Why would Ragnar and Lagertha invite Athelstan to bed with them, unless they were just testing his celibacy to see if he could trust him alone with his wife? However, there was no "See I told you he wouldn't! You can trust him," moment. I suppose even though Haraldson wouldn't share his wife and Lagertha wouldn't sleep with Rollo, it's not taboo to do weird things with your slaves?
Why not? Haraldson's jealous, paranoid, and possessive. Rollo's domineering and obviously wants Lagertha to himself, not to share her with Ragnar. These aren't the same situation as a couple consenting to have a threesome with another party.
Possibly, Ragnar was looking for a way to get Athelstan to tell him about England. "Oh, let's sex up the priest and trick him into revealing how to take England. Oh, that didn't work. Better try alcohol instead."
They're doing it because they're freaky and see Athelstan as a harmless sex toy. Story-wise, it contrasts Ragnar's open and friendly character with the Earl's paranoid, domineering character as well as presents the challenges that face Athelstan as a monk trapped among pagans.
In episode five, Floki invites another viking to bed with him and his slave. Apparently two guys doubleteaming a girl wasn't that unusual for vikings, at least in the context of this show.
Also note that in the above two instances it's two vikings with a slave. It may very well be that the slave 'doesn't count' even though they are participating, making it less weird for them.
Historically, it was a not uncommon practice for Norse hosts to offer a guest a bedmate. Historians disagree as to whether this was meant to be sexual, or just to keep people from freezing on long, cold nights. What's odd about the show's presentation isn't the offer, but the fact that Athelstan is a slave, not a guest.
It would be very unrealistic if every rule was followed to the letter.
Artistic License and all but it's disappointing the Saxons don't know how to form a shield wall yet. It's a common tactic for cultures with big shields.
They did, didn't they? The bulk of the fight was a big shoving match with shields and the occasional pointy thing thrown into the mix that is a fight between two shieldwalls. What the Viking raiders did at the start was something like a testudo formation modified to account for their small numbers.
In the Northlanders graphic novels (which mine the same source material used in this series), there is some exposition about shield walls - that saying "hold the wall" is basically meaningless, because the side that doesn't is dead. In fights between two groups that both use effective shield walls, it comes down to which side "has the stronger backs and wants it more". The shield wall holds off the attackers while both sides try to break the line by poking their blades over, beneath, and between the shields... it's the guy who gets his thigh slashed open who first drops his shield, and then the enemy comes pouring through. (A veteran wall will seal the breach while someone behind the wall despatches any trespassers, as Floki does in the show.)
Once the shield wall is right in front of their noses, they naturally do the limited number of things at their disposal to try to overcome it, but that doesn't mean that they're already familiar with the tactic. They're arranged loosely on the beach before the battle, don't advance toward the Viking's in a shield wall of their own, and later express bafflement at the Vikings' way of fighting.
They didn't express 'bafflement at the Vikings' tactics', they expressed horror at their enthusiasm for battle and their lack of fear in the face of death. Accentuated by the fact that Rollo in the midst of battle leads the Vikings in war-chant which ends with the words; "all must die some day!". There's nothing explicitly suggesting unfamiliarity with shield-walls. In any case, I dispute how effective fighting one shield wall with another shield wall would, especially considering that the Vikings are almost uniformally larger and stronger than their Saxon enemies,
Shield walls vs. shield wall wasn't particularly efficient but it was also among the predominant form of mass combat for a very long time. Most fights really were just big shoving matches (at least for infantry). The 300 Spartans for instance actually rotated people in and out of their wall to keep fresh. Also remember that before the advent of field medicine, most fights were won by attrition and infected wounds, not actual attacks themselves.
The fyrdmen of Wessex use a shield-wall to combat that of the Vikings during the ambush in Invasion. The fighting styles of the Saxon provinces seem a device used to illustrate the personalities of their respective kings (ie: Aella is hot-headed and unsubtle, Ecbert is cunning and methodical.)
Anyone else bothered by how quickly Athelstan and the other monks are to jump on the "the end is nigh!" wagon? Did they just assume every thunderstorm was the harbinger of the end of the world?
To the monks' Biblical view of the world, storms are punishments from God. Thematically, the monks' fear of the storm is meant to contrast the Vikings, who also ponder its supernatural implications but decide that it's a blessing from their badass warrior gods. While the monks are cowering in their cells, Floki is screaming to the heavens. We can sure guess what's going to happen when these two groups meet, can't we?
If it helps, the head-monk outright tells him he's overreacting.
It might have been a reference to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which claims "In this year fierce, foreboding omens came over the land of Northumbria. There were excessive whirlwinds, lightning storms, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky. These signs were followed by great famine, and on 8 January the ravaging of heathen men destroyed God's church at Lindisfarne."
