The Real Lagertha

The Real Lagertha

With the new season of Vikings upon us, we wanted to take a closer look at one of its most popular and beloved characters: Lagertha the shieldmaiden and ruler.

Lagertha has been a key focus of the show since the beginning, and she’s definitely been a character that show-watchers love to root for. Although the showrunners don’t claim to keep the narrative true to history, Vikings does have roots in the history books. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the historical account of Lagertha the shieldmaiden and see how it compares to the character we know and love.

Lagertha’s story started when her career as a warrior began. When the King of Sweden invaded Norway, he killed the Norwegian King. Hearing this, Ragnar came to avenge him. On his side were many women who dressed in men’s clothing. Among them was Lagertha, who was instrumental in his success. After this, Ragnar fell for her. The story that Ragnar tells Bjorn as a boy about the bear that guarded Lagertha’s home is told in the historical account of her life as well.

Read more from our Real Vikings article series, including The Real Ragnar and The Real Floki.

The first inconsistency is that Lagertha is not the mother of Bjorn. Bjorn wasn’t even thought to be Ragnar’s firstborn son. Instead, Lagertha had a son with Ragnar named Fridleif, and two daughters. It was after Ragnar returned to Denmark that he divorced her in order to marry another.

It is true that Ragnar once sent for help and Lagertha came to his aid, as the love she held for him remained. This is very similar to the story the show tells, although in spirit more than details. In history, it is said that when Ragnar was fighting against a civil war, Lagertha sent 120 ships to his aid because she was still in love with him.

Lagertha became the ruler of Norway in time, and we know that Lagertha in the show is very capable of being the ruler of a number of people. After taking the crown from Aslaug, she took her power for herself and has made good use of it.

The spirit of Lagertha is very strong, and very apparent in history as well as fiction. The heart of her personality is the same in both stories, and she’s not that different in the show from how history depicts our favourite fierce shieldmaiden. All in all, Lagertha is actually one of the characters who remains true to her historical roots. There were very few creative liberties taken with her story compared to that of other characters.

Vikings returns Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017 with a 2-hour season premiere starting at 9 E/P.