Let’s look at what the history books say about Ivar the Boneless, compared to the Ivar character in Vikings.
According to the Viking sagas, Ivar was the son of Ragnar and Aslaug. The sagas also describe him as being boneless due to a curse, and that his mother had powers of sorcery that warned of his disability.
There is also talk of Ivar’s wisdom, cunning, and mastery of strategy and tactics in battle. There are a lot of sources that say he later invaded what is now England, and had run-ins with King Aelle.
Vikings‘s Ivar the Boneless, one of many characters we’re getting to know better in the second half of Season 4, is indeed the son of Ragnar Lothbrok and Aslaug. His mother, after a prophecy, warned Ragnar that any child they conceived immediately would be disfigured. Ragnar did not heed her warning, and when Ivar was born, his legs were disfigured and mangled due to his weak bones – hence his nickname. This caused Ragnar to doubt the quality of his son’s life, and he took the boy away from the village to kill him, but could not bring himself to do so.
Ivar is very different when compared to his brothers and half-brother, and seems cruel and unsympathetic. Ivar can come off as emotionless and sociopathic, and has since childhood. As a young boy, his disfigurement would cause him tremendous pain, and he was only helped when his mother sought the assistance of the traveler Harbard. Harbard claimed to have taken some of Ivar’s pain from him, so that he could live more normally.
Floki was Ivar’s mentor from a young age, as Ragnar was doubted as a good Viking role model because of his friendly association with Christianity. As such, Ivar is very passionate about the Viking Gods and the traditions of their culture.
Ivar is the only one seen defending his father to his brothers as they criticize Ragnar for being absent for so many years. Ivar simply believes that the invasion of Paris was more important than his presence as a father figure.
It’s interesting to look in-depth at the Viking characters, and see how they measure up to their historical counterparts. Make sure to tune in and see what’s next for Ivar by watching Vikings on HISTORY.