Ragnar Lothbrok is the main protagonist of the famous TV-Show “Vikings” on History Channel. The character is based on a legendary Swedish King that led many Viking raids against the Western lands of England and France.
Although there is no reliable evidence that he truly existed seperately from the mythological aspects attributed to his name.
And therefore I will purely discuss Ragnar Lothbrok as he was portrayed in the TV-Show and not as a historical character.
When I think about Ragnar I’m always struck by awe and intense respect.
In many ways I consider him the prototype of what all men should be like.
He resembles the Warrior archetype that hides deep within every man perfectly.
Ragnar’s journey in season 1 starts a poor Viking farmer with one dream: “Sail West”.
You see the Vikings in the show did not have the capabilities to navigate the huge open ocean so they never tried to sail West. They did not even consider the fact that there were lands to be found, if they sailed long enough Westwards.
The Journey was considered too ambiguous and therefore too dangerous. So for generations the Vikings had sailed Eastward into the Baltic lands and Russia fighting the Eastlanders.
Until Ragnar Lothbrok came across a wanderer that provided him with the right tools to navigate the open seas and thus for the first time giving a Viking the ability to sail Westward.
And he did!
This is the point in the story where my admiration for his character truly begins.
Before and during the Viking Age, Scandinavia was largely a feudal society and therefore ruled by many powerful landowners called “Jarls” or the English variant “Earls”.
Ragnar’s farmland was part of the land controlled by the Jarl of Kattegat called “Haraldsson”. He was basically the ruler and therefore decided most things that took place in Viking daily life.
Most importantly the Jarl decided where the Viking fleet would raid every summer.
And every summer the Jarl decided to raid east into the Baltic lands despite the dissatisfaction of his men. Jarl Haraldsson was kind of a greedy dick and a selfish ruler.
He did not like the idea of sacrificing his ships to sail into No man’s land (West) and waste precious resources on a useless journey.
So when Ragnar Lothbrok arrived at his Hall with the idea to send the raiding party into the West instead of the Eastern Baltic, the Jarl rejected his appeal. The Jarl believed that Ragnar was a man who wanted to be famous and therefore could not be trusted.
And the Jarl was right, Ragnar could not be trusted at all.
And that is exactly why I admire Ragnar. The Jarl could have killed him for disobedience but despite the Jarl rejecting Ragnar’s appeal to sail Westward saying: “They’re my ships, I decide wherever they go!”
Ragnar decided to have his best friend Floki, who happens to be a boat builder, to build him a ship in which they could sail West anyways.
In addition to this Ragnar used all his savings from “last summer’s raid” to finance the ship.
He did not care whether it would cost him his life, he did it anyway! Ragnar had a dream to sail West and he would follow it no matter what the price was.
This is a male warrior trait that is highly admirable. All present day men should take heed of men like this. Even though the Ragnar Lothbrok I describe is fictional, history is full of men exactly like him and even much greater.
All men that carry names that we still mention, were men that dared to take the risk. Ragnar Lothbrok was the entrepeneur of his time.
He had a vision and he followed it. He did not hesitate to start a business or create his own work, he just did!
“Man is the master of his own fate, not the Gods.”
– Ragnar Lothbrok
Most men today would have immediately followed Jarl Haraldsson into the East and most men today are actually doing that!
It is called working for a boss or giving up on your dreams because you’re scared that you won’t survive without a steady income.
But not Ragnar, he did not care about making a livelihood. He was just curious to see the West. He had ambitions in his heart to become famous and so that was exactly what he did.
He cut all ropes and ties of safety and stability as a warrior-farmer under the Jarl and chose his own destiny as a leader.
He sailed West.
When Ragnar eventually discovered England and therefore the West, the fame of his exploit traveled far and wide across Scandinavia.
All of a sudden he was “The One who sailed West”.
Jarl Haraldsson ofcourse did not like this and thus an intense rivalry began between the two. This rivalry eventually resulted in Jarl Haraldsson being killed by Ragnar in a trial of single combat.
