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The popular History series Vikings is run by Ragnar Lothbrok, the main character who is a Viking that set his eyes on England. Vikings is inspired by historical events. In The Last Kingdom we follow Uhtred, son of Uhtred. A Saxon born, Danish adopted warrior who takes on the name Uhtred Ragnarson, referring to his Danish step-dad. The Last Kingdom is based on the novels by Bernard Cornwell (The Saxon Stories -- definitely worth a read!). Cornwell brilliantly mixes historical facts with some fictional elements and characters.

We know that The Last Kingdom takes place in the not-yet-established England in a time where Alfred ruled Wessex. This means, it can be brought back to the last decades of the 9th century. I believe that Vikings can be set in the same time span. As documented here, late 9th century was marked by a Viking view of England as "a place to colonize, to settle" and not to merely raid.

If these two series are taking place in the same time span, the question is: what is the connection between Ragnar, the main character in Vikings, and Ragnar, the stepfather of Uhtred? Are they the same person? Is the one an ancestor of the other?

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    I don't know the answer, but it seems like what you are asking is, "is the fictional character Uhtred Ragnok from The Last Kindgom, inspired by the historical figure Ragnar Lothbrok?" Is that accurate? Do you have a hypothesis? I could talk about the ties that the name Ragnar has to Nordic lore but that doesn't seem to be what you are looking for. – sanpaco Nov 27 '15 at 10:34
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    @sanpaco No, not quite. Though it could lead to that conclusion. I presumed that Cornwell got his inspiration from a historical source, but as I just found out this is only partially so. My original intention was to figure out that if both personas were historically more or less accurate, and based on true people, how would the family relationship between the two be. However, with this new information I probably should close or edit the question. I'll have to think about it. – Bram Vanroy Nov 27 '15 at 12:41
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    They aren't related (Ragnar Ravnson is fictional), but Ragnar's (presumed) sons do feature very prominently in The Last Kingdom: Ubba, Ivar and Halfdan Lothbrokson are the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok. Uhtred has killed Ubba, and Ragnar Ravnson served Ivar. – Jon Story Jan 12 '16 at 16:19
  • Vikings took liberties with history....Rollo and Ragnar Lothbrook were never brothers; their lives never crossed. Rollo was a Viking and the 'founding father' if you wish, to the Normans in approx 918-921 AD, and did protect France from Viking raids, years after Ragnar died in approx 865. – user34006 Apr 29 '16 at 21:31
  • One real character common to both series is Alfred the Great, who we see as a young boy in Vikings and as King of Wessex in The Last Kingdom. – faintsignal Dec 14 '16 at 5:14
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There's no direct connection

Note: This post is spoiler heavy, and using spoiler tags would make it rather cumbersome. If you don't wish to find spoilers, this probably isn't the answer for you.

Ragnar from "The Last Kingdom" is Ragnar Ravnson. Ravn being his father. Ravn is the blind man Uhtred meets and cuts food for shortly after being captured. Ragnar and his father Ravn (along with Ragnar's sons, Ragnar Ragnarson and Rorik Ragnarson, and his daughter Thyra Ragnarsdottir) are fictional characters who are not claimed to be in any way related to Ragnar Lothbrok.

The similar names are a coincidence because of common names (or more likely, not a coincidence: Ragnar was a fairly common name in Denmark in the 5th-10th century), and the creator of the Saxon Stories likely took the name from the stories of the "real" Ragnar Lothbrok.

  • Ragnar Ravnson is Ragnar, son of Ravn
  • Ragnar Lothbrok is Ragnar, and Lothbrock is actually a nickname

In both cases, we'd expect their sons to be called Ragnarson/Ragnarsson, as Nordic naming convention at the time used that style.

So no, they aren't related.

However

Ragnar Lothbrok's family features prominently in "The Last Kingdom"... just not the ones you were thinking of.

Ubba Lothbrokson. The guy Uhtred kills beside the sea in Wales, is Ragnar Lothbrok's son. He and his brothers Ivar and Halfdan led the Great Heathen Army which invaded Britian in the time of Alfred the Great. We'll see more of Ivar in the next series of the show.

Note that in the Saxon Stories the brothers are referred to as either Ubba/Ivar/Halfdan, or occasionally "Ubba Lothbrokson" etc. Typically we'd expect them to be called "Ubba Ragnarsson" etc, rather than "Lothbrokson", but I assume this would have been confusing considering we had another prominent Ragnar in the same stories, and with Uhtred calling himself Uhtred Ragnarson, along with Ragnar Ragnarson. It appears that the author of the books decided, to avoid confusion, to go with the "Lothbrokson" convention, rather than the more historically accurate but potentially confusing "Ragnarson" convention.

Note that in reality we aren't actually certain whether Ubba, Ivar and Halfdan were brothers, nor whether they were Ragnar Lothbrok's (sometimes written Lodbrok) sons. However in The Last Kingdom, Bernard Cornwell (the author of the Saxan Stories) decided to run with the idea that they are.

