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Show Vision vs Actual History: Accuracy, Inaccuracy, and Conversation

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As much as I enjoy this show, the historical inaccuracies still trouble me. 

The Vikings were not ignorant of the existence of the British Isles at this time. Long before the raid on Northumbria, the vikings had conquered large parts of what is today Scotland and Ireland. Dublin had been founded by vikings as a slave colony.

I’m not at all certain what Eckbert’s paranoia regarding Roman literature was about. The church used the Roman language Latin and did not deny Roman history. The church incorporated the philosophy of the classical Greeks and Romans. Although I agree an emphasis on pagan mythology may have been forbidden.

I still enjoy watching Eckbert in his hot tub. I think he needs a sauna and steam room to boot. I would get a massage therapist as well if I were the King of Wessex.

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I agree.  I've never been under the impression that the Roman Empire was some kind of secret.  That sounded somewhat like an episode of Ancient Aliens.  lol

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I completely agree that this Show is clearly taking some liberties with history, such as having Rollo born long before the historical Rollo was born, and making him Ragnar's brother, which he was not.  But I think you may be a little off regarding when the Vikings discovered Ireland.  I am totally interested in and open to sources who record things differently, and I fully want to acknowledge there that you may know something I do not -- in which case, I will gladly stand corrected and will be glad to know something I didn't know before -- but everything I have read in books or on the net about this indicates that the Viking raids on Ireland did not start until 795, and in fact, some histories use the year 795 specifically as the demarcation of "pre-Viking" Dublin.  Is it possible your dates are slightly off?

I still enjoy watching Eckbert in his hot tub. I think he needs a sauna and steam room to boot.

 

On this I am right there with you -- the temperate water isn't enough -- he totally needs a sauna and steam room, preferably to invite Ragnar and/or Rollo to.

The church incorporated the philosophy of the classical Greeks and Romans. Although I agree an emphasis on pagan mythology may have been forbidden.

 

The impression I had was that the Establishment was concealing pagan, pre-Christian accomplishments of Rome, but not the existence of Rome itself.  I would imagine they would want to make much of the wonder of Rome after the adoption of Christianity.  It seemed like the Roman statuary was allowed to be in plain site.  I thought Ecbert was referring to only the works of Roman from it's pagan days, and that was the history that they were trying to Bowdlerize.  I think that's reasonably credible. 

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Alfred, Egbert's grandson, translated Roman works into English, if I recall correctly.  Roman writers were known.  The historical inaccuracy that bothers me the most is the crucifixion of Athelstan as an apostate.  No way the Christians would ever crucify anyone.  That is an honor for Christ alone.  They knew the story of Peter asking to be crucified upside down, because he did not deserve to die as Christ did.  The Vikings might have crucified someone, but not the Christians.  They would most probably have burned Athelstan at the stake.

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Alfred, Egbert's grandson, translated Roman works into English, if I recall correctly. Roman writers were known. The historical inaccuracy that bothers me the most is the crucifixion of Athelstan as an apostate. No way the Christians would ever crucify anyone. That is an honor for Christ alone. They knew the story of Peter asking to be crucified upside down, because he did not deserve to die as Christ did. The Vikings might have crucified someone, but not the Christians. They would most probably have burned Athelstan at the stake.

.....or stoned him to death. Crucifixtion was banned by Constantine and hadn't been used since then.

There are many recorded instances of Christians practicing crucifixion long after the reign of Constantine. On the History Channel website there is a clip (something like 'Look Inside Ep 204) where Michael Hirst talks about two recorded instances where Saxon monks were kidnapped by Vikings and returned as part of Viking raiding parties. One monk was recorded as being captured and crucified by the Saxons. So, while the historical accuracy for several key plot points (Rollo as Ragnar's brother, Ecbert and Aelle reigning at the same time time) are a bit "off", the crucifixion of Aethelstan rings true for the era.
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There are many recorded instances of Christians practicing crucifixion long after the reign of Constantine. On the History Channel website there is a clip (something like 'Look Inside Ep 204) where Michael Hirst talks about two recorded instances where Saxon monks were kidnapped by Vikings and returned as part of Viking raiding parties. One monk was recorded as being captured and crucified by the Saxons. So, while the historical accuracy for several key plot points (Rollo as Ragnar's brother, Ecbert and Aelle reigning at the same time time) are a bit "off", the crucifixion of Aethelstan rings true for the era.

So they took the one lone monk's story which was clearly an aberration and used it.  And by "Saxons" as in who?  Some ignorant villagers or an ignorant king or local churchmen?  Because it wouldn't have been sanctioned by the Roman Church of the time for sure.  Way for the show to twist history by cherry picking it.

