As Ragnar Lothbrok said, “power can be dangerous as it attracts the worst and corrupts the best.” He was actually one of the best that power corrupted. When he started his adventures of Raiding England, Ragnar was a simple man, compassionate and loving to his family and friends including Lagertha and Floki. However, as he became more powerful, things started falling apart. He became more obsessed with greatness and having more sons. He left Lagertha, got addicted to hallucinogenic mushrooms, attempted suicide and finally got himself killed. He was a great man with enormous accomplishments but that doesn’t overwrite the fact that he made lots of mistakes as well.
Sleeping With Aslaug
Aslaug was smart enough to solve Ragnar’s riddle, but you don’t cheat on your wife that stood with you all those years because someone else solved your Riddle. Lagertha had fought for Ragnar and protected his children while he was away raiding in England. When Earl Haraldson tried to kill Ragnar’s family on the farm, Lagertha fought them just as hard as Ragnar and saved her husband’s life. Aslaug, on the other hand, looked like trouble from the start. She couldn’t fight and obviously didn’t love Ragnar, she only cared about getting married to a great man and Ragnar was the closest one she could find.
Attempting To Sacrifice Athelstan
Athelstan was traumatized when his monastery was attacked by the Vikings and only came with Ragnar to Kattegat after he had gotten him drunk on ale. Ragnar then humiliated the monk by inviting him to join them in bed with Lagertha. Athelstan still tried to be nice to Ragnar and his family and even befriended his children before saving his life when Haraldson attacked Ragnar’s home.
He was a slave who had been forced to deny his religion but that doesn’t mean Ragnar had the right to sacrifice him. Ragnar cordially invited the young Monk to follow him to Uppsala only to shock him with the news that he was the sacrifice. It was good that the priest noticed Athelstan touching his cross and realized the poor monk was still a Christian.
Lagertha had done everything a Viking wife and mother would do and even more. She loved Ragnar despite his many flaws and knew that her place was by his side, through thick or thin. When Ragnar cheated on her with Aslaug, Lagertha forgave him. She understood that her fate was tied to that of the man he loved.
However, the man she loved shamed her when he decided to make her a second-class woman by trying to share her with Aslaug in the marriage that she had tried so hard to save. Lagertha deserved the throne of Kattegat just like Ragnar because she had also fought for it. Humiliating her like that then making Aslaug the queen of Kattegat was the peak of Ragnar’s disrespect.
Bribing The Lawmaker To Save Rollo
Rollo’s betrayal in Frankia was the final blow that caused Ragnar’s lose his will to live. That would never have happened if Ragnar had let Rollo face justice the first time he betrayed him. Rollo was always jealous of Ragnar and he was going to try and usurp him one day whether Ragnar liked it or not. He had already betrayed him by sleeping with Lagertha, a woman Ragnar loved, but Ragnar didn’t know about that. Ragnar knew that Haraldson had attempted to use Rollo to turn on him though. When Rollo fought alongside Jarl Borg, he risked Ragnar’s family and even attempted to kill him. Ragnar was right to try and save him but he should have had the lawmaker banish him or just kill him.
Trusting King Ecbert
King Ecbert was cunning and shrewd and Ragnar saw that when he manipulated the Vikings into fighting for Kwenthrith to retake Mercia before ten taking Mercia for himself. He was clever and ambitious but also cruel. There was no way he would let the Viking settlement stay in Wessex because it was a symbol of defeat to him and a reminder that the Vikings were close by. Ragnar should have taken some actual insurance from Wessex to ensure that Ecbert would keep those people safe.
Leaving Rollo Behind In Frankia
Rollo was Ragnar’s brother but he was also his destruction. He was ambitious and would jump onto the first chance he got of becoming a great man like Ragnar. Ragnar’s trick of playing dead had worked and he got the treasure he wanted from Frankia. It was now a perfect time for him to set up the settlement he was planning because the Frankian defenses were weakened. Ragnar chose to go back to Kattegat and leave Rollo behind saying he would come back and raid again. Rollo didn’t enjoy being left behind to babysit a reserve army. He chose to marry a princess and become a King rather than wait for Ragnar who wouldn’t have made him king anyway.
Yidu was the slave from China that Aslaug gave to Ragnar to keep him happy. Ragnar was no longer in love with Aslaug and he was also disinterested in ruling which is why he enjoyed the company of Yidu who then got him hooked on hallucinogenic mushrooms. At first, their relationship was fruitful as Ragnar asked her about China as if he hoped to raid it one day. However, as Ragnar god addicted to the mushrooms, he became worse and stopped caring about Yidu as a person.
When the mushrooms ran out, Ragnar lost his mind and became violent. He turned into a disoriented impulsive king that couldn’t make any meaningful kingly decisions. He ended up killing the poor slave because she couldn’t provide any more drugs and also threatened to tell the people what Ragnar was hiding from them about the settlement in England.
Disappearing From Everyone
Losing to Rollo in the second raid of Frankia was hard for Ragnar. The betrayal combined with the loss of the settlement in Wessex meant that Ragnar’s gains as king had been destroyed. He feared that his people would no longer respect him and that was a place Ragnar didn’t want to be. Everything wasn’t lost though as Ragnar could have raised the army and attacked Wessex with more ferocity than before to retake the land. Ragnar chose to give up on everything and disappear for all those years. When he returned, his family and his people had lost faith in him and that was the end of him as a great man.
Going Back To England
Ragnar’s sons still loved him and respected him as their father and none of them would have dethroned him. All he had to do was sit on the throne and rule Kattegat and that would have allowed him to regain the respect of the people with time. Instead, Ragnar chose to go back to England without a plan. He was obviously committing suicide because he had many enemies there and he would never survive without an army. When his sons and the warriors refused to accompany him, he chose to go without an army knowing very well that he would be killed. He left Kattegat without setting up an heir and uniting his family and the result was the instability that led to the deaths of his two wives and sons in the later seasons of the show.
Killing His Own People
By the time Ragnar returned from his years of absence, he had obviously turned into a totally different man that no longer cared about life. The old Ragnar would never have turned on his own people, leave alone butcher them in their sleep. Ragnar lied to a couple of peasants and old warriors and convinced them to accompany him to England. He then decided to kill them as they slept so that the Saxons wouldn’t deem him a threat as he entered their kingdom. Those people were not a threat to anyone though. He should have at least told them to run or choose their own paths rather than butcher them.