Did the Vikings have a king?
The ocean merchants and pirates who invaded and occupied various regions of northwestern Europe between the eighth and eleventh centuries are known as Vikings.
During this period of Scandinavian expansion, the Vikings came from Norway, Sweden and Denmark. As merchants, they attacked, occupied and settled in Russia, France, Iceland, the Netherlands, Finland, England and Greenland.
Names of Viking Kings who manage the Norse
Scandinavia was rich in iron, and it was thanks to iron tools that they could much more easily and efficiently clear forests and plough their land and thus get better yields and prosper. Their population grew considerably and they needed more land and resources.
With this in mind, they used their ships (drakkars) to quickly attack and capture pieces of land from different locations. Combined and organized as they were, they used their skills to develop new settlements.
1. Ragnar Lodbrok
- Name: Ragnar Lodbrok (Ragnarr Loðbrók in Old Norse)
- Nickname: Hairy Pitch Ragnar
- Date and place of birth: -
- Date and place of death: 865, Northumbria (England)
- Sons of: Sigurd Hring [legendary king].
- Children: Ivar Ragnarsson, Björn I, Hvitserk Ragnarsson, Ubbe Ragnarsson, Halfdan I, Sigurd Snake Eye are the most famous
Semi-legendary king of Sweden and Denmark, who would have reigned at an indeterminate time between 750 and 865 and would have wreaked havoc in Europe around the middle of the 9th century.
2. Björn Ironside
- Name: Björn Ragnarsson, Björn I
- Nickname: Björn Ironside (Björn Járnsíða in Old Norse)
- Date and place of birth: -
- Date and place of death: 876, Sweden
- Sons of: Ragnar Lodbrok & Aslaug or Thora Borgarthiort
- Children: Eric II Björnsson, Refil Björnsson, Áslákr Björnsson
At the head of numerous expeditions in Western Francia, England and as far as the Mediterranean, with the complicity of the Norwegian chef Hasting.
3. Ivar the Boneless
- Name: Ivar Ragnarsson
- Nickname: Ivar the Boneless (Ivarr inn Beinlausi in Old Norse)
- Date and place of birth: -
- Date and place of death: 870, Ireland
- Sons of: Ragnar Lodbrok & Aslaug
- Children: Sichfrith Ivarsson?
One of the Viking chiefs who led the conquest of Danelaw in England at the end of the 9th century and reigned with his brothers over much of Denmark, Sweden, England and Ireland.
Discover More about Ivar the Boneless here
He has the reputation of being a berserker, hence his title of "King Berserker".
According to Clare Downham's research, Ivar Ragnarsson would be Ivar or Ímar, king of Dublin and founder of the Uí Ímair dynasty.
4. Rollo of Normandy
Statue of Rollon in Rouen - Sculpture: Arsène Letellier (1863)
- Name: Hrólfr, Rollon, Robert I the Wealthy
- Nickname: Rolf the Walker (Göngu-Hrólfr in old Icelandic)
- Date and place of birth: ~ 850, Norway or Denmark
- Date and place of death: ~932, Rouen (France)
- Sons of: Ragnvald Eysteinsson & Ragnhilde
- Children: Guillaume Longue-Épée, Adèle of Normandy
Founder by the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte of what will become the duchy of Normandy.
Discover More about Rollo of Normandy here
As Earl of the Normans, founder of the lineage of the Dukes of Normandy.
5. Harald FairHair
Harald with beautiful hair - Illustration: Flateyjarbok
- Name: Harald I of Norway
- Nickname: Harald with the Beautiful Hair (Haraldr hárfagri in Old Norse)
- Date and place of birth: 850, Vestfold (Norway)
- Date and place of death: 933, Rogaland (Norway)
- Sons of: Halfdan 'the Black' Gudrødsson & Ragnhild Sigurdsdatter
- Children: 23 children including Eric with the Bloody Axe and Haakon the Good.
First king of Norway (872-931), he unified the country thanks to his victory at the battle of Hafrsfjord, near Stavanger.
Founder of the Ynglingar dynasty.
