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Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye

October 27, 2023 7 min read

Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye | The Son of Ragnar's Prophecy!

Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye | The Son of Ragnar's Prophecy!

Ragnar Lothbrok is one of the most emblematic figures in Viking history. However, it is only through his descendants that the name "Ragnar" has become associated with glory and triumph. Long destined to be the heirs of the Norse gods on earth, Ragnar's sons quickly became the symbol of the free man, especially his youngest son, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye!

Quickly known to all as the worthy son of the great Ragnar, it is clear from his early age that he is an extraordinary warrior. Nevertheless, few events and historical facts have reached us about this mysterious character.

Legendary Viking King of Scandinavia, and according to some sources, of all Europe, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye has fueled numerous stories and tales over the ages. In this article, we will unravel the true from the false, and tell you the complete version of the spectacular story of Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye.

The Story of Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye

Many of you have heard of Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, a Viking warrior who has marked his civilization in many ways. According to historical accounts and ancient sagas, he ruled over the majority of the Nordic kingdom after Ragnar's death. His great popularity has earned him being designated many times as a legendary Viking warrior.

Last Danish king of the Golden Age of the Vikings, the Scandinavian kingdom continued to prosper throughout his reign. However, until now, many questions remain about this mysterious character:

  • Is he really the son of the legendary Ragnar Lodbrok?
  • How did he die? Was he really killed by his brother?
  • How did he become such a great Viking leader?

By the end of this article, you will fully understand the story of the child of prophecy. The one who truly realized Ragnar Lodbrok's dream, and who became the ultimate Nordic king!

The Prophecy of Ragnar and His Sons

Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye | The Heir of King Ragnar Lothbrok!

Viking mythology places great importance on legends and prophecies, especially when they directly concern the fate of its heroes. Ragnar Lothbrok was one of these emblematic figures. Described as a being with the blood of gods and divine powers since his earliest childhood, he combines all the characteristics to become a true Viking king.

In this sense, the Saga of Ragnar with the Hairy Breeches tells that during one of his adventures, he meets a seer, the völva. She reveals to him that he is destined for great exploits, and that the gods will grant him four sons from his marriage with a woman descending from a lineage of warriors.

She also reveals to him that his children will later become the sole rulers of the Viking world. His last offspring, none other than Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, will carry his name through generations. He will carry his torch, and elevate his story to the rank of legend. Thus, it will be relayed as long as men continue to speak of these exploits.

The Many Wives of Ragnar

Ragnar Lodbrok, wanting at all costs for this prophecy to come true, embarks on an expedition in search of a wife who will fulfill his dream of glory. His journey will be detailed in a 12th-century Icelandic book, "The Völsunga Saga".

The first wife of Ragnar was Thora Borgarthiort, a Viking valkyrie. However, she succumbs to illness and only has two sons with him. It is only after gaining notoriety and power that he meets a woman of unparalleled beauty and intelligence: the famous Aslaug.

Calling herself Kráka, to hide her noble origin, she will give Ragnar four sons:

  • The eldest of their sons will bear the name Björn Ironside;
  • Their second son, affected by a deformity, will be named Ivar the Boneless;
  • The third child, the least known of all, is Hvitserk;
  • The youngest of this sibling group is the famous Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye.

    However, another historical source from the 13th century, "The Deeds of the Danes" by Saxo Grammaticus, tells a very different story. It is largely from this account that the Vikings series was inspired.

    According to these ancient texts, Ragnar's first wife would be none other than the Viking warrior Lagertha. While his second wife is Thora Borgarthiort, not Aslaug. Moreover, the number of Ragnar's sons and their names vary: comparing the various sources available, it is difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile them. For the next part, let's stick to the theory of "The Völsunga Saga" to avoid confusion.

    The Symbol of Sigurd's Legendary Lineage

    Sigurd's online shop

    The serpent (or sometimes the dragon) is a recurring symbol, depicted at the center of many stories in Viking mythology. The Ragnars saga, for example, tells how Ragnar had to kill a giant serpent to marry his first wife, "Thora". It is this feat that earned him his legendary nickname: Ragnar with the Hairy Breeches.

    In the same story, we learn that Aslaugis the daughter of Sigurd and Brynhildr. Both her parents are great warriors, true legends of the Viking Age. We know that after their murder, Aslaug's life was in peril. Thus, to protect her, her foster father gives her a new first name "Kráka", the name under which Ragnar will know her.

    The Origin of the Name of Ragnar's Youngest Son

    The Norse poem Fáfnismál recounts the epic battle between Aslaug's father "Sigurd" and a giant serpent (in other stories a dragon) "Fáfnir". Fáfnir was originally a wicked dwarf who stole a treasure from the Viking gods.