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"Way for the show to twist history by cherry picking it." I agree.

Let me say, again, that I enjoy this show but I feel it  is a "re-imagined" version of the vikings. I saw that interview with Michael Hirst and he implied that the vikings were somehow more progressive in their views of women and more benevolent to slaves. In fact, under Roman law, slaves had rights. Their masters had to respect their marriages and could get into legal trouble for abusing them. 

The vikings were not the most technologically or socially advanced people. The were aggressive raiders,traders, and explorers. We find them so interesting because they were the last great non-Christian people of Europe. There is a suppressed part of us we see in their gods and traditions.

A real great question would be why they became so introspective after the "viking age".  We certainly don't stereotype them as aggressive today.

Great show. Looking forward to Thursday's episode.

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We certainly don't stereotype them as aggressive today.

 

Possibly because we are so far removed that we have romanticized them. Vikings and pirates (and medieval times) are considered fun characters for our children to dress up as for Halloween or to theme their birthday parties on. But parents don't think about the murdering, raping and pillaging that these people routinely did. It's just about costumes and hairstyles and props. 

 

As for the show, well, it's entertainment. Realistically, no one would have such stunningly perfect white teeth but I don't want to watch a show with realistic Viking-era teeth. And let's just say I'm glad we don't have smell-o-vision, if we're talking reality...

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And let's just say I'm glad we don't have smell-o-vision

Gah!  Perish the thought!

In fact, under Roman law, slaves had rights

They did eventually have limited rights, but only after the Third Servile Rebellion, i.e., Sparticus's rebellion.  (Fantastic show too by the way, but it takes 5 episodes before it finds its legs)  My understanding of the Viking version of Thralls is that they could become more of a part of the household than slaves in the ancient world, but in any case, I thought the Thorun storyline as well as the sacrifice of that girl at Earl Haraldson's funeral, was to show the unpleasant aspects of being a slave in the Viking world (including sexual exploitation), and that it wasn't all like Athelstan's relationship with Ragnar.

Michael Hirst and he implied that the vikings were somehow more progressive in their views of women

I think the key here is relativity.  The Vikings were arguably more progressive in some ways, so far as we can tell, in that they gave women the right to divorce their husbands, and if there was a divorce, both husband and wife had property rights.  Also, it was considered a very awful thing to physically strike a free woman.  However, people are people, just like today, so I am sure it happened nevertheless.  But, as Athelstan explained, in some respects a free woman actually would have better standing and rights in Viking society.  A free woman.  However, they were also the same people who were famed for raping the people they pillaged, and who kept concubines and thralls, so. 

.

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Possibly because we are so far removed that we have romanticized them. Vikings and pirates (and medieval times) are considered fun characters for our children to dress up as for Halloween or to theme their birthday parties on. But parents don't think about the murdering, raping and pillaging that these people routinely did. It's just about costumes and hairstyles and props. 

 

As for the show, well, it's entertainment. Realistically, no one would have such stunningly perfect white teeth but I don't want to watch a show with realistic Viking-era teeth. And let's just say I'm glad we don't have smell-o-vision, if we're talking reality...

 

I have just started trying to get into this show and I've only watched about three episodes, but the hairstyles and makeup of the female characters consistently take me out of the moments.  It's especially obvious with those three women who seem to hang out together--Siggy and the two others.  Their hair colors do not occur in nature, their hairstyles are quite 20th if not 21st century, and the make-up, including the manicured brows, eyeliner and eyeshadow, etc., are just so anachronistic.  The same goes to a lesser extent for Lagertha and Porunn(? the fighter).  I'm glad we don't get to see real Viking-era teeth but I hate hate the contemporary makeup for the women.  The men's appearance doesn't seem so egregiously anachronistic.  Also, is the tailoring on the costumes a little to finsihed?  I know the idea is to make some of these characters attractive and no one will watch a show where everyone is dirty and greasy and nasty looking, but there's got to be some other not-even halfway point.

