The Vikings in Europe of the eighth and ninth century were dedicated to a pagan god of war, Odin.
Cramped by the confines of their barren, icebound northlands, they exploited their skill as shipbuilders to spread a reign of terror then unequalled in violence and brutality in all the records of history.
The greatest wish of every Viking was to die sword in hand and enter Valhalla, where a hero's welcome awaited them from the god Odin.
The compass was unknown, and they could steer only by the sun and the stars.
Once fog closed in, they were left helpless and blind.
After all, the earth was flat.
Sail too far off course, and the black wind would blow them across the poison sea that lay to the west and over the edge of the world into limbo.
Their abiding aim was to conquer England, then a series of petty kingdoms, each one the jealous rival of the next.
Thus, when the Vikings set forth to rob and plunder England, they never sailed out of sight of land.
They confined their attacks to swift overnight raids.
It was no accident that the English book of prayer contained this sentence:
"Protect us, oh Lord, from the wrath of the Northmen."
The king is dead. Long live the king.
For two months we have mourned the good King Edwin, who by the cruel Viking Ragnar was foully murdered, and still lies unrevenged.
The council of the kingdom now declare that Aella is of the true royal line and welcome his succession to the throne.
Thank you, my gracious lady.
Rest assured that the barbarians that murdered your husband, my cousin, will soon feel the weight of my anger.
And though your union with Edwin was fruitless, feel confident that you retain the respect of us all.
You may retire... Queen Enid.
We, Thurston Bishop and Matthew Bishop, ask you, will you take Aella as your king and accept...
You need not fear, my lady. His words cannot hurt you.
He has no right to the throne.
There is no direct heir, my lady.
There is an heir.
Brother Godwin, I am with child. But not Edwin's.
The child is that of the Viking, Ragnar.
A bad omen.
The holy sword Requitur, the sword of kings.
Long live the king!
He is the son of a barbarian... but I love him as if he were Edwin's child.
There are already rumours of his birth. If they were to reach Aella...
Where are you sending him?
To Italy, to be tended by monks who will not know his identity.
But his life will be safe, and yours too.
The pommelstone of the sword Requitur. It is his by right.
If you hope to identify him in years to come by this stone, so can his enemies.
20 years passed. Queen Enid had died, but the rumour that she had given birth to a son continued to plague Kink Aella.
Although his castle became the stronghold of all England, Aella was unable to stop the Viking raids.
Now let it be known throughout the kingdom of Northumbria that I, King Rhodri of Wales, bestow on King Aella the hand of my daughter, Morgana.
I will consent to this.
I, too, King Rhodri of Wales, consent.
Praise be to God.
Please rise, child.
On the first day of spring, you will become my bride.
I trust, Lord Egbert, that you approve of this alliance?
With all my heart, sire.
Then why do you spread tales of an heir to the throne left by Queen Enid?
"Tis common knowledge, sire.
The queen on her deathbed spoke of a son sent off to Italy with the pommelstone of the sword Requitur tied about him.
Your Majesty, is it wise to speak of things so long in the past?
I hope soon to silence these wagging tongues.
This beautiful child will present me with an heir to the throne.
And this marriage will combine our strengths and protect our people from the depredation of the Vikings.
That is not enough!
I must also expose a traitor in our midst.
Surely there are no traitors in this hall, sire.
Cousin Egbert... why have your lands never been attacked by the Vikings?
What do you mean, sire?
Neither your lands nor those of your conspirators have suffered any harm.
Conspirators?! You have schemed against me.
I'll not be the scapegoat for your failure to stop the Vikings!
You have conspired with the foes of England to dethrone me!
What foes? The Vikings! Take him out!
Lies will not sustain a tyrant!
Use skill. It must appear as if he took his own life.
He's gone, sire! Hunt him down.
Bring me his head!
We've waited half the night. I nearly didn't get here at all.
Aella knows of our meetings. You've got to take me with you!
