Lagertha (The Legendary Shield Maiden)

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In the Norse world, women were regarded in the same high esteem as men. This means they could do just about anything men could do.

They could be merchants, shipbuilders, craftspersons, entrepreneurs, and warriors.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Lagertha comes out as a very strong personality in her own right. She has become ingrained in the Scandinavian culture since the era of the Vikings.

But who is Lagertha? Was she a real person, or is she a work of fiction?

Who was Lagertha?

Whether Lagertha existed and achieved the accolades attributed to her or not, she has become an indelible part of Scandinavian culture and history.

It might not be very easy to ascertain the feats attributed to this warrior queen

if she was a real person.

Norse culture was originally transmitted through oral tradition or word of mouth. As a result, many details about this woman may have been lost or deliberately changed.

We cannot also discount the problems of exaggeration and understatement that come with passing information through word of mouth.

The first recorded account of Lagertha was written by the Danish historian and scholar Saxo Grammaticus in the book Gesta Danorum.

It is noteworthy that this book was written as many as 6 centuries after the supposed birth of Lagertha in 795 CE.

A lot must have happened in these 6 centuries to distort the real picture of Lagertha and what she was supposed to have accomplished.

This is given credence by the fact that Saxo describes Lagertha in unrealistic terms. For example, the book records that she had the powers of the Valkyrie.

She could move in and out of places unseen and could even fly across the battlefield at astonishing speeds.

Clearly, this is more the work of fiction and active imagination than anything else. However, this is not to say that Lagertha the Warrior Queen did not exist at all.

But, we need not believe just about everything we hear about her.

The saving grace here is that Saxo records about other Viking kings and queens whose existence and exploits are verifiable.

This tells us that although most of what we hear about Lagertha is exaggerated, it must have been generated by a real person.

Lagertha the Viking Queen: Real or Fiction?

The main thrust of Lagertha’s story is that at some point, she is married to the most famous Viking king of all time: Ragnar Lothbrok.

Together, this couple gave birth to a son and two daughters.

She is also believed to have fought courageously beside him in many battles. In addition, she held court with him, ruling as his queen and equal.

At some point, she even ruled as queen on her own.

As a shield maiden, Lagertha is said to have been a fearless warrior. She fought like the toughest of rulers during those days, who believed in showing no mercy to any people who resisted occupation.

Her name grew far and wide not only because of her prowess in battle but also because she was a wise ruler.

She also said that she encouraged more women to take up arms and join their husbands in bringing more riches to the land.

Another myth is that she has direct links to the Norse goddess Thorgerd – and that she could even be the physical manifestation of this goddess.

But how much of this is true, and how much is fiction? Unfortunately, this is hard to tell because no hard evidence exists to prove that Lagertha did any of the things she is credited for.

But, even if it is not all entirely true, there must have been a person of her caliber.

Either way, Lagertha’s narrative is well captured in a 12th-century Danish historian in the book History of the Danish (Gesta Danorum).

Lagertha’s Life and Legend

Lagertha is a legendary Viking shieldmaiden known for her bravery and fighting prowess. According to the sagas, she was born in what is now Norway and became the first wife of the famous Viking Ragnar Lothbrok.

Her tale was recorded by the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus in the 12th century CE in his work, Gesta Danorum.

In the sagas, Lagertha is depicted as a skilled warrior who leads an army in battle. She is said to have fought in many battles alongside her husband, Ragnar, and to have played a key role in his conquests. According to legend, she even kept a pet bear outside her home.

While the historical accuracy of Lagertha’s story is uncertain, her legend has endured through the centuries.

Her tale has been retold in literature, old Norse mythology, and popular culture, including the hit TV series Vikings.

Saxo Grammaticus, the author of Gesta Danorum, is known for his historical writings on Danish history.

While some of his accounts are considered unreliable, his work on Lagertha has helped to cement her place in Viking legend.

Whether Lagertha was a real historical figure or simply a myth, her story has captured the imagination of people for centuries.

Her legacy as a powerful and fearless warrior continues to inspire and fascinate people to this day.