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Well, last night had the biggest historical inaccuracy yet: apologies if I offend any devout Norse on PTV, but I'm pretty sure Odin wasn't real, and didn't show up at Kattegat to bone Ragnar's wife, then heal Ivar the Boneless. :)

In all seriousness, while the village seer having unusually good foresight could be explained as an understanding of human nature/self-fulfilling prophecies, the Harbard/Wanderer story line this season has put an unambiguous supernatural element into play on the show for the first time, which I'm not really thrilled to see. If a smoke monster shows up at Kattegat next week, I'm out. :)

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^ And I actually have the opposite reaction.  Who is to say Odin wasn't real?  Who is to say our current pov is the only reality?  I'm sure some years down the road people will be laughing at what we believed -- or disbelieved -- was reality.  If we are immersing in Viking and old English cultures on this show then I want to totally  accept their realities.  I think one of the main points of this show is to have us do just that.  To be able to think outside our little current (and passing too) box of reality and know what another reality is like.

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I agree. I'm also disappointed to see them introducing supernatural elements. Vague prophecies and dreams which occasionally can be interpreted to be true are one thing. But as soon as all three women had the same dream I got a bad feeling about the way things were going.

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These are people we've seen repeatedly make blood sacrifices of animals and live human beings.  They absolutely believe their gods are real.  The elements of mysticism and the supernatural have always been there, depending on how you chose to interpret things.  Various characters have been having visions and finding meaning in "signs" from the very beginning.  I don't see the wanderer being any different.  Yes, the women believed him to be a god and that he used his powers as a god to take a child's pain away.  But he also could have been just a damn good storyteller with a real way with kids and incredible timing.  It's all in how you look at it.

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I don't believe that the Norse gods were real but that doesn't matter to me when I am watching this show. These people that VIKINGS is about believed very much that their gods and their mythology was real.  And the Norse mythology and the whole Wanderer/Odin thing - I find that very fascinating and intriguing.  And it is certainly not true that there has been no supernatural element in VIKINGS until now. Their god Odin has been a presence from the very first episode of the first season.

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Obviously, in a dramatic retelling of a famous figure of Viking legends, Norse mythologies will be a big part of their lives, as well as the cultural practices that the Wessex Christians were recoiling from last episode with the blood sacrifice for the field, or the Upsalla episode in season 1, or the blood eagle, etc..  I agree that this is part of the enjoyment of the show, the immersion in a different culture and way of living.  And we accept that the show is not perfectly accurate, that it will take some dramatic liberties with known truth- or make up things when there isn't a historical record since Ragnar himself is of questionable existence- but that the overall sense of that time period and culture will be conveyed well to the modern audience.

 

Up until the Wanderer storyline, I don't recall any of their gods actually taking part in the plot in any episode, any more than Jupiter showing up to get involved in the action for either season of "Rome" on HBO a few years ago.  Seeing Odin on the field of battle, or a dying character having visions, or the seer making vague prophecies... these are things that we can chalk up to as character hallucinations/beliefs being represented on-screen visually, since it's a visual medium.  And it's very possible I missed a plot turn somewhere in seasons 1 and 2 that was unquestionably due to a supernatural event brought about by a supernatural figure.

 

What is weird to me is that this show had been a fairly straightforward plot about warring clans and human intrigue, a fun mix of "Game of Thrones" and "Spartacus" set in Scandinavia 1100 years ago.  To suddenly have something in the plot that speaks unambiguously of a supernatural element such as an actual deity walking into their village... that changes the nature and genre of a show completely, because if you have a deus ex machina once, you can have it again. 

 

Whatever your personal faith and beliefs, will there be any tension if next week, in dire straits on the battlefield, Odin shows up and yanks Ragnar or Floki out of harms way and spirits them safely back to Kattegat in an instant?  Or if Odin brought Torstein back to life and healed his arm, so he could dance a merry jig on the beaches of their village? 

 

Would these plot twists be satisfying to you?  Is that the show you thought you were watching on the History channel?

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Marianne, I can't quote with my device, but I disagree with your post above regarding their hair. What hair colours don't occur in nature? Blond? Brunette? Red?

As for the elaborate braiding, I think they did each other's hair to pass the time. If it's a thing to have these braids, then you learn it a young age, like any skill. Same with kohl-rimmed eyes. Makeup has been worn by men and women around the world since the dawn of time; I don't find it out of place here.

Sure, they're a little perfect for people without mirrors, but it is for TV. If we can accept their perfect smiles, it shouldn't be so difficult to accept more realistic things like braids and eye makeup.

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Someone help me out because it's entirely possible I missed something somewhere.  Did the wanderer ever come out and say point blank that he was xxx god and that's how he was doing what he was doing?  I thought he implied it with a lot of talking around it and the women just filled in the blanks based on their own knowledge of Norse mythology and their beliefs.  Although even if he had, he still could have been a charlatan claiming to be a god for shelter and sex with the queen because he knows those stories exist.

