A Viking was, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, a member of Scandinavian seafaring warriors. Who raided and colonized wide areas of Europe from the late 8th to the mid-11th century. The Vikings’ history were raiders who relied on strength and guile rather than technology or tactics. Which made them very successful in their conquests and raids. They are so famous that they even have their own holiday! Celebrate with this list of the 10 most famous Vikings of all time.
1. Ragnar Lothbrok (Vikings History)
Ragnar Lothbrok, a.k.a. The Legend was one of Vikings history greatest and most legendary leaders and warriors in Scandinavia. He became a King after conquering more lands than any other leader had before him, with his biggest victories against England and France.
His sons would go on to become some of Europe’s most famous Kings including his son Bjorn Ironside who crowned King of Sweden for 37 years, proving just how far-reaching Ragnar’s legacy truly is.
In Viking folklore, he depicts a ruthless warrior who was extremely ambitious and would do anything to become King.
His legendary story has been passed down through generations for centuries, and many people believe that some of his achievements may have even been exaggerated by oral tradition. Regardless of how much truth there is in Ragnar’s legacy, it’s undeniable that his legend will continue to live on forever.
Historians believe that he was born around 845 AD in Denmark and his real name was probably Sigurd Hiring.
He is said to have an illegitimate son with a Shieldmaiden named Thora Town-Hart after raiding England with his crew which included his brother Rollo (who later founded Normandy). Later, during another raid against Paris, Ragnar’s army would win one of their most famous victories under his leadership.
2. Bjorn Ironside (Vikings History)
His father, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, killed Ragnar Lothbrok and married his widow, Aslaug. Ragnar’s sons sought revenge for their father’s death by repeatedly attacking Sigurd. When Bjorn was still young, he fell into a vat of mead and almost drowned.
This story is more likely to be based on an Irish tale than a Viking legend. He fought in England with King Aethelstan against Viking Danes and in support of Edward, later Saint Edward the Martyr. After that, he served under Thorkell the Tall who invaded Normandy as part of a migration begun by Harald Klak.
Bjorn Ironside stayed there and began to fight alongside Rollo who became William I Longsword after conquering Normandy. He became Earl of Orkney and then killed King Haakon Sigurdsson (Hammond). He was made king of Norway but returned to Orkney after one of his children died.
After that, he fought against Svein Forkbeard and then fled with his brother Thorfinn to Iceland, where they conquered most of northern Iceland.
There, he fought alongside Njal’s sons in The Battle of Clontarf against Viking raiders.
3. Ivar the Boneless (Vikings History)
Ivar the boneless, who lived in England with his brother Halfdan, was one of four Viking brothers Ivar, Ubbe, Hvitserk, and Sigurd Snake in the Eye who were all involved in a power struggle to rule England. The story of how Ivar became a leader is quite tragic.
Born a cripple and unable to walk due to a condition called brittle bone disease (also known as osteogenesis imperfecta), he was taunted by other children in his village for being different.
But even being different made Ivar a fierce and ambitious warrior.
When his father Ragnar Lodbrok was killed by King Ella of Northumbria, Ivar and his brothers raided England to avenge their father’s death. Once they gained power in England, Ivar took over Denmark as well.
In fact, he and his brothers ruled much of Scandinavia from 865-866 until it all came crumbling down because of infighting among themselves. Ivar died around 873 at York in an internal fight between himself and his other brother Ubbe. Afterward, Ivar’s son Guthröth became king for two years before losing Norway.
4. Hvitserk (Vikings History)
One of Bjorn Ironside’s (Bjornsson) brothers, Hvitserk, stayed in Northumbria with Ubba. He is said to have been killed by King Alfred at Farnham. Although some sources say that he was one of those who set up a longship at Tettenhall and took part in a retaliatory raid into Mercia.
Thereafter it appears that Alfred drove him out of Britain. In 894 AD he joined forces with his brother-in-law Sigurd, Jarl of Norway against Wessex and they suffered defeat against King Ethelred’s forces on Farnham Moor in Surrey; however, in 896 AD they landed near Bridgnorth (or possibly Welshpool), Shropshire with 150 ships; along with them came 12 drekar under Almost, Einar and Ivar.
They traveled up along the River Severn and wintered at Bridgnorth before riding on to besiege Derby. Here, they were met by King Ethelred and his brother Alfred. The Danes fought a skirmish with them and retreated to Nottingham where they went on to capture York (Jorvik).
While in York, they were met by a relief force under King Ethelred and his brother Alfred. The Danes were again defeated and retreated to their ships at Riccall. From there they sailed back to East Anglia where they wintered in The Fens at Coatbridge (Cawthorpe) before sailing south again in 897 AD.
