[[caption-width-right:350: "King Aella's messenger before Ragnar Lodbrok's sons", by August Malmström (1857)]]

The ''Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok'' (''Ragnars saga loðbrókar'') and ''Tale of Ragnar’s Sons'' (''Ragnarssona þáttr'') are two 13th century [[Literature/TheIcelandicSagas Icelandic sagas]], telling the story of a prestigious clan of enterprising warlord-kings, set in a fictionalised 9th century, in the heyday of UsefulNotes/TheVikingAge. The authorship is [[AnonymousAuthor anonymous]]. Despite what the titles suggest, the two works are not {{sequel}}s, rather different treatments of the same story, but with a shift in emphasis, and also a few inconsistencies between them. The "Tale" is much shorter than the ''Saga''.

Ragnar succeeds his father as king of UsefulNotes/{{Sweden}} and UsefulNotes/{{Denmark}}. While he is still a youngster, he kills a [[OurDragonsAreDifferent giant snake]], wearing special clothes made of fur for protection, which earns him his unique nickname ''Loðbrók'' (a.k.a. Lodbrok, Lothbrok, or Lodbrog, depending on transliteration)--"Hairy-Breeches"[[note]]Or "Shaggy-pants". There are numerous translations of ''Loðbrók'' but most often it is left untranslated.[[/note]]--and also the [[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses jarl’s daughter]] that the monster guarded, Thora Hart-of-the-Town.

But Thora dies young, and Ragnar takes another wife--Kraka, a mysterious girl raised by a poor couple, who will eventually reveal a lofty heritage. Thora’s sons are Erik and Agnar; Kraka’s sons are [[AwesomeMcCoolName Ivar the Boneless, Bjorn Ironside, Hvitserk, Rognvald, and Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye.]] In time, the sons follow in the footsteps of their father and take up careers as viking raiders and conquerors--and soon, father and sons find themselves competing against each other in a quest for glory that ravages half of Europe, drips of blood, and entertains the reader.

Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons were popular stuff of legend of medieval Northern Europe; however the details of the story vary considerably-– especially the number and names of the sons. Nevertheless, many of the episodes are obviously [[VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory based on history]]: Ragnar may be inspired by a certain viking warlord Reginer who sacked Paris in 845, Ivar the Boneless is modelled on a certain "Hinguar"[[note]]A Latinization of "Ingvar", Ivar for short.[[/note]] who, together with his brothers, invaded England in 865, and the Ragnarssons’ foray to the South mirrors a real-life viking invasion of the Mediterranean that occurred in 859-862. Altogether, the saga is cleverly stitched between the age of legend and history--while the Ragnarssons are descended from mythic heroes, they are also (supposedly) the ancestors of the historical royal houses of UsefulNotes/{{Norway}}, Denmark and Sweden. For more, sometimes conflicting material on the tale of Ragnar, see book 9 of ''Literature/GestaDanorum'', ''Literature/{{Krakumal}}'', and ''Literature/TheTaleOfNornaGest''.

A free translation of ''Ragnar's Saga'' can be found [[http://www.turbidwater.com/portfolio/downloads/RagnarsSaga.pdf here (pdf file)]]; ''Tale of Ragnar's Sons'' can be read [[http://www.northvegr.org/sagas%20annd%20epics/legendary%20heroic%20and%20imaginative%20sagas/old%20heithinn%20tales%20from%20the%20north/055.html here.]]

The sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons are among those medieval works that deal explicitly with viking expeditions (even if they are not strong on the realism), and portrayal of Vikings in fiction often takes inspiration from them. This begins, of course, with all the fictional Viking chiefs called Ragnar. The 1958 Hollywood epic ''Film/TheVikings'', the 2010s TV series ''Series/{{Vikings}}'', and novels such as the ''[[Literature/TheHammerAndTheCross Hammer and the Cross]]'' trilogy and the ''[[Literature/TheSaxonStories Saxon Stories]]'' series are loosely based on the sagas. Ragnar and his sons are also playable in ''VideoGame/CrusaderKingsII'': Ragnar is the heir of Sigurdr of Uppland at the 769 AD start date in the "Charlemagne" DLC, while "The Old Gods" starts during the Norse invasion of Britain with all the brothers featured.
!! Tropes in ''Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok'' and "Tale of Ragnar's Sons":
%% Zero Context Examples have been commented out. Please write up a full example before uncommenting.
* AcquittedTooLate: Ragnar has already been thrown into the SnakePit when Ella realizes his mysterious captive is Ragnar Lothbrok. Fearing the vengeance of Ragnar's sons, he at once orders to release Ragnar from the pit. Alas, when the messenger arrives, Ragnar has already expired.
* ArcherArchetype: Ivar the Boneless has crippled legs which make him unsuited for melee combat, but he is a good archer. He is also cunning, prefers stratagems over blunt force and is described as emotionally cold.
* ArtisticLicenseHistory: ''Ragnar's Saga'' claims that Ivar the Boneless founded London; in "Tale of Ragnar's Sons", the city founded is York. Nevermind that both cities go back at least to Britain's Roman era.
* {{Asexuality}}: According to "Tale of Ragnar's Sons", Ivar the Boneless "had no children, because of the way he was: with no lust or love". This seems to be saying that he was an aromantic asexual.
* AwesomeMcCoolName: Your mileage may vary on "Ivar the Boneless", but "Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye" and "Bjorn Ironside" definitely have a nice ring to it.
* BadassFamily: Ragnar, Aslaug and their sons.
* ChildProdigy: At the age of three, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye composes his first impromptu poem and joins his brothers in their attack on King Eystein, and goes with them to raid Southern Europe right after that.
* CinderellaCircumstances: Aslaug/Kraka, a princess, is raised by the poor couple who murdered her foster father, who shave her hair, dress her in bad clothes, and make her do the "worst work".
* ClothesMakeTheSuperman: The eponymous "Hairy Breeches". Also, the impenetrable silk shirt made by Aslaug.
* {{Continuation}}: The ''Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok'' is ostensibly written as a continuation of the ''Literature/SagaOfTheVolsungs''.
* CruelAndUnusualDeath: A lot. [[labelnote:Click here if you don't mind the spoilers.]]Erik is impaled on spears, Ragnar is thrown in a snake pit filled with venomous vipers, King Ella has his back cut open, Hvitserk is burnt alive on a pyre.[[/labelnote]]
* CruelMercy: When Aslaug leaves Aki and Grima, the couple that murdered her foster-father, she forgoes taking revenge on them, because they also raised her; but she predicts that their lives will be unhappy and will only go downhill from there.
-->''"For the sake of the long time that I have lived with you two, I will not do you any harm--but I now pronounce that each day will be worse for you than those that have passed, and your last day will be the worst. Now we are parted."''
%%* TheConqueror: Ragnar.
* DamselInDistress: Thora Hart-of-the-Town ends up a captive of her own overgrown pet dragon, and her father promises to marry her to any warrior who will rid them of the monster.
* DefiantCaptive: Captured by the Northumbrians, Ragnar refuses to tell Aella who he is, or indeed speak to him at all. Even when Aella has him thrown into a snake pit to make him talk, Ragnar continues to ignore him.
* DefiantToTheEnd: As Ragnar lies dying in Aella's snake pit his FamousLastWords are: "How the piglets would grunt if they knew how the old boar suffers!", referring to how his sons are not going to take the news of his death lightly.
* DeliberateValuesDissonance: When the teenager Rognvald is killed on his very first viking expedition, his mother Aslaug does not mourn him, because she considers his death honorable, and (she thinks) he could not have expected more from life.
-->"And I cannot see," she said, "that he could have lived to a greater honor."
* {{Deuteragonist}}: Ragnar, with Aslaug as the protagonist.
* DragonHoard: Thora's dragon hatched a pile of gold from a single gold coin.
* DragonsPreferPrincesses: Princess Thora ends up a ''de facto'' captive of her pet dragon. The dragon is not actively harmful to her, though -- in fact it looks like the situation is a consequence of the monster's misguided protective instinct towards its mistress.
* DyingMomentOfAwesome: When Hvitserk is captured in the Eastlands, his enemies allow him to chose how he wants to die. He choses to be burnt alive on a pyre built from the severed heads of the battle dead.
* EndOfAnAge: The ending suggests that the death of the Ragnarssons marks the end of the ''fornaldar'', the time of heroes:
-->''And then when the sons of Ragnar had all given up their lives, their troops who had assisted them were dispersed far and wide, and all of them who had been with the sons of Ragnar thought that there was no worth in other princes.'' (''Ragnar's Saga'')
* EvilCripple: Ivar the Boneless has crippled legs that make him unable to walk, but "he wasn't short of cunning and cruelty." ("Tale of Ragnar's Sons")
* FamedInStory: After the Ragnarssons' campaign through Southern Europe, "they were then so famous in all that region that there was no child, however young, that did not know their names."
* FantasticFruitsAndVegetables: Heimir feeds baby Aslaug with a "wine-leek" (''vinlauk''). This is apparently some kind of highly nutritious super-vegetable which provides a complete and balanced diet to small children.
