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Halfdan Ragnarsson (died 877) was a Viking leader who served as one of the commanders of the Great Heathen Army that invaded Anglo-Saxon England during the late 9th century. He was the eldest son of Ragnar Lothbrok and his first wife Lagertha, and the half-brother of Ivarr, Sigurd, Bjorn, and Ubba.

Arguably the greatest son of Ragnar's, Halfdan's conquests in northern England gained him fame as the Conqueror of the North. The army he commanded was noted to have sacked Lunden, conquered York, and extorted every petty king from Exeter to Hadrian's Wall.

Halfdan was also the reincarnation of the Isu Thor, who was revered as the Norse warrior god of lightning and thunder.

Biography

Early years

Halfdan was born as the eldest son of Ragnar Lothbroke and his first wife Lagertha.[1] Like his half-brothers, Halfdan followed in his father's footsteps and became seafarers and raiders himself. In 865, Raganar was murdered by ealdorman Ælla in England who threw him into a snake pit.[2] Seeking revenge for their father's death, Halfdan and his brothers led a vast army into England,[3] joining forces with the Great Summer Army led by Guthrum jarl. This coaliton came to be dubbed as the Great Heathen Army.[4]

After landing in East Anglia in the summer of 865, Halfdan and his brothers moved northwards and invaded Northumbria, which was embroiled in a civil war for kingship between Ælla and Osberht.[5] In 866, Ælla was crowned king of Northumbria in York, which was thereafter captured by Ivarr.[6]. Following Ivarr's departure to the south to join Ubba, Halfdan took control of the armies in the north, and appointed Ecgberht as the puppet-king of Northumbria.[5] After reigning for a few years until 872, Ecgberht was disposed and Halfdan appointed Ricsige as king, joined by the Jorvik council consisting of Halfdan's war chief Faravid, and the councilmen Audun and Hjorr Halfsson.[4]

Alliance with Eivor

With Ricsiege ruling York in his stead, Halfdan focused on his wars in the north, and by 876, his army was embroiled in war against the Pictish tribes that inhabited the lands north of Hadrian's Wall. Having learned the reputation of the famed shieldmaiden Eivor Varinsdottir, Halfdan sent a letter to Eivor's settlement of Ravensthorpe in Ledecestrescire, requesting for her aid and counsel in Eurvicscire.[7]

Legacy

In 886, Toka Sinricsdottir arrived in Ravensthorpe to convince Eivor to help aid in the siege of Paris. Unaware that Halfdan had died in 877 nearly a decade earlier, Toka claimed that she sought his help, immediately arousing both Eivor and Randvi's suspicions regarding the true purpose for her visit.[8]

Behind the scenes

Halfdan is a historical character first introduced in the 2020 Echoes of History podcast episodes on Vikings, though his voice actor is uncredited. He later featured in the 2020 video game Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, where he was voiced by Norwegian actor Jeppe Beck Laursen, who also provided the voice of Thor.

Valhalla describes Halfdan as Ragnar's eldest son by his first wife Lagertha, however, the sagas say his mother is instead Ragnar's third wife Aslaug, with Ivarr and Bjorn being his older siblings from the same mother.

Despite historically dying in 877 fighting King Bárid mac Ímair of Dublin at the Battle of Strangford Lough in Ireland, no mention or reference of this is made in Valhalla's 2021 downloadable expansion Wrath of the Druids, set in 879.

Appearances

References

  1. Lagertha's Axe
  2. Assassin's Creed: ValhallaDatabase: Ragnar Lothbrok
  3. Assassin's Creed: ValhallaDatabase: Halfdan
  4. 4.0 4.1 Assassin's Creed: Valhalla
  5. 5.0 5.1 Wikipedia-W-visual-balanced.svg Halfdan Ragnarsson on Wikipedia
  6. Assassin's Creed Valhalla: Blood BrothersBattle of York
  7. Assassin's Creed: ValhallaWar in the North
  8. Assassin's Creed: Valhalla – The Siege of ParisStrangers Bearing Gifts

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