‘Vikings’: Why Ragnar Lothbrok Knew His Fate All Along

In History’s Vikings, there is arguably no one more famous than Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel). He starts from the very bottom as a farmer and quickly makes himself the King of Kattegat. He is formidable in war and revered among his fellow Viking warriors. Ragnar knew his fate all along when he came back to Kattegat so many years after his famous defeat during another attack on Paris. He comes back to seek revenge, but it seems he may have known all along what he was in for.

Ragnar Lothbrok seeks revenge

Travis Fimmel
Travis Fimmel | Mike Pont/WireImage

Ragnar is extremely smart and intuitive. He had to have known that his return to Kattegat wouldn’t be welcomed with open arms. He knew that no one would necessarily want to fight with him to get revenge for his people in England. He had to have realized that his support wouldn’t be enough to get back at the Kings of England. He bribes just enough men to form a skeleton crew to man a boat. He also brings along his son, Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen) as a witness.

Ragnar knows that there must be someone to tell the story of his brutal slaying. Ivar, being crippled, is easily spared and taken home to Kattegat to tell his brothers and the people what has happened to his father. Ragnar knows this will be enough to get his sons to seek revenge in his name, ensuring his story will live on.

Ragnar plans out his death

Further evidence is revealed when King Ecbert of Wessex (Linus Roache) tells Ragnar that he’d rather not kill him. He is even reluctant to give Ragnar up to King Aelle (Ivan Kaye) of Northumbria, something Ragnar desperately wants. He knows his sons will return and get the revenge his people deserve. Ragnar orchestrates the entire thing, down to his very last words, knowing they may be carried on to his sons.

Here is just some of what Ragnar says before he is tossed into the snake pit: “It gladdens me to know that Odin prepares for a feast. Soon I shall be drinking ale from curved horns. I shall not enter Odin’s hall with fear. There I shall wait for my sons to join me. And when they do, I will bask in their tales of triumph. My death comes without apology. And I welcome the Valkyries to summon me home.”

His sons bring the Great Heathen Army to England

Ragnar’s death brings the turn of the tide for the Viking war against England. They unleash the Great Heathen Army on the landscape and get their revenge on both King Aelle and King Ecbert. England is never the same after this event. Ragnar’s death is avenged and so is the attack on their settlement in Wessex.

With Ragnar’s death comes a series of “calamities” as the Seer (John Kavanagh) prophesied. The sons of Ragnar turn against each other and civil war erupts. Each of them seems to think they know best and what Ragnar would have wanted from them all.

It’s sad to see a beloved character like Ragnar Lothbrok killed, but it was something he planned and had every intention to see carried out. His legacy lives on in his sons on the series.