Vikings: Valhalla: Netflix’s new series Vikings: Valhalla is inspired by historical events, which took place during the Norse’s advance across the European continent and the conquest of Canute II of Denmark to become King of Denmark, England and Norway.
Although it is inspired by the story and mentions real characters, some adaptations were necessary to be able to better develop the script. Below, we present six characters from Vikings: Valhalla that are based on real people and how their stories were modified for the series.
6. Freydis Eiriksdottir
Freydis Eiriksdottir is played by Swedish model and actress Frida Gustavsson, and in the series, the character appears as the daughter of Erik Thorvaldsson (aka Erik the Red) and sister of Leif Erikson.
She is loosely based on the historical figure of the same name who has her roots in Norse legends, which suggest that there really was a person named Freydis Eiriksdottir during the 11th century.
In the two Norse legends that cite Freydis, she is mentioned as a pregnant woman who goes off to fight after her army flees, and also as a vengeful woman who kills the family of men she believes have overstepped her bounds.
In the series, Freydis meets Prince Harald Sigurdsson and seeks revenge on a Christian Viking who raped her. She later falls in love with Harald.
None of these events in the series bear any resemblance to Freydis’ story in Viking legends.
5. Leif Erikson
Leif Erikson is played by Sam Corlett and is based on the historical figure Leif Erikson, also known as Leif the Lucky, and is known as the first European to arrive on the American continent.
While there is no archaeological evidence to suggest that Leif Erikson was a real person, according to Norse legends, the chances that a person like him existed in the 11th century are high.
In the series, Leif joins Harald Sigurdsson and other Vikings on an expedition to London led by King Canute of Denmark, although there is not much historical evidence to support this.
Leif’s journey to England and interactions with Harald have no precedent in legends and are almost entirely fictional. Also, in the series, Lief becomes involved with a woman named Liv, but such a person is not mentioned in the historical records.
In the sagas, Leif married a noblewoman named Thorgunna and had two children.
4. Harald Sigurdsson
Harald Sigurdsson, played by Leo Suter, is based on the historical figure of the same name. He was born around 1015 and is also mentioned in some Viking legends.
After a 15-year exile, Harald returned to Norway in 1045 and claimed the throne, which he shared with his nephew, Magnus Olafsson, Olaf’s illegitimate son. After Magnus’ death, Harald became the sole ruler of Norway.
He died at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066. In the series, Harald takes part in the conquest of England with King Canute, which is not confirmed in historical legends. Likewise, Harald’s interactions with the brothers Leif and Freydis also appear to have been created for the series.
3. Olaf Haraldsson
Played by Icelander Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson, Olaf Haraldsson is based on the historical figure Olaf II of Norway (also known as Olaf the Saint), who is featured in numerous Viking sagas.
He was the half-brother of Harald Sigurdsson and is believed to have been born around 995. During his youth he fought in many wars and gained a reputation for his skills on the battlefield.
He became the King of Norway in 1015, where he reigned until 1028. The series retains the backstory, family ties, and military prowess (Olaf also briefly assisted England’s King Aethelred II), but there are no records to suggest that Olaf accompanied King Canute in his conquest of England.
2. Count Godwin
Played in the series by David Oakes, Godwin is introduced as one of Aethelred II’s most trusted and competent advisors. As he gradually begins to fall ill, his son Edmund takes charge, with Godwin serving as his advisers.
Earl Godwin is based on a real person, who became Earl of Wessex in 1020 and remained close to Canute until his death in 1035. He maintained his political stance to support the next English kings, but was forced into exile. with his family in Flanders.
When he returned in 1052, Goldwin regained Wessex but was unable to keep it for long, dying in April 1053.
1. Jarl Estrid Haakon
Jarl Estrid Haakon is played by Caroline Henderson and appears to rule a relatively secular society. Both pagans and Christians live in harmony in Kattegat, her people are fiercely loyal, and she quickly wins Freydis and allows her to become one of her squires. But what do the historical records say?
Jarl Haakon is based on a real person, but with significant changes to the character’s creation in the series. His real name was Haakon Ericsson, and he was a white man who served as governor of Norway during the reign of Canute the Great.
In the series, Estrid’s grandmother belonged to a family in Africa. Her grandfather fell in love with her and Estrid’s father was a great warrior. And now Estrid rules Kattegat.