Lagertha’s Role in Viking Society

As a legendary shield maiden, Lagertha played a significant role in Viking society. Shieldmaidens were women warriors who fought alongside men in battles.

They were known for their bravery, fighting skills, and their ability to inspire and motivate their fellow warriors.

During the Viking Age, Norse society was a male-dominated society, and women had limited rights and opportunities.

However, shield maidens like Lagertha challenged these norms and proved that women could be just as capable and skilled as men in combat.

Lagertha’s story is an excellent example of how shield maidens were respected and admired in Viking society.

According to legend, she was a skilled fighter who fought alongside her husband, Ragnar Lodbrok, in many battles. Her bravery and fighting prowess earned her a reputation as one of the most fearsome warriors in Norse society.

Shieldmaidens like Lagertha were not just warriors; they also played important roles in their communities.

They were responsible for protecting their homes and villages from raiders and invaders, and they also participated in important rituals and ceremonies.

In Norse society, shield maidens were not just accepted; they were celebrated. They were seen as symbols of strength, courage, and honor, and their contributions to their communities were highly valued.

In conclusion, Lagertha’s role in Viking society was significant. As a shield maiden, she challenged gender norms and proved that women could be just as capable and skilled as men in combat.

Her bravery and fighting skills earned her a place as one of the most respected and admired warriors in Norse society.

Lagertha’s Family and Relationships

Lagertha had a complex family and relationship history. She was married to Ragnar Lothbrok, a legendary Viking warrior, and had two children with him, Bjorn and Gyda.

However, after Ragnar cheated on her with Aslaug and had more children with her, Lagertha divorced him.

Despite this, she and Ragnar still had a strong bond and respect for each other.

Lagertha also had a close relationship with her father, who was killed by bandits when she was young.

This event inspired her to become a shield maiden and seek revenge.

In addition to her relationships with her husband and father, Lagertha had a complicated relationship with her stepsons, Hvitserk, Ivar, and Ubbe.

She even had to defend herself against them at one point, but ultimately forgave them and continued to be a part of their lives.

Overall, Lagertha’s family and relationships were a central part of her story and contributed to her strength and resilience as a legendary shield maiden.

Notable Milestones in Lagertha’s Life

The Young Lagertha in a Brothel

Saxo’s narrative has it that Lagertha started life like any other normal girl. She was a ward of King Siward, Ragnar Lothbrok’s grandfather.

It is here that Lagertha first laid eyes on her future husband and king.

However, this life was shattered when King Siward’s kingdom fell to King Fro of Sweden.

To spite King Siward, King Fro had all the women in the house raped, whipped, and thrown into a brothel.

This is how young Lagertha found herself working in a brothel.

Angered by what had been done to his grandfather, Ragnar Lothbrok led a rebellion against the occupying army and freed the captives shortly.

Instead of fleeing to the safety they had been offered, Lagertha and the rest of the women decided to join Ragnar’s men. They were determined to reclaim their land from King Fro and his men.

Lagertha performed so well in repelling the Swedish army that he won the admiration of men and women alike.

Thus started Lagertha’s ascent to the top.

Lagertha Has a Date with Ragnar

Lagertha’s exploits and bravery during the war with the Swedish impressed Ragnar Lothbrok more than it did anyone else.

He embarked on a serious endeavor to woo her and win her romantically. At first, Lagertha was not really interested but was eventually impressed by his relentlessness.

She decided to test him to see how serious he was in his pursuit. Lagertha invited him for a date to her home, where she waited for him with a ferocious dog and a bear.

As he entered the gate, she set the two animals on him. This was to gauge how he would react under impossible conditions.

Being the brave and strong man he was, Ragnar fought and killed both animals. This impressed Lagertha so much that she agreed to get married to him.

This was Ragnar’s second marriage, the first having been with Aslaug.

Ragnar and Lagertha had three children – a son and two girls – before the marriage disintegrated.

The divorce was a big blow to both of them, and Ragnar decided to migrate to Denmark in search of greener pastures.

