The 16 Greatest Viking Leaders of All Time

The Vikings were a force to be reckoned with back in the day. These seafaring warriors were some of the most feared people on the planet. They were known for their brutality and their prowess in battle.

But who were the greatest Viking leaders? In this blog post, we will take a look at 16 of the most legendary Viking chiefs of all time!

#1 – Rollo

The first great Viking leader on our list is Rollo. He was the chief of the Normans, a group of Vikings who settled in what is now Normandy, France. Rollo was a fierce warrior and conquered much of northern France. He eventually became the first Duke of Normandy, and his descendants ruled England for centuries.

Interestingly, Rollo was baptized into the Christian faith later in life, and he encouraged his people to do the same.

Rollo played by Clive Standen

#2 – Harald Fairhair

Harald Fairhair was of the most famous Viking leaders of all time. He was the first king of Norway and is considered to be the founder of the country. Harald began his reign by uniting several small kingdoms under his rule. He then went on to conquer Iceland and Greenland.

Harlald Fairhair Portrayed by Peter Franzen
Harlald Fairhair Portrayed by Peter Franzen

Harald was a great warrior and was almost invincible in battle. His nickname was “Fairhair” because he had long, golden hair that he wore in a braided style.

#3 – Erik the Red

Erik the Red was a Viking explorer best known for his discovery of Greenland. He was born in Norway but was exiled to Iceland for committing murder. Erik then decided to sail west and explore the unknown land that he had heard about.

He found an island that he named Greenland and established a settlement there. Erik is also famous for his son, Leif Erikson, the first European to set foot in North America.

Eric the Red

#4 – Harold Bluetooth

Harold Bluetooth was the king of Denmark in the late 900s. He is best known for his role in converting the Danes to Christianity. Harold had been raised a Christian, but he later converted to paganism.

He then decided to bring Christianity back to Denmark, and he succeeded in doing so. Harold is also credited with uniting Denmark and Norway under his rule.

Harold Bluetooth

#5 – Sweyn Forkbeard

Sweyn Forkbeard was the king of Denmark and England in the early 1000s. He is best known for his invasion of England in 1010, which resulted in the country’s conquest. Sweyn also invaded Scotland and Wales, but he was unsuccessful in conquering these countries.

He ruled England for a few years before he was overthrown and killed. However, his son Cnut the Great would later become king of England and Denmark.

Sweyn Forkbeard

#6 – Canute the Great

Canute the Great was one of the most famous Viking leaders and is best known for his conquest of England. He was born around the year 1000 AD, and his father was Sweyn Forkbeard, King of Denmark.

Canute became king of Denmark in 1010 AD after his father’s death. He later conquered England and became its king. He also ruled over Norway and parts of Sweden.

Canute the Great was a great warrior and an excellent strategist. He was also a very religious man, and he built many churches and monasteries during his reign. He died in 1050 AD, and his son Harold I succeeded him as king of England.

Canute the Great

#7 – Ivar the Boneless

Ivar the Boneless was a Viking chief who lived in the late 800s and early 900s. He was the son of Ragnar Lodbrok, one of the most famous Viking leaders of all time. Ivar is best known for his siege of Paris in 885.

This was a major victory for the Vikings, and it made Ivar a very powerful man. He also conquered much of Ireland and Scotland. Ivar’s nickname “the Boneless” comes from the fact that he was said to be unable to walk due to a birth defect.

What’s more, Ivar was a ruthless leader and was known for his brutality. He once ordered the execution of 500 English hostages to intimidate his enemies.

Ivar died in Dublin in Ireland in 920 AD, and his body was returned to Scandinavia, where he was buried in a Viking ship.

Ivar the Boneless portrayed by Alex Hogh Andersen

#8 – Ragnar Lodbrok 

Ragnar Lodbrok was a Viking leader who lived in the late 800s and early 900s. He was one of the most famous and successful Vikings of all time. Ragnar is best known for his pillage of Paris in 845, which was a significant victory for the Vikings.

This made Ragnar a mighty man, and he went on to conquer much of England, Ireland, and Scotland. Ragnar was also known for his brutality, and he once ordered the execution of 500 English hostages to intimidate his enemies.

Ragnar died in England in 920 AD, and his body was returned to Scandinavia, where he was buried in a Viking ship in the true Viking way.

Ragnar Lodbrok portrayed by Travis Fimmel

#9 – Harald Hardrada

Haral Hardrada is perhaps one of the most infamous Viking leaders of all time because of his death during the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Hardrada was born around 1010 AD and became king of Norway in 1024 after the death of his father, Olaf II.

He was a great warrior and an excellent strategist. He also conquered much of England before being defeated by Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in September of 1066.

This was a great victory for the English, ultimately leading to the end of the Viking Age. Hardrada was killed in the battle, and his body was returned to Norway.