6. Eric with the Bloody Axe
Denier of King Eric with the Bloody Axe discovered in York
- Name: Eric I of Norway (Eirik Haraldsson, in Old Norse)
- Nickname: Eric with the Bloody Axe (Eiríkr blóðöx, in Old Norse)
- Date and place of birth: 885, Norway
- Date and place of death: 954, Cumbria (England)
- Sons of: Harald I of Norway & Ragnhild Eiriksdotter
- Children: Ragnvald, Gamle (Gorm), Guttorm, Harald II of Norway, Ragnfred, Erling, Gudrod, Sigurd Sleva and Ragnhild
Successor to Harald I on the throne of Norway, he beheaded his 18 brothers, except Haakon the Good who was in England.
He reigned over the kingdom of York from 948 to 949 and from 952 to 954, when he died in battle at the Battle of Stainmore.
7. Haakon the Good
Statue of Haakon the Good in the park of Fitjar - Sculpture: Anne Grimdalen 1961
- Name: Haakon I of Norway (Håkon Adalsteinsfostre, in Old Norse)
- Nickname: Haakon the Good (Håkon góði, in Old Norse)
- Date and place of birth: 918, Hordaland (Norway)
- Date and place of death: 961, Vestland (Norway)
- Sons of: Harald I of Norway & Tora Mosterstong
- Children: none
Third king of Norway, the only survivor of the fratricide committed by Eric with the Bloody Axe, raised by the English king Æthelstan.
If he did not succeed in imposing Christianity, he merged Christian Christmas with the Midtvintersblot ("mid-winter festival"), where the elf Julenisse distributed gifts.
Although victorious, he died of his wounds at the Battle of Fitjar.
8. Gorm the Elder
3D reconstruction of the skull of Gorm the Elder - Photo: Marie Louise Jørkov
- Name: Gorm
- Nickname: Gorm the Elder (Gorm den gamle in Danish)
- Date and place of birth: ~ 900, Denmark
- Date and place of death: 958, Jelling (Denmark)
- Sons of: Hardeknut & unknown
- Children: Knut Gormsson 'Danaast', Harald with the Blue Tooth, Gunhild Kongemor, Torke
Successor to the Danish throne around 936, he was the first to call himself "King" of Denmark. He was also the first to refer to his country as "Denmark".
The first historically documented member of the Jelling Dynasty, he had the Jelling Stone erected in memory of his wife Thyra Danebod.
9. Harald BlueTooth
Harald with Blue Tooth baptized by Poppon - Photo: 13th century gilded copper plate from the Tamdrup Church in the National Museum of Copenhagen
- Name: Harald Gormsson, Harald I of Denmark
- Nickname: Harald with the Blue Tooth (Harald Blåtand in Danish)
- Date and place of birth: ~ 910, Denmark
- Date and place of death: 986, Jomsborg, Germany
- Sons of: Gorm the Elder & Thyra of Denmark
- Children: Haakon, Gunhild, Thyra, Sven with Forked Beard
Successor to Gorm the Elder, he unified the kingdom and conquered southern Norway. Converted to Christianity, he imposed the new religion throughout his kingdom and had churches built.
Five large circular fortresses discovered in Denmark were built during his reign.
10. Sven Forkedbeard
Sven with the Forked Beard - English illustration of the XIIIth century preserved at the library of the University of Cambridge
- Name: Sven I
- Nickname: Sven with Forked Beard (Svend Tveskæg in Danish)
- Date and place of birth: ~ 960, Denmark
- Date and place of death: February 3, 1014 Gainsborough (England)
- Sons of: Harald with the Blue Tooth & Æsa-Saum 'la Couturière' (The Seamstress)
- Children: Harald II Svensson, Knut the Great, Gyda, Estrid of Denmark
Successor to Harald I towards the end of 986 or the beginning of 987, he extended the kingdom of Denmark and Norway to England.
He was the first Danish monarch to have coins minted in his effigy, under the inscription "Zven, Rex ad Dener" (Sven, King of the Danes).