He left Lagertha in Norway to rule the kingdom on her own. This further goes to show how strong Lagertha was as a political leader.

Lagertha Wins a Civil War with a Fleet of 200 Ships

Not long after arriving in Denmark, Ragnar Lothbrok found himself with a rebellion in his hands.

Some of the people he met there were vehemently opposed to his leadership and were planning to depose him violently.

Ragnar quickly appealed for help from Lagertha, his ex-wife. She arrived at the head of a fleet of 200 ships and turned the tide of the war in Ragnar’s favor.

He promptly fell in love with her for the second time, and together, they returned to Norway and remarried.

However, this part of the story is rather hazy. Historians differ on whether Lagertha remarried Ragnar or was married to another Norwegian king.

Lagertha Kills Her Husband

This section of Grammaticus’ portrayal of Lagertha is equally hazy. It is recorded that she stabbed her husband through the heart with a spearhead upon her return to Norway.

She did this because she did not want him ruling beside her. She believed the throne was meant to be hers alone and was unwilling to give it up.

This gain brings out the qualities of this warrior-queen as a strong, independent ruler who can stand her ground.

The fact that she killed another man further gives credence to the notion that she did not remarry Ragnar Lothbrok.

Were Shield Maidens Real?

The Norse culture was far advanced beyond other cultures of its time. It was one of the foremost cultures in the emancipation of women.

Women could make decisions as well as men. They were allowed to involve themselves in activities that took their fancy.

Apart from being homemakers, they could also involve themselves in fishing, craftsmanship, shipbuilding, and trade.

There’s very little reason; therefore, they would have been excluded from the battlefield.

The Norse culture allowed women full control of their sexuality. This means they felt liberated enough to venture beyond fields that would have otherwise been designated as male-only.

There were a number of female Norwegian queens of resolve during the Viking era. These women must have won their positions by proving themselves in battle.

Archeological evidence has placed female bodies at the scenes of large battlegrounds during this period.

Although this is not conclusive proof that the women died fighting as shieldmaidens, it at least points to the fact that women were present during battles.

Some scholars contend that such women may have been fighting out of desperation or were victims of circumstances.

However, different Norse mythologies would have it otherwise. Tales abound of shield maidens fighting alongside their men to protect their honor and their land.

The most famous of these is undoubtedly Lagertha. She led her armies into battle and emerged victorious, much to the chagrin of her enemies.

Lagertha’s Battles and Warfare

As a legendary shieldmaiden, Lagertha was known for her incredible courage and skill in battle.

She fought alongside her fellow warriors, using a variety of weapons, such as swords and spearheads, to defeat her enemies.

One of Lagertha’s most famous battles was against King Frø of Sweden, who had invaded her kingdom and killed her former master, King Siward.

Along with other women who had been forced into a brothel, Lagertha escaped and disguised herself as a man to join the fight against Frø.

Despite being a maiden, she fought bravely alongside the other soldiers, earning a reputation as one of the most skilled warriors on the battlefield.

Lagertha’s courage and strength in battle were also said to have been inspired by the Valkyries, mythical female figures who were believed to choose which soldiers would live and die in battle.

According to legend, Lagertha was even visited by a bear, which was seen as a symbol of strength and power, before one of her battles.

Despite the many battles she fought, Lagertha remained a fierce and respected warrior throughout her life.

Her legacy as a legendary shieldmaiden continues to inspire people to this day, reminding us of the incredible courage and strength that can be found within us all.

Lagertha’s Death and Legacy

Lagertha’s death was a significant event in Viking history. According to legend, she died peacefully in her bed in Norway, having lived a long and eventful life. Her death was mourned by many, and her legacy as a hero and queen lived on.

Lagertha’s reputation as a warrior and shieldmaiden was so great that she was often compared to the Valkyries, the mythical figures who chose which warriors would live and die in battle.

Her bravery and fighting prowess inspired many, and her story continues to be told to this day.

Despite her legendary status, Lagertha was also a real person who lived in a specific time and place. Her grave has never been found, but there are many theories about where it might be located.