He's no more use to us. Send him back.
That's no way to reward a man who's guided our raids.
No, we'll find good use for him.
Make sail for Long Sound. Make sail for Long Sound!
Hail, Ragnar! Hail, Ragnar! Hail, Ragnar!
I drink to your safe return in English ale!
I wish that it were English blood.
Hold your mouth! This is an Englishman.
Englishman? Lord Egbert. An ally.
Then drink to my father's return, Englishman.
Do you want the English to think we're barbarians?
This is Einar, my only son in wedlock.
He's so vain of his beauty, he won't let a man's beard hide it.
He scrapes his face like an Englishman.
Hail, Ragnar. And hail, Ragnar's beard.
I want you to teach Egbert our customs. I'll teach him.
Remember I live by brains, not brawn. Yes, my lord.
Then fetch him a horse. Now?
Einar... Gently, gently. I know. Brains, not brawn.
He's got to draw us maps of the English coast!
What man ever had a finer son?
Odin could have sired him, but I did.
Don't be frightened. She's forbidden to hunt Englishmen.
Too much for her to swallow. We have the same sport in England.
With hawks like this? Watch.
You call that a hawk?
I think we have hawks to equal that one.
Here. Bring up Long Claw.
Look, now there's a hunting bird.
You again. Whose bird is that? It's mine.
Oh? A slave with a hunting hawk?
I found her frozen to a tree. Where'd you steal it?
Sandpiper was with me when I found her.
The perfect witness... deaf and dumb. Perhaps you'd like your tongue cut out.
Then you'd tell no more lies. I'm not a liar.
Is this the way slaves talk to Vikings?
Tell the English lord that you're a liar.
Don't kill him.
Bring in the slave.
Look how he glares at me.
If he wasn't fathered by a black ram in the full of the moon, my name is not Ragnar.
What would you do with him in your country?
We have a special reward which is rather entertaining in a noisy way.
What's that? Nothing much, just a pit full of wolves, half mad with starvation and trained to appreciate the flavour of human blood.
Ah, you see! The English are civilised.
Can you think of anything worse? I can think of something far worse.
I guess you can, with your pretty dainty face spoiled.
But he was a good slave. Kill him quick.
No. No quick death for him. What do you suggest I do with him?
I want this slave alive.
After tearing your face apart?
The sun will cross the sky a thousand times before he dies.
And you'll wish a thousand times that you were dead.
You can't kill the slave.
What do the runes say?
If Odin willed that Eric should die, Thor's hammer would sound his death knell.
But the sky is silent.
The curse of Odin waits on him who kills the slave.
Then no man shall kill him. Let the tide of the sea do it.
Bind him, cast him into the slop-pool at low tide! Take him out!
You'll throw him into the slop-pool to be drowned and eaten by crabs?
Then let the crabs be cursed by Odin! That's my decision.
If he survives the pool, what then?
If he's still alive when the tide turns, then any fool who fishes him out can have him!
Send a wind and turn the tide.
Put her on the testing board.
I think I'll go and watch that slave drowning.
Stay here! You'll see something more interesting.
It does look rather an interesting game.
It's not a game. It's Odin's test for unfaithful wives.
Is she an unfaithful wife?
Ask Einar. Her husband says she is.
Which is he? He's throwing the axes.
But, uh... if she's innocent?
Her husband will succeed, the braids will be cut.
Supposing he misses the braids and hits her?
Well, then she's guilty. I see.
But what happens if he misses both the girl and the braids?
Three misses and we drown him.
You're too drunk! You'll split her wide open!
Drunk, am I? I haven't had enough!
You missed her, didn't you?
What a son!
Kitala, my legs, my legs...
Move your legs, Eric. You must move them.
Where did this slave boy come from? Bjorn brought him here from a raid.
He was taken from a ship on the sea.
And this was found about his neck? Yes.
It's the only possession he ever had. He has no need of it now.
