Vikings Valhalla, the sequel to the Vikings series, spins a great story. But how much of it is true? Did the characters in Vikings Valhalla really exist?
Season 1 of Vikings Valhalla begins in the year 1002 with the St Brice’s day massacre – a real event. The characters in Vikings Valhalla are a mix of characters that really existed and fictional characters. It is interesting to note that some of the characters in the first episode were not even born in 1002.
We have grouped the characters into real and fictional, Vikings and Anglo-Saxons. The page will be updated as new characters are introduced.
The Real Vikings
Leif Erikson was born around 970, the son of Erik the Red. Erikson made a trip to Norway in the Autumn of 999 and converted to Christianity. The following year he discovered land to the west of Greenland. Leif is now credited with being the first European to reach the Americas.
Freydis Eriksdottir was the daughter of Erik the Red and sister of Leif Erikson. Little is known of her life and much of what is known is the stuff of legend. She made at least one journey to Vinland with her husband. The known details are included in the timeline of Leif Erikson.
Harald Sigurdsson (Harald Hardrada)
Harald Sigurdson, is known to history by his nickname Harald Hardrada meaning hard ruler. He was born around 1015 and was killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066.
Canute was born in 995 and was the son of Sweyn Forkbeard. His father mounted an invasion of England in retribution for the killing of Danes on St Brides day 1002. Forkbeard became King of England in December 1013 but died two months later. Canute was angry when Aethelred’s eldest son, Edmund became King and swore revenge. Canute became King in 1016 after Edmund died. He set his first wife, Aelfgifu, aside and married Emma of Normandy.
Sweyn Forkbeard was the father of King Canute. He launched a massive invasion of England following the St Brides massacre which claimed the life of his sister. He conquered England and became King in December 1013. He reigned for two months before his death in 1014.
King Olaf II (Olaf Haraldsson)
Olaf Haraldsson is better known as King Olaf II of Norway. He was born in 995 to Harald Grenske and Asta Gudbrandsdatter. Olaf became King of Norway in 1015 after the death of Sweyn Forkbeard. He ruled until 1028 when he was succeeded by Canute.
The Real Anglo-Saxons
King Aethelred II (the Unready)
Aethelred was born in 966, the son of King Edgar by his second wife Aelfthryth. He became King after his half-brother, Edward, was murdered, almost certainly on the orders of his mother. He earned the nickname Unready meaning ill-advised for his bad judgements. He was father of King Edmund by his first wife, Aelfgifu of York and of King Edward the Confessor by his second wife, Emma of Normandy. Aethelred died in 1016.
King Edmund II (Ironside)
King Edmund II was born in 990 the son of King Aethelred the Unready by his first wife, Aelfgifu of York. He became King at the age of 26 following the death of his father. He earned the nickname Ironside due to his skill in battle. He died in November 1016.
Emma of Normandy
Emma of Normandy was born in 985, the daughter of Richard, Duke of Normandy. She was the second wife of both Aethelred II and Canute. She was the mother of two Kings of England, Harthacnut and Edward the Confessor.
Earl Godwin of Wessex
Earl Godwin of Wessex was born in 1001 the son of Wulfnoth, thegn of Sussex. Godwin rose to become the most powerful nobleman in England serving King Canute and then King Edward the Confessor. He married Canute’s sister-in-law and married his daughter to Edward the Confessor. His son, Harold, became King of England after the death of Edward the Confessor in 1066.
Aelfgifu of Northampton (Queen Aelfgifu)
Aelfgifu of York was born around 990 and was the first wife of King Canute. It is likely they were married by the Danish handfasting ceremony which was not recognised by the Church. She was never crowned Queen nor was she ever referred to as Queen Aelfgifu. She was the mother of Harold Harefoot who became King Harold I in 1037.
Eadric Streona was an Anglo-Saxon who was Ealdorman of Mercia from 1007. He was killed by King Canute in 1017.
The Fictional Vikings
Jarl Haakon is not a real person. Haakon is a Norse boys name that means exalted son. Her character is based on Haakon Ericsson who was regent in Norway for Canute. It is likely that there were people of colour in Scandinavia at that time, they may have been traders or been brought back as slaves.
Jarl Kare is not a real person. His character symbolises the animosity during the period between Christians and Pagans.
Published Mar 06, 2022 @ 6:40 pm – Updated – [last-modified]
Harvard Reference for this page:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2022). Vikings Valhalla – the real-life characters