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Vikings: Valhalla: Who is Harald Sigurdsson, also known as Harald Hardrada?

Leo Suter will star as Harald Hardrada in Netflix's Vikings: Valhalla
Leo Suter will play Harald Hardrada in Vikings: Valhalla. Pic credit: ©ImageCollect.com/Landmark-Media

With Netflix taking over the retellings of the Viking sagas from History Channel, viewers are eager to know more about the new list of characters.

Netflix has released the following details about the upcoming Vikings: Valhalla.

The new saga begins 100 years after the original series concludes and dramatizes the adventures of the most famous Vikings who ever lived – Leif Erikson, Freydis, Harald Harada, and the Norman King William the Conqueror (also a Viking descendant). These men and women will blaze new paths as they fight for survival in an ever-changing and evolving Europe. This is the explosive next chapter of the Vikings legend.

Already, we have had a look at Leif Erikson and his feisty sister Freydis Eriksdotter. Now, let’s take a look at Harald Hardrada, who was born Harald Sigurdsson but given the moniker of Hardrada.

Who is Harald Sigurdsson in Vikings: Valhalla?

Harald will be portrayed by Leo Suter in Vikings: Valhalla. Most recently, he has had a recurring role as James Stringer in the TV series, Sandition. Others may recognize