He's going to die.
Listen to me, little slave. Einar is in the hall celebrating your death!
Einar is laughing at you!
Live, Eric. Fight the cold. Live and fight Einar.
Fight Einar. Fight Einar.
Odin has answered you. They were only flying clouds.
You're blind. They were Odin's daughters.
I heard the singing of their battle swords as they rode across the sky.
They bring the wind.
They bring the wind!
Listen to it.
The north wind, it's turning back the tide. Cut him loose.
The tide is going out. Your job is done.
I'll take the slave.
He's mine, Einar! The wind turned the tide and I pulled him out.
I'll take him, Englishman.
If your father's word means anything, he's mine.
Why such a sudden interest in a slave, my lord?
Shall we say, an English passion for converting the wicked to the paths of righteousness.
Well, you're not in England now.
And you never will be unless I draw maps of England for your father.
You can keep the slave... for as long as you live.
Odin's thanks for saving him. And at no little risk to myself.
Do you know what this is?
Some day, I'll tell you what it is.
And you'll remember then that I saved you.
I'm still a slave.
You won't be when we get to England. I'll never get to England.
You're like a wounded animal. You trust no one.
Good day, my lords. Hail, Egbert!
How's the boat coming along? She'll be ready in a week.
Well, she's no sea dragon, but she'll do for a toy.
Does Einar still bear me a grudge?
You were a fool to anger my son. He'll kill you one day.
You're not still angry, are you, Einar?
That depends. On what?
On how well you draw maps.
See for yourself. This is a map of Wales.
Wales? That slag heap? That's not worth one night's raiding.
It holds the richest prize of all: King Rhodri's daughter, Morgana.
Ha! Rhodri couldn't raise enough to ransom a Skagerrak moose.
No, but Aella could. He's to marry her in the spring.
Einar, I think our Englishman has a good idea.
She's leaving soon and must go round this point.
Here? You're sure? I'd stake my life on it.
You already have.
Let me intercept her and bring her back here.
How many men would you need? One boat.
Only one boat? No more.
What about him without the collar? Would you take him along?
Well, naturally I'd take along my slave.
You stay here and draw maps. I'll kidnap the girl.
Get him to draw maps that'll guide a ship through fog... then he'll be worth keeping.
There is no map of any use in fog. Then what use are you to us?
Think of that while I'm gone. And don't let anything happen to that slave.
It's a strange metal that fell to earth from the North Star.
Sandpiper brought it from far away.
The price he paid was his ears and his tongue.
No matter how you hold it, it struggles to return homeward to the star from which it fell. It always points to the north.
Not in the fog. You cannot see the stars in the fog.
Can it see the star through these walls?
This could lead you to many places.
Even to the land beyond the poison sea, Valhalla.
You will go there one day.
Only great heroes have ever reached it.
See what the runes say.
Will this take me there?
A woman will point the way.
What will she look like? You will know her when you see her.
When will that be? Soon enough.
Will she love me or hate me?
Love and hate are horns on the same goat.
What woman would ever look at a slave?
This one will.
You're lying, Kitala.
All your tales are lies.
Don't look so sad, my lady. It doesn't become you.
Bridget, how can I marry a man that I hate?
It's not easy to be a princess, but you have a duty.
This alliance will help your people. You must marry Aella.
I would rather that I were dead.
The Vikings! Turn back! It's the Vikings!
Quick, my ladies, inside.
Steersmen, cut to the wind! Forecastle men forward!
Remember, she's not to be harmed or she's worthless in trade!
All pull at the bowline!
Bend your backs!
Oh! No! No!
My lady! No!
No! No! My lady... help!
Welcome aboard, my lady.
Aella will kill you for this.
Aella? It would be a pity to send you back to him.
What do you know of Aella?
Well, I know he'll pay all the treasure he's got to get you back.
I'll keep you for myself.
By Odin, she'd make a fine Viking queen.
Get away from me!
