Halfdan Ragnarsson: Viking Commander and King of Dublin

Posted by Ms Elly on

Halfdan Ragnarsson: Viking Commander and King of Dublin

Halfdan Ragnarsson was one of a famous Viking warrior living in the 9th century. What made Halfdan famous was his alleged family background and his leading role in the Great Heathen Army. 

Legendary Family Background

According to many surviving materials, Halfdan Ragnarsson as the name indicated was the son of Ragnar Lothbrok. Ragnar Lothbrok was a great Viking hero through his historical existence remains a mystery. 

Being the son of Ragnar, Halfdan Ragnarsson had some great brothers including Ivar the Boneless, Bjorn Ironside, Sigurd Snake-in-the-eye. The Tales of Ragnar's sons told that they were sons of Ragnar and Aslaug. The family much or less must have affected Halfan and his brothers.

Halfdan Ragnarsson was a kind of family-oriented figure among Ragnar's sons

Halfdan Ragnarsson was a kind of family-oriented figure among sons of Ragnar

For all of them became no ordinary figures. Many years after, when they finally became the men of the house, they formed the Great Heathen Army that waged war with Anglo-Saxon.

The Great Heathen Army

Legend had it that the Viking Great Heathen Army was the coalition of Ragnar's sons. They teamed up with each other to seek revenge for their father, Ragnar Lothbrok. A ship of Ragnar got blown off course to the land of Northumbria where he met his final enemy - King Aella. Ragnar lost to the hand of King Aella and got captured. King Aella granted Ragnar his death sentence in a pit full of poisonous snakes. 

When the news of their father's death finally reached the sons, Ragnar's sons vowed to make King Aella pay for what he had done. 

Halfdan on hearing the news gripped the knife so hard that he both broke the knife and cut himself. Bjorn Ironside, another son of Ragnar, held his spear so hard that he left his fingerprint on it. 

The name "The Great Heathen Army" was given to the army by Anglo-Saxons. According to the legend, the army was led by three of Ragnar's sons: Halfdan, Ivar the Boneless, and Bjorn Ironside. 

Ragnar's sons managed to seek revenge for their father. Blood Eagle which was listed as one of the cruellest ways of torture was carried out on King Aella. Blood for blood and they hesitated no second to deprive King Aella of his life. These Norse warriors cut the back of King Aella and bent his ribs out resembling the eagle's wings. 

Blood Eagle on King Aella of Northumbria

Blood Eagle scene in TV series "Vikings'. Ragnar's sons watching King Aella's death 

King of Dublin

Though the Chronicles of Anglo-Saxons didn't tell much about Halfdan, stories about Halfdan Ragnarsson could be found in the Irish texts. 

Ivar the Boneless left the Great Heathen Army to conquer East Anglia. He allegedly became the King of Dublin after the death of King Olaf the White - current king of Dublin. Son of Olaf, Eystein waged war against Ivar to claim the throne and he succeeded. 

Halfdan Ragnarsson felt he had to do something for his brother to retrieve back the throne in Dublin. This motivated him so much to attack the kingdom. 

Though some of the surviving sources didn't tell much about what happened, they mentioned Halfdan defeated Eystein.

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