“What is it about the word king that makes even the most reasonable people behave like idiots?” Ivar asked King Harald before the first battle of Kattegat. He was trying to convince Harald to help him defeat Lagertha so he could become king. However, his words were like a king’s prediction that he would make, as he became one of the worst kings of Vikings.
When Bjorn became king, he was the exact opposite of Ivar, leading Kattegat to what Gunhild called the golden days. They were both sons of Ragnar, but although power made one a heartless tyrant, it taught the other to be humble and wise. This is how the kings behaved in Vikings, some totally inadequate and useless, while others understood the needs of their people and brought positive change with their reign.
eleven Kjetill Flatnose
Kjetill named himself the King of Greenland, officially becoming the worst king in the entire show. Wherever he went, Kjetill caused trouble, and his first action as king was to sentence the people to starvation. He would not have been named anyone’s king in Norway because he was a tyrant who did not know how to live with the people, much less guide them.
When he followed Floki to Iceland, he had ambition to start his life in a new place and fulfill his ambition to become king. He then committed a massacre in Iceland after gaining Floki’s trust. He also gained Ubbe’s trust on the trip to Greenland before they nearly all got killed because he wouldn’t share a beached whale.
Ivar used Aslaug’s murder as an excuse to hate Lagertha and take Kattegat from her, but he had other plans. When he became king, he began to behave like the same idiot who had told King Harald about. He became a tyrant destroying all the good that Ragnar had created in Kattegat.
After declaring himself a god, he killed the seer and then proceeded to isolate Kattegat from the rest of the world, telling the people that the aliens were a threat to them. The worst came when he began to burn people alive for dissenting from his oppressive government. He was a good fighter with great battle strategies thanks to Ragna’s training, but he was a terrible king. Kattegat hasn’t really accomplished anything good from all the time Ivar ruled it.
9 King Aelle
King Ecbert was cunning and Aelle suffered at his hands several times, but most of Aelle’s suffering was caused by her own hand. When the Vikings arrived in Northumbria during Ragnar’s second raid, Aelle never took the time to study and understand them before attacking. He could even have gone to ask for Ecbert’s help, but chose to attack them on his own, causing the shameful defeat.
He then foolishly helped Ecbert take Mercia for himself before being publicly humiliated by his own daughter. When Ecbert finally brought him a captured Ragnar, he never imagined it could be a trap. The sons of Ragnar finished what was left of their kingdom when they came to avenge their father.
8 King Horik
It was Horik’s idea to leave Jarl Borg behind on the journey to Wessex, then when Borg took the lands of Ragnar, Horik left Ragnar to return alone and fight for his rightful place. The least Horik could do was respect the earl who had made him famous by bringing him to England.
Horik, instead, chose to eliminate Ragnar using his best friend, Floki. Horik had no idea how powerful Ragnar was. His influence as king was never felt while Ragnar lived, and that is how he died. He fell as the most insignificant king of Kattegat.
If Aethelwulf had welcomed Ubbe and Hvitserk and agreed to cede some land to the Vikings, he would not have spent his entire reign as king losing battles to Ivar. He never had the opportunity to make a single real decision. He was a failed king from the moment his father gave him the Wessex crown. Aethelwulf had spent his entire life serving as Ecbert’s puppet without learning any real leadership skills.
He did not listen to Haehmund when he warned him about Ivar’s involvement and ended up losing all of his battles against Ivar. Ecbert’s son also refused to negotiate when Ubbe and Hvitserk came to offer peace terms away from Ivar’s madness, but he was not as smart as Ecbert. It’s unclear what killed him, but whatever it was, it saved Wessex from certain doom.
6 King Olaf
“Come see the remains of humanity,” Olaf said as he burned Bjorn’s men alive when they came to rescue King Harald. There was little to no explanation for most of the things King Olaf did, but he always worked for the greater good, including helping Bjorn overthrow Ivar, but not before unnecessarily torturing Hvitserk.
He was a wise old king who knew what Norway needed, but his madness overshadowed most of his goodwill. Compared to people like Horik and Ivar, Olaf was a good king. He was a victim of Harald’s tricks and Oleg’s cruelty in the end, but he accomplished the one thing no other king ever did in Vikings; Uniting all of Norway under a single crown.
5 King Harald
Harald Finehair surviving until the last episodes of Vikings It was one of the miracles of the show. He was a weak king who only joined Ragnar’s foray into Frankia to gain some fame. Ragnar and the rest of his family never trusted him, but he was a lesser evil compared to the alternatives the Lothbroks had. He knew how to play his cards, which helped him survive even after Ivar betrayed him.
However, he was a weak leader and had no vision of what Norway was supposed to be like. When he had it all, he still lost when Bjorn fulfilled the mission of defeating the Rus while languishing in Oleg’s cell. Later, Ivar tarnished Harald’s legacy by convincing him to take part in a doomed raid on England. He left Norway’s leadership more broken than he found it.
4 King Alfred
Alfred was not as good a fighter as Aethelwulf or as cunning as Ecbert, but he was a wise king who always admitted his shortcomings and overcame them with knowledge and training. He was the perfect king for Wessex when he needed to live with Vikings while fighting other invaders.
It was a huge load that not even the best fighters like Aethelwulf and Aethelred could handle. He reinforced Wessex’s defenses using Ubbe’s training to defeat future Viking raids and at the same time offer a window for peace by granting terrain in East Anglia. His visionary leadership and positive thinking allowed him to defeat Ivar in fulfilling his grandfather’s mission.
3 King Ecbert
King Ecbert was no match for Ragnar on the battlefield, but he managed to prevent Ragnar’s sack of Wessex in his lifetime. He knew when to attack and when to negotiate and he always got what he wanted in the end. He was cunning and cruel and ended up hurting his son and the rest of his neighbors, which is why he doesn’t get the best place for King.
However, his tactics worked for the general good and he managed to keep Wessex safe long enough for his son to have something to inherit. He was smarter than Aelle, he always knew how to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. His sins caught up with him in the end, but even in his last moments, he managed to save Wessex.
Ragnar Lothbrok was just a farmer in Kattegat who ended up becoming the most famous Viking in the world. He had no leadership experience when he started raiding. All he wanted was good land for his people to settle and farm. He did not fulfill his missions, although his children did, and the credit is his.
He failed in some respects, especially in underestimating the threat his brother posed and the inability to unite his family before he died. Ragnar’s achievements overshadow all his mistakes. He set a precedent for massive achievements that his people could never have imagined.
When Bjorn Ironside died, Gunhild declared that the age of heroes was over and that the golden days of the Vikings were over. He was the last great Viking king and also the best of all. He was reasonable enough to take Kattegat from Ivar without attacking his own people.
He continued to lead his people against the Rus, and although he lost the first battle, he managed to unite all of Norway to fight the greatest threat they had ever faced with the last breath. He was alongside Ubbe in Wessex when they got the land for the Viking settlers, so he is credited with that too.
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