Window with a portrait of Harald. Photo by Colin Smith. CC BY-SA 2.0

#10 – Leif Erikson

Leif Erikson was a Viking explorer who is best known for his discovery of North America. He was the son of Erik the Red, one of the most famous Viking leaders of all time. Leif set out on his own expedition to find new lands to settle, which led him to North America.

He actually discovered it far earlier than Christopher Columbus. He was born around 970 AD in Iceland, and his father, Erik the Red, was one of the most famous Viking leaders of all time.

Leif Erikson sailed to North America in 1000 AD, and he is believed to have landed in present-day Newfoundland, Canada. He then explored the coast of North America and eventually settled in present-day Newfoundland.

Erikson was a great explorer and an excellent navigator. He is also believed to have introduced Christianity to North America. He died in North America around 1050 AD, and his body was returned to Iceland.

Leif Erickson portrayed by Sam Corlett

#11 – Eric Bloodaxe

Eric Bloodaxe, also known as Eirik Fratrum, was a Viking leader who lived in the late 900s and early 1000s. He was one of the most famous and successful Vikings of all time. Eric is best known for his conquest of England, which he did twice.

He was first made king of Norway in 960 AD, but he was forced into exile in 970 AD. He then went to England and conquered it in 978 AD. He was made king of England, but he was deposed in 980 AD.

He then returned to Norway, where he became king again in 999 AD. Eric was a great warrior and an excellent strategist. He died in battle in Northumbria, England, in 1010 AD.

Eric Bloodaxe

#12 – Thorfinn Karlsefni

Thorfinn Karlsefni was a Viking explorer who is best known for his attempt to settle in North America. He was born around 970 AD in Iceland, and his father, Erik the Red, was one of the most famous Viking leaders of all time.

Thorfinn set out on his own expedition to find new lands to settle, which led him to North America. He actually arrived in North America around the same time as Leif Erikson, but he was not as successful as Erikson in terms of settling the area.

Karlsefni did manage to establish a short-lived settlement in present-day Newfoundland, Canada. He was a great explorer and an excellent navigator. He is also believed to have introduced Christianity to North America.

He died in North America around 1050 AD.

Statue of Thorfinn by Einar Jónsson

#13 – Olaf Tryggvason

Olaf Tryggvason was the king of Norway from around 980 AD to 1000 AD. He was born into a royal family, and his father was Tryggvi Olafsson, who was the king of Norway at the time.

Olaf Tryggvason was a great warrior, and he is said to have fought in over ten battles. He even won the Battle of Svolder, which was one of the most important naval battles in Viking history. During this battle, he defeated the forces of Denmark and Sweden.

He was also a great explorer, and he is said to have sailed to Iceland, Greenland, and even North America. He even converted to Christianity, which was very rare for Viking leaders at the time. He did this because he wanted to gain the support of the Christian rulers of Europe.

He was killed in battle against the forces of Denmark in 1000 AD. He was just 40 years old at the time of his death.

King Olaf Tryggvason

#14 – Freydís Eiríksdóttir

Freydís Eiríksdóttir was a Viking explorer and the daughter of Erik the Red. She is best known for her journey to Vinland, which is now known as Newfoundland in Canada. 

She is said to have sailed with her husband, Thorvald Eirikson, and their crew of 35 people. They reached Vinland in the year 100 AD, and they built a settlement there.

However, after just one winter, the native people, who were called the Skraelings, attacked their settlement. Freydís Eiríksdóttir was the only one who survived the attack.

She is said to have been a brave and strong woman, and she is an important figure in Viking history.

Freydís Eiríksdóttir played by Frida Gustavsson

#15 – Bjorn Ironside

Bjorn Ironside was a Viking leader who lived in the early 900s. He was the son of Ragnar Lodbrok, who was one of the most famous Viking leaders.

Bjorn Ironside was a great warrior, and he is said to have fought in many battles, as well as being the king of Sweden. 

He even won the Battle of Bravalla, which was one of the most important battles in Viking history.

During this battle, he defeated the forces of Denmark and England. He was also a great explorer, and he is said to have sailed to Iceland, Greenland, and even North America.

Bjorn Ironside portrayed by Alexander Ludwig

#16 – Hastein

Hastein was a Viking leader who lived in the late 800s. He is best known for his raids on England and France, where he is said to have sailed with a fleet of over 60 ships, and he raided many towns and villages along the coast of England and France.

He even ransacked the city of Paris, which was the capital of France. He was a fearless and bold leader, and many people feared him.

He is an important figure in Viking history because he was one of the first Viking leaders to raid Europe, and his raids on England and France were some of the most famous in Viking history.

Hastein portrayed by Jeppe Beck Laursen

These are just some of the most famous Viking leaders of all time. Many other great Viking leaders conquered new lands and established settlements. 

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