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In the hit series Vikings, Athelstan (George Blagden), a former monk, once saved Ragnar Lothbrok’s (Travis Fimmel) life. We have all the details about the tense moment in season 1, episode 5 of the show.

Who is Athelstan?

Athelstan is a former monk whom Ragnar abducted on his first raid of England at Lindisfarne in Northumbria. Realizing he could speak their language, he decides to kidnap Athelstan and take him as a slave at first. But they become best friends and are inseparable at times.

He teaches Ragnar his language as well as information on the country and Christianity. Athelstan eventually becomes assimilated into his new surroundings, starting to adopt their way of life, becoming a full-blown Viking eventually.

Ragnar makes an enemy in Earl Haraldson

Travis Fimmel
Travis Fimmel | Vincent Sandoval/Getty Images

Ragnar is a farmer in season 1, and Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne) rules in Kattegat. He recognizes Ragnar as a threat, and he refused to sail west at Ragnar’s insistence. But Ragnar defies the earl, sailing west on his own with a group of warriors. They land in Northumbria, where Ragnar meets Athelstan for the first time.

Ragnar begins earning the respect and admiration of the people, and Haraldson decides to send his warriors to destroy Ragnar’s farm and himself. His family, including his wife, Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), his children Bjorn (Nathan O’Toole), and Gyda (Ruby O’Leary), as well as Athelstan, are at the farm at the time of the attack. 

Ragnar’s home is attacked


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Ragnar, who knows a fight is coming between himself and Haraldson, prepares himself for what’s to take place. But while he’s away hunting, Haraldon’s warriors attack his farm and the surrounding area, killing innocent people and burning their homes in season 1, episode 5.

Ragnar hears the commotion, and he makes his way back to the farm, fighting along the way. His leg gets cut during the fighting, and an arrow goes through part of his shoulder, but he makes it back to his family, breaking off the arrow and pulling out the remaining portion. He gets them all out of the house through the floorboards so they can get to the boat, and he steps outside to face Haraldson and his warriors. 

While kneeling on the ground, he acts like he is going to surrender when Haraldson says, “Do you accept that you are a criminal? That you are worthy only of defeat, worth only of death.”

Ragnar says, “I accept my fate,” and he asks to be able to “speak” to his “god.” While he distracts the earl, his family manages to get to their boat and hide at the bottom of it. Ragnar fights some of Haraldon’s men and gets away on a horse. The Earl has Ragnar’s home burned, and he sends warriors after him.

Athelstan once saved Ragnar Lothbrok’s life

Ragnar dismounts off his horse eventually, hiding from the people on his trail. But they catch up to him, following him through the woods. When he makes it to a cliff with his family in the boat below in the water, he lets himself fall off the ledge, making a splash in the sea with Haraldson’s warriors right on his tail. 

His family looks for him in the water, but can’t seem to locate him. So Athelstan jumps overboard, finding Ragnar underwater. He carries and pulls him safely back to the boat while Ragnar is passed out. Lagertha helps Athelstan pull her husband into the boat while Bjorn is sure he’s dead. But Athelstan saves his friend’s life, and if he hadn’t been there to jump in when he did, Ragnar could have drowned as he was already badly wounded after falling.

They head to Floki’s (Gustaf Skarsgård) home for a safe place to hide and get Ragnar well again. Floki is a friend of Ragnar’s, and he saves his friend’s life with a medicine paste that he puts on the wounds after a hot knife is used over it. Ragnar decides to challenge Haraldson, something the Earl accepts. The two fight to the death, and Ragnar is the victor when the dust settles. Haraldson dies after Ragnar wounds him and then kills him.