    In this story, we discover that he is of divine descent. Indeed, before his battle against the serpent, Odin, disguised as an old man, gives him some advice to triumph over the evil beast.

    Sigurd, known for his unwavering courage, manages to defeat the evil serpent. During the battle, he is splashed with its magical blood, gaining the power to talk to birds, in addition to the treasure guarded by the creature.

    It is this story that will make him famous and will later be the origin of the name of Ragnar's last descendant!

    The Prophecy of Aslaug: The Birth of Ragnar's Legendary Son

    Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye | The Heir of King Ragnar Lothbrok!

    According to Norse accounts, especially the Ragnars saga loðbrókar, Aslaug, daughter of Sigurd, would be a völva. This is a prophetess who possesses divinatory power inherent to her divine lineage.

    The noble origin of Aslaug was hidden even from Ragnar. This secret was well kept until the day he let himself be persuaded to leave Aslaug to marry the daughter of King "Eysteinn". To prove that she is indeed the unique daughter of Sigurd, the conqueror of the serpent, she predicted that the child she carries will have the characteristic mark of the serpent, in honor of her father.

    Aslaug's prophecy came true! The last son of Ragnar was born with a serpent-shaped left pupil. Ragnar admitted his mistake and returned to his wife and his last son, named in honor of his grandfather: Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye.

    However, the shape of the mark that Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye bears, as well as its meaning, differs slightly according to the stories and legends:

    • It would symbolize Fáfnir: this is the serpent that the mythical hero overcomes. It is this feat that allows one to acquire glory and wealth, as well as fame throughout the Viking world;
    • It designates Jörmungand: the giant serpent that bites its own tail. In Norse beliefs, it represents the Ouroboros, symbolizing hope and renewal. It is a premonition of Ragnar's return to his queen Aslaug, to whom he will be eternally faithful.

      This story is also taken up in the Vikings series, during season 2.

      The Relationship between Ragnar and Sigurd

      Proud of his valiant son, Ragnar frequently took Sigurd with him on his expeditions. Robust warriors and fine strategists, he and his brothers were invaluable in expanding the Viking kingdom.

      Two expeditions are the most emblematic: the one led to Hellespont, in Russia; and the one conducted against England. The latter was rich in unfortunate events, which inevitably led to Ragnar's death.

      In a touching scene resulting from misfortune, he is thrown into a snake pit by King Aelle of England, because he refuses to reveal his identity. The English king knew full well that the punishment from Ragnar's sons would soon fall upon him.

      He was not mistaken! What our hero and his brothers had in store for him would be forever engraved in Scandinavian history. They subjected him to the Blood Eagle punishment, a barbaric practice typical of Viking times that was unbearably painful: all those who suffered it died in excruciating agony.

      After losing their father, the four brothers divided his lands. Each continued to honor him, in their own way.

      The Royal Descendants of Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye

      An eminent Viking king, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye inherited Zealand, Scania, Halland, and Viken; which became respectively Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Although he was at the head of a royal family, it is difficult to specify his lineage with accuracy.

      That said, there are numerous legends about his sons, without any substantial proof to decide in favor of one or the other.

      Some claim that he is the father of Harde-Knut, or Harthacanute, whom he would have had with one of his captives named Blaeja, daughter of Aelle of Northumbria. This latter would have been king of Denmark around the 900s, which could align with the period when Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye ceased to be.

      Others assert that Gorm the Old, king of Denmark, would be his son. However, he did not ascend to the throne until about thirty years later.

      That said, the most astonishing version is that of the Gesta Danorum, where the real descendants of Sigurd are at the heart of a legendary problem. The legitimate heir to the throne, who would be Eric; his youngest son, has his identity usurped by a certain Eric son of Harald.

      After numerous quarrels, it is Guthorm son of Harald Klak who ends his life, and restores the natural course of things. To testify his gratitude, the future king marries his daughter, with whom he has a son whom he names Knut.

      The Death of Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye

      There are few accounts of the life and death of Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye or Ragnarsson. Like that of his father Ragnar, his death is one of the most mysterious of the era. This leads some historians to question his very existence.

      However, he was indeed real, even if numerous shadows linger over his last days.

      The most widespread myth is the one instilled by the Viking series. Here, it is by the hand of Ivar, his brother, that he would have perished. However, this version of the facts is highly improbable, in addition to being strongly contested by specialists and faithful viewers.

      Tracing the rise of his son Eric to the throne, we can estimate that Sigurd's death occurred around the year 891. Following this logic, it is more reasonable that he died of natural causes due to old age, especially since no historical event contradicts this.

      As the originator of a lineage of Scandinavian kings who extended their territory to the north of France, no one can deny that Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye has profoundly impacted the Nordic empire. Despite the limited and contradictory information we have about him, it is certain that he lived up to his nickname, and he certainly ranks among the prominent figures of the Viking era.

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