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Ragnar Lothbrok (died c. 865), also known as Ragnar Lodbrok, was a distinguished Viking leader from Sweden who led numerous raids against the British Isles and the Holy Roman Empire during the 9th century.

He was famed for leading the Siege of Paris in 845, forcing the Kings of West Francia to pay a Danegeld to stave off further attacks.

Following his death, his children led the Great Heathen Army that invaded England in 865.


Early life and Siege of Paris

Ragnar was born to the Swedish king Sigurd Ring and his wife Alfhild Gandolfsdottir.[1] During his adult life he married his first wife Lagertha and fathered Halfdan,[2] and with his third wife Aslaug he fathered Ivarr the Boneless, Björn Ironside, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, and Ubba.[1]

In March 845, Ragnar and a force of at least 4,000 men besieged the capital city of Paris, West Francia. One of his men, Sten Stensson, fought side-by-side with Ragnar during the battle.[3] The siege ended in a victory for the Vikings, who plundered and occupied Paris before departing after King Charles the Bald‎ paid a ransom of 7,000 livres of silver and gold.[4]

The raid on Paris launched Ragnar into fame and he became a widely celebrated and storied Viking, with numerous legendary deeds attributed to him. For the next two decades, in addition to France, Ragnar launched raids into England and Ireland.[5]

At one point, Ragnar also came into possession of a monolith that came to be known as the Saga Stone. The relic was in fact part of the entrance to the Isu Yggdrasil chamber in Norway and was lost after his death, until it was found by the Order of the Ancients Maegester Fulke in the late 9th century.[6]


Seeing his sons grow into legendary heroes, Ragnar wished to outdo them by planning to raid and conquer England with only two ships.[1] In 865, Ragnar and his drengir arrived in Northumbria, and the raids that followed were carefully calculated. However, Ragnar was eventually captured by ealdorman Ælla of Northumbria[7] and put to death by being thrown into a pit of snakes.[8][5]


Following Ragnar's death at the hand of ealdorman Ælla of Northumbria, his sons began plotting revenge,[9] while several of the warriors who served under him scattered throughout England and Norway, and were encountered by the Viking shieldmaiden Eivor Varinsdottir of the Raven Clan.[8]