Hey, now first a little kiss of welcome.
A little kiss of welcome. No!
Remember, she's not to be harmed or she'll be worthless in trade.
Pretty bird, pretty feathers. Build her a nest so she can hide.
Too many hawks around here!
Make sail! Make sail.
Hail, Einar! Hail, Einar! Hail, Einar!
Hail, Einar. Hail, Ragnar.
I give thanks to Odin for your safe return.
Well, where is she? Where's who?
Who do you think? Your friend with the pigtails?!
Oh, stop shouting. You sound like a moose giving birth to a hedgehog.
Einar! Get this grain ashore.
I wanna know why you missed the wench you were sent for.
I didn't miss her. Where is she?
A little skinny, perhaps, but not bad. Not bad at all.
Restrain yourself, my lord.
If she is dishonoured, she'll be worthless as a queen and Aella won't ransom her.
I don't need traitors to plead my cause. My quarrel is with Aella, lady, not you.
We agreed you would be unharmed.
Remember that, Einar. Leave her alone. I haven't touched her... yet.
And you never will. I'd kill myself first.
Ah. She doesn't seem to like you. She likes me well enough.
I doubt it, from the looks of her.
So do I.
But the time will come. Never.
You like the scars on my face, don't you, hm?
Sure, my beauty stirs her little heart.
You have better luck with falcons. She'll never call you dainty-face!
Of course not, my lord. He's just a slave.
Let's go ashore and take her along. She stays here.
We'll talk about her again, when you're more drunk or more sober.
Olaf! Anchor the boat out on the fjord. And guard her well.
Ah, come. You'll soon forget the wench.
She's too skinny anyhow. She's beautiful.
Ah, all those bones sticking out, she's an old crow with all the feathers pulled out.
She said she'd kill herself if I touched her.
They all say that. What they really mean is they'll kill themselves if you don't.
Maybe, but I've never had one spit on me and bite me.
Huh! They'll bite all the more now that you're Einar One-Eye.
I wanted to thank you for proving me innocent.
Go back to your husband.
Come. Drink. No one woman is worth all this fuss.
Well, my lady, as terrible as this captivity is, at least we should be thankful that so far our honour has been spared.
Yes, Bridget, we have that to be thankful for.
Strange how things never turn out the way you expect.
I always thought Vikings attacked their women.
We've been very lucky.
It hasn't been due entirely to luck, Bridget.
He can't help the way he acts. He's a pagan, my lady.
He's a mad dog. Well...
If it weren't for the scars on his face, he'd be rather nice looking.
Oh, for a Viking, I mean.
I don't want to talk about him.
Scratches and bites won't hold him off for ever.
What a son!
How about my mother?
Tell me, did my mother fight you?
Ah, did she fight me.
I have the scars of her scratches and bites all over me.
Ha! What a woman.
That's how I feel about Morgana.
Look at me.
Do you think with this face I want the kind of wife who'd let me touch her?
I want her to fight me tooth and nail, the first time I take her and the last.
You are my son.
And you'll be wearing this one day. Don't forget that.
I won't forget it.
Now... if you really want her, as skinny as she is, I give her to you.
Wait a minute. What do you mean, you...
You mean we won't ransom her? No! You can have her.
Oh, I'll give this little wench from Wales a reason to bite and scratch.
Son of Ragnar!
I'll show her what forging can be done when fire fights fire!
I'll make her howl till they hear her in Wales!
My pretty little bird, sharpen your claws!
All right, men! Everybody off!
Morgana and I wanna be alone.
Good job, mate!
Thank you, Olaf!
Morgana! Out! Out!
We don't need you. I can't swim!
If you touch me, I'll kill myself.
There's a sword to do it with... because I'm going to touch you.
Fight! A woman can't fight a man.
You wench! Kick, bite, scratch!
Now come on.
I will not lift one finger to resist you.
Whatever you do will be on your conscience.
