How Accurate Is: Vikings (TV Show, 2013-) S1E3

Warning: this post contains spoilers. (Seriously, do not read this if you find spoilers for Vikings concerning. You have been warned.)

Summary: Today’s post will be about the third episode of Vikings (don’t worry if you don’t find Vikings interesting, I am going to try to do some different content next week). Once again, this was a fairly strong episode, although I personally felt that the villainy of the Earl was already well established, and that the murder of that peasant child was therefore unnecessary. I also forgot to mention before that I like the opening credits; they seem very professionally done in contrast to some other shows that I have watched.

Inaccuracies:

  • Why did the Earl hang the other monks in the town square? As mentioned in my previous post, slaves were a fairly valuable commodity in Norse society; so, unless the show was simply trying to illustrate the villainy of the Earl,  this was not all that likely to happen historically. [1]
  • This is probably something that I should have mentioned in a previous post, but Ragnar did not have a brother historically, or at least not one who merits any mention in the sagas. I will go into more detail on the likely historical identity of Rollo after the break.
  • In keeping with what I said in my previous post, Lindisfarne was not the first viking raid; however, the show appears to have switched the first viking raid (as mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle) with the Lindisfarne raid. I say this because the events at the end of today’s episode played out the exact same way they were described in the Chronicle. Considering that the Lindisfarne raid is much more action-packed and results in treasure being obtained, this makes sense. However, if they are going to continue to follow history in this respect, they will need to have Ragnar and his raiders leave now that the sheriff is dead.[2] This seems like an unlikely story decision.
  • Further expanding on why it is so confusing that the inhabitants of Kattegat have never heard of England, the Angles (one of the Germanic tribes who would become the Anglo-Saxons) were actually from Denmark.[3] So, unless they never shared their knowledge or no one returned, the rest of Denmark should really have heard of England by now. In the same vein, the first Angles to go to England went as mercenaries and so would not have brought their families, meaning they would have gone in waves. Therefore, the knowledge would have spread.

For more, continue past the link.

France_Regions

So who was Rollo historically? Well, there was probably more than one historical viking named Rollo; however, the most likely candidate (especially given what I believe is going on in the current season of Vikings) is Rollo, a viking raider from the 10th century. Rollo raided France under its then-king, Charles the Simple, but was defeated at the Siege of Paris in 911 CE and granted Normandy by Charles in exchange for protecting Paris and the coastline of the River Seine.[4] He was born in 860 CE and died in 932, meaning he was born one hundred years after the Lindisfarne Raid. The descendants of Rollo would become the Normans, and then, somewhat ironically (for our purposes) go on to conquer England. With all that said, I can see the potential for the story; I believe that in the next season of vikings this story will play out, as Rollo will likely defect to the French king in exchange for Normandy, and also convert to Catholicism.

Overall, this was a good episode; I enjoyed the battle scenes, which are always well done. The apparent skill of Ragnar’s men in beard and hair trimming continues to be amusing as well. I hope you all enjoyed this, and I’ll see you next time, probably for something other than Vikings.

 

References:

1 Ryan J. Quinlan, “Lindisfarne Priory.”

http://public.gettysburg.edu/~cfee/MedievalNorthAtlantic/Lindisfarne/Lindisfarne%20Priory%20by%20Quinlan.pdf

2 John Allen Giles and James Ingram, trans. The Anglo Saxon Chronicle. Great Britain: J.M Dent and sons, 1938.

3 University of Texas at Arlington. “Anglo-Saxon England”. Last modified October 12, 1998.

https://www.uta.edu/english/tim/courses/4301f98/oct12.html

4 Encyclopedia Britannica. “Rollo Duke of Normandy”. Last modified January 5, 2011.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/507190/Rollo

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