnar Lothbrok, as seen in History Channel's Vikings
  Jonathan Hession / History Channel

In the Gesta Danorum (also known as The History Of the Danes by Saxo Grammaticus), Bjorn is listed as one of the sons of Ragnar’s wife, Thora. However, his name is mentioned in addition to Thora’s actual children bore to Ragnar, so it seems likely Saxo was borrowing Bjorn’s lineage from another saga involving Ragnar.

However, traditionally, Bjorn was the son of Ragnar and Aslaug, not Lagertha, as portrayed in the TV series. And, in the Viking saga called the Tale of Ragnar’s Sons, Bjorn is definitely listed as one of Aslaug’s sons. At no point in time, during any of these sagas, is there any mention of Bjorn’s father being in question.

In addition, considering Rollo and Ragnar lived at different times during the Viking age and were not considered brothers, it seems highly unlikely that Bjorn’s mother came into contact with Rollo.

Of course, while the history books say nothing about Bjorn Ironside being the son of Duke Rollo, History Channel quite often diverts away from historical facts. So, viewers will just have to tune in to future episodes of Vikings to find out more.

Vikings returns on Wednesday, December 5, at 9 p.m. ET/PT. History Channel provides the following synopsis for Episode 12 (titled “Murder Most Foul”).

“Bjorn, Lagertha, and Ubbe face an uncertain fate as Heahmund’s loyalty is tested. In Iceland, Floki fights to understand the will of the gods. In kattegat, Ivar may have met his match.”