11. Olaf Tryggvason
Statue of Olav Tryggvason in Trondheim - Sculpture: Wilhelm Rasmussen (1921)
- Name: Olaf Tryggvason (Óláfr Tryggvason, in Old Norse)
- Nickname: -
- Date and place of birth: ~ 963, southern Norway
- Date and place of death: 1000, Novège
- Sons of: Tryggve Olafsson & Thyra from Denmark
- Children: Tryggvi Olafsson
First a slave in Estonia, then a warrior in the Rus' of Kiev, he went on an expedition to the Baltic Sea and then to the British Isles.
Baptized in 994 and king of Norway from 995 until his defeat at the battle of Svolder in the year 1000, he undertook the forced Christianization of the country and the annexed lands.
Founder of the town of Nidaros (now Trondheim), he built the first church in Norway.
12. Cnut the Great
Cnut the Great represented in the illumination of a medieval manuscript
- Name: Knut Sveinsson
- Nickname: Knut the Great (Knud den Store in Danish)
- Date and place of birth: 994, Denmark
- Date and place of death: November 12, 1035, Shaftesbury (England)
- Sons of: Sven Forked Beard & Gunhild
- Children: Sven Knutsson, Harold Harefoot, Hardeknut, Gunhild
Monarch conqueror of the kingdom of England in 1016, king of Denmark in 1018 and sovereign of Norway in 1028, he founded what is called "the Danish Empire".
According to a legend, the extent of his power was such that he was able to order the rising tide to turn back.
13. Olaf Harldsson - Saint Olaf
Statue of St Olaf in Stiklestad - Sculpture: Dyre Vaa (1973)
- Name: Olav Haraldson, Olaf II from Norway
- Nickname: Olfa the Fat One, Olaf the Holy One
- Date and place of birth: ~ 995, Ringerike (Norway)
- Date and place of death: July 29, 1030, Stiklestad, Germany
- Sons of: Harald Grenske & Åsta Gudbrandsdatter
- Children: Wulfhilde of Norway, Magnus I of Norway
King of Norway from 1015 (date on which he took back Norway from Denmark) to 1028. He made Nidaros (now Trondheim) his capital. He annexed Greenland in 1023.
Great legislator of the Church in Norway, baptized in Rouen by the brother of a Duke of Normandy, he replaced the old sacred places with churches, and brought in bishops and priests from England.
Driven out of Nidaros by Knut the Great, he died on the battlefield at Stiklestad while trying to regain his kingdom after two years of exile.
14. Harald Hardrada
Statue of King Harald the Ruthless on the facade of Oslo City Hall - Sculpture: Anne Grimdalen (1950)
- Name: Harald Sigurdsson
- Nickname: Harald the Ruthless or the Severe (Haraldr harðráði in Old Norse), the Northern Lightning, or the last of the Vikings.
- Date and place of birth: ~1015, Ringerike (Norway)
- Date and place of death: 25 September 1066
- Sons of: Sigurðr Syr Halvdanson & Åsta Gudbrandsdatter
- Children: Maria, Ingegerd, Magnus, Olaf Kyrre
Exceptional warrior, he distinguished himself from the age of 15 on the battlefield of Stiklestad. Left in exile, he became chief of the Varangian Guard in Constantinople.
King of Norway from 1046 to his death, and founder of the city of Oslo according to Snorri, he was an unpopular monarch because of his authoritarianism.
Discover More about Harald Hardrada here
He launched several naval campaigns to try to conquer Denmark, in vain. Candidate for the succession to the throne of England, he died in battle at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.
15. William the Conqueror
Statue of William the Conqueror in Falaise - Sculpture: Louis Rochet
- Name: William I of England, William II of Normandy
- Nickname: William the Bastard, William the Conqueror
- Date and place of birth: 1027 or 1028, Falaise (France)
- Date and place of death: 9 September 1087, Rouen (France)
- Sons of: Robert the Magnificent & Arlette de Falaise
- Children: Robert II, Richarde Normandy, Adelaide of Normandy, Cecile of Normandy, William II, Constance of Normandy, Adelaide of Normandy, Henry I
Duke of Normandy from 1035 until his death, and King of England following his victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, until his death.
The year 1066 marks the end of the Viking Age.