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Vikings: Valhalla: Was Harald Sigurdsson related to Harald Finehair?

Leo Suter stars as Harald Sigurdsson and Peter Franzen as Harald Finehair
Leo Suter as Harald Sigurdsson and Peter Franzen as Harald Finehair. Pic credits: Netflix/History Channel

In History channel’s Vikings, Harald Finehair (Peter Franzen) always wanted to be the king of Norway.

Now, a new Harald has arrived in Netflix’s new series, Vikings: Valhalla. He also wants to be the king of Norway.

Because of the similarities between the names and goals, many viewers are questioning whether these two people are related in the Viking sagas. Or, if in fact, they were the same people.

Harald Sigurdsson in the sagas

Harald Sigurdsson is also known as Harald Hardrada in the Viking sagas.

He was recorded as a king that ruled Norway from 1046 to 1066. It is also believed that he unsuccessfully tried to lay claim to both the Danish and English thrones in 1064 and 1066 respectively.

Harald is also greatly associated with the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066, where he died. It is this event that is often associated with being the marking point for the end of the Viking Age.

In Vikings: Valhalla, a lot of storylines with Harald also included his brother Olaf (Johannes Haukur Johannesson) and King Canute (Bradley Freegard), some of which also plays out in the Viking sagas.

Vikings: Valhalla refers to Harald as associated with the patronym Sigurdsson, giving attention to who Harald’s father was. However, in the sagas, he often goes by the moniker of Hardrada.

There have been various translations for this name over the years. Most notably, Hardrada is often translated to mean “stern counsel” or “hard ruler.”

However, some translations – including the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle – also indicate that Hardrada could be translated from a similar-sounding Old Norse word, harfagri, which translates literally into “hair-beautiful.”

Because of this, some historians suggest that Harald Hardrada and Harald Finehair (known as Harald Fairhair in the sagas) are the same people.

Leo Suter stars as Harald Sigurdsson in Episode 1 of Netflix's Vikings: Valhalla Season 1
Leo Suter stars as Harald Sigurdsson in Episode 1 of Vikings: Valhalla Season 1. Pic credit: Netflix/ Bernard Walsh

Were Harald Sigurdsson and Harald Finehair related?

Traditionally, Harald Sigurdsson was considered to be related to Harald Finehair.

Having married Snofrid Svasedatter, Harald Finehair was the father of Sigurd Rise, who in turn was the father of Halfdan of Hadafylke.

Halfdan was Harald Sigurdsson’s grandfather. His father being Sigurd Syr, hence why he is referred to as Sigurdsson in Vikings: Valhalla.

However, with the suggestion that Harald Sigurdsson might actually be Harald Finehair, this throws out the family tree.

In fact, some historians even suggest that the earlier Harald Finehair did not even exist.

While this Viking Age character is mentioned in various sources, all of these were noted down as much as 300 years after the events occurred, making it hard to decipher whether or not they are truly factual anymore.

Additionally, the two epithets describing the men – hardrada and harfagri – may have been words that were mixed up in translation, leading to historians up in arms as to whether or not the two men were actually one.

Of course, none of this has stopped either the History Channel or Netflix from turning both Viking characters into living legends on the small screen.

Season 1 of Vikings: Valhalla is currently streaming on Netflix.

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