Why Earl Haraldsson and not Jarl Haraldsson?
Thank you! I was wondering if I was the only one who was bothered by that. It's a small detail, but if Skyrim taught me anything, it's that landowning Norse chieftains are "Jarls".
possibly to avoid confusion with the parts of the English-speaking world who haven't played Skyrim. But yes, it bothers me too.
Alternatively, to avoid anymore gratuitous norse than necessary. Jarl is the root word for Earl, at any rate, so just some more translation convention.
King Horik refers to his enemy as a "Jarl" for some reason. Danes may refer to foreign nobles as Jarls, but Haraldson called the Swedish Earl and Earl.
Haraldson and the others come from Kattegat which is in Sweden, isn't it?
Kattegatt (a Dutch name) is the sea that separates Sweden and Denmark. Yet the Geography of the place is almost unmistakably Norwegian.
You know, it could just be down to accents. The script may be saying 'Earl', but Travis Fimmel does a Scandinavian accent and pronounces it as 'Jarl', Clive Standen does the same thing and pronounces it like the inbetween of the two pronunciations. Donal Logue affects his own accent, so him saying it's 'Jarl' may just be his way of keeping his accent authentic or whatever. He also pronounces Gotland with a Y sound, calling it 'Yotland'...
That isn't an accent problem, Gotaland is pronounced 'Yotaland'.
Now, I'm not an expert on snakes and I didn't get a good look at all of them, but to me, it looked like most of the snakes in King Aelle's pit were pythons and other constrictors, not vipers. How exactly did a couple bites kill the guy he threw in there?
It's supposed to be a viper pit. They either didn't realize they got the wrong snakes or didn't care.
Pythons are bigger, so they show up better on screen, and they're nonvenomous, so they're easier to handle.
Look at it from the actor's point of view. You have to film a sequence in a pit full of snakes. Wouldn't you regard the director using poisonous ones as being a bit too much?
Now, I'm not sure if I heard it correctly, but it sounded to me that the Christian name Rollo was given was Hrolf. Why have they inverted it? Hrolf was Rollo's Norse name, just as Rollo is the Anglicization of Hrolf. For that matter, why do the Saxons suddenly now know Old Norse?
It might be a mistake, or the creators liked the name Rollo better. I don't think the Saxons are supposed to be speaking Old Norse in the scene. Rollo later says that he didn't understand what they were saying.
Well, Rolf/Rolph is an alternate anglicization of Hrolf as well.
If it's Rolf, then it's all right.
I'm sure Ragnar knows as well as anyone that an acceptable human sacrifice must be completely willing, and have a strong belief in the gods. So why on earth did he ever think Athelstan would make a good sacrifice? Spiritually, the former priest doesn't know what he believes anymore, and the fact that Ragnar had to manipulate him into it just proves that he wouldn't have been willing.
It was a choice between a slave he knew for a few months and friends he's known for longer.
By this time, Athelstan seemed to be pretending to have lost his faith and converted to paganism. He kept his bible hidden, he easily identified the statues of the norse gods and spoke of them with reverence, he had grown his hair out, and he outright denied still being a christian when the question was raised. Distracted as he was with everything else, Ragnar might have missed the signs that showed Athelstan was faking it. There's still the "willing" aspect, but even going back to Burial of the Dead we have Ragnar showing Athelstan willing slaves offering themselves for sacrifice; it's possible he's been grooming Athelstan for this since then.
He didn't. He seems to like Athelstan well enough, as a slave if not as a friend or an equal, but for the blood sacrifices, he didn't have anything to give. He became Earl through battle only after he'd already lost his farm and all his livestock, so all he had left to give was a slave. Sending Athelstan to be sacrificed was his way of contributing without having to give anything up, because it wouldn't be his fault if Athelstan didn't pass inspection.
How exactly did Ragnar's mistress find out she was pregnant two days after they had sex?
Magic, the gods told her, she was already pregnant beforehand, or she was lying. Take your pick.
She couldn't have been lying. Ragnar checks for himself at the end of the episode and she is pregnant. Anyway, it's not two days after. She tells him after Floki comes back from Denmark and returns to Gotland. So that's about a week of travel on horseback. Hell, he would have had to catch a boat, too.
It is said that Floki's trip back to visit the King will take at least several days, not counting the time it will take for him to return as well. The entire time the group spends in Sweden with the Jarl is is not stated, though it is implied that, overall, it has been several weeks to a month by episode's end. That is more than enough time for Aslaug to be aware of her cycle's timing.
And the true explanation is this; as in the Saga, Aslaug is a seeress, and thus has the ability to divine the future.
