Ivar the Boneless - The Crippled King
If you’re a fan of the Vikings TV show then you’re definitely familiar with “Ivar the Boneless.” This crippled king was one of the most famous sons of Ragnar. He followed the footsteps of his father and also became one of the most legendary and fearless warriors in Viking history.
He was famous for being this courageous and fierceless godlike warrior according to Old Norse legends. Other sources describe him as a scary and violent demon from hell. You can tell just by reading old historical sources that he was someone not to mess with as he was capable of so much chaos and destruction.
You’re probably wondering why he became crippled and why the word “boneless” was always associated with him. Legend has it that he became crippled due to a curse.
Ivar’s mom “Aslaug” was someone who we would refer to as a witch or shaman in this day and age. She was warned by spirits. They told her that they should wait for three nights before consummation after a long separation. Unfortunately, Ragnar dismissed and ignored the warning that his wife told him about. He was pretty much away for a long time because he was busy raiding England so it’s not surprising that he was excited and happy to finally get the chance to be with his wife again. Just like normal couples who had been separated for a significant period of time, they also couldn’t hold off the longing and desire for each other. This is the reason why they decided to just enjoy the intimate act as a way to celebrate his victorious return.
The myths reveal that the spirits were not thrilled upon knowing that they disregarded their warning. As a consequence for their behavior, Ivar - the fruit of their union became crippled.
Despite being crippled, Norse mythology stated that Ivar grew very tall, attractive and was said to be the wisest among his siblings. His brothers highly respected him and wouldn’t make decisions without him by their side. This is contrary to the kind of relationship that was portrayed on the show.
When King Ælla killed Ragnar, Ivar felt defeated and devastated. He didn’t take it well and demanded to know every possible detail of his father’s death. He sought revenge later on by forming the Great Heathen Army and attacking Northumbria (the place where King Aelle was from). He successfully raided the city and executed King Ælla by opening his ribcage from the back and pulling out his lungs. This is one of the most painful ways to die and it’s called “blood eagle.” To amplify and make the pain more excruciating, he sprinkled salt into his wounds. That’s how intense Ragnar’s killer died.
Overtaking one city was not enough for him and his group of warriors though. So they decided to invade the other territories in England as well. They didn’t just attack just for the sake of attacking, they took their time and carefully plotted all their attacks to the rest of England.
The exact date when Ivar died was not clear. Some say he died sometime after 870 or 873. The specific reason of his death was also unclear. The Annals of Ireland reported in the 11th century that he died of a sudden hideous disease. Other historians believed that his life was taken away by an unknown deteriorating condition.