‘Vikings’: Why the Relationship Between Ragnar Lothbrok and King Ecbert Is Really so Complicated

Vikings is a show full of complicated relationships and one of those definitely involves Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) and King Ecbert of Wessex (Linus Roache). The two meet in season 2 and it’s never obvious whether they are friends or secretly enemies, or maybe a little of both. Read on to learn why their relationship is so complicated. There are spoilers ahead for Vikings.

Ragnar Lothbrok and King Ecbert are so alike

Travis Fimmel and Linus Roache
Travis Fimmel and Linus Roache | Mike Pont/WireImage

Both Ragnar and Ecbert think outside the box when it comes to negotiating with the enemy. On their first encounter, Ragnar tells Ecbert that he’s interested in farming land and that he’s really just a farmer. Of course, he’s so much more than that.

The two take a swim in a Roman bath and discuss why Ragnar and his people have come to Wessex. Ecbert asks Ragnar why he won’t go home even after he’s acquired treasure.

“I’m a very curious man,” Ragnar cryptically tells Ecbert. “I want to see your lands and I want to see how you farm them. You see, I am really a farmer.”

“Are you saying if I offer you some land, we can make a deal?” Ecbert asks.

“It’s possible,” Ragnar says, playing dumb.

Friends and enemies

Ragnar and Ecbert embark on a complicated relationship. Eventually, Ecbert gives Ragnar and his people some land, but the peace doesn’t last long. Ragnar and his warriors even fight for Queen Kwenthrith (Amy Bailey) on Ecbert’s behalf, only for their settlement in Wessex to be destroyed when most of them sail back home.

Both Ragnar and Ecbert play the friend card well, at least at first glance. They are both calculating men that are always trying to gain an advantage over the other.

Ragnar gets his ultimate revenge

Ragnar never forgives Ecbert for sacking his people’s settlement and killing almost everyone. Many years later, he returns and he again plays dumb with Ecbert. He pretends they are nothing but friends because he knows his sons will only seek revenge if he is killed. Knowing that Ecbert won’t kill him, Ragnar asks Ecbert to give him over to King Aelle (Ivan Kaye).

Aelle has no problem killing Ragnar and actually seems to enjoy it. Ragnar makes sure his son Ivar (Alex Høgh Andersen) takes the news to the rest of his sons. He wants them to know to take revenge on both kings, which they do.

Were they friends until the end?

Ecbert seems to feel affection for Ragnar and he doesn’t want to send him over to Aelle. He even attends the execution and watches Ragnar die and seems genuinely sad about it. The sons of Ragnar bring the Great Heathen Army over to England and things are never the same after the death of Ragnar Lothbrok.

If it weren’t for the complicated relationship between Ragnar and Ecbert, things would have played out a lot differently. They are both so alike in a lot of ways, including the willingness to do anything to see their dreams fulfilled.

Were Ragnar and Ecbert friends? I wouldn’t go that far, but they had a complicated relationship because they were both so alike and on opposing sides. They each changed things for their people in their own ways.