 

Frankly, if Odin does show up next episode, I wouldn't find it a huge departure for this show.  He could very well be a vision or Floki's interpretation of what he's seeing.  One of the things I've appreciated most about the show is that it hasn't told me what to think about whether any of this is real.  The characters absolutely believe it to be so, both on the Christian and the Norse sides, and act accordingly.  We're left to draw our own conclusions.  It's like the various beliefs we've seen about what makes thunder.  Floki believes it's Thor beating his hammer.  The bishop and Athelwulf would tell you it's God in his heavens.  Athelstan thinks it's some combination of the two.  Sitting here from our modern vantagepoint, we know what the scientific explanation is but that has no bearing on their world or makes their beliefs any less valid to them.

Edited by nodorothyparker
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Hey everyone- Remember it's perfectly fine to disagree with someone but it's not OK to attack particular posters for what they say. Please keep that in mind in the future. If this persists, I will have to delete those posts without warning.

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People shouldn't be surprised--follow history.  Eckbert was the 1st King of England (he started the Saxon line for a untied England) and his son succeeded him.  Ragnar does return--a huge mistake for him.

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The show is playing fast and loose with history and timelines though. Take King Horik. Horik outlived Ragnar (if indeed Ragnar was even a real person and not an amalgamation of many men).

Edited by Gumdrops
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Breaking the posts up a little.  The "bear marrying a princess" I could see either Bjorn or Rollo.  But probably Bjorn cause like said above that is what his name means and he did marry a princess eventually. 

 

But Rollo should "dance naked on the beach" ... if that is how Vikings celebrate becoming famous that is.  And he sure wants the fame all Vikings crave.  He starts a little kingdom of Northmen in the north of France.  After a couple of centuries the Northmen name has been truncated into the Normans.  And yes, like mentioned above, William the Conqueror is of his bloodline. 

 

Meanwhile in Wessex, a soon-to-be member of the royal lineage by the name Alfred the Great unites England and the throne of England stays with them until King Harold loses it to William at Hastings.  Circle of life, European history style.

 

Ironic too that the line that exterminates the first large Viking settlement in England loses England to a king come from Viking ancestors.

 

Also ironic for poor Floki had he known this future because Team Viking wins but by that time Team Viking has become totally Team Christian as well.

 

Finally, I wonder if Michael Hirst will diddle with history a little to make Athelstan's child by Judith to be that same Alfred.  (The only king in English history to ever get "the Great" added to his name btw).

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Historicaly Athelwulf did have a son named Athelstan who never came to the throne.  It's been my personal theory this could be the child of Judith/Athelstan.

 

Yeah historically that would seem more correct.  But dramatically it wouldn't seem to make as much sense because that historic Athelstan did nothing.  I think this Athelstan's "trist" with Judith should mean something to the storyline since otherwise they wasted a lot screen time on a boring subplot if it doesn't.  Also it has been an awkward, almost forced subplot so there should be something kind of big behind it I think.  Or I hope at least.

 

Especially since Michael Hirst likes to "use" history as opposed to following it 100%.  All people creating historical fiction do to different degrees of course.  He isn't unique that way.  So maybe he may have come across the name Athelstan when plotting out the general drift of his vision for the show and decided, "Hey, I can use the name for that guy I'm going to base on those real monks that got captured by vikings and then later I can have him turn out to be the real father of Alfred the Great.  Then we can have the tragic irony of Athelstan's son and Ragnar's sons battling each other out in Vikings:The Next Generation."

 

Or I could be totally wrong about Alfred of course.  But Alfred the Great is too big an historical figure (the biggest as in most well-known of them all of this era) to hide even dramatically and Hirst seems to have all his characters tied into each other somehow.  It just ups the dramatic ante if Aethelwulf really isn't his father and Athelstan is.

 

As much as I love the history you have to have drama first to hook the viewers so it usually wins over accuracy and you can but hope that the final product is worth it as a result.  In this case I think this show is well worth it and the best show on TV right now and I would be fine with Athelstan fathering Alfred.  If not, well I have my pipe dream here now.

 

Kind of a PS:  Since Alfred became a bit of a great scholar as well and since Aethelwulf doesn't even read at least not Latin and thinks learning is for sissys according to comments he made last season, another indication Alfred may have been sired by someone like Athelstan instead.

Edited by green
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I love history as much as anyone, but I'm good with what Michael Hirst is doing especially when you consider the status of recordkeeping in the time period we're talking about.  Many historians are uncertain if there was one actual Ragnar Lothbrok or whether he might have been a compilation of several people from the sagas, which appear to be quite the blend of history, mythology, and mysticism.  In the same way, almost everything we know about this era from the English side comes from the writings of monks, who certainly would have had their own perspective on foreign invaders who showed up periodically to burn their monasteries and pillage and plunder and also probably would have seen the wisdom in not paintings their monarchs in the worst possible light.  

