‘Vikings’: The 1 Moment That Changes Ragnar Lothbrok’s Life Forever

History’s Vikings is full of memorable moments that forever changed the course of the show. Many of those involve Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel). Read on to learn about the one moment that changes Ragnar’s life forever. There are spoilers ahead for Vikings.

Ragnar Lothbrok branches out towards the west

Travis Fimmel
Travis Fimmel | Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

In season 1, Ragnar is just a simple farmer that participates in raids decided by the Earl of Kattegat, Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne). Ragnar, who thought about the idea of going west for a long time, finally speaks up and asks the Earl in front of everyone whether or not they should travel west. He is immediately shot down and suspicion is on him from then on.

Luckily for Ragnar, he meets a wanderer who gives him a way to travel west – with the means of a sunboard and a sunstone. Ragnar and a few men decide to take the gamble and sail west to new lands. After sailing for a number of days and with many losing hope of finding land, the Vikings find the shore and reach Northumbria.

The first raid in the west

Ragnar and his men travel to the local monastery at Lindisfarne where they raid the land for the first time. They find the riches and lands promised by Ragnar, and they even stumble on a priest called Athelstan (George Blagden) who becomes Ragnar’s greatest friend and asset.

Ragnar and his men sail away richer than when they landed. But when they return, they are immediately greeted with hostility from the Earl who takes almost everything from them. This puts Ragnar in direct conflict with the Earl, who allows Ragnar to claim one piece from the hoard. He chooses Athelstan, a would-be slave that becomes so much more.

Ragnar becomes the Earl of Kattegat

After this initial success for Ragnar, he becomes a target for the Earl, who he must kill and then claim the Earldom for himself. Ragnar’s life is forever changed from the moment he chooses to defy the Earl and sail west to claim his destiny. He becomes the most famous Viking in their world and eventually claims the title of King.

Ragnar’s friendship with Athelstan forever changes him

Since Ragnar kept Athelstan around, their friendship leads to numerous advantages for Ragnar. Athelstan teaches Ragnar the language so he can better communicate on future raids to England. He also introduces him to Saxon culture and Christianity. Ragnar learns so much from his friendship with the priest turned Viking.

If Ragnar had landed anywhere else besides Lindisfarne, who knows if he would have gained as much knowledge as he did from Athelstan. Their friendship itself helps lead Ragnar to victory in Paris, forever solidifying himself as a Viking. Athelstan teaches Ragnar all about its defenses and what to expect so he’ll be ready.

Ragnar could have chosen to listen to the Earl and continue raiding the east with his head down, but that wasn’t his way. From that first raid on Lindisfarne, Ragnar changes everything for his people. The Vikings continue raiding the west long after Ragnar is gone. The first raid changes it all and pushes the Vikings into the forefront of history.

Ragnar Lothbrok changes everything when he defied the Earl and followed his dreams west.