-->''It was the nature of this leek that a man could live long even though he had no other food.''
* FeelNoPain: When Aella's messenger relates Ragnar's death to the Ragnarssons, Sigurd is paring his fingernails with a knife. He listens to the messenger so attentively (and presumably, is so worked up internally) he does not notice he is cutting into his own flesh "until the knife stood in the bone, and he did not flinch at that."
* FluffyTheTerrible: For being supposedly the probably most feared Viking warlord ever, Ragnar Lodbrok has a curiously comical nickname. The ''real'' reason for the epithet is probably that it's a garbled form of a foreign nickname -- maybe Old English ''leódbroga'', 'the people's terror' (that's more like it!).
* GeniusCripple: Ivar the Boneless is the mastermind of the Ragnarsson troupe.
* GirlInTheTower: Thora Hart-of-the-Town is trapped in her tower when her pet dragon grows too big and fierce to let anyone in or out.
* GlorySeeker: The main motive of Ragnar and all his sons is to become famous: The sons of Aslaug start raiding to "have their renown increased" and to "gain gold and glory". Also, they attack the town of Hvitabaer specifically ''because'' it is strongly defended, and Ragnar attacks England with only two ships because going against greater odds will make victory the more glorious.
* GodivaHair: To fulfill his request of meeting him "neither dressed nor undressed", Kraka goes to Ragnar covered only in a fishnet. Her long hair makes sure that she is nevertheless "bare in no place".
* GoneHorriblyRight: Don't rear baby dragons if you don't want a giant fire-breathing monster living on your property.
* GoodStepmother: Aslaug weeps a single tear of blood for her stepsons Erik and Agnar when they are killed, and afterwards persuades her biological sons to avenge them, even personally leading an army against Eystein, eventually defeating and killing the latter.
* HandicappedBadass: Ivar the Boneless is unable to walk, and therefore is carried onto the battlefield on a shield.
* HeroicVow: Worried that his own fame might be eclipsed by that of his sons, Ragnar decides to conquer England--with no more than two ships.
* {{Homage}}: There are several scenes which echo motifs from ''Literature/TheSagaOfTheVolsungs'': Ragnar killing a dragon (like Sigurd), Aslaug receiving a warning by understanding the language of the birds (as did Sigurd after eating Fafnir's heart), and Ragnar dying in a snake pit, as did Gunnar the Niflung in ''Völsunga saga''.
* HornyVikings: Apart from the horns, this story is among the {{Trope Maker}}s.
* IconicOutfit: The "hairy breeches" Ragnar wears for fighting the dragon give rise to his nickname which sticks on him for life.
* ImpossibleTask: Ragnar demands of Kraka that she meet him "neither dressed nor undressed, neither fed nor unfed", and that "she must not be all alone, but nevertheless no man may accompany her". Kraka solves the task by going wrapped in a fishnet, chewing on a leek, accompanied by a dog.
* IWasQuiteTheLooker: When Ragnar's crew wonder that beautiful Kraka should be the daughter of ugly Grima, Grima tries to invoke this.
* LadyMacbeth: The farmwife Grima goads her husband Aki into murdering their guest Heimir, as she believes the latter to be very rich.
* LadyOfWar: Aslaug commands an army in the campaign to Sweden.
* LamarckWasRight: Aslaug has inherited the ability to understand bird talk from her father, but her father only acquired this ability by eating a certain dragon's heart.
* TheLowMiddleAges: Set in a fictionalized 9th century.
* MamaBear: An interesting variant: Aslaug vehemently drives on her sons to avenge Erik and Agnar -- even though Erik and Agnar were just her ''step''sons, and her biological sons are initially rather unwilling to go to war for the sake of their half-brothers. Yet Aslaug prevails, and even personally heads an army in the resulting campaign.
%%* ManipulativeBastard: Ivar.
* MaritalRapeLicense: Kraka wants Ragnar not to sleep with her for three nights after their wedding, as she foresees that a child thus conceived will "have no bones". But Ragnar "follows his own advice." Cue Ivar the Boneless.
* MoodWhiplash: The beginning, with Ragnar slaying a dragon and marrying a princess, reads much like a FairyTale. But the princess dies almost immediately, and the rest of the story is less and less fairy-tale like, and increasingly bloody.
* OurDragonsAreDifferent: An interesting quality of the giant snake in ''Ragnar’s Saga'' is that it ''hatches'' gold: The heap of gold magically grows together with the dragon.
* TheProtagonist: While Ragnar and his sons are the eponymous characters, and have starring roles in the first and the second half respectively, a closer look reveals that the protagonist of the whole cycle is actually Aslaug.
* RapePillageAndBurn: "They killed every man’s child who was in the town, and they took all the goods and burnt the town before they went on their way." (''Ragnar's Saga'')
* RedBaron: When Aslaug leads an army to Sweden, she earns the nickname 'Randalin', "Shield-Lady" (also a poetical term for '{{valkyrie|s}}').
* RescueRomance: Enforced by Jarl Herraud's promise to give his daughter Thora in marriage to a warrior who would rid her of the dragon.
* SecretLegacy: Kraka, although it seems she was always aware of it ''herself'': She is actually Aslaug, the orphaned daughter of Sigurd Fafnisbane and Brynhild the Valkyrie.
* SiblingTeam: The Ragnarssons are used to working together. In fact, they are always successful when they cooperate, but every time they don't they are in for a defeat.
* SingleTear: According to ''Ragnar's Saga'', Aslaug weeps a single tear of blood for Erik and Agnar.
* SlainInTheirSleep: Urged on by his wife Grima, Aki murders their guest Heimir by striking him with an axe while he sleeps.
* SnakePit: King Ella has Ragnar thrown into a pit of vipers to die.
* SpeaksFluentAnimal: Aslaug has inherited the ability to understand the language of the birds from her father and thereby learns of Ragnar's plan to leave her and marry the daughter of King Eystein of Sweden instead.
* TearsOfBlood: According to ''Ragnar's Saga'', Aslaug weeps a single tear of blood for Erik and Agnar.