‘Vikings’: Fans Weigh in on Why Ragnar Lothbrok Wanted ‘His Sons to Avenge Him by Killing King Ecbert’

In the hit series Vikings, the main character, King Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), wants his sons to get revenge on King Ecbert (Linus Roache) for his death in season 4B. Fans weighed in on why that it is. We have all the details you need to know.

Ragnar Lothbrok plans his death in ‘Vikings’

Travis Fimmel in 'Vikings'
Travis Fimmel in ‘Vikings’ | Jonathan Hession/A+E Networks/History

After a failed attempt to take Paris, Ragnar is blamed for the failure. He leaves his home of Kattegat and abandons his people for a number of years. When he returns, it’s to get revenge on King Ecbert for the destroyed settlement in Wessex, which occurred years previously. However, the people are no longer on his side, since they’ve recently learned about the destroyed settlement that Ragnar knew about and failed to tell anyone.

He decides to bribe warriors with treasure to get them to go with him to Wessex, a plan forming in his mind. He brings his son Ivar (Alex Høgh Andersen) along as well, and they end up killing all of the warriors who helped them make it to Wessex after they barely get there in a storm. 

Ragnar finds his way to King Ecbert, with whom he has a complicated relationship with. At times, they are allies and other times, enemies, even sharing admiration for one another. Ragnar convinces him to hand him over to King Aelle (Ivan Kaye) when Ecbert can’t kill him. He arranges for his son to be taken back home, where he will spread the word for all his sons to get revenge on Ecbert. Ragnar is abused by Aelle and dropped into a pit of snakes, dying by their venom.

His sons not only get revenge on Ecbert, who dies by suicide at his request, but on King Aelle as well. England is never the same after the sons of Ragnar bring the Great Heathen Army to get revenge for the death of their father and the settlement, just as Ragnar planned.

Fans weigh in on why Ragnar Lothbrok wanted ‘his sons to avenge him by killing King Ecbert’

Linus Roache in 'Vikings'
Linus Roache in ‘Vikings’ | Bernard Walsh/A+E Networks/History

The whole situation involving Ragnar wanting his sons to take revenge on Ecbert has prompted a lot of discussion from fans over the years. Four years ago, a fan posted on Reddit about it saying, “[SPOILERS] Why does Ragnar want…” in a post. They continue, “his sons to avenge him by killing King Ecbert? I thought he considered them as friends or at least they had a mutual respect for each other. Was it because he killed his people on the farms in England?”

Fans had a lot of different opinions on why Ragnar wanted his children to get revenge for his death by killing Ecbert. One fan thinks Ragnar was “playing it cool” with Ecbert, manipulating him to do what he intended. Ragnar had a plan in place to die one way or the other, but he wanted to avenge the settlement in Wessex.

“Yeah, Ragnar played it cool while in Ecbert’s fort to get him to do what he wanted,” the fan said. “Ragnar wants revenge for the settlement that was in Wessex. Though I’m sure there is a mutual respect between the two.”

Another fan responded saying they thought it was because “he was still jealous over Athelstan.” Athelstan (George Blagden) was the best friend of Ragnar’s whom he abducted in England in the first raid when he was a Saxon monk. Athelstan had a unique relationship with both Ragnar and Ecbert over the years, choosing Ragnar over the two.

They add about Ragnar’s reaction to meeting his greatest friend’s son for the first time: “He goes from happy to see Alfred to almost furious. I almost thought he was going to strangle the boy.” However, they think the previous explanation also “makes sense” as well. “But that makes sense, too,” they said. “Though he never really seemed to truly care about what happened at the settlement. If he wants revenge for it, it’s likely more because of pride than care.”

Another fan thinks Ragnar is actually fond of King Ecbert, but the king destroyed his settlement. Ragnar being who he is, can’t let the situation rest like that. He needs to seek revenge.

“Ragnar likes Ecbert but he still killed his settlement,” they said. “Can’t let that go unpunished.”

Ragnar wanted farming settlements for his people, and Ecbert ‘took it from him’

A viewer recalls Lagertha explaining that Ragnar wanted more than “violence” for the Vikings. Ragnar had a dream of farming settlements and the ability to feed people easier. He wanted farming settlements in Wessex, and Ecbert dashed his hopes when he destroyed it.

“Right back in season one, Lagertha tells us that Ragnar doesn’t want violence to be the only thing for his people, he wants to provide them an opportunity to farm,” they said. “He got that then Ecbert took it from him for political reasons. That’s the thing that he really lost, the thing he wanted for his people and it was Ecbert that took it from him.”

1 fan thinks Ragnar wanted ‘the Vikings to conquer by revenge’

A fan believes it all comes down to Ragnar wanting “to conquer England,” as he always intended for settlements to pop up. He could have wanted to conquer England through expanding his territory. But it didn’t work, so he might have moved on to the next stop, which was conquest through “revenge.”

“Ragnar still wants to conquer England,” they said. “His great mark was in inspiring the Vikings to expand their territory by figuring out how to traverse the Atlantic Ocean. He had a plan for conquest by settlement, which didn’t work, and so he wants for the Vikings to conquer by revenge. That will be his legacy (along with the exploits of his sons)…”

A fan thinks it has to do with ‘Ragnar becoming a martyr’ and therefore ‘understanding Athelstan’

Another fan thinks it all comes down to Ragnar seeming to finally “understand” his best friend, Athelstan better. He admits in his speech to him after Athelstan’s death that he didn’t understand what a “martyr” was.

“I think in a way it was Ragnar coming to understand Athelstan a little more,” they said. “In his eulogy to Athelstan Ragnar called him a martyr but admitted he didn’t know what that meant. I think everything from Ragnar’s returning to Kattegat to taking Ivar and having Ivar return with his story was about Ragnar becoming a martyr and in that way understanding Athelstan a little more. And in his martyrdom, he accomplishes something he always wanted: sending the Norsemen into the wider world.”

Fans of Vikings have different opinions on why Ragnar wanted his sons to get revenge on King Ecbert for his death.