Vikings: A New Take on Alternate History

FTC Statement: Reviewers are frequently provided by the publisher/production company with a copy of the material being reviewed.The opinions published are solely those of the respective reviewers and may not reflect the opinions of or its management.

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. (This is a legal requirement, as apparently some sites advertise for Amazon for free. Yes, that's sarcasm.)

Vikings TV Series

Vikings is one of the most beloved series, without a doubt. But there was definitely a period that shifted the fan base to their core, prompting many to abandon it for good. Naturally, we have to say SPOILER WARNING for this article, as we will be discussing quite a lot about the history it follows, or the history it creates.

In the beginning, Vikings always seemed like a series actually following real-world history through the eyes of Ragnar Lothbrok. But soon enough we found out that was not the case. In fact, we immediately found out that things were being dramatized from the very first episode.

The Vikings – or, in this case, the Norwegians – always knew that there was land to the West, as they had already visited and seen the British Isles way before we even get to see Ragnar on screen.  Many Vikings had already confirmed that the British Isles were a perfect opportunity to make quick cash (so to speak). But there were much bigger misconceptions and fully fabricated historical events in the series, which we will discuss right now.

Alternate history

Many Vikings fans are already aware of this one particular event that never happened with Ragnar Lothbrok, but it’s such a big deal that we absolutely have to discuss it.

The raid on Lindisfarne

This iconic raid happened in AD 793, according to accounts, where no Vikings are mentioned by name. However, where we do see Ragnar being mentioned for the first time is the siege of Paris in AD 845. Simply considering the difference between these two events, it’s extremely unlikely for Ragnar to have partaken in both of them.

Even if Ragnar was 15 when he raided Lindisfarne, that would make him 67 during the siege of Paris, which is a bit unrealistic considering the life he had led and the general life expectancy of an average human during those times.

The coffin trick

This is one of the most iconic scenes from the TV series, where Ragnar tricks the Parisian bishops into believing he wants to be baptized and buried on Christian ground rather than die as a Pagan. The bishops agree, baptize him, and take his coffin inside the cathedral – only for him to burst out of the coffin and start wreaking havoc.

No matter how good this scene is, it’s not actually something that Ragnar did. But his son, Hastein, did do this, just not in Paris.

When Bjorn and Hastein were raiding Southern Europe, they were on their way to Rome, but mistook the town of Luna for Rome and asked for a truce. This is where Hastein tricked the town into bringing his coffin inside. A good scene in the TV series, but not necessarily accurate.

Vikings in modern pop culture

Norse history has been pretty abused in the last few years by multiple companies. Although we’re saying that Vikings is not necessarily an accurate representation of history, we’re not saying that it’s not authentic. Many things inside the TV series are quite accurate and follow the general theme of what life was like back then. But some companies simply don’t care how they represent this culture. They overly fantasize it by infusing Norse mythology with Norse history, coming up with some wacky content nobody has ever seen before.

Things got so out of hand that even Norwegian online casinos started to adopt this approach, seeing how much it clicked with the general public. They quickly started incorporating Norse gods into their games and promoting them as the most authentic representations of Norse mythology with pin-point accuracy of the region’s history. Don’t believe me? Click here to see just how much of Norse history and mythology is used not only in games, but on the designs of websites promoting those games.

Naturally, it shouldn’t take a historian to say how this is not necessarily true. It took nearly a decade to finally convince people that Vikings did not wear horned helmets, and that’s just scratching the surface. Imagine how long it will take to remove all misconceptions about Vikings in general.

The TV series does contribute to debunking myths

Although there are some major misconceptions and clichés being repeated by Vikings, there are still some aspects that they get pretty accurately; for example, the division that most Viking settlements had on their own territory, and how much violence was occurring on pretty much a daily basis. This was all due to the lack of easily farmable land in Scandinavia, thus prompting these people to look for their livelihoods elsewhere.

It also outlines the history of Saxons pretty accurately as well, thus helping us see the division that the British Isles also had.

Is Vikings worth a watch?

Definitely. Although you will not get a pin-point accurate representation of a history book in the TV series, there are still some aspects to the show that truly convey the absolute madness that was going on in late 8th and 9th century Europe.

The difference in politics and an approach to solving problems is quite intriguing. The cast itself is absolutely amazing, providing very accurate, but still personalized representations of each character.

And if you’re not already a fan, you will most definitely fall in love with Floki. But we do suggest that you don’t read up on the history too much, as it could spoil crucial moments of the show for you. Just follow the flow and let the show guide you, but don’t take the events that occur as fact; most of it is simply interwoven events that happened at different times.