Shoebury was heavily involved with the sea pirates of Scandinavia or 'Vikings' between the eighth and twelfth centuries.
In this period Scandinavian can be considered a series of small kingdoms that eventually coalesced into Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland and Baltic Russia.
'viking' to these men of the north was a plunderer who set out to gain wealth
and slaves from neighbouring kingdoms - usually travelling by
From the sixth to the ninth centuries most
raids were confined to fairly short distances using coastal waters, the more
ambitious invasions being into Russia.
Ragnar Lodbrok (Ragnar 'Hairy-Breeks' or 'Shaggy Breeches' or 'Leather Breeches'), was a king of Sweden and Denmark who reigned sometime in the eighth or ninth centuries. According to the Danish chronicler Saxo Grammaticus, the pagan Ragnar didn't belong in the Swedish Yngling Dynasty, because his father was Danish, but tricked his way in by claiming to be a direct descendant of the god Odin.
Both Saxon and Icelandic sources describe him as the son of Sigurd Ring, a Danish king of Gotland who conquered Zealand. Ragnar mainly resided in Danish Skaneland and Zealand.
The historic Ragnar Lodbrok was an Earl at the court of the Danish king Hårek who participated in the Viking plunderings of Paris in 845. The warriors belonging to the army of Charles the Bald, were placed to guard the monastery in St Denis, but fled when the Danish Vikings executed their prisoners ferociously in front of their eyes. After a "danegeld" of 7,000 pounds of silver had been paid and shared out, Ragnar went back to Denmark. By mysterious circumstances, many men in Ragnar´s army died during the journey and Ragnar died soon after his arrival in Denmark.
In later traditions, Ragnar is the king of Denmark and he meets with fabulous adventures all around the world. Among others, he met the wonderful Kraka in Norway, who became Ragnar´s wife and the mother of his four legitimate sons. Although he is something of a hero in his native Scandinavia, reliable accounts of his life are very sketchy and heavily based on ancient Viking sagas. Even the dating of his reign is not certain; there are sources that date it from 750-794, and others from 860-865. Neither really matches with what is known of him, though he may perhaps have held power as a warlord from approximately 835 to his death in 865, perhaps only being recognized as king in the last five years of his life.
Ragnar apparently spent most of his life as a pirate and
raider, invading one country after another. One of his favorite strategies was
to attack Christian cities on holy feast days, knowing that many soldiers would
be in church. He would generally accept a huge payment to leave his victims
alone, only to come back later and demand more riches in exchange for leaving.
But as the extent of his supposed realm shows, he was also a gifted military
It was in 845 that he is said to have sailed southward, looking for new worlds to conquer. With 120 ships and 5,000 Viking warriors, he landed in modern France, probably at the Seine estuary, and ravaged West Francia, as the westernmost part of the Frankish empire was then known. Paris was also captured in this year and held ransom by a Viking raider, whom the sagas say was Ragnar Lodbrok. The traditional date for this is March 28, which is today referred to as Ragnar Lodbrok Day by certain followers of the Asatru religion. The King of West Francia, Charlemagne's grandson, Charles the Bald, paid him a fantastic amount of money not to destroy the city. Ragnar Lodbrok, according to Viking sources, was satisfied with no less than 7,000 pounds of silver in exchange for sparing the city. However, that did not stop Ragnar from attacking other parts of France, and it took a long time for the Franks to drive him out. Later Ragnar's sons were to return for more booty. Among their feats was destroying the city of Rouen several times.
After he was done with France, he turned his attention to England. In 865, he landed in Northumbria on the north-east coast of England. It is claimed that here he was defeated in battle for the only time, by King Aelle II of Northumbria. Aelle's men captured Ragnar, and the King ordered him thrown into a pit filled with poisonous snakes. As he was slowly being bitten to death, he was alleged to have exclaimed "How the little pigs would grunt if they knew the situation of the old boar!" Alternative versions of the story say that he landed by accident in East Anglia and there befriended King Edmund before being killed by a jealous courtier. The murderer escaped to Denmark and blamed Edmund for Lodbrok's demise. Legacy One Viking saga states that when his sons heard the manner of his death, they all reacted in great sorrow.
