Lagertha: hereditary Danish shieldmaiden and imbued with the legendary attributes of the female aesir of the Valhallan panoply, possibly Throgerd Holgabrok (herself a noble Valkyrie who “married” successions of Norse kings as mythic protectors of the realm); first wife of raider of the French and English, Ragnar Lodbrok (literally, Ragnar Hairy Breeches… why he kept the name, who knows. Did he not get made fun of on those Viking playgrounds – you know, the ones with the slides and jungle gyms made of human bones?), who may or may not have been the ruler who led a Viking force of 100 ships to besiege and then sack Paris in 845 (setting the tone for later invasions of the rich Norman lands by an invading army of 700 ships and 30,000 angry Norsemen under King Sigfred of Denmark in 885); and eventually (according to Saxo Grammaticus), murderer of Ragnar, usurper of his name and then-on ruler of Norway, who “thought it pleasanter to rule without her husband than to share the throne with him.”
Supposedly, after being instrumental in the defense of Norway from an attack by King Freyr of Sweden, Lagertha allowed Ragnar – grandson of King Siward of Norway and head of the Norwegian forces – to court her by pretending interest, luring him alone to her house and then setting upon him a great bear and hound to kill him or prove himself a worthy man. These animals he killed, but he was thereafter annoyed that this was the price she drew from him. Lagertha repaid this price many years later, coming to his aid during the midst of a desperate battle in Denmark by sending him 120 ships from her forces to win the day. Of course, when he got back home, she might have been pissed that he had divorced her, married the daughter of the next king of Sweden and then had the nerve to ask for her help… it might explain why she drew him to a private chamber, warbled sweet nothings, and then killed Ragnar with a sharp asgeir hidden inside her apron-dress. Love is weird.
On TV, she’s played pretty appropriately by a Ukrainian toughie from Etobicoke who got her first black belt at 13, founded a martial arts school at 18, ran 3 different schools by 21, and then got a 3rd degree black belt in tae kwon do, a 2nd degree black belt in karate and became a licensed bodyguard before moving into acting. I think it’d be pretty rad to be any one of those anonymous Vikings being bashed about and then cleaved in half by a Daneaxe wielded by the real, or TV, Lagertha – skaramandion chopped into rags, pointed seax falling uselessly from my hands, an iron spangenhelm no protection from a low upward sweep delivered by a beautiful, fierce and bloodlusting Valkyrie, screaming vengeance and murder all the while. Or not. Maybe I’ll just watch.