GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2000-10 > 0970705138
From: "Kristian Andersen Nyrup" <>
Subject: Re:Re: Ragnar Lodbrog
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2000 02:18:58 +0200
Todd A. Farmerie wrote:
> One should be careful about equating references to Inguar, son of
> Lodparch with Ivar the Boneless, son of Ragnar Lothbrok. Ragnar
> Lothbrok appears to be an amalgamation of several historical
> individuals, with a lot of legend thrown in. One can find Ragnalls,
> Lodparchs, Inguars, Bernos, etc., who in turn appear to match with the
> traditions, but there is every reason to believe that the traditions
> were concocted by joining these unconnected individuals into a single
> story (and in the case of the first two, into a single individual). I
> have seen other near-contemporary accounts of Inguar, son of Lodparch
> (in fact, just last night, but I don't recall what I was looking at at
> the time - Asser's Life of King Alfred, or AEthelweard's Chronicle
> perhaps), and he probably served as one model for the heroic Ivar the
> Boneless, son of Ragnar Lothbrok, characters of later fiction, but
> aspects of Ragnar's life can also be seen in the battle between Anulo
> and Reginfrid, which involved different people.
Thank you very much for the response and for the advices.
But nevertheless, I think, that I've still got a point.
Ivar the Boneless did exist. Perhaps he wasn't called by that nickname by
his contemporaries (just like Harold Bluetooth or Swein Forkbeard), but I
don't think there is any norse litterature of the 12th or 13th century
mentioning Ivar the Boneless, that doesn't tell about his conquest of York
and/or the killing of St.Edmund. I think it is justifiable - for the sake of
identification - to call the leader of the danes invading England,
conquering York 867, and killing St.Edmund 870 by that name.
During the period 856-873 the Annals of Ulster tell about a certain Imhar
and his deeds on both sides of the Irish Sea. Under the year 873 one reads
that "Imhar, rex Nordmannorum totius Hibernie & Brittanie, uitam finiuit".
That this king of all norsemen of Ireland and Britain is the same person as
the Imhar mentioned the preceding years as king of Dublin and the same
person as the Inguar of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle cannot be proved. But for
more than thirty years thereafter no person by the name of Imhar/Inguar/Ivar
is registered in contempory irish, anglosaxon, or continental sources. From
c.890 the history of the norse colonies in Dublin and York is crowded with
persons claiming to be a son or a grandson or just a relative of
I think that is beyond any reasonable doubt that Ivar "the Boneless" is the
only person named Ivar mentioned in any known historical book or document of
the 9th century. He is not just an average viking-chief - he is THE Ivar of
the 9th century. And to say that a person called Inguar, deserving the
reputation "cruelest of all the norman tyrants" and "killing christian
everywhere" is Ivar "the Boneless" , is not just another arbitrary same-name
If it is a possibility that this derives from some frankish work "Gesta
Francorum" written at the beginning (in the first half) of the 10th century
together with "son of Lodparch", I should think that the question of Ragnar
Lothbrok's historicity is still unsettled.
Which by the way is my only point.
I agree, that one has to oppose the uncritical use of the fairy-tales or
historic novels of the islanders and Saxo Grammaticus. I'm just concerned
about Ragnar Lodbrog: will he be an innocent victim of that campaign?
Kristian A. Nyrup.
PS. I think, you must have been reading Asser's work in which there is a
notice - considered to be an interpolation from the annals of St.Neot -
mentioning three daughters of Lothbrok and sisters of Inguar.
PSPS. I just read your second reply - I know the link and the theory of
L.H., which is very similar to that of S. Baldwin. But also L.H. seems to
ignore the fact that Adam quotes "Gesta Francorum".