How accurate the show Vikings really is depends on who a person asks, but the general answer is ‘not very’, since while the show has been extremely entertaining, much of what has gone on has been purely fiction, though there have been some things that people have admitted that show did get right. There are so many things to pick at that trying to get them all into one article might be impossible, but selecting a few and running them might be the general idea. For one, Ragnar is more of a fable, a legend in the culture, someone that might have existed at one point and time but was built up to legendary status and thus given far more importance in the show. Some characters did exist in history, such as Rollo and Ivar the Boneless, but they were quite a bit different in recorded history than what has been displayed in the show. This might spoil the show for a lot of people, but some of the advances in sailing technology, the raids, the armor, the weaponry, and the tactics were far different than what the show depicted. Plus, the Vikings weren’t just looking for land, though eventually this did become one of their goals when it came to settling in and establishing another place of their own. The Saxons weren’t completely innocent to be certain, but they weren’t weaklings that were treacherous at every turn either. These were people that were attempting to protect their homes and holdings just as much as the Vikings were attempting to stretch their influence, much as it’s been happening throughout the world for some time.
Like it or not, there isn’t a whole lot of historical data on Lagertha, nor is there a whole lot on some of those that rose to prominence in the show. Plus, some of the raids were completely inaccurate, the culture was skewed in a big way, and really, a lot of it was more fantasy than anything. But it’s been entertaining is what’s so great about it since the Vikings show has told an epic story of Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons, and of prophecies, triumphs, and defeats on such a scale that one can’t hardly turn away unless they’re willing to let the history of what really happened sway them from enjoying this bit of fiction. If anyone thought that just because this was on the History channel that it was based entirely on truth, they might have believed that reality TV was entirely real as well. This show has been there to be taken as entertainment, a look at history through a lens that’s been altered and reformed so as to put on a good show, nothing more. While it is true that some of the individuals did exist, they were far different, and they were not quite the same as has been seen on the show.
Longships existed before Floki figured out how to make them. The armor worn by the Vikings was much different when they went on raids, the shield wall was their biggest line of defense and was rarely broken unless there was good reason, as a lone Viking attempting to storm towards an enemy would soon become a dead Viking since after their initial raids their enemies knew not to take them lightly any longer. The Vikings were tacticians, they knew their way around a battlefield, and t’s been surmised that they did have berserkers among them, or wolfskins as they were called. These were, more or less, shock troops that took their fealty to Odin a few steps further than the most devout of Vikings, appearing to go into a trance-like state as they were put in front of a phalanx to wear down the enemy and dish out the most damage. Of course they were a bit of a double-edged sword since they were hard to control and could do as much damage to their own forces as the enemy’s. Plus, these wolfskins would be so filled with adrenaline that by the end of the battle, if they were still alive, they’d be weak as kittens, having spent every last of energy they had during the fight. It’s amazing really that we didn’t see much of this during the show, but it’s possibly for the best since the life expectancy of a wolfskin couldn’t have been that long.
Those that helped to create the show did so knowing that history was not going to be fully represented in this rendering, since people don’t want the utter truth, especially considering that the truth is often seen as a bit more boring than people want. The Vikings of old weren’t quite what we see on the show, as in some cases they likely appeared bloodthirsty and more than a little violent. But they were a seafaring people that still had much more to offer to history than simple conquest. But quite honestly, they weren’t about to beg for land.