5 Things The History Channel’s “Vikings” Got Terribly Wrong

The series's timeline does not match with the historical chain of events. Credits: Winchester University History Student's Blog

The series’s timeline does not match with the historical chain of events. Credits: Winchester University History Student’s Blog

The Timeline of the Series Is Messed Up

In the series, Ragnar is depicted as a man in his mid-late twenties. He is portrayed as the leader of the raid on Lindisfarne, an island off the northern coast of England. Ragnar Lothbrok, the historical figure, happened to invade this island 50 years later. Therefore, he would have to be an elderly man in his seventies, because it was in the 840’s that he and his Viking fleet invaded and sacked Paris. Taking the historical period into consideration, it is highly unlikely that he was 90 years old when he died in Northumbria. Except in rare cases, no man lived that long 1000 years ago.

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What do you think?


  • RobDegraves

    This is a very poorly written and researched article. 1. Ragnar is a mythological figure who’s exact origin could be based on a number of person, not all of which are Swedish. You can’t say he might not have existed as well as give him a definite origin. 2. Many people lived to a very advanced age, assuming they survived the various and all too common ways one could be killed. You would have had about the same proportion of people living to 90 as you do now, as long as they didn’t suffer any major illnesses, though this also depended on diet. It was the infant mortality rate that lowered the average life span. 3. No problem there, the Norse had been to England for centuries before. 4. Combat. The article has this almost completely wrong. Shields were very important but were not considered the primary weapon. The most common weapon would be the axe or spear, simply for economic reasons. Swords were expensive and only used by the wealthy. There are a lot of debates currently ongoing on how the Norse fought, considering that there is very little evidence since the Norse didn’t write. We have sagas and archeology to guide us, after that it’s all trying to recreate it from a practical stand point. Also, armor was also a question of practicality. Mail was rare because it was very expensive and even helms were hard to come by initially. Most Norse would have fought in what they could afford, leather and cloth most often. 5. The Jarl is badly portrayed in the first season, it was good to have him gone as it did not reflect Norse culture in any way. The show got better at that later on. I am all for bringing more correct historical content to tv and film, but this sort of article does not help. One also has to keep in mind how little we know about the Norse, particularly the details. There is constant debate on even well established facts about the various Norse cultures.

  • Shamis Sabri

    nice article

  • solerso

    The stylized, post modern hipster/red neck tough guy look is pretty dated and stupid too. As you’ve pointed out “Viking” society was not elitist anywhere near the extent assumed in the TV show..Viking “kings” (chieftans) were herders and fishermen. Men did not have the time or the interest in styling their hair – or in daily shaving, beards were ubiquitous, and worn long. From early medieval Scandanavian wood cuts and personal descriptions from period literature we have to assume that men grew their hair until it became an impediment, (this a matter of individual comfort/taste) then they cut it .Only slaves had shaven heads.The medieval tonsure worn (in humility) by monks may be, in part, a remembrance of this

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