Then let it be on my conscience.
I've come to help you escape. Escape?
I've stolen a ship. My lady, it's a tiny boat. We'll drown.
Are you afraid? Yes.
Will you come with me? Yes.
My lady, how do you know you can trust this slave?
I know. If you don't want to come, you can stay.
Wait. Wait for me.
Our only chance is to get far away by morning.
Yes, I can see that.
We'd go a lot faster if we all rowed.
Yes, we would.
Do you mean that I should row this boat?
Yes, I do mean that.
Get an oar and row. But a princess doesn't row a boat.
Get an oar and row. But I can't. I don't know how.
Learn. You too.
What's the matter now? This bodice is too tight. I'll have to stop.
What's a bodice? This dress I'm wearing.
It's too tight right in there... Oh!
Row. Mine isn't too tight.
It's Einar. Turn! Turn!
They are heading for the fog. We'll get them!
We can't go into the fog. Keep rowing.
The men are afraid we'll run aground. So am I.
Grab hold of the mast.
I'm going under!
Lift me out.
Back to your oars!
Back to your oars! Give up the chase.
Morgana's out there! After them!
The Great Snake is sunk. You want to wreck this ship too?
Where's Ragnar? At the bottom of the fjord.
The curse of Odin on that slave!
If I have to cross the poison sea, I'll find him.
I swear it... by the sacred blood of Odin.
No. I'm worth more alive than dead. Are you?
No. But I value my life much more now.
Of course, I'm grateful to you for saving me and Aella will certainly reward you...
Why should I take you back to Aella? But you must.
I'm pledged to him on my father's word.
I didn't steal you away just to give you to another man.
Aella isn't another man. He's a king.
And I'm a slave.
And I loved you the moment I saw you.
I loved you even before then.
Kitala saw it in the runes.
That's just Kitala's silly talk.
Do you love Aella?
I belong to him... by my father's word as a Christian king.
What's your father's word compared to Odin's will?
Do you know which of all the oceans is the widest?
The poison sea.
The ocean between a Christian and a heathen.
Our hands can reach across it as easily as that.
But that's just a joining of the flesh.
What else is missing? The joining of our souls.
If our hands are touching, our souls must be touching.
But your soul is heathen.
If my soul is content to be heathen and yours content to be Christian, let's not question flesh for wanting to remain flesh.
We'll be in England soon.
Suppose Aella releases you from your pledge.
Then I'd be free.
But why should he?
I'll find a way.
How can I make you understand?
What would be the worst thing for a Viking?
To die without a sword in his hand and never enter Valhalla.
For me to break my pledge to Aella would be as bad as that.
I'll find a way.
You captured Ragnar single-handed?
We all owe you our thanks.
I don't want your thanks. I want Morgana.
This barbarian is under the illusion you desire to be released from your pledge.
Do you release me?
Surely you don't want to be released?
Yes, I do. That is absurd.
Sire, you gave your word. Of course.
But first things first.
Father Godwin, take the Princess Morgana to the chapel, that she may meditate before making a final decision.
Well, gentlemen, let us proceed to the kennels.
The royal pets are hungry.
That stone, my lady...
Where did you get it? Eric gave it to me.
Where did he get it?
He said it was tied around his neck when the Vikings captured him as a baby.
Since you brought him here, the pleasure shall be yours.
Push him in.
I claim the right of a Viking to die with a sword in my hand.
And I deny you that right.
Go ahead. Push him in.
Cut my bonds and give me the sword.
Why should I?
Would you deny me the right to enter Valhalla?
What are you doing?
You dare give him that sword?
And Einar is his brother.
And Eric has surrendered his own father to Aella.
Oh, Father Godwin, we must try to stop him.
You have dared to defy a king.
You shall join Ragnar in the pit.
I want all here to see the reward for such defiance.
Your Majesty, I would ask you to bear in mind that I made good your promise in the name of Holy Mother Church.