 

Hirst is compressing some of the few dates and specifics we do have, but there's a whole lot of unknown for him to fill in the blanks around.  And lets be honest that most of us don't want to watch the Northmen sit around quietly farming for however many years while Ecbert and his court bicker fruitlessly about treaties until the next correct historical date pops up.  We know on paper who Alfred the Great's parents were, but as seen in the recent brouhaha over the DNA testing on Richard III's remains that show that someone other than who was supposed to be there was definitely in the family tree, what's on paper isn't always the final truth either.

 

That's my longwinded way of saying that I'm backing the Alfred theory right now too, because it's the most interesting one to me and it gives me the greatest promise of payoff for a story I've otherwise really hated.   I feel like it's obviously setting up for that kid to be somebody who's going to be important down the line.

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From History:  KING of ENGLAND              RULED

                        Saxons

                        Eckbert                                 826-839

                        Ethelwulf                               839-858

                        Ethelbald                              858-860

                        Ethelbert                               860-866

                        Ethelred I                              866-871

                        Alfred the Great                    871-899

                        Edward the Elder                  899-924

                        Athelstan                              924-939

                        Edmund I                              939-946

                        Edred                                   946-955

                        Edwy                                    955-959

                        Edgar                                   959-975

                        Edward the Martyr                975-979

                        Ethelred II the Unready         979-1016

                        Edmund II Ironside                1016-1016

 

                         Danes

                         Canute                                 1016-1035

                         Harold I                                 1035-1040

                         Hardecanute                         1040-1042

 

                         Saxons

                          Edward the Confessor            1042-1066

                          Harold II                                  1066

                            

                          Normans

                          William the Conqueror           1066-1087

Their appeared to be evidence that the Saxons had been interbreeding with Northman and Danes for quite some time but as we can see it was the Danes that conquered the Saxons first. William invaded England because he believe he had the "most legitimate" claim to the English throne after Edward died. Harold had no "royal blood", but was bequeathed the throne. William was a distant kinsman of Alfred the Great. Harald Hardrata (a Viking) invaded England and Harold's militia crushed them. Harold became a ware of William's invasion and rushed South--to his doom.

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Breaking the posts up a little.  The "bear marrying a princess" I could see either Bjorn or Rollo.  But probably Bjorn cause like said above that is what his name means and he did marry a princess eventually. 

 

But Rollo should "dance naked on the beach" ... if that is how Vikings celebrate becoming famous that is.  And he sure wants the fame all Vikings crave.  He starts a little kingdom of Northmen in the north of France.  After a couple of centuries the Northmen name has been truncated into the Normans.  And yes, like mentioned above, William the Conqueror is of his bloodline. 

 

Meanwhile in Wessex, a soon-to-be member of the royal lineage by the name Alfred the Great unites England and the throne of England stays with them until King Harold loses it to William at Hastings.  Circle of life, European history style.

 

Ironic too that the line that exterminates the first large Viking settlement in England loses England to a king come from Viking ancestors.

 

Also ironic for poor Floki had he known this future because Team Viking wins but by that time Team Viking has become totally Team Christian as well.

 

Finally, I wonder if Michael Hirst will diddle with history a little to make Athelstan's child by Judith to be that same Alfred.  (The only king in English history to ever get "the Great" added to his name btw).

Isn't he the one who defeats the great heathen army in the end? That would be a fun twist if so.

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Purportedly this raid is the 845 siege of Paris--which some attribute to being led by Ragnar Lothbruk.  Rollo should not be present. Rollo was at a later raid (I think 865). Rollo broke off from others (some went further upstream of Paris) and attacked Rouen.  Rollo would establish (and expand) holdings which became known as Normandy.  I think he became a Christian (or said he was...) and pledged allegiance to the French King.

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That's true, Stratego, but it's been clear for a while that Hirst has a rather flexible approach when it comes to dates and time lines. He seems to contract and expand time lines to make certain dramatic points.

 

The historic Rollo did become a Christian and the first duke of Normandy. He passed his dukedom on to his son when he was an old man. He seems to have reverted back to his old faith towards the end when senility struck.

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I'm amending my previous mod note. Now all posts that had argumentative parts (sniping at other posters) to them will be deleted and if this persists then the people responsible will be put on mod review for a specific period of time before you can post content. Knock it off.