It was Viking Law that the one who kills a Jarl or King becomes the Jarl or King himself. So Ragnar the farmer was no longer and Jarl Ragnar was born.
What we modern men can learn from Ragnar is that whatever or whoever the opposition is, we’ll always prevail against it if we follow our cause with devotion.
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive or believe, it can achieve.”
– Napoleon Hill
We can do anything and everything we want and still most men choose the easy road of comfort and security.
We choose safety over adventure. (Job instead of Dreams)
We choose serving over leading. (Boss instead of Business)
We sail East instead of West. (Comfort instead of the Unkown)
Modern man is so afraid of the opinions and regulations of society (Jarl Haraldsson) that we don’t dare to follow our own dreams anymore, express our own opinions and do things that make us notorious or hated.
Ragnar Lothbrok wasn’t and therefore he became Jarl Ragnar Lothbrok.
As soon as Ragnar became Jarl he sent bigger raiding parties into the West. His ambitions grew ever larger.
He was no longer raiding monasteries but actually waging wars against the Saxon Kings of England.
This brought him under attention by even greater men like the King of Denmark called Hörik, who started to join Ragnar on his famous raid into England.
Ragnar needed the finance (soldiers/ships) and Hörik ofcourse wanted to have his royal share of the spoils.
This is what happens when you follow your ambition, you attract like-minded people that can serve your cause. The world holds people that do whatever they want in high esteem.
We do not love followers, we love leaders. We do not love fans, we love celebrities. We do not love voters, we love presidents. We do not love janitors, we love CEO’s. We do not love beggars, we love takers.
This is the truth and that is ALL there is to it!
King Ragnar Lothbrok
King Hörik was a smarter and wiser man than Jarl Haraldsson but eventually even he fell at odds with Ragnar.
The reason for this is not because Ragnar had bad people skills but because his ambitions and therefore his fame eventually eclipsed that of King Hörik.
Being a King, Hörik could obviously not handle this and therefore treachery was already at the horizon.
Although Ragnar knew all along that Hörik would eventually betray him and was well prepared for it. When Hörik stormed the Great Hall of Kattegat, Ragnar was already waiting for him there with his soldiers and finished him off.
Thus Jarl Ragnar Lothbrok became King Ragnar Lothbrok, King of the Danes.
This was a Farmer who became a King all because of one thing.
The pursuit of his dreams without hesitation.
It is key to all success in life.
It does not even matter if you achieve your dream. It does not matter if it leads to a happy ending or not (Ragnar died in a snake pit).
“Who said you should be happy? Unhappiness is more common then happiness.”
– Jarl Ragnar Lothbrok
All that matters is what you DO and WHY you do it.
Even if you’ll never become happy or if your dream fails miserably then you’ve still succeeded.
At least you followed your dream! Nobody will be able to say that your life was wasted.
Since your life was lived in the best way possible according to your mode of being and passions.
And even if you do not see all the results that your actions will cause in the world, you’ll leave behind a legacy that can serve as an example to others.
In the wake of Ragnar’s death, Vikings from all over Scandinavia gathered together in order to raid England for his name’s sake.
“How the little piggies will grunt when they hear how the old boar suffered.”
– King Ragnar Lothbrok
These Vikings were referred to as the Great Heathen Army which is an actual historical event that almost led to the annihilation of Anglo-Saxon England.
This army swept across the the four Saxon Kingdoms in the name of Ragnar Lothbrok and was supposedly led by his Sons. The army eventually established the “Danelaw” and became a ruling faction in several Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms.
If you follow your dreams, without hesitation and without anyone’s permission then you’ll become successful in life. Or your legacy becomes the drive that gives other people the chance at following their dreams.
Either way following your dreams and ambitions is the way to go.
Do not sit around and wait for others to tell you what to do.
Manifest your dreams into your life.
And do whatever the fuck you wanna do!
“You don’t need a title to be a leader.”
– Ragnar Lothbrok