We thought it would be interesting to take a deeper dive into the historical figure that inspired Ragnar’s best friend Floki, a compelling character throughout Vikings.
The real Floki was named Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerðarson, and is believed to have been born in 830 as the son of Glamur and Vilgerd Hörða-Káradóttir, and later died in Iceland in the 9th century.
The first major difference between Floki in history and his Vikings counterpart is his marriage. We know as fans that Floki was madly in love with Helga and that the two of them were basically soul mates, right? Well, it wasn’t that way in history. His wife was actually named Gro and he had two children, all of who accompanied him when he went to explore, eventually finding Iceland. Here lies a similarity: both Floki’s endured massive loss where their children were concerned. The real Floki lost both of his children to drowning, echoing a similar loss of life on the show, though by different means.
There is also no reason to believe that Floki lived in a time that would have led him to meet Ragnar, let alone be his closest friend. Floki’s timeline doesn’t coincide with any of the other major characters on Vikings, making it very unlikely that he would have crossed paths with Lagertha, Rollo, Bjorn, or Ivar, all of whom he had a deep impact on in the show’s timeline.
Another major difference would be Floki’s rivalry and immense hatred for Ragnar’s friend Athelstan. We’ve already established that there’s no evidence to show that Ragnar and Floki knew one another, let alone cared for one another enough to have jealousy. There is also the fact that Athelstan never existed within history, not in Ragnar’s storyline or Floki’s. Athelstan’s character was purely imagination, written by Michael Hirst to add to the dynamics in the show.
The real Floki was known as “Raven-Floki” because he took three ravens with him to help him find Iceland. The first raven flew for a while before returning, so he knew it had not found land. The second one flew above the boat before landing again. The third raven flew away and never returned, so that was the raven that he followed, knowing that it had found land. When he found it, he hiked to the very top of a mountain, where all he could see was ice, as it was winter. Therefore he named it Iceland.
When Floki and his men returned to Norway, he told the men that the land they had found was useless and barren. Floki believed the land was entirely worthless, probably due to the awful winter he had just endured on the continent. Despite this, Floki did return to the island, where he settled so as to live out the rest of his life there.
Yet again, we’re faced with the facts: the real historical figure bears only a small resemblance to his character in Vikings. The historical timeline has been expertly adapted and rewritten by the creators of Vikings to make an impressively dynamic and captivating show. Make sure you check out our other articles on the historical inspiration behind Vikings, such as Ivar and Bjorn.
Vikings returns Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017 with a 2-hour season premiere starting at 9 E/P.