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Up until the Wanderer storyline, I don't recall any of their gods actually taking part in the plot in any episode,

No, but we're seeing much of the action somewhat through the perceptions of those who were there.  For instance, there's no reason why we should ever hear Eckburt speaking a language we don't understand (and need a translation) since we have the magic of television, but we got this because the characters needed a translation (and it was pretty cool on tv).  They frame their experiences within a world where gods show up sometimes and bone the queen.  

 

A less filtered reality might have shown the Wanderer as a more scheming and a bit less god-like.  Heck, a simple shot of the guy showing up at the next village bearing 'signs' that sound vaguely prophetic would shed some light on whether this is just this guy's schtick which sometimes gets him laid.  

 

We're not so different now - I have friends who believe angels guide and protect them, and this belief colors their perceptions and actions.  Shameful to admit it but I dated a girl once who seemed to be under the impression that I was 'sent' to her for some reason, and I didn't exactly go to great lengths to disabuse her of this notion.  We later parted on friendly terms so who knows, maybe I was.

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There were two really large Viking raids on Paris 845, (alledgedly led by Ragnar) and 885 (the one where the real Rollo was present).  The first one, Charles the Bald was King and paid a HUGE bribe in gold and silver to send the Vikings away. More information can be had by using your favorite search engine.

Edited by Stratego
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There were two really large Viking raids on Paris 845, (alledgedly led by Ragnar) and 865 (the one where the real Rollo was present).  The first one, Charles the Bald was King and paid a HUGE bribe in gold and silver to send the Vikings away. More information can be had by using your favorite search engine.

Interesting… I'm also finding mention of the "Siege of Paris" in 885-886 on Wikipedia with Charles the Fat as King and  Odo, Count of Paris coming off as a hero. I'm thinking the whole Paris, Rollo, Gisella, Odo thing on the show is going to be a quite complicated. 

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Interesting… I'm also finding mention of the "Siege of Paris" in 885-886 on Wikipedia with Charles the Fat as King and  Odo, Count of Paris coming off as a hero. I'm thinking the whole Paris, Rollo, Gisella, Odo thing on the show is going to be a quite complicated. 

Yes, and the way this episode is going this looks like the 885 raid--which represents a huge time jump! There should be two bridges to Paris in 885, and one of them gets destroyed. Many ships proceed up river and raid inland. Rollo (who should have been called Hrolf--he changes his name when he gets "baptized") breaks SW on his "own raid" and starts his "Realm".

 

Hirst  is playing fast and loose with time/history--King Eckbert's rule ended in 839. If it's 845, Ethelwulf would be King, if 885--Alfred the Great is King of Wessex. Whichever, it's still a great show!

 

The name Odo rings a bell--that was a name used in Star Trek--Deep Space 9--I should have guessed back then that there actually was someone famous named Odo and that the writers didn't just invent a name.

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The historic Rollo did become a Christian and the first duke of Normandy. He passed his dukedom on to his son when he was an old man. He seems to have reverted back to his old faith towards the end when senility struck.

Not to get nitpicky, but Rollo was actually a Count of Normandy, it was his great-grandson who was the first Duke (although Rollo and the others were styled Dukes retroactively sometimes)

 

As for the casting news, she could be interesting.  I'm not sure how she'll fit in, but some random speculation: She could have something to do with the Helgo Buddha or less likely, she could be Angelica from the Matter of France (who was described as the daughter of the King of Cathay [China])

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Hmmmm.  Interesting casting notices.   I do know that MH intimated that with Athelstan gone, they do plan to introduce a character with a sympathetic view of Christianity.    I don't know if it'll be this character or someone else coming onboard that'll interact directly with the Vikings.

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I can deal with historical inaccuracies for plot purposes. The geography in Scandinavia is just a complete joke in Vikings though. Kattegat is in reality the north coast of Denmark and it is as flat as a pancake; basically an enormous beach. Yet in the series it is obviously on the west coast of Norway, which is where that part of the series is being shot. Why not either shoot it in Denmark or call the place Bergen or something, which is actually located on the west coast of Norway?

 

What really bugs me though is the lingo. I`m not able to judge the Saxon or Frankish being spoken but the Norse is atrocious. Aslaug speaks it beautifully and Floki makes a decent effort of it, but all the others are absolutely terrible. And why do they speak with fake accents when they speak English? Either do the entire show in English or the entire show in Norse/Saxon/Frankish with subtitles. And either way, do it right! Even when the Norse words are right the pronounciation is absolutely abysmal across the board. "When am the massage to the post office" stuff really and complete Rude Hungarian Phrasebook time.

