Lagertha was a Viking Shield-Maiden who became known for her bravery and for her great fighting skills and war tactics.
She was born in Denmark and married the famous Viking King Ragnar Lothbrok. Thanks to ancient documents such as the cantares de gesta or the creation of documentaries and sagas we can know more about her, although its veracity can be doubtful since it combines reality with legendary facts.
How Lagertha met Ragnar?
Lagertha was born in Denmark, more specifically from Selandia, currently the largest island of the country.
In order to become a great warrior, she went through several stages. It all began when a warlord known as Frodo, conquered Norway around the year 840, and killed the Jarl Siward, who, at that time, was the ruler.
After this, the conqueror sent all the women who had family ties with the old jarl to a brothel where they would be raped by all the men who desired it.
It was there that Ragnar Lothbrok, upon learning of the murder, traveled to the city of Selandia to bring justice to the jarl, who was apparently Ragnar's grandfather.
While confronting Frodo with his army, the female brothel inmates managed to escape by disguising themselves in male attire. Some decided to join the battle as is the case of Lagertha who wanted to finish off the invader.
In the battle she caused a great impact due to her bravery and strength. It was in that moment when Ragnar, her future husband, fell in love with her.
After the great battle against Frodo, Ragnar tried to marry Lagertha, but she did not make it easy for him.
As a Viking woman, she had the courage of a man, fighting at the front among the bravest, with her long hair over her shoulders.
Everyone was amazed at her unsurpassed feats, for the locks of hair falling down her back revealed her womanhood.
There is a myth which says that, in order to ask for her hand, she left at her door a fierce dog and a large wild bear.
The warlord, finding these animals at his door, first strangled the dog and then killed the bear. He opened the door and asked her to marry him.
Gesta Danorum cites a son named Fridleif, and two daughters, but that common descent does not appear in any other account or saga.
Ragnar's and Lagertha's Divorce
Ragnar Lothbrok on one of his trips to Sweden met the beautiful Queen Aslaug. After this, they broke up their marriage and Lagertha returned home. Despite the breakup both maintained good relationship, even in the civil war she returned to Denmark where Ragnar was to support her with a large fleet of 120 ships, but she was not his only help because close alliances in Vestfold and Angeln.
Her role was decisive in achieving victory in the hard-fought battle known as the Battle of Laneus not only because of her great skills of warfare but also because of her tactical maneuvers. They consisted in surrounding the enemy at the least expected moment.
After the harsh war, there are several theories as she returned to Norway where she killed her future husband taking advantage of the conjugal moment, or killed him with a spearhead hidden in her inner thighs after falling out with him. In both cases she ends up becoming Jarl.
Historical Sources about Lagertha
Lagertha's history is known thanks to several Norse sagas which were transmitted orally and were modified over time, so it is not possible to state with certainty its historicity.
It can be said that it is a mixture of reality with features of Norse mythology. The most famous text that tells the story of Lagertha is Gesta Danorum which had sixteen volumes of which the ninth is of interest, where it is commented that our protagonist had knowledge of Latin and the great classics apart from her history.
It was published around the twelfth century by a Scotsman, Saxo Grammaticus, who played the role of the Nordic troubadours of the time. The text is narrated from a Christian point of view.
This is striking since the Vikings were pagans. It should be taken into account that these songs do not tell the true story as they were modified by the way of narrating.
Lagertha in Popular Culture
Like many historical characters, series, movies, documentaries, and books have been created about the famous Norse warriors and they certainly exist about Lagertha. One of the most popular references is the series co-produced between Canada and Ireland Vikings, created in 2013, for the television channel History.
In it we can see all the typical characteristics of Lagertha, both her warrior skills and her strategic tactics as well as her physical and mental strength. In the series she is represented by the actress Katheryn Winnick.