The sons of Ragnar Lothbrok

  • Ivar The Boneless: The fictional Ragnar, who captured Uhtred, served Ivar. We'll see more of him next season, I assume. Ivar is the most likely of the three "brothers" we see in the Uhtred stories (Ubba/Ivar/Halfdan) to actually be real and also be related to Ragnar Lothbrok, along with Sigurd and Bjorn who are not seen in the Last Kingdom series. If Ragnar existed in the way that is believed, Ivar was his son. He was certainly the son of someone called Ragnar, but we aren't sure how accurate the legends of his father are.
  • Ubba: Uhtred just killed him. Definitely existed, and led the Great Heathen Army with Ivar and Halfdan but we aren't sure if he's related to Ragnar Lothbrok and Ivar.
  • Halfdan: I believe Halfdan is in Ireland at this stage of the Last Kingdom series (at least, he is in the books). He invaded Northumbria with Ubba and Ivar in the attack that took York (Jorvik/Eoferwic, the capital of Northumbria). Uhtred's father died shortly after this while attempting to re-take York. As with Ubba, he definitely existed but we aren't sure if he's related to Ragnar or Ivar
  • Bjorn Ironside: Never believed to have invaded or spent much time in England, or at least if he did he's ignored by Bernard Cornwell in the Uhtred stories. Spent time raiding France and Italy. Along with Sigurd, almost certainly did exist and, if Ragnar existed, was probably related to him.
  • Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye: Attacked Northumbria along with some of his brothers, but then we aren't sure exactly what happened to him. Doesn't feature much in the Uhtred stories, but is referred to. We're fairly sure he existed, although he's the only of the sons with a question mark there.

In short, we're fairly confident all 5 of the "sons" existed, and we're fairly sure that a "Ragnar" existed, who was Ivar's father.

Things get a bit blurry after that. Was Ragnar the man we see in these stories, or was he "just" Ivar's father, and a more typical man? Ivar is almost certainly related to him, with Sigurd and Bjorn being less certain but quite likely. Ubba and Halfdan are bigger question marks - they may be related to Ivar, or something may have gotten lost in translation over whether they were blood related or more of a "brothers in arms" type of relationship.

Either way, as the father of 1, 3, or 5 of the most influential viking Jarl's, Ragnar's likely to have had some... embellishments... made to his character and achievements.

Interesting side-note: It wasn't Ragnar who pulled the "pretend to be dead, ask to be buried in a Christian graveyard" trick, it was his (probable) son Bjorn Ironside, during his raids in Italy: he used it to gain entry to the town of Lucca.

So why don't things quite match up?

There's a clear overlap between the two stories, but why are some characters missing? Well partly because both series embellish their stories, change history a little etc - simply because there is not much written history (from the Danish side, at least) at this time. So while there's a lot of overlap, they both ignore some of the legends while acknowledging other parts. This leads to some inconsistencies (such as Sigurd, who in Vikings will raid Northumbria, while in the Saxon Stories will practically be ignored). The lack of Danish written history makes it hard to know anything with much certainty: there's a surprisingly comprehensive written history on the "English" (which didn't exist yet)/Saxon side, but by it's very nature that history is susceptible to being second hand, hearsay/rumour or mistranslated/misunderstood.

We don't even know for sure that Ragnar Lothbrok existed (Ragnar Ravnson, on the other hand, definitely being fictional). He probably did, but much of what we know are unconfirmed stories. Legend has is that Ubba, Ivar and Halfdan (who all definitely did exist and led the Great Heathen Army) were his sons, but we aren't sure. We also aren't sure if they were all his sons, his only sons or whether he had others. We believe that Bjorn Ironside (who definitely existed) was his son, and there's suggestion that at least some of Ubba/Ivar/Halfdan were too.

So what happened is that Vikings made up some of the life of Ragnar Lothbrok (Who may or may not have existed), and The Last Kingdom made up some of the life of Ubba/Ivar/Halfdan, while assuming that they were indeed related to Ragnar and were brothers of Bjorn Ironside etc. Between the two, they put together a story that's grounded in history, but probably only half right.

In short, we've got two partially-fictional series about some people we don't actually know much about. The stories overlap, although we aren't totally sure if the characters they're based on overlapped in the same way.

  • @JonStory What an amazing answer with great historical information! I just want to ask you to consider marking as "spoiler" the parts where you tell that [SPOILER] Uthred kills Ubba [/SPOILER], because that is purely fiction and an important part of the series' story. – João Victor Oliveira May 9 '17 at 18:29
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    @JoãoVictorOliveira I think adding spoilers everywhere necessary would probably mean the majority of my post being covered in Spoiler tags which might be a little excessive. I take your point, though, and have added a note to the top of the answer, though, so that those who wish to avoid spoilers can do so. I would add the spoiler tag to that section, but it doesn't appear to work (at least, not in my preview) – Jon Story May 10 '17 at 9:35
  • @JonStory Thanks for considering! I pointed just that specifically part of the answer because it is just in this story, and the rest is History. Anyway, now everyone who'll read this amazing answer is advised :) – João Victor Oliveira May 11 '17 at 11:23
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I think that Vikings takes place a bit before The Last Kingdom. Why? Well in Vikings, Athelstan had a son, did he not? That son is to become Alfred the Great, but in the show he is just a baby. In "The Last Kingdom", Alfred is well into adulthood. So it could take place a good twenty years+ after the last we've seen of Vikings.

  • Sophia, I agree completely with you. You made a great observation! I would like to add that in the Last kingdom, Ivar is actually the king of Northumbia, history fact that is about to happen in Vikings. – Ruth Busto Oct 9 '17 at 15:45
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Ragnar Lodbrok (legendary - probably real but embellished in history) was a founding father of the viking raiders and settlers in England and France.

Ragnar Ravnson (fictional) was the adoptive father of Uhtred (also fictional) in Bernard Cornwell's books.

Ragnar Lodbrok had a number of sons, including Bjorn, Ivar, Halfdan, and Ubba (kinda maybe). The sons led a great Viking invasion into England after Ragnar's death. Uhtred ends up fighting/killing some of them in the Last Kingdom books. The books are set during the reigns of King Alfred and his son King Edward in England.

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protected by Community Oct 9 '17 at 16:55

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