The battle for power is a key part of Vikings – but at the end of the series, which characters have the thrones of the key locations?
While Vikings was also about exploration, discovery, and family, one of the most obvious themes throughout the show was the desire to rule. From season one, when Ragnar usurped Earl Haraldson and took control of Kattegat, the show has followed Ragnar and his sons as they battle for power and command – to hold their lands and to claim new ones.
Over the course of six seasons, the rulers of every major location continually changed, whether through a battle to install a new King, or the death of an old King (and even, in the case of Norway, the creation of a unified Kingdom). By the end of the series, many of the previous rulers and contenders were killed, though, so who ended up on the most important thrones in the series?
The final ruler of Kattegat was a surprise to many fans – as most assumed that Bjorn would end up ruling the city with his wives – or that Harald would take over. Both did happen, for a while, as Bjorn ruled with Gunnhild and Ingrid, before Harald came to take over as King of Norway. However, by the end of the series, both Bjorn and Harald were dead, and Gunnhild had walked into the sea rather than marry Harald, leaving Ingrid on the throne.
Initially, Ingrid competed with Gunnhild for the throne (after Bjorn’s death), and in the end, she took it through a combination of winning the respect of the people, and using her magic to blind and destroy Erik, who would have ruled with her. This combination of ruthlessness, cunning, and the ability to win the affections of the people suggest that she will be a good ruler for Kattegat, and may stay on the throne for a long time. She is also pregnant at the end of the series, and while there is some debate over whose child it is, Ingrid insists that it is Bjorn’s – which would mean that Kattegat does stay with Ragnar’s family line, for better or worse.
Ivar’s time with the Rus is pivotal – for his own character arc, as well as for the larger plot of battles and invasions of Norway. In the end, of course, he does leave to return to Norway, but not before he has helped to ensure that the rightful heir to the throne is safe and protected. When Ivar leaves, he leaves Igor safely back in power, admittedly with his uncle Dir by his side, as he is still young. However, his age is not so young that he would be incapable of ruling, at this point. His time with Ivar has proven that he is mature enough, and he was the one who killed Oleg in the end – something that points to him stepping into his power as a ruler.
Princess Katia is also safe with Igor and Dir, and pregnant with Ivar’s child, which is an interesting inclusion by the series. It may be that this is only important because it gives Ivar what he always wanted – the ability to love a woman like other men do, and to have a child. His arc with Igor spends a lot of time focusing on Ivar as a father figure, and it is this which truly changes him from the power-hungry god-ruler he was before arriving with the Rus. However, Katia’s child may also have some claim to the throne here, in time, depending on what happens to Igor as he grows. It may be interesting to consider that Ragnar’s bloodline could hold more than one throne, through children who have yet to be born.
The battle against the English is a huge part of the finale – and one that ends with Alfred winning, Ivar dead, Harald dead, and Hvitserk carried off (to be seen later converting to Christianity). The series ends, then, with King Alfred triumphant, and poised to become King Alfred the Great, the first ruler of all England. This isn’t shown in the series, of course, but is hinted at – especially as the other English rulers (Aelle in Northumbria and Kwenthrith in Mercia) are killed earlier in the series. This is the start of Alfred unifying and ruling the kingdoms together in the future.
This is one of the only thrones that ends with the expected ruler upon it. While there was definitely a twist along the way, with Judith poisoning Aethelred to guarantee Alfred would remain on the throne, fans knew from the start that Alfred would end as ruler. His place in history, and his story in the series guaranteed this. And while Ragnar’s bloodline has no part in this throne or the line of succession, knowing that Athelstan’s line is being continued through Alfred is just as satisfying.
Floki’s story takes him from Kattegat to Iceland, then Greenland, and finally, to the shores of North America – and in this journey, he creates a settlement of Vikings in Iceland and Greenland. In the end, these settlements fail – largely due to human folly, anger, and hatred. The Vikings leave Iceland to head to a promised ‘green land’, and wind up in Greenland, struggling to survive. Their story here ends when a dead whale splits the camp, sparking a massive battle that ends with many dead, many more fleeing across the water, and Kjetill standing on top of the whale, screaming that he is King.
He may well be King, but given the sheer numbers killed in this final battle, it is not particularly likely that he would be able to survive and create a viable settlement here. It’s possible that he could return to Norway, but it is more likely that he will die as a King of a land that he cannot survive on. It’s an interesting sub-plot that references an obsessive love of power, and the dangers of that becoming all-consuming. Since leaving Kattegat for Iceland, Kjetill wanted to rule, and when he is finally able to, it is at the loss of everything else in his life.
Norway: No One
The question of who would be the first King of All Norway was a major part of the final seasons of the show, with the two main contenders for the honor being Bjorn and Harald. In the election, Harald technically won, but Bjorn’s ability after this to bring together all the Vikings to protect Norway and fight together saw him given the title by the people. However, by the end of the series, both Bjorn and Harald are dead in battle, and this leaves the throne of Norway empty. It is possible that Ingrid and her child would fight to reclaim this in the future, but for the moment, Vikings leaves the country without one King.
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