‘Vikings’: Was Lagertha a Real Person?

Fans of History’s Vikings love the shield-maiden Lagertha. She is a queen in her own right and rules over her people fairly and justly. She isn’t afraid to fight with the men and do what needs to be done. But did the legendary shield-maiden really exist?

Was Lagertha a real person?

Katheryn Winnick
Katheryn Winnick | Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Lagertha is mentioned as a Viking shield-maiden in Saxo Grammaticus’ work, Gesta Danorum. Lagertha’s story is part of a series of books in a larger volume. The first nine are believed to be fictional by many historians, in which Lagertha is mentioned. The work talks about Lagertha being the first wife of the legendary Ragnar Lothbrok, a king in the stories.

Ragnar takes over after his father Siward Ring and comes to meet Lagertha in unlikely circumstances. He even believes his success in battle can only be attributed to her. She is described in the work as, “…a skilled amazon, who, though a maiden, had the courage of a man, and fought in front among the bravest with her hair loose over her shoulders. All marvelled at her matchless deeds, for her locks flying down her back betrayed that she was a woman.”

Although a bear and dog block his path, Ragnar defeats them and seemingly wins Lagertha over for himself. They have two daughters and a son through their union, though Ragnar eventually divorces Lagertha in the story. She does, however, come back to help Ragnar in battle and her legend grows.

Was Lagertha a goddess?

In other accounts, she is mentioned with Thorgerd, a Norse goddess with powers. She could also fly, and some stories even talk about her being worshipped or married, to Haakon Sigurdsson. Many stories about the goddess are even thought to be about Lagertha herself, so it is possible they are one in the same.

History’s ‘Vikings’ takes Lagertha a step further

In History’s Vikings, Lagertha has become so much more. She fights with the men, becomes the Queen of Kattegat, and is a force to be reckoned with. She has been betrayed by almost everyone, yet she somehow doesn’t let that get her down. She still feels the pull of the gods to change the tide of her life. In the last season, she even proclaims her son as King of Kattegat, rather than challenge him for it. She clearly believes the gods have chosen him.

Lagertha is a grandmother now and will look a little different in season 6

Lagertha, played by Katheryn Winnick, will be back for the final season of Vikings. She spoke with ET about how they had to age Lagertha for the upcoming season. She is, after all, a grandmother now and needs to look the part. Fans will remember Lagertha’s hair turned white literally overnight last season.

“It was a bit challenging because we wanted to age her, so I actually went through two-and-a-half hours of prosthetics before every shoot,” Winnick revealed. “We ended up doing latex on the eyes and the neck to be able to show the progress of age. Hey, she’s a granny now.”

We may never know if Lagertha was truly a real person or just the stuff of legend. She could have been a Norse goddess passed down in stories. But the good news is, there is still one more season of Vikings left and Lagertha will have a large part to play.