Thank you, Father Godwin. You are the watchdog of my fury.
But if a common slave can rob me of a queen and slay an enemy too cunning for a whole nation to defeat, then the day must come when he will be a deadlier foe than Ragnar ever was.
With or without God's sanction, I tell you as your king this cannot be.
Aella... Yes, my dear?
I will keep my pledge to you. Don't kill him.
In that case, nothing could distress me more than for you to think me cruel.
Then let him go.
Hold out the hand that has defied me.
Let this serve as a lesson to all Vikings.
Take him to his ship and cast him adrift.
Why do we wait?
Because of a slave, my father's bones lie now at the bottom of the fjord.
Ragnar was your king. But he had no Viking's burial.
I have sworn by the blood of Odin to avenge my father's death.
Why do we wait?
We must mourn Ragnar.
It's revenge Ragnar wants, not mourning.
Every Viking wants to revenge the death of Ragnar.
Then let's go to England now for the girl and the slave.
We don't even know where they are.
Where would the slave go but to Aella's castle to be rewarded for his treachery?
Perhaps, but what chance would we have?
Aella's castle is the strongest in all of England.
I know Aella's castle well. Here are the maps.
Einar has studied every stone and beam.
To reach the castle, we'll have to hug the English coast.
They will have days to prepare for our attack.
We don't hug the coast. We sail across the open sea.
And if there's fog? Can't we do what a slave did?
The slave used witchcraft.
His eyes saw through the fog to the stars.
Are you afraid, Bjorn?
Do not confuse fear for caution.
Odin has sent no sign.
Then you can stay here.
But we go to avenge Ragnar's death. Who sails with me?
Not even enough to man one ship.
Odin must have answered me.
Where's Morgana? In Aella's castle.
You dare to come back here just to tell me this?
No. I need you and your men to take the castle, and you need me to guide you across the open sea.
Why should you want me to free Morgana?
Because she shall be my wife.
All right, slave... you live until Morgana's free.
Odin has sent us a sign. Kill him!
Listen to me!
Make no mistake, I hate this slave more than any living man.
But he can guide us to Morgana.
What matters more to you, a foreign wench or vengeance for Ragnar?
Because of him, your father lies at the bottom of the fjord.
That's not true! Ragnar died in England!
In the fog he swam to my boat. I took him there.
How did Ragnar die?
Aella ordered him bound and thrown alive into the wolf pit.
Ragnar, bound like a sheep and thrown to wolves?
I cut his bonds.
He died fighting with the sword I gave him.
And this was my thanks from Aella for letting Ragnar die like a Viking.
Now you know how Ragnar died.
His eyes can lead us to Aella.
Who sails with me?
I will! I will!
Hail, Einar! Hail, Einar! Hail, Einar!
Strange, isn't it?
I was going to take you to England and now you're taking me.
Do you still have that stone you wear about your neck?
No, it's gone.
Oh. Just as well.
I used to think it would bring me luck.
Now neither of us will have any use for it.
It's the Vikings!
Egbert, where would Morgana be?
The safest place is the tower chapel.
Be assured, sire, the second drawbridge is much stronger than the first.
Take your magic elsewhere, holy man.
This chapel is a sanctuary.
Go ahead, jump.
You will be my queen.
I knew it the first moment I saw you.
You knew it too. You knew it that night on my ship.
It's not true. Yes.
It is true.
I don't love you.
You must love me exactly as I love you.
I hate you! It's Eric I love.
Where are you taking me? To see Eric... for the last time.
Don't kill him. You can't.
Look at this. It's from the pommel of the sword Requitur.
It was given to Eric by his mother, Enid the queen.
Oh, listen to me! Ragnar was his father!
Lies won't save him!
It's true. I swear it is.
He is your brother!
Look at him, how he hastens to his death.
He can't wait to die.
If I can't have your love, I'll take your hate.
Why did he hesitate?
Prepare a funeral for a Viking.