Valhalla’s Christianity vs Norse True Story: What Vikings Believed In

4 Mins read

Vikings: Valhalla concentrated on the fight between pagans and Christians; yet, what did Vikings believe in, and were those conflicts actually fought?

The battle between pagans and Christians, which had its origins in the Vikings, was examined in Valhalla, but what did the Vikings believe in and were there pagan and Christian Vikings? Vikings, which debuted on the History Channel in 2013 and was produced by Michael Hirst, is one of the most well-liked and profitable historical dramas in recent memory. Although it was only supposed to be a miniseries, Vikings continued for a total of six seasons, ending in 2019, although Vikings: Valhalla continues the tales from the Viking Age.

The Vikings television series originally focused on the famous Norse hero Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) and his adventures and raids with his Viking brothers. However, as the series went on, Ragnar’s sons Björn, Ubbe, Hvitserk, Sigurd, and Ivar, and their own voyages, came into focus. Following Ragnar’s passing in season 4, these characters took up the role of Vikings’ protagonists until the end of the show, giving their storylines a satisfying conclusion. In 2019, a follow-up series called Vikings: Valhalla was announced. Vikings investigated the early Viking Age, starting with the Lindisfarne attack. However, six seasons weren’t enough to present the most thrilling stories from the Vikings.

With the fight between the Vikings and English royals as its backdrop, Vikings: Valhalla follows Leif Erikson (Sam Corlett), Freyd’s Eirksdóttir (Frida Gustavsson), and Harald Sigurdsson (Leon Suter) on a voyage that takes them over oceans and battlefields. Vikings depicted the conflict between pagans and Christians by having Ragnar and his companions first encounter Christianity through Athelstan (George Blagden), followed by other characters experiencing a crisis of faith. In Vikings: Valhalla, this strife and tension are front and center, but what did the Vikings believe in and are the portrayals of these opposing groups accurate?

Which deities did the Vikings worship?

The Poetic Edda and the Eddic poetry include the mythology and tales of the Old Norse religion, often known as Norse Paganism, which the Vikings followed. Old Norse religion was polytheistic, which meant that its adherents worshiped a variety of deities. These deities had human emotions and were anthropomorphic; some authors distinguish between two categories of deities. The main pantheon of gods, the Sir, and the Vanir, the second group, engaged in a conflict in which the Vanir destroyed Asgard’s defenses, the Sir’s stronghold. Through a truce and a hostage swap, the two factions were able to come to terms and merge into one pantheon.

The word “sir” is used in the Eddas for male gods, whereas the word “Asynjur” is used for goddesses. The sir appear to be associated with might and war. Thor, Baldr, Heimdallr, Frigg, and Freyja are among the most famous gods and goddesses in this category. Some sources also put Odin and Loki here, while others exclude them from the list. On the other hand, the Vanir are connected to knowledge, procreation, and precognition. The Vanir group also includes certain Sir gods and goddesses, in addition to Njörr, Freyr, and Freyja.

There are many distinct gods and goddesses in Norse religion, and they are all linked to various things and characteristics. Thor, for instance, is connected to thunder, lightning, and the defense of humanity; Frigg, to marriage, prophecy, and motherhood; Freyja, to love, beauty, and battle; and Odin, to knowledge, wisdom, death, kingship, and war.

Was Every Viking A Pagan?

The majority of Scandinavians were pagan throughout the early years of the Viking Age, but via their raids, the Vikings came into touch with Christianity (much like Ragnar did with Athelstan), hence this age was also a time of religious transformation in Scandinavia. Contrary to popular belief and depictions in various media, scholars contend that attacks on Christian churches had nothing to do with the Vikings’ aversion to Christianity.

As evidence, some written sources from that era combine elements of Christianity and Norse mythology. For instance, Odin is said to have been sacrificed to himself by being hung on a tree and pierced on the side, and went through a sort of “resurrection” days later, very similar to Christ. This suggests that pagan Vikings had no problem accepting the Christian god alongside their own. The majority of the Viking people was pagan, but as time went on, these attitudes began to change, and Norse religion finally became extinct.

When Did Vikings Start Becoming Christians? (& Why)

Some accounts claim that there were numerous failed attempts to convert the Scandinavian population to Christianity prior to the Viking Age. Norway may have gradually embraced Christianity, according to archeological data, but whether or not the local chieftain converted had an impact on whether or not a village was converted. Denmark’s Harald Bluetooth (Sweyn Forkbeard’s father and Canute’s grandfather), who began the Danes’ long-lasting conversion to Christianity, seems to have had better success in his effort to promote Christianity.

However, in every case, converting the pagan population in Scandinavia to Christianity wasn’t simple or quick, and it took numerous missions to finally spread Christianity and make it the dominant religion. Olaf Haraldsson was also successful, and his conversion in Norway resulted in lasting conversion.

Did Pagans and Christians fight one another in Viking times as in Valhalla?

Various accounts claim that pagans were far more accepting of Christianity than depicted in Vikings and Vikings: Valhalla. As was previously noted, Christianity already existed in Scandinavia at the start of the Viking Age, and the conversion from paganism to Christianity took a very long time.

The Vikings’ encounter with Christianity is also acknowledged, although their raids had nothing to do with religion; rather, they targeted monasteries because they were well-off and insufficiently fortified, making them particularly vulnerable. The process of transition, as well as the coexistence of pagans and Christians, has generally been described as peaceful. Vikings quickly adopted Christianity when they arrived in lands with a Christian population. They were also somewhat pressured to convert to Christianity in order to have more peaceful relations with Christians.

Of course, there were conflicts at various times, such as when Olaf Tryggvason sent a Saxon missionary to Iceland, and pagans and Christians eventually came to blows to the point of profaning each other’s gods, but they came to an understanding that the Icelandic legal system would be based on Christian principles while making accommodations for the pagan community.

It’s not surprising that they made the “pagans vs. Christians” situation a lot more dramatic and violent than it actually was since Vikings: Valhalla is based on historical events and real people but also contains many fictional elements and details added to enhance the drama and the stories of each character. Future seasons of Vikings: Valhalla will undoubtedly continue to examine the Vikings’ conversion to Christianity and their numerous distinctions from Christians when season 1 concludes.

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