Enough of the family tree ! Lets sink our teeth into the great warrior that he was ! By the 840's Ragnar, through numerous raids had gained in both wealth, and prominence throughout the Viking community. Though sources do say that he never reached the level of acclaim of his son Ivar the Boneless, he was still a man feared by his enemies, and much appreciated for his skills by his own people. By the year 845 he was ready for the most daring raid of his life, the attack against the Franks, and their Christian King Charles the Bald.
In that year, Ragnar gathered up his men and ships, and sailed them up the river Seine terrorizing the inhabitants along the way, and taking as much plunder as he could find. Charles the Bald, as quickly as possible, pulled his countrymen together and formed an army to oppose the daring Vikings. Then he made a classic error that non - military men in command will sometimes do. He divided his forces, splitting them in two,and posting them on both sides of the river. Ragnar, who was an experienced warrior, knew exactly how to deal with this. He took his whole force and attacked the smaller of the two armies, and quickly defeated them. He took the eleven prisoners he had captured, and hung them in full view of Charles the Bald's other force on the opposite side of the river. This so demoralized the Franks, and their king, that they wanted nothing more to do with the Viking raiders. Ragnar then sailed easily up the Seine River and sacked and looted Paris, to the dismay of the Frankish army. This took place on March 28th, 845. Charles the Bald, a coward in my eyes, decided it was better to make peace with the Viking leader Ragnar Lodbrok, and offered him 7000 pounds of silver to leave his lands in peace. He would even let the Vikings keep all of their plunder. ( Not that he could do anything about it !) Ragnar was more than happy to oblige him !
This Danegeld did nothing to stop further incursions into the Frankish lands, and if anything it acted as a magnet drawing more and more raiders to the Kingdom of the Franks to exact more ransom from their kings. Later Viking raiders would sack the city of Rouen as well ! Finally, the Frankish kings grew tired of this, and gave land to the Vikings on the coast, using them as a barrier to protect their great cities up river. These Vikings were called the Normans, and their land was called Normandy. A descendant of these early French - Vikings ultimately would attack Britain and sit on their throne. He was the great King of England known as William the Conquerer.
There are actually several accounts of the way Ragnar Lodbrok died. The heroic version I prefer is the one in which his ship became wrecked on the shores of Northumbria, and he was taken prisoner by King Aella. The king had Ragnar thrown into a pit of poisonous snakes. As he was being bitten to death he cried out in defiance : " How the little pigs would grunt if they knew how the old boar suffers. " That is how I would like to envision his demise.
On March 28th of every year we in the Asatru religion honor Ragnar Lodbrok as a wonderful example of a Viking Warrior, a great leader, and a man of great daring. We also honor him on this date because it is when he attacked, and defeated the Frankish army under Charles the Bald, and sacked Paris. Although it does not make up for the destruction of our religion and temples by the Christians, the fact that he did it on Easter Sunday makes it just a little more special !
All Hail Ragnar Lodbrok !!!
P.S. Don' t forget to catch the story of Ragnar Lodbrok, in 'The Vikings', on the History Channel every Thursday night !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !