Ivar the Boneless : History and Overview

5 min read

Ivar the Boneless : History and Overview

Ivar Ragnarson, better known as Ivar the Boneless or "King Berserker" is a legendary Viking warrior. Born around 794, Ivar the Boneless was one of the greatest Viking leaders. He became famous when he became the commander of the Grande Armée. Third son of Ragnar Lothbrok and Aslaug, he lost his life in Dublin in 872.


Ivar the boneless: a very great chef

Together with his brothers and companions, Ivar managed to conquer Denmark, England, Sweden and Ireland.

You surely know Bjorn côte de Fer, a famous character in the Viking series. In this series, Bjorn can be found as the eldest son of Ragnar Lothbrok. However, the historical sagas state that Ivar is older than Bjorn and that he is the son of Aslaug and not Lagertha .

Ivar the Boneless and Ragnar



Ivar differs from Viking warriors, as he is a berserker. What is this ? A berserker is a warrior capable of entering a trance-like state of fury, sometimes uncontrollable, but capable of incredible feats in battle. In Norse mythology, Ivar is considered a fierce and merciless warrior.

Ivar the Boneless vikings



Nevertheless, some accounts and historical sagas see Ivar as his father's most temperate son. Which is completely contradictory with the story, because Ivar is well known for ordering the execution of King Aella by the Blood Eagle ordeal (cutting the person by the ribs and dissecting him on the sides like wings without touching the lung).


Ivar the boneless: the origin of the name

"Ivar the boneless" is indeed a rather mysterious name. Several theories have been claimed regarding the origin of his nickname.

Ivar the Boneless


Several experts in Viking mythology claim that his nickname comes from the fact that Ivar would be powerless. A rather bizarre and very likely theory, as Ivar the Boneless had never married and had no children. Would it be a choice or a handicap? Nobody really knows.
Other experts claim that his name comes from his talent. Ivar was an elite Viking warrior, very talented and very skilled and physically flexible. 'Hattalykill inn' is an ancient poem that describes the great warrior as a man 'having no bones at all'.
There is also the theory of the curse. Indeed, Auslag and Ragnar Lothbrok, Ivar's parents knew that a curse would fall on them if he maintained relations within 3 days of their alliances. This condemnation would have come straight from the gods and unfortunately, they opposed it. Thus, Ivar would have been born with boneless legs, with cartilage instead.
Ivar the Boneless Blood


Ivar is said to have died of a bone-related disease in 873. His death is believed to be due to brittle bone disease, hence the name boneless. Nevertheless, this theory was contradicted in the 80s. Professor Martin Biddle and his wife discovered the remains of a Viking warrior's body, which could well be that of Ivar the boneless. This assumption was based on the fact that the Great Army of which Ivar was the leader often passed through these places during the winter. Additionally, one account claimed that Ivar's corpse is surrounded by the remains of women's bodies and hundreds of warriors. It was a tribute to the status and bravery of this great warrior. This is a theory that endorses the location of the tomb and bone remains of Ivar the Boneless. After some study, Ivar's theory of bone fragility was then contradicted by the professor.


Ivar the Boneless: A Gap Between Saga and Legend

The rivalry between Ivar's mother (Aslaug) and Laghertha is well and truly founded. Indeed, there is no source that could affirm what the Vikings series shows us in season 4. This hatred was probably founded by the directors to spice up the story. Because of this, Ivar never killed Laghertha. Indeed, Laghertha is a character from Norse mythology who is relatively unknown in stories. The life story of this character and the information we have are very rare. Much of the information about Laghertha comes from oral histories, which unfortunately do not mention any relationship between her and Ivar's family.

Ivar the Boneless and floki



The same goes for the relationship between Ivar the Boneless and Floki. In the Viking series, the two characters manage to get closer and to weave a friendship: which does not exist in reality. There is a theory that the two Vikings are 30 years apart. According to history, Ivar would have been born around the year 794 while Floki would have been born in 820, it is a considerable difference. If the two characters had then known each other in real life, there would not be a big difference in age, hence the low probability of a great relationship.

Likewise for Ivar the Boneless and Rollo, the two characters would never have met in real life. Indeed, Ivar would have died in 870, while Rollo would have been born in 860, their chance of having met is completely non-existent.

There is also the story between Bishop Heahmund and Ivar the Boneless. Even if the information around Heahmund seems very real, no historical fact refers to a war between the latter and Ivar the Boneless. According to the story, Heahmund was killed during the Battle of Marton. He fought alongside King Aethelred and Prince Alfred, grandson of King Egbert. They lost the war that pitted them against a Viking army, which was in no way commanded by Ivar the Viking. Some believe the army was commanded by Halfdan Ragnarsson, while others say it was Hvitserk.


Ivar the Boneless: His Father's Death

Several theories circulate concerning the death of Ragnar Lothbrok: a mysterious illness, death during a battle or even the persecution commanded by King Aella. In any case, after his death, his sons promised to avenge their father, stopping at nothing. Bjorn, one of the brothers, gathered the army of the Vikings and then decided to attack the kingdom of Northumbria.

Ivar's reaction was surprising, as he decided to make peace with King Aella and ask him for forgiveness. Even though the king found this ridiculous, Ivar managed to build a city called York. Others assume that York already existed and that Ivar had just taken over the city. Ivar was then considered a clever leader, because thanks to his strategy, he managed to hire several warriors to weaken those of King Aella.

Ivar the Boneless dead



With his troops and those of his brothers, they finally managed to conquer the kingdom of Northumbia to avenge their father. Ivar the boneless then decided to execute King Aella using a ruthless means of torture which is none other than "the blood eagle".

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