But then even basic Scandinavian sounds are beyond most of the cast, which could have been fixed by talking to any of roughly 20 million living Scandinavians. And some sounds are beyond all of them, producers included, and are being mangled in every scene. For instance, Ragnar`s son is not named Bjorn but Bjørn. The correct prononciation of that wovel is not Bjorn as in "born" but Bjourn as in "journey". The entire cast should have been forced to walk around parroting "Bjourn, journey, Bjourn, journey" all day long until this sunk in. It is totally inconceivable for even a single viking to not have been fully aware of how to pronounce his name. Yet on this show none of them manage it. It makes me squirm with embarrassment in every scene he`s in.

Is it really so much to ask that at least one Scandinavian consultant gets hired on this show? At least to get the names right? Even a token Scandinavian actor would help, just to point out some of the simplest linguistic flaws. I`m even free if HBO wants to hire me....

Edited by Fishslap

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Gustaf Skarsgard is the token Scandinavian actor.  I've seen a few photos of him socializing with the cast, but I have a feeling he stays to himself and doesn't participate in accent tutorials.  The only other Scandinavian was Jarl Borg, but he's not around any more after the Blood Eagle.

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Right! Well it is jolly peculiar that they don`t mention to the producers and the Anglo cast that the entire cast, and themselves, are consistently mispronouncing the name of a major character in the series. I would refuse to do a scene while doing this and make all sorts of trouble I think. Maybe that`s why I`m not acting on HBO shows.

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Right! Well it is jolly peculiar that they don`t mention to the producers and the Anglo cast that the entire cast, and themselves, are consistently mispronouncing the name of a major character in the series. I would refuse to do a scene while doing this and make all sorts of trouble I think. Maybe that`s why I`m not acting on HBO shows.

Unless you were a major star or producer with clout, you would might find your character killed off in the next battle scene. That would probably be considered unprofessional behavior by most everyone on set.

 

Whose to say the name was not pronounced differently back then by some people. In any event, it is a TV show with limited time an budget for filming. Producers have to decide what is important and what is not. It isn't worth it to be pedantic about details that most viewers don't care about and don't really add anything to the story they are telling.

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Unless you were a major star or producer with clout, you would might find your character killed off in the next battle scene. That would probably be considered unprofessional behavior by most everyone on set.

 

Whose to say the name was not pronounced differently back then by some people. In any event, it is a TV show with limited time an budget for filming. Producers have to decide what is important and what is not. It isn't worth it to be pedantic about details that most viewers don't care about and don't really add anything to the story they are telling.

 

Well I disagree. If you`re gonna make a show about Vikings or Scandinavians then you should learn how to pronounce the three additional Scandinavian wovels. It`s not pedantic but basic stuff. For reference these are Æ-æ (Like the -a in "arrogance", pfonetically a mix of and a and an e), Ø-ø (Like the -ou in "journey", phonetically a mix of an o and a u) and Å-å (Like the -o in "rotting", or indeed like the mispronounced -o in Bjørn from the TV series called Vikings. Phonetically a mix of an o and an a). These are placed at the back of the Scandinavian alphabets, as any six year old Scandinavian would be able to tell you.

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The problem with using "journey" as an example is that I, for one, know several different English ways of pronouncing that.  I say, "jo-er-knee" (influenced by my Mother's accent) and others in the Mid-Atlantic US say "jer-knee".  Still others say "jore-knee."

 

As for Bjorn -- I actually hear "byearn" when they say his name.

 

Translating these vowels to English is not an a=b proposition to my ear.

 

Speaking of Scandinavian accents and languages -- isn't that the root of Tolkien's Elvish?  How did Peter Jackson handle it?

Edited by Captanne
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No, Tolkien`s Elvish was based on Finnish and that`s a completely different language group. I`m not sure how phonetically transliterate Finnish is, but I do know that neither English or Norwegian is at all. For instance, the English language uses a lot of -os but it basically never uses the corresponding sound. It`s either -å or -au depending on the word. I`m having a hard time even thinking of an English word with an -o in it where the -o is actually pronounced -o- Sure you could do it but it would probably sound a bit weird and most people certainly don`t.

When it comes to Bjørn it`s perfectly simple to me: the entire cast is pronouncing it as an Anglo would pronounce an -o in most cases. But it`s an -ø, not an -o. To a Norwegian, thousands of which are actually named Bjørn, what they are saying is that his name is Bjårn. That`s how they`re pronouncing it. And that`s not a name. Nobody in the history of Scandinavia has ever been named Bjårn. Bjørn is the Scandinavian word for "bear" you see and pretty unmistakable.