Some believe that she was buried in a mound in Norway, while others think that she was laid to rest in Denmark.

Regardless of where her grave may be, Lagertha’s legacy lives on. She is remembered as a powerful and inspiring figure who defied societal norms and fought for what she believed in.

Her story has been told and retold in countless books, movies, and TV shows, ensuring that her memory will never be forgotten.

In conclusion, Lagertha’s death marked the end of an era, but her legacy as a hero and queen lives on. Her story continues to inspire people around the world, and her memory will always be cherished.

Lagertha in Popular Culture

Lagertha has become a popular figure in modern culture, especially due to her portrayal in the TV series Vikings. The character is played by Canadian actress Katheryn Winnick, who has received critical acclaim for her performance.

Her portrayal has helped bring Lagertha to a wider audience and has sparked interest in the historical figure.

In addition to the TV series, Lagertha has also been featured in various forms of fiction. She has appeared in novels, comic books, and video games.

These portrayals often take creative liberties with the character and her story, but they still help keep her legacy alive.

The TV series Vikings, which aired on Sky History, has helped to popularize Lagertha even further. The show has been praised for its historical accuracy and attention to detail and has helped to create a renewed interest in Viking culture.

Lagertha’s character has played a significant role in the series, and her story has been a major plot point throughout its run.

Overall, Lagertha’s legacy has continued to endure in popular culture. Her portrayal in TV shows, books, and other media has helped to keep her story alive for future generations to learn about and appreciate.

Lagertha’s Geographic Connections

Lagertha, the legendary shield maiden, is said to have come from what is now Norway. However, her life and adventures took her to many different places throughout her lifetime.

One of the most significant geographic connections Lagertha had was with Sweden. She was captured and taken as an enslaved person by the Swedish king, Frø, but later escaped and fought against him alongside Ragnar Lothbrok.

Lagertha’s bravery and skills as a warrior were instrumental in defeating Frø and securing victory for her people.

Lagertha also had connections to England, where she and Ragnar Lothbrok traveled and raided. According to legend, they even conquered the city of York.

Their exploits in England are still remembered today and have been featured in various works of fiction.

Another important location in Lagertha’s story is Denmark. She was the wife of Ragnar Lothbrok, who was a legendary Viking king of Denmark.

Together, they had many adventures and battles, and their story has become a part of Viking folklore.

Lagertha’s travels also took her to the Kattegat, a sea area located between Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. This region was known for its maritime trade and piracy, and Lagertha was likely involved in both during her lifetime.

Finally, some legends suggest Lagertha may have even traveled to North America.

While the integrity of these stories is uncertain, they speak to the enduring legacy of this legendary shield maiden.

Overall, Lagertha’s geographic connections were vast and varied, reflecting the adventurous and daring spirit of this legendary figure.

Other Associated Figures and Entities

Lagertha was not the only legendary figure associated with the Viking Age. Here are some other figures and entities that are relevant to her story:

