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Lagertha: The Viking Shield-Maiden

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Lagertha: The Viking Shield-Maiden


The story of Lagertha Lothbrok

The story of Lagertha, the legendary Viking warrior, is told by the Danish historian, Saxo. An emblematic figure of Norse myths, the maid with the shield, played by actress Katheryn Winnick on the screen in the Viking TV Show, also marks the minds and conquers the hearts of fans.

Who is she really? What is there to remember?

Is Lagertha based on a real person?

The story of Lagertha, a young Danish Viking warrior from present-day Norway, was told by a monk and historian of the 12th century Danish medieval period, Saxo.


It is possible that the stories about her are close to a goddess of the Aesir in Norse mythology, Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr.

In his writings, Saxo spoke of Lathgertha, most certainly a Latinized name of Hladgerd, whose origin goes back to the first written traces of the Scandinavian language of the Middle Ages, Old Norse.

In English writings, this legendary Viking warrior is called Lagertha, Ladgertha or Lagerda.


It is in the 9th volume of the Gesture of the Danes, the work of Saxo Grammaticus and the first writing whose influence has marked Danish literature, that we find the history of Lagertha Lothbrok

The young woman's warrior career is rooted in the invasion of Norway by Frø, the King of Sweden, who, after having killed Synardus, the King of Norway, imposes on the women of the royal family to integrate a house clause in order to inflict a punishment on them.


Having learned the news, Ragnar Lodbrok, the grandson of Synardus, undertakes to come and avenge the death of his grandfather.

During this time, some women forced to be sexually abused on the orders of Frø, dressed in men's clothes and bring their support to Ragnar Lodbrok in his fight.

Among them, Lagertha, a major figure in Ragnar's victory.

Lagertha is described by Saxo as a gifted Amazon, endowed with the courage of a man, knowing how to show bravery.


A woman with long and free hair, the only elements of her person that betray the fact that she is a woman.

Ragnar falls under the spell of the young woman and decides to send messengers to woo her.

Feigning an interest in the semi-legendary king, Lagertha decides to protect herself from her suitor by tying a dog and a bear at the entrance to her home.

Arriving in front of Lagertha's house, Ragnar kills the bear with a spear and suffocates the dog.


He marries Lagertha with whom he has three children: a son (Fridleid) and two daughters.

The memory of the fight with the animals in front of Lagertha's house leaves Ragnar with a bitter taste, so much so that he divorces to marry the daughter of the King of Sweden, Thora Town-Hart.

After some ups and downs, he returned to Denmark and found himself confronted with a civil war.


He turns to Lagertha to ask her to come to his rescue in Norway and the young woman, still in love with him, accepts, calling on 120 ships to win the battle.

Although victorious, Lagertha returns to Norway and, in an argument with Ragnar, she kills him with a spear hidden in her clothes.


Why did Lagertha kill her husband?

According to Saxo, Lagertha took advantage of the situation to usurp her husband's name and sovereignty.

The personality of Lagertha Lothbrok

The virgin with the shield, Lagertha Lothbrok, fights alongside her male counterparts and shows a special interest in battle.

Like her late husband, Ragnar Lothbrok, she has an adventurous side and, above all, a fierce ambition and desire to rule.


Although physically very gifted, Lagertha Lothbrok is also a loving person to her loved ones, Ragnar included, but also Bjorn ironside, her surviving child, her deceased daughter Gyda, her friends and allies.

She is also empathetic to non-Nordic people, mainly because she is protecting an Anglo-Saxon woman in Hexham, Northumberland, England, from being raped by Knut, a half-brother of the late Earl Haraldsson.

While using power wisely and with great respect for justice, Lagertha can be particularly intractable with those she considers her enemies.

Presented as a sometimes impulsive woman, Lagertha never hesitates to attack anyone who stands in her way, never seeming to consider the consequences of her actions beforehand.

The murder of Knut, in order to prevent her from committing rape, is a good example of this personality trait.

Lagertha is very attached to children.

The prophecy of a seer, who told her that she would have no more children than Bjorn and Gyda, was considered dangerous by Ragnar, because it caused Lagertha to take unhealthy and unreasonable risks during her pregnancy, the young woman seeking to "prove" that the prophecies were correct.

One of Lagertha Lothbrok's personality traits is darker: her hypocrisy.

Although she has a background in agriculture, she refuses to let the citizens of Karregat go to Iceland to cultivate in peace, which is what Ragnar wanted for the northern people.

Moreover, despite her hatred of rape, she herself commits the rape of Harald Finehair in order to prove her sexual dominance to him.

Finally, she accuses Ivar the boneless, son of Ragnar Lodbrok and Aslaug, of being a usurper when she herself was a usurper, Ivar having full rights to the throne since the divorce between Lagertha and Ragnar leads, for the legendary warrior, to the loss of all rights to the throne.

Lagertha in the Viking TV Show


On screen, Canadian actress Katheryn Winnick plays the warrior Lagertha in the Viking series.

This strong-willed woman wields the sword as well as men and, throughout the various episodes, she grows up humanely, breaks her union with Ragnar, busy with other conquests, while doing her utmost to protect her people and Kattegat from the enemy.


Lagertha becomes Jarl and then queen, giving herself body and soul in the fights to save her own interests, but also to help Ragnar and his son, Bjorn.

Season 6 (Death and the Snake) marks a heartbreaking sequence for fans of the Viking series.

In this final season, even if Lagertha's death is inevitable, it is no less upsetting.

Katheryn Winnick

The Viking warrior has become an elderly woman, but nevertheless remains a charismatic character to whom actress Katheryn Winnick lends her face and body, transforming herself to the rhythm of the episodes.

Seriously injured after killing the leader of the outcasts, Lagertha returns to Kattegat and arrives at Hvitserk's home.

Who killed Lagertha and why?

Seriously injured after killing the leader of the outcasts, Lagertha returns to Kattegat and arrives at Hvitserk's home.

The latter confuses her with Ivar and a snake, and stabs her.


Lagertha dies of her wounds.

The following episode (The Ice Maiden) marks the funeral of the woman, a mythical character from the Viking series.


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