What is the True Story of Ivar the Boneless?
If you have watched Vikings on History or Netflix then you must have been looking for the true story of Ivar the Boneless – the most feared Ragnarson known for his strategies on the battlefield and ruthlessness in general. Ivar the Boneless, son of a Danish king Ragnar Lothbrok, lived through the terrifying Viking era that ripped apart not only the minor kingdoms but the larger English Kingdoms. We know nothing much except the fact of him being living god to Vikings or being laid out like a demon in British sources. Who exactly is Ivar the Boneless and what is the true story of this strange nickname that would become the most feared names across entire Europe?
Was Ivar the Boneless Born a Cripple?
Not much is known about Ivar’s birth and early childhood. What mythology and earliest sagas hold is that Ivar was born crippled. But how come a cripple saw himself sit on the King’s throne especially in the Viking community?
Vikings had a tradition of bumping off someone like him at birth, despite he was protected being the son of a powerful chief. Ragnar’s reputation was beyond oceans and mountains so Ivar might have made it through the tough early days under the protection of the powerful legacy. He might have had a fragile body yet there is no denying of his sharp mind. In fact, he was the most clever among all sons of Ragnar. This followed his conquest over England in later years.
Was Ivar Really Boneless?
People know Ivar today as a character from a famous History/Netflix series Vikings. Ivar is the cripple in the series yet the sharpest son of Ragnar Lothbrok and the most successful in terms of objective gains. Viking sagas describe that Ivar had only cartilage was where bone should’ve been; otherwise he grew tall and handsome.
Put aside the Vikings series for a while and let us not blindly follow the narrated sagas. The term Boneless could easily signify extreme physical flexibility. But most of the enthusiasts love believing in the most sensational literature.
Historical References about Ivar the Boneless
Historic records have been exaggerated offering several theories but modern historians say that he had Osteogenesis Imperfecta (Brittle Bone Disease). 17th Century records claim that a farmer found remains of Ivar the boneless that measured 9 Ft. from head to toe. So, he might’ve been called boneless ironically due to massive bones and height. He was said to be brutal in battles therefore having no bones at all doesn’t make any sense. Another possibility is him being flexible around the joints or double-jointed. However, legends hold a more logical explanation that says, ‘neither love nor lust played any part in his life’ so perhaps, he was impotent in terms of ability to mate.
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Was Ivar Fated before His Birth?
According to Ragnar’s saga, his bonelessness was a curse. His mother, Aslung, was something between Shaman and a Witch. The Viking legend holds that the spirits forbade her to consummate before three nights after Ragnar’s return from a long trip. Ragnar didn’t pay much heed to the warning and forced himself on her. As a result, Ivar was born.
Ivar had a peerless mind. See, he inherited sheer tactics and was trusted by all his brothers. Unlike the show, he didn’t kill his brother but was in fact dedicated to family. Death of his father played a significant role in building up his ‘barbaric’ side.
Ivar the Boneless – Wrath on England
Ella, the king of Northumbia captured Ragnar, tossing him into the pit filled with poisonous vipers. This led to the creation of the Great Heathen Army. No question that Ivar not only conquered the city but captured the king and assassinated him brutally. His ribcage was ripped open from behind and lungs pulled out in the shape of wings. Salt sprinkled into wounds to add more pain.
Ivar then didn’t stop short and raided over other states of England. By 870 he captured everything from Essex to Dublin with bloodshed all across the countries. This was the era of domination over Britain.
The Death of Ivar the Boneless
In 873, as the records suggest, Ivar the Boneless died. The cause is not certain but assumptions are that the disease that kept his bones weak, finally took his life. Legend has it, he asked to be buried at a place exposed to attack and nobody would ever defeat them. He kept his words and years later, William I dug his corpse and burned it to ashes to defeat Vikings. He would no doubt be pleased that his legacy has managed to live on this day.