'Vikings' Season 4 Return: How Do Ragnar's Adult Sons Stack Up?

THR breaks down how the newly grown-up characters fared in history and the "big issues" ahead for the family.
Bernard Walsh/A+E Networks

When History’s Vikings went dark on the first half of its fourth season, the show jumped forward in time to reveal Ragnar Lothbrok’s (Travis Fimmel) sons all grown up. Ragnar, who had disappeared following a hard defeat to his brother Rollo (Clive Standen) in Paris, returned to find that Kattegat had not only changed in his absence, but also that his five sons now had aspirations and dreams of their own.

Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) had become a community leader of sorts; Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith), Sigurd (David Lindstron) and Hvitserk (Marco Islo) were deeply sensitive to their father’s departure; and Ivar (Alex Hogh) had managed to carve out a life for himself without the use of his legs. The reveal was just the beginning of this new Vikings chapter, according to creator and showrunner Michael Hirst.

Vikings has always been about a family; it is literally a family saga about Ragnar and his sons,” he tells THR ahead of the drama's midseason return. “It was so important for me to choose a central character who had a lot of sons that could take the story forward when the time came.”

When the series returns Wednesday, it becomes a launchpad for some of these new stories featuring characters who eventually went on to become more famous than Ragnar Lothbrok; something the famed Viking leader historically always feared would happen in regard to his offspring.

“Ragnar's fear that his sons would become more famous than he was of course came true in at least a couple of instances,” Hirst says. “At least two of his sons around the world and certainly in Scandinavia were more famous than Ragnar himself. So we are setting up a lot of things here, but we are also talking about family dynamics…how children respond to the disappearance and reappearance of the father they thought was dead and believed was disgraced. There are quite a lot of big issues there.”

In order to set up the back half of the season and these new adult sons, here is a brief rundown of how the boys eventually stacked up in history.

Hvitserk

Although Hvitserk himself didn’t necessarily do much in the history books, scholars feel it’s important to note that he is never mentioned in the same passages as Halfdan Ragnarsson, and so it’s believed they are the same person. Ragnarsson (which literally sounds like Ragnar’s son) went on to become one of the commanders of the Great Heathen Army that invaded the kingdoms in England and eventually became the first Viking King of Northumbria.

Sigurd “Snake-in-the-Eye”

This man was referred to as “Snake-in-the-Eye” because of a mark on his eye that was supposedly prophesied by his mother before he was born. Like his brothers, he became great in battle and eventually went on to rule over areas in Norway, Denmark and Sweden, and is now said to be an ancestor to a line of Danish kings. Details surrounding his eventual death are sketchy, but it’s said he died a “Blood Eagle” death, which Vikings has featured on the show before.

Ubbe

Although their relationship on the show may be a tumultuous one at the outset, Ubbe and Ivar went on to conquer many territories together. Ubbe wasn’t as famous as his brother, but his may have been a voice of reason to Ivar’s brutal ways. He went on to lead the Danish Viking army and helped to take over the kingdom of Northumbria before leading expeditions against the Welsh kingdoms.

Bjorn Ironside

Called Ironside because he could not be touched in battle, Bjorn was Ragnar’s oldest son and had the biggest penchant for raiding and conquering. As he began to build up his own raiding parties and exploring unchartered territory, he became a force to be reckoned with. He not only raided the Mediterranean and took over areas of Frankia that his father failed to win, but he also went on to become King of Sweden.

Ivar the Boneless

There are plenty of theories as to why this Viking was called “boneless,” but the one Hirst invested in is that he had brittle bone disease. Despite Ivar’s physical limitations, he became one of the most famous Vikings of all time thanks to his cunning ways and strategic moves against the kings in England. Eventually, he won more territory than any other Viking and became renowned for being absolutely ruthless and brutal against his enemies. His actual cause of death is unknown, as he simply disappeared from the history books one day. Some legends recount stories of warriors digging up his body, which cursed battlefields and never decomposed, in order to burn it and stop the curse. 

Vikings returns Wednesday at 9 p.m. on History.

Which one of Ragnar’s sons are you most excited to follow? Sound off in the comments below.

Twitter: @amber_dowling

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