  • Frø: Frø was Lagertha’s first husband and the father of her son Bjorn. He was a Danish king who ruled over Sweden as well. According to legend, he was killed by Lagertha’s second husband, who was jealous of their relationship.
  • Siward: Siward was a Norwegian king whom Lagertha defeated in battle. He was so impressed by her skill and courage that he asked her to marry him. She refused, but they remained allies.
  • Fridleif: Fridleif was a legendary Viking hero who was said to have been Lagertha’s lover. He was killed in battle, and Lagertha avenged his death by slaying his killer.
  • Amazon: The Amazons were a mythical tribe of warrior women who were said to have lived in ancient Greece. Lagertha was sometimes compared to them because of her skill in battle.
  • Civil War: Lagertha was involved in a civil war between two Danish kings, and she played a key role in the outcome of the conflict.
  • Thorgerd and Thora: Thorgerd and Thora were two legendary shield maidens who were said to have fought alongside Lagertha in battle.
  • Dog: Lagertha was said to have had a fierce dog that accompanied her into battle.
  • King Frø: King Frø was a mythical figure who was said to have founded the city of Trondheim. He was also said to have been Lagertha’s father.
  • Brothel: Lagertha was said to have owned a brothel at one point in her life.
  • Judith Jesch: Judith Jesch is a scholar who has written extensively about the figure of Lagertha in Viking Age literature.
  • Vǫlsunga Saga: The Vǫlsunga Saga is an Icelandic saga that tells the story of the legendary hero Sigurd and his family. Lagertha is mentioned in the saga as one of the Valkyries who choose the slain warriors who will go to Valhalla.
  • Brynhildr: Brynhildr was another legendary shield maiden who was associated with the figure of Sigurd. She was also said to have been a Valkyrie.
  • Piracy and Seafaring: Lagertha was said to have been a skilled pirate and seafarer, and she was known to have raided along the coasts of Norway and Denmark.
  • Circle: Lagertha was said to have been a member of a circle of powerful women who were known for their wisdom and magical abilities.
  • Blonde Hair: Lagertha was often described as having long, blonde hair, which was considered a symbol of her beauty and strength.
  • Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian Kings: Lagertha was associated with several legendary kings from Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, including Frø, Siward, and Ecbert.
  • Allies: Lagertha had many allies throughout her life, including Ragnar Lothbrok, whom she married after divorcing her second husband.
  • Earl of Hedeby: The Earl of Hedeby was a powerful Viking ruler who was said to have been a friend of Lagertha’s.
  • Heritage and Fidelity: Lagertha was proud of her Viking heritage, and she was known for her fidelity to her people and her beliefs.
  • King Ecbert: King Ecbert was a historical figure who ruled over the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex. He was associated with Lagertha in the TV series Vikings, where he was portrayed as her lover.
  • Kalf: Kalf was a Viking warrior who was associated with Lagertha in the TV series Vikings. He was portrayed as her second husband, whom she later killed.
  • Bishop Heahmund: Bishop Heahmund was a historical figure who was associated with Lagertha in the TV series Vikings. He was portrayed as her lover and ally.

Lagertha’s story is intertwined with the stories of many other legendary figures and entities from Viking Age mythology and history.

Together, they form a rich tapestry of Norse culture and tradition that continues to fascinate and inspire people around the world.

Final Thoughts…

Lagertha’s exploits, courage, and achievements make her easily comparable to the indomitable Amazon women of Greek culture.

The Book of Danish History describes her as a skilled amazon who, despite being a maiden, had the courage of ten men.

Lagertha is hailed for showing bravery even in the face of the fiercest enemy. It was said that once she embarked on a quest, she would not rest until it was done.

Some myths relate Lagertha to the goddesses Freya and Thorgerd of Halogaland.

Others indicate that since Ragnar represented Odin, Lagertha must have been the physical manifestation of his wife, Frigg.

Whatever the case, it is undoubted that Lagertha had a huge impact on the Norse way of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the symbol of Lagertha?

Lagertha’s symbol is her shield, which is often depicted with a raven on it. The raven represents Odin, the god of war and death, and is a symbol of wisdom and intelligence.

Who was the most famous shieldmaiden in real life?

There is no clear answer to this question, as shieldmaidens were not recorded in historical texts.

However, there have been many legendary female warriors throughout history, such as Joan of Arc and Mulan.

Is Lagertha the most famous shield maiden?

Lagertha is one of the most famous shieldmaidens in Norse mythology and has gained popularity through her portrayal in the TV series Vikings.

However, there were likely many other shieldmaidens in history who were equally skilled and brave.

How old was Lagertha when she died in real life?

There is no information about Lagertha’s age at the time of her death, as she is a legendary figure and not a historical one.

In Norse mythology, she is said to have died of old age.

Who kills Lagertha in real life?

There is no historical record of Lagertha’s death, as she is a legendary figure. In the TV series Vikings, she is killed by Hvitserk, one of the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok.

What are the names of Lagertha’s children?

In Norse mythology, Lagertha had two children with Ragnar Lothbrok: a son named Fridleif and a daughter named Thornbjorg.

In the TV series Vikings, she also has a son named Bjorn Ironside.

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