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.
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.
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.
What part of Scandinavia are Ragnar and his warriors from?