Viking Tale: When Step Mother Sought Revenge for Stepson
Aslaug was a second wife of Ragnar Lothbrok a great Viking hero. They had many famous sons namely Ivar the Boneless, Bjorn Ironside, or Halfdan Ragnarsson who formed the Great Viking Heathen Army. Prior to Aslaug, Ragnar had a wife and kids (Eirik and Agnar). However, these two sons met their demise at younger years. On hearing the death of stepsons, Aslaug declared war against the killer without Ragnar's permission.
Aslaug called for her great sons and sailed to the kingdom of the killer to make him pay for what he had done.
Ragnar's first sons attacked Ragnar's friend
In the Tale of Ragnar Lothbrok, the first wife of Ragnar was Thora a beautiful woman. They produced two sons, Eirik and Agnar. However, their beautiful mother passed away when they were just kids. Then Ragnar married to his second wife, Aslaug. This new wife was not only beautiful but also mysterious as she was a volva who could predict the future. Aslaug took the responsibility of taking care of all Ragnar's sons including Eirik and Agnar.
Aslaug and Ragnar Lothbrok (Cre: "Vikings" TV Series)
On one occasion, Ragnar was away from home for his raids and quest for new land. Ragnar had a trusted friend named Bele who was also a King. He entrusted his family to Bele while he was away. Bele carried on very well until Eirik and Agnar caused problems. Eirik son of Ragnar claimed that he wanted to marry a daughter of Bele. Of course, this was not a love orientated purpose but politically motivated. Eirik demanded that Ragnar's sons would rule over the upper part of Sweden.
This triggered off the wrath of local chieftains and war was just on the threshold. War broke out and Agnar was killed while Eirik was captured.
King Bele wanted to spare a life but Eirik refused
Eirik was captured and of course, he was likely to be executed right away for bringing on revolt. But King Bele was merciful and a friend of Ragnar Lothbrok, he decided to spare Eirik a life. He also offered Eirik his daughter and fortune to make up for the loss of his beloved brother.
However, Eirik was kinda traditional Viking man who held dear the values of his ancestors. He refused everything that King Belle offered. How could he accept something at the cost of his brother's life? How could he ally with his brother's killer? If he had done so, he would have had no room up in Valhalla where Odin welcomed the brave warriors only.
Eirik's last wish was to die in a battle and his body would be laid down with his fallen brothers. And for this, the Valkyries (Odin's female helping spirits) would pick him to Valhalla. His wish was granted.
Before Eirik died, a message was sent back home to inform what had happened. And the moment Aslaug reached the letter, Eirik was no more. This stepson believed his stepmother would seek revenge for his and his brother's death. And he was right.
After assembling her sons for this revenge, they set sail to the kingdom of King Bele. She led 1,500 warriors to crash the gate of King Bele's fort. When the two armies met, war broke out. It lasted for couples of hours until King Bele was defeated and his army surrendered.
Ragnar Lothbrok didn't appreciate the revenge
Instead of appreciating what his woman had done, Ragnar showed his anger. He was frustrated because his wife had done something behind his back (without him knowing it).
According to some scholars, Ragnar feared that what Aslaug and their sons had done would overshadow his raiding conquering achievements. Deep inside this father was a great fear that his sons would be the better versions of him. This isn't a new thing in the Viking Saga. On one hand, the father hoped his sons to become the best warriors. Yet, he was afraid that his sons would achieve more than him, being more famous than him.
With this anger, Ragnar decided he would travel to England and conquer some new land. Despite Aslaug's warning, Ragnar still carried on travelling to England where he met his demise. There, Ragnar was captured by King Aella of Northumbria an Anglo-Saxon kingdom back then. King Aella sentenced Ragnar to death in a hole full of snakes to insult Ragnar. On his death, Ragnar expressed his joy when knowing he was going to join Odin in Valhalla and his sons would seek revenge on King Aella. And Ragnar was right as Ragnar's sons formed the Heathen Army for revenge.
Ragnar's death and King Aella of Northumbria (Cre: "Vikings")