Aslaug: Wife of Ragnar, Mother of Kings, and A Volva

Posted by Ms Elly on

Aslaug: Wife of Ragnar, Mother of Kings, and A Volva 

In the Tale of Ragnar Lothbrok, Aslaug was the third wife of Ragnar. She was not only beautiful but also intelligent. 

Volsunga saga had it that Aslaug was the daughter of Sigurd the Dragon Slayer and the Valkyrie Brynhild. The legend of Sigurd the dragon slayer was among the most famous tale as it was commonly carved on the wood. But Sigurd and Brynhild couldn't see how beautiful their daughter could be as they passed away when Aslaug was just a little girl. 

When the parents were no longer with, Aslaug was at the age that she couldn't feel the pain of loss. Then she was brought up by Brynhild's foster father, Heimer. For the origin of Aslaug, Heimer wanted to keep her life safe and as few people could see her as possible. 

Heimer took up a life a poor traveller. He made a harp box large enough for Aslaug to sit inside. Heimer carried the little girl and his harp inside. 

They arrived in Norway on one occasion and they decided to stay in the house of the farmer family there. When the night approached, the farmers planned to kill Heimir to take the harp box because they thought Heimir was carrying something precious inside. Opening the door, they found a beautiful girl.

Aslaug was discovered inside the harp

Aslaug was discovered inside the harp box by the peasant family

The pair decided to keep the little girl as their daughter. But in order to hide her beauty and noble identity, the farmers rubbed her in tar and dressed her in a long hood so that no one could realize. 

On one occasion, the men of Ragnar Lothbrok saw Aslaug bathing which captured their attention so much that they allowed the bread to be burnt. Being asked why the bread got burnt by Ragnar Lothbrok, the warriors answered that it was because of the beautiful lady. Ragnar was somewhat curious about her beauty and the moment he saw Aslaug, he decided she would be his wife. 

But first, he had to come and test her wisdom. 

  • neither dressed nor undressed,
  • neither hungry nor full and,
  • neither alone nor in company.

And then Aslaug came with dressing in a net, her hand holding an onion to eat, and she was accompanied by her own dog. This did excite Ragnar Lothbrok as she was so wise. However, Aslaug refused the proposal of Ragnar claiming to accept it once Ragnar had achieved his goal in Norway.

But with the power of Ragnar Lothbrok, he managed to get all he wanted, including both Norway and Aslaug. This beautiful Aslaug gave Ragnar four sons: Hvitserk, Ivar the Boneless, Bjorn Ironside, and Sigurd Snake-snake-in-the-eye. 

Ragnar and Aslaug

Aslaug and Ragnar Lothbrok with their child

On one occasion, Ragnar visited a neigboring kingdom where he met the king and the king persuaded her to abandon Aslaug and marry her daughter. 

Three birds flew back and informed Aslaug of Ragnar's plan. It was during this period that she revealed her true noble origin to her husband. She promised to bear Ragnar a son who bore the sign of a dragon in the eye. This proved herself a volva who could see what other people couldn't. 

On another time, Ragnar came home after his year-long voyage, he could wait no longer to consummate with his wife. But Aslaug refused and told Ragnar to wait for three nights and days or else the son of this time would be physically disabled. Ragnar didn't listen to his wife's words resulting in Ivar the Boneless. 

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