Little Bits of History

Ragnar, the Viking

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 28, 2010

Aella murdering Ragnar Lodbrok

March 28, 845: The Viking, Ragnar Lodbrok, sails up the Seine and sacks Paris on Easter. Claiming to be a direct descendant of Odin, the chief Norse god, Ragnar like to plan the odds in his favor. Raiding Christian cities on holy days meant that most of the soldiers would be in church.

Ragnar spent most of his life as a pirate and raider, but the vastness of his exploits show him to be a military strategist as well. He had four sons and felt that he must outshine any of their future exploits so he raided farther from home.

Paris was ruled by Charlemagne’s grandson, Charles II “The Bald” when Ragnar came calling. Charles paid the Dane to leave the city with the already stolen goods without causing further destruction. Ragnar departed with the spoils and an additional 7000 pounds of silver. He did not leave France however, and kept attacking up the coast.

Ragnar moved over to England in 865 and attacked Northumbria where he was met by King Aelle II who defeated the Dane and cast him into a pit of venomous snakes. Ragnar’s sons avenged their father’s death by capturing Aelle and killed him by the custom of Rista Blodörn. This nasty little piece of work is translated as “blood eagle” and consists of the ribs being cut from the spine, pulled away and broken, so they look like the wings of an eagle. Then the lungs are ripped out of the body. For added measure, salt is sprinkled over the wounds.

The death of Aelle may be legendary rather than fact, however it is true that the Vikings came after Ragnar’s defeat and eventually captured, conquered, and settled the area.

“How the little pigs would grunt if they knew the situation of the old boar!” – Ragnar Lodbrok , as he was being bitten to death by snakes

“It is the great north wind that made the Vikings.”  – Scandanavian proverb

“When I was about five I think, I desperately wanted to be a pirate and have the hat and everything.” – Keira Knightley

“Always remember to pillage before you burn.” – unknown

Also on this day, in 1920 it was Palm Sunday and 38 significant tornadoes ranged across the US.

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