It`s like me making a period piece on English history and calling people Beb instead of Bob. And it really grates to be honest.

 

Icelandic: http://no.forvo.com/search/bj%C3%B8rn/is/

Norwegian: http://no.forvo.com/search/bj%C3%B8rn/no/

Swedish: http://no.forvo.com/search/bj%C3%B8rn/sv/

Danish: http://no.forvo.com/search/bj%C3%B8rn/da/

 

Obviously since Icelandic basically is Norse that`s the key one for this show. If you bother with the links you`ll also notice that the Swedish -ø is the one closest to the mistaken -å used on Vikings. But it`s still unmistakably an -ø. You`ll also notice that all of them except Icelandic contract the -r and the -n into one sound with a very nasal -n at the end of the -r.  I would therefore imagine that the best Norse way of pronouncing this would be with a rolling -r like in Icelandic, and not with the contraction of the three other languages, which is what is being used on Vikings. But you need the wovel right before we can even go there I think.

 

Edit: I am not posting this because I enjoy torturing people (Well, maybe a little), but here is my nominee for Most Tedious Youtube Video of the Year:

 

 

If you can watch it without falling asleep it will explain how to pronounce all Norwegian wovels including -æ, -ø and -å, and why the entire cast of Vikings is mispronouncing Bjørn`s name systematically. And yes it is the same in all four languages; Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Icelandic.

The only difference is that Swedish uses the letters Ä instead of Æ, and Ö instead of Ø. But they are pronounced the same as their counterparts.

 

PS: There are other names that get mangled a bit as well, including the name of the lead. The pronounciation of the name Ragnar varies wildly between at least the three continental Scandinavian languages. Danes basically try to avoid pronouncing anything, which is a source of frustration for the rest of us occasionally. If I was to brave a phonetic transcription of this name in Danish it would go about like this: "Gragnarhh". Except there`s no "G" at the start but just a vague gargling sound I don`t have a letter for. In Norwegian (And Icelandic), which is considerably more consistent between speech and writing, you still have an odd thing where this contraction is basically pronounced -ngn. So the name comes out as Rangnar, but with the first -n being very nasal and short and the -g almost gone. http://no.forvo.com/search/ragnar/The only people who pronounce this name more or less as people do on the TV show might be the Swedes. As you might imagine though this is not something I expect American producers to be able to find out during research. It is very esoteric and something I suspect most Norwegians don`t even consider. The Danish should though.

 

Since I`ve been so dull I thought I`d better post this Norwegian satire of the Danish language. It`s slightly exaggerated. But not much.

Edited by Fishslap
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I`m having a hard time even thinking of an English word with an -o in it where the -o is actually pronounced -o-

"No."   As in no way with this discussion about languages deter my enjoyment of Vikings 

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It might if I called you Yhwoll because who knows how people pronounce things right? I mean you could ask them and everything but who knows???? Let`s just make something up instead, it`s so much more fun!

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I really don't care about the accents.  As long as the Vikings sound different somewhat than the Saxons or the Franks it works for me.  Besides the accents 1200 years ago are different than now.  Norse as well as English. 

 

It's a historical fiction and not a documentary so I don't see it as a big deal any more than the costumes getting all spruced up looking or the hair being clean and combed or all the actors having decent looking teeth.  Or teeth at all, hah. 

 

Happens in all historical fictions.  I don't complain if ancient Romans aren't speaking ancient Latin corectly or at all for that matter.  Nor do I know how they would sound anyway.  Doesn't matter to me and I'm a history nut. 

 

But again, you separate the historically based drama shows/movies from documentaries and don't sweat the little stuff is how I feel.  I'm not viewing for a lesson in linguistics.  It's the feel of the show that counts for me and the feel is totally awesome.  The writing is great, the acting is great, the look is great, the music is great, the cinamatography is great.  I ain't a-complain' about this show.

Edited by green
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But it`s so basic. In the case of Norse people still speak it on Iceland and you could just ask them. To me this is the laziness of some Anglos who imagine that English is the only language ever to exist. And if I made an English period piece and mispronounced half the words you`d laugh at it. And I laugh at Vikings. It could have been good but is not, mostly because of this stuff. Vikings didn`t have "an accent". They spoke Norse. And yes it is a language. Contrary to what British imperialists tried to convince people several languages except English exist in the world. Who knew right!.

Edited by Fishslap
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