5. Ubba (Vikings History)
Though not one of Ragnar’s sons, Ubba was an important leader in his own right. He spent much of his early career as a Viking working under Ivarr, who ordered him to lead the Great Heathen Army against Mercia.
It was while on these campaigns that Ubba acquired his nickname Ubba Scar-Legs because he supposedly had to wear a splint on his leg after getting wounded. This injury didn’t keep him from taking charge when Ivarr died during their battles with Northumbria and Wessex.
Ubba returned home for two years before joining forces with Halfdan and preparing to invade Wessex again. They were ambushed by King Alfred at Farnham in 878 CE, where both Ubba and Halfdan were killed along with many other Viking leaders. After his death, he became part of Norse legend.
According to Skaldic poems about Ragnar Lothbrok, Ubba was able to enter Valhalla despite his lack of piety.
6. Halfdan Ragnarsson (Vikings History)
Halfdan (or Halfdene) Ragnarsson, also called Haldanus or Hadrannus, was probably born in 840 AD. He was one of three sons of Viking ruler Ragnar Lodbrok and his wife Aslaug.
It is believed that he led a Viking fleet to North America sometime around 985 AD and settled briefly at what is now known as New York City, although no evidence exists to support these claims.
When his father was killed by King Ella of Northumbria in 865 AD, Halfdan and his brothers raided England as a way to exact revenge.
In 903 AD, Halfdan and his brother Bjorn Ironside defeated Norwegian earl Håkon Jarl. The two brothers then had a falling out and did not speak for several years. In 865 AD, Halfdan was captured by King Aethelwulf of Wessex in an ambush near York.
7. Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye (Vikings History)
King Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye was one of Harald Fairhair’s four sons, and he achieved fame as a Viking warrior. In 874 A.D., for example, Sigurd and his brother Halfdan invaded England with a large fleet and succeeded in capturing York after slaughtering its defenders.
The city fell so quickly that it became known as Blodgatha or Bloodbath. Two years later, Sigurd led an invasion of Ireland that saw him capture Dublin; according to saga writer Snorri Sturluson, Sigurd nailed over 6,000 Irishmen to posts during his campaign there.
He went on to rule all of Norway until he died fighting against Harold Greycloak around 933 A.D.; legend says that even in death, Sigurd managed to slay both his killer and six others who tried to drag him off into Valhalla.
8. Guthrum II (Vikings History)
When Guthrum’s Danish army invaded England in 878 AD, he was defeated by Alfred at Edington and soon after was forced to pledge loyalty to him. Guthrum remained Alfred’s vassal until 886 when he became king of East Anglia.
Guthrum died in 890 AD after being expelled from his kingdom by his own people. He is known for two things: never marrying and for learning English before any other Dane.
King of Wessex from 871-899 AD. In a series of battles between Wessex and Mercia, Alfred succeeded in defeating them both permanently and regaining all lost territory besides London (which would remain under Viking control). Alfred is famous as the Great because no other Anglo-Saxon king was able to rule as broadly or long as he did.
Ragnarr Loðbrók: Viking who invaded Northumbria in 866 AD. He had a son named Ivar, who was a notable leader for many years.
9. Harald (Vikings History)
The fame of Harald Fairhair, the first king of Norway’s so-called Fairhair dynasty, centers on his consolidation of power over a series of petty chiefdoms that unified much of what is now western and northern Europe.
Harald was famous as Haraldr hárfagri in Old Norse. Harald the fair-haired or handsome although there was some confusion as to whether his hair was black or dark brown.
Harald’s domain, Norway, is thought to have been a rich, settled country long before his time. A few centuries later, during Norway’s conversion to Christianity in 999 C.E.
King Olaf Tryggvason described Norway as a well-populated and well-developed country. This relative abundance likely contributed to Harald’s success in consolidating power.
10. Rollo, Lord of Normandy (Vikings History)
The Viking Rollo (also known as Ganger-Hrolfr) was a legendary Viking warrior, later naturalized as a Frankish nobleman and ruler of Normandy, a region of France. For nearly 30 years he was also an important man in Anglo-Saxon politics due to his relationship with King Alfred.
His name, Ganger-Hrolf, means Rollo the Walker or Walking-Rolf. The Icelandic sagas, such as Heimskringla and Orkneyinga Saga, claim that Rollo was born to Rognvald Eysteinsson, jarl of Møre, and a descendant of Swedish nobleman Styrbjörn Starke and his wife Ingeborg.
There were many Viking settlers in Ireland. Chief among them was Amlaib, who actually came from what is now Norway and had a hand in creating some of today’s most famous Viking stories, such as Lebor Gabala Erenn, or The Book of Invasions. Amla’s story was even an inspiration for Star Wars Darth Vader.