Bjorn Ironside, known as the son of Ragnar to fans of Vikings, is one of the most beloved characters in the popular franchise. His character has grown in so many ways since the first season of the show, and we’ve watched many exciting things happen to him… But how many of those things are rooted in history?
Vikings creator Michael Hirst has stated in numerous interviews that the Vikings universe he has created for the show is based on, but not driven by, historical accounts and Vikings lore. Despite the show taking creative license, we still thought it would be fun to take a look at where the true Bjorn Ironside went throughout history.
The first shocking thing to note is that Bjorn Ironside was not born to Lagertha the shieldmaiden, but instead was the son of Ragnar and Aslaug. There is no historical information to even lead us to believe that Bjorn and Lagertha would have ever met, let alone be mother and son. History also says that in addition to his brothers in the show, Hvitserk, Ivar, and Sigurd (there is no mention of Ubbe), he had three half brothers as well. According to history, Bjorn was not the eldest son of Ragnar.
Interestingly enough, like Lagertha, Bjorn probably never met Floki or Rollo. There is no historical accounts that say Rollo was ever related to Ragnar and Bjorn, and Floki was just another interesting character that the writers decided to place within the Vikings universe.
One of the most interesting tidbits learned about Bjorn was that he was quite clever in his strategies. The amazing plan that we see Ragnar play out in Season 3 of Vikings, as he deceives the Franks into letting him behind their walls, was actually carried out historically by Bjorn, not Ragnar.
Bjorn was known for settling in Denmark, and for killing King Aella with his brothers. Contrary to what was shown in the show, they were beaten by the King the first time they attempted to attack him, and had to attempt a second time before they defeated him.
In the Hervarar saga, it says that Bjorn and his brothers conquered all of Sweden, and when Ragnar died, Bjorn inherited it. This would have made Bjorn the King of Sweden. History states that he had two sons, named Refil and Erik.
Bjorn is known for founding the House of Munso in Sweden, a dynasty that ruled for many generations before being overthrown by a civil war in the 10th century. The name of the dynasty comes from a hill that is believed to be the grave of Bjorn Ironside himself.
The history of Bjorn Ironside differs greatly from the stories we have seen so far in the show! It’s always interesting to research the inspiration behind your favourite shows, and Vikings is no exception. The real Bjorn Ironside lay the framework for the amazing character that we have in the show, which is pretty interesting.
We can’t wait to see what the Bjorn we know and love will get up to on the newest season of Vikings. There’s no telling what he’ll conquer and how he’ll succeed, considering how different the plot is from his historical origins.
The new season of Vikings returns on November 29th on History. Make sure you don’t miss it!
Stay up to date with Vikings and be part of the Vikings Insider newsletter! It’s full of exclusive content – all gearing up for season 5!