Did Ragnar Lothbrok from Vikings really die in a pit of snakes?

In Vikings Season 4, Ragnar Lothbrok is executed in a pit of snakes. Did this really happen in history?

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Ragnar Lothbrok did not get a beautiful death in Vikings. Now fans want to know if that’s how the real historical figure died?

Let’s start this by saying that Ragnar Lothbrok is loosely based on a real Ragnar from the past. Well, maybe. There is the legend of a Ragnar Lothbrok, but the character in the series may have been an amalgamation of other real historical figures with some of the legend thrown in. It’s hard to say considering a lot of Viking history wasn’t recorded.

So, what about the death of the character? Does this mean that it was all fictionalized? That may not be the case.

The legend of the real Ragnar Lothbrok from Vikings

Looper brings up the legend of Ragnar Lothbrok and the story of his death. Around 866 CE, there was a Ragnar Lothbrok who got on the wrong side of King Aelle II of Northumbria.

The legend goes that King Aelle thought of the creative execution and did throw Ragnar Lothbrok into a pit of poisonous snakes. The snakes did kill Ragnar.

There are other stories of this death being used against others in various parts of the world. It’s hard to say which legend is true. That’s the point of legends, isn’t it? I mean, there is a story of Ragnar killing a dragon, so you can take the stories how you want.

Just on a fun note, fans did note that the snakes used in the TV show weren’t of the venomous kind. Ragnar should have survived it, although he would have struggled to get out of the pit. This “mistake” was likely more due to the protection of the actors more than it being a “mistake.” We can give shows some liberties when it comes to safety needs and limiting the use of CGI.

Back to the real history, though. After the death of Ragnar, King Aelle eventually meets his maker. This is through the gruesome death of the “blood eagle” in the show. While history does show that Aelle died a year after the legend of Ragnar at the hands of the Vikings, it’s not likely that the “blood eagle” was the method of that death.

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Vikings is now available to stream on Netflix.