Looking at the map of the Scandinavian countries, it seems that the above is correct. Gotland is in fact a large island of the southern coast of Sweden, and Floki is to go to an unspecified location in Denmark. Which involves sailing into greater Sweden and then many days of travel to Denmark. Obviously, that adds up to at least several weeks.
So where did Floki get that kohl? They haven't raided that far east in 793, have they?
Probably through trading, the norse did trade as well as raid.
Ragnar's knowledge of lands to the west, his familiarity with other languages, and the 'viking sunstone' and floating compass/latitude-lock all come from Ragnar's pre-series interactions with travelers and traders.. In-series, he shows the same curiosity with (and tolerance of) other cultures in his dealings with Athelstan, and his willingness to go along with the 'yeah, we're just traders' thing at the start of the second foray.
How exactly can the Jarl of Gotland over in the water in the far east of Scandinavia get into territorial disputes with the King of Denmark over the water in the far south? Their lands are too far away from each other. Does Horik own some land in southeastern Sweden or something?
Well, Skaane, the southernmost portion of Sweden, had been considered part of Denmark since at least the mid-10th century, and would remain under Danish rule until the 15th century. This would obviously cause tension between the Danes and the people who lived further north. However, it's unclear how all of this affects the Jarl of Gotland. Maybe the writers meant Geatland, and figured the viewers wouldn't be able to tell the difference?
Unlikely, the opening of the episode depicts Ragnar and his friends sailing to their destination, far as I'm concerned, that means Gotland.
Okay, I going back and listening to the characters again, I've realized that they've never been saying 'Gotland', but 'Gotaland', in other words, southern Sweden. And yes, that includes Skane, which was considered part of Denmark during the Viking age. It now makes total sense that Horik would have land in those areas, and thus would be in conflict with Borg.
Gotland is a province of Gotaland. Borg can be Jarl of one part and still be considered one of the Jarls of the whole place. It is also far south enough that he and Horik can get into a fight over some land in Skane. That he's separated by water is irrelevant, as these people were perhaps the best sailors in all the world.
What part of Scandinavia are Ragnar and his warriors from?
They are from Denmark.
Except Denmark has no mountains. So it's more likely that they're from southern Norway.
Ragnar is a Yngling, so that basically implies he's from Sweden. His father, Sigurdr Hringr, was Swedish. He began the House of Munso, which is a cadet branch of the Ynglinga and a line of Swedish royalty.
As of Treachery, King Horik seems to have gotten noticeably more brutal. Is he supposed to be on some sort of Roaring Rampage of Revenge after the death of his son, or is he just very good at hiding his darker side under an easygoing demeanor? True, he's a Viking, but when we were first introduced to him, he didn't really seem like the type who would murder two non-combatants for no real reason.
While it's quite possible he's angered on the death of his son, for the Bishop's death, Christianity in general seems to be a Berserk Button for him which does have some historical basis to it. For the messenger's death, to me, that seems to be like the seed of a potential conflict with Ragnar as Horik is more short-sighted in his goals, only wanting treasure, contrast to Ragnar's far-reaching goals of wanting his society to be more fed and secure.
Historically, Horik was responsible for the destruction of St Mary's Cathedral in Hamburg, so he's generally remembered by some for his great offenses against Christianity. This is emphasized by his dialogue with Bishop Swithin; "You preach against our gods." Thus, we can infer his piety in his own faith approaches that of Floki's or even Ragnar's. Given that Christianity, by its monotheistic nature, blasphemes against the Norse gods to the highest possible degree, it's natural Horik would be disdainful of such disrespect. After all, the Norsemen themselves were perfectly fine with acknowledging the existence of the gods of other cultures, including the Christian god. The fact that this isn't reciprocated by the Christians is likely quite galling to him.
Why is it that Earl Sigvard is so hated by the fanbase and seems to be touted as being a villain via the ominous music? He does absolutely nothing evil; his closest act of such is to hit Lagertha when she disrespects and insults him by running away from his hall even when they have guests; thereby disrespecting not only her husband but also the guests themselves. Even when he strikes her, he apologizes immediately. His only other action is to forbid Bjorn from going alone into the wilderness, albeit in a somewhat demeaning and condescending tone.
Seriously? First of all, she didn't "run away", she choose to leave because he apparently insulted Bjorn. Second, even if she did, that someone is not attending a social function is hardly a reason to strike someone. Third, "he said sorry" is more or less the excuse of every abusive husband out there. Fourth, it is obvious that he sees her mostly as his property, as a trophy, and is resentful towards Bjorn because he reminds him of the fact that Lagertha was married. And that was pretty clear before he said as much and tried to rape her one episode after the one you are referring to.