Hvitserk, who was playing tafl, gripped the piece so hard that he bled from his fingernails. Björn Ironside grabbed a spear so tightly that he left an impression in it, and Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, who was trimming his nails, cut straight through to the bone. Although these stories may not be accurate, like virtually all tales concerning Ragnar Lodbrok, his death had serious consequences. His other sons, Ivar the Boneless (alias Hingwar) and Ubbe soon learned the details of their father's death and swore that they would avenge his killing, in time-honoured Viking tradition which eventually they did (see below ). Following their revenge at York in 866 they moved south to East Anglia, on the way attacking the monasteries of Bardney, Croyland and Medeshampstede where, according to tradition, their army slew 80 monks. Eventually they captured King Edmund and had him shot by archers and beheaded. These wars were a prelude to the long struggle of the Saxons of Alfred the Great against the Danes a generation later.
Ivar Ragnarsson (died 872 in Dublin), nicknamed the
Boneless, was a Viking chieftain (and by reputation also a berserker, meaning
that he fought withou a chain-mail shirt or 'sark').
In the autumn of 865 A.D., with his brothers Halfdan Ragnarsson (Halfdene) and Ubbe Ragnarsson (Hubba), he led the Great Heathen Army in the invasion of the East Anglian region of England. An accommodation was quickly reached with the East Anglians. The following year, Ivar led his forces north on horseback to Jorvik (which was the name the Danes used for York). The Northumbrians were at that time engaged in a civil war.
Ivar's brothers had tried to avenge their father by attacking Aelle earlier but were beaten off. Ivar then went to king Ælla and said that he sought reconciliation. He only asked for as much land as he could cover with an ox's hide and swore never to wage war against Ælla. Then Ivar cut the ox's hide into so fine strands that he could envelope a large fortress (in an older saga it was York and according to a younger saga it was London) which he could take as his own. As he was the most generous of men, he attracted a great many warriors whom he consequently kept from Ælla.
In 866 they met King Aelle in battle, and captured him. Ivar sentenced him to die according to the custom of Rista Blodörn or Blood Eagle, an exceedingly painful death. This meant that Ælla's back was cut open, the ribs pulled from his spine, and his lungs pulled out to form 'wings'.
Ivar succeeded in holding York against a vain attempt to relieve the city in A.D. 867.
Ivar is also attributed with the slaying of St. Edmund of East Anglia in 869 AD. By account, when Edmund refused to become the vassal of a pagan, Ivar had Edmund bound to a tree, whereupon Vikings shot arrows into him until he died.
In Ragnar Lodbrok's saga, there is an interesting sequel to the Battle of Hastings: it is told that before Ivar died in England, he ordered that his body be buried in a mound on the English Shore, saying that so long as his bones guarded that section of the coast, no enemy could invade there successfully. This prophecy held true, says the saga, until "when Vilhjalm bastard (William the Conqueror) came ashore, he went to the burial site, broke open Ivar's mound and saw that the body had not decayed. Then Vilhjalm had a large pyre made upon which Ivar's body was burned.... Thereupon, Vilhjalm proceeded with the landing invasion and achieved the victory."
A possible great grandson of Ragnar (Norse genealogies can
be tortuous due to the muddling of names, sobriquets and sources) called Rolf
settled in the area of Rouen permanently in around 897 - not long after the
first Anglo-Saxon Chronicle mention of Shoebury in 893.
A possible great grandson of Ragnar called Hrolf or Rolf or
Rollo, the son of Ranvald Eysteinson Jarl of Möre, settled in the area of
Rouen permanently in around 876. He visited England in 897 - not long after the
first Anglo-Saxon Chronicle mention of Shoebury in 893 - and appears to have
been a friend and ally of Alfred the Great.
Rolf was too tall to ride the small horses of the Orkneys
and Shetlands and had to walk everywhere. He was therefore known as Rolf the
Ganger or walker, a term that still exists in Scottish and Geordie dialects,
ie. 'gang awar' or walk away and 'ganging along' or walking.
Following extended raids into Russia, which was also known as Greater Sweden, Rolf offended the Norwegian King, Harald I, Fairhair (or Hairfair) by raiding the Vik which was the area around Oslo. Since his father was by this time Harald's greatest friend the King banished Rolf rather than having him killed. Rolf sailed to France, to the area well known by his ancestor Ragnar, and made it his new base, the land becoming known as Normandy (for "Northmen", as the Franks called the Scandinavians).
Rolf was baptised in 912 as part of the agreement of the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte where he and the French King finally ended their long wars and Rolf, bearing the Christian name of Robert, became acknowledged as Duke of Normandy.
He was the Great Great Great Grandfather of Vilhjalm bastard (William the Conqueror).
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