The History of the Vikings: Was Aslaug Really that Horrible to Ragnar?

Aslaug as portrayed by Alyssa Sutherland in History Channel's 'Vikings'

[Image via History Channel]

For fans of History Channel’s series, Vikings, there seems to be the general assumption that Ragnar’s relationship with his second wife, Aslaug, was a horrible situation. Aslaug is seen as the marriage wrecker as she seduces Ragnar away from his first wife, Lagertha, and becomes pregnant to the errant Viking king.

While Aslaug and Ragnar produce many sons, their relationship becomes very strained by the end. Both parties have affairs and are, in general, not very nice to each other.

So, was this really how Aslaug and Ragnar’s relationship played out in the sagas? Let’s have a look.

While Aslaug’s sons are mentioned in the same saga as Lagertha, there is little to suggest Aslaug’s presence there other than a possible name mix up between Ragnar a a wife called Swanloga. If you want to find out more about this wife, you can do so in my previous post on Ragnar’s wives.

Saxo Grammaticus’ book, the Gesta Danorum, mentions Lagertha’s story and she is listed as a wife of Ragnar. However, Ragnar divorces her after falling in love with a woman called Thora. In the television series, this wife in never mentioned. At no point here does Aslaug show up to mess things up with Lagertha. Instead, it appears to be Thora’s appearance that blows things off course for Ragnar and Lagertha.

Aslaug, Ragnar, and Lagertha, as portrayed in History Channel's 'Vikings'

[Image via History Channel]

In The Sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok, Ben Waggoner has translated the other sagas that include Aslaug and Ragnar. It is here that we discover that Ragnar first met Ragnar in much the way it is portrayed in History Channel’s Vikings. Although, in the sagas, he is single at the time.

Ragnar thinks Aslaug is a peasant as she resides with Aki and Grima, peasants who killed her foster father, Heimir. However, Aslaug is actually the last descendant of the Volsung line. This Viking clan were once a prestigious group and Aslaug’s parents were the famous dragon slayer, Sigurd, and the shield maiden called Brynhildr.

Of course, Ragnar doesn’t know this but is so infatuated with Aslaug that he wants to marry her as soon as possible. Aslaug, in true saga style, sets boundaries for Ragnar before he can marry her but, eventually, they are wed.

Their first child, Ivar, is conceived after Ragnar didn’t hold off on the wedding night. Aslaug prophesied that their firstborn son would be crippled it they did not wait for three nights beyond their wedding before consummating it.

Ragnar and Aslaug, as portrayed in History Channel's 'Vikings'

[Image via History Channel]

While Ivar is, in fact, born a cripple, Aslaug and Ragnar’s relationship doesn’t seem to flounder. Many more sons follow in succession after this point and there is no suggestion in their sagas that their relationship was ever strained.

Except for that one point when Ragnar accidentally becomes betrothed to a woman called Ingibjorg.

As the daughter of King Eystein of Sweden, she is considered a much more appropriate wife than the peasant, Aslaug.

Aslaug gets wind of this betrothal and confronts Ragnar. She finally reveals that she isn’t a lowly peasant. Ragnar doesn’t believe her but she suggests they wait until the birth of their next child. If this son is born with the image of a snake in his eye, then she is telling the truth. If he isn’t, then Ragnar would be free to leave her and marry Ingibjorg.

After a  while, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye is born and his name is an obvious spoiler alert as to whether Aslaug was telling the truth or not.

Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, as portrayed in History Channel's 'Vikings'

[Image via History Channel]

While Ragnar is happy to ditch Ingibjorg and remain married to Aslaug at this point, King Eystein is pretty annoyed his daughter has been dumped. This opens up a world of war between Ragnar and Sweden.

After all this is sorted out, Ragnar decides he needs another adventure. He becomes fearful that his sons are becoming more famous than he and wants to make sure he dies the most famous Viking of all. As a result, he decides to build two ships and conquer England with them.

That’s right. Two ships.

At this point in history, while Vikings had been raiding England, it was still considered a difficult place to attack from sea. If Ragnar could do it with only two ships, his infamy would certainly be guaranteed.

Aslaug, however, has a premonition that this adventure will not end well. Although, to be fair, anyone would look at this crazy idea of Ragnar’s and think it would be a disaster.

But, being proactive, Aslaug is determined to see Ragnar survive his trip to England. She weaves him a magical shirt that will prevent him from being wounded or killed while wearing it. Ragnar promises to wear the shirt at all times and it is said Aslaug was visibly upset when he finally set sail for England.

In England, Ragnar meets up with King Aelle. As in the TV series, Aelle throws Ragnar into a pit of snakes. This is likely because Ragnar killed his father, Hame, many years ago. When the snakes refuse to bite Ragnar, Aelle realises the shirt might be a magical repellent and insists it is removed.

And, for those who watch Vikings, what happens next is apparent.

Ragnar, as portrayed by Travis Fimmel, in History Channel's 'Vikings'

[Image via History Channel]

As you can see, Aslaug and Ragnar’s relationship was anything but troubled. If you want to find out more of the truth about Aslaug and Ragnar’s relationship, why not check out my book, Vikings: The Truth about Aslaug and Ragnar. All the details are below.

Vikings The Truth about Aslaug and Ragnar by Rachel Tsoumbakos


Is Aslaug really Ragnar’s one true love?

Can she save him from his own prideful death?

Plus, how close can one be to their stepson before questions are asked?

Aslaug was one of Ragnar Lodbrok’s wives and bore him many sons. However, prior to meeting him, she spent her childhood locked up in a harp.

Then, when the harp owner was murdered, she was raised by a beastly pair who insisted Aslaug never wash in order to hide her beauty.

Once released from this life of miserable slavery, Aslaug went on to marry Ragnar Lodbrok, the famous Viking. She bore many children to him as well as help raise some of his other children. At times, her relationship with one of her stepchildren was considered questionable as she favoured him over even her own children.

‘Vikings: The Truth About Aslaug And Ragnar’ will unravel all these secrets and reveal a story that is more interesting than anything you knew about them previously as well as debunking the myth that they relationship was loveless.

Part One brings the whole story to life with a historically accurate novel of their lives. Part Two then examines the historical facts behind this famous Viking couple.

The ‘Viking Secrets’ series explores the historical fact from present day fiction in regards to the Vikings and the extraordinary women who existed in the Viking era.

PLEASE NOTE: Each of the books in this series can be read as standalone books due to the nature of the sagas involved. Therefore, the book numbering indicates the order in which the stories were published and not the order in which they are required to be read.


About mrszoomby

When I'm not writing or crocheting, I'm training for the zombie apocalypse.
This entry was posted in Books, History Channel, Myrddin Publishing Group, New Novel, New Release, Rachel Tsoumbakos, The Truth about Aslaug and Ragnar, Vikings, Vikings and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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