While I'm no longer questioning Sigvard's characterization as a villain in light of the rape scene, I am going to state that 'not attending a social function' when you're a woman and wife to a Jarl, is a completely valid reason for getting punished. For one thing, it makes the chieftain look weak seeing as he cannot control his woman, which in turn makes him vulnerable in a society that was basically built upon raiding each other for cattle and women. Yes, treatment of women in Scandinavia was very progressive... in comparison to mainland Europe, which, in truth, isn't really worth much. Same way that medieval Scandinavians being abnormally cleaner as compared to mainland Europe, again only implies the bare minimum of cleanliness, not only by today's standards, but also by the standards of other contemporary cultures, such as the Islamic world. Remember Ibn Fadlan's account of the Russ? (And also take into account that Muslim sources regarding the Vikings are far more reliable and less prone to embellishment as the Christan ones, as the Muslims had very little reason to be hostile towards the Vikings, or pagans in general, as around the time of Ibn Fadlan's account, they were slowly attempting to convert the Turks, who had thus far been pagan, to Islam. Fadlan was sent north into the Volga to help the newly converted Bulgars there build a mosque) Bear in mind that this is a firmly patriarchal warrior culture we're seeing, so Sigvard even apologizing after hitting her is still a great deal by the standards of the era this show is set. The rape scene is still an indication of villainy, despite the treatment of the nuns at the raiding camp, only due to the fact that Sigvard is essentially breaking his culture's own laws by raping a free woman.
Striking your wife (or husband for that matter) in public was a reason for divorce in their culture. It was certainly not that acceptable, no matter how the realities behind closed doors looked like.
Actually, under law, a woman could only claim lawful divorce from her husband over domestic violence after the third time he struck her. And even then, witnesses needed to be produced. Also, if a woman initiated divorce, she was only entitled to take back her dowry and morning gift.
That was true for some parts of Scandinavia, where the rules for divorce were stricter due to Christian influences. But even there the woman could claim for monetary compensation after the first slap. Point is, though, that it was not seen as okay behaviour to slap a free woman, married or not.
The crucifixion of Athelstane:
They strip him down to his underwear, but leave his bracelet of fealty to Ragnar. That's a piece of valuable jewelry. It would only make sense to leave it on him if they knew its significance in Norse culture, but how would they know that?
Crucifying Athelstan with a crown of thorns on his head is a direct reference to the martyrdom of Jesus. Why would they execute a criminal while implying that he's Jesus? Constantine outlawed crucifixion centuries beforehand for this very reason.
The entire crucifixion scene in general is pretty much Rule of Cool, as it's pretty unlikely Catholic Christians would execute an apostate in such a way. Crucifixion was considered an honourable death amongst the Catholics. It could be that these particular Catholics have chosen it because of its particular resonance for Athelstan, maybe they can tell he was a former priest or something.
According to the extra-material for the show the scene is based on a historical account of a monk who came back with Viking raiders and was crucified, so it's apparently not that far-fetched as it seems to be. Though naturally they overwrought the scene with symbolism, by basically recreating the common image while Athelstan is still wearing the arm ring.
They asked him about it while he was in their custody? Or maybe they think they'll take it from him after he's dead? He's not going anywhere, after all. Could be they wont loot Athelstan because that would be un-Christian.
On a sidenote, it is highly unlikely Athelstan would have survived crucifixion. Having both of your wrists pierced all the way through by two ten inch nails would make him bleed out too quickly (there's a reason many theologists today believe Christ's arm was actually pierced sideways), and even if he managed to survive the blood loss, he'd probably die of inffection. He'd also probably have one or both of his hands amputated if he managed to survive.
Which is why Athelstan was pierced through the hands, and not the wrist, with his arms bond to the cross in order to hold him up. If his hands (and feet) survive the ordeal - we'll see.
Athelstan, as we know from promotional material, loses his left hand sometime in the season. Whether that's as a result of the crucifixion or something else is something we've yet to find out.
How did Horik's Huskarl know where they were? Did he send a longship back to Denmark to let people know, or something?
Maybe he sent a longship after he realized (due the harsh weather) he lost some men. So he sent the longship to get reinforcements?
What was up with Erik's surname? Sure, "Marteinn" is the Scandinavian version of "Martin", but the name itself is ultimately not Norse, and the show takes place before the Vikings have had any serious contact with outsiders. It just seemed like an odd decision on the part of the writers.
Martin is derived from Mars, the Roman God of War. The Vikings are described as having contact with foreign cultures, just to their southeast rather than their southwest. Erik is a mighty warrior, it's possible on a raid of Italy that one of the Italians became scared of this hulking blood-crazed warrior, and started screaming "Mars! Mars!" and Erik liked the sound of it so much he added 'Marteinn' to his name.
So now that they've killed all of Jarl Borg's men and are keeping him captive, does that mean that his family are going to go to war with Kattegat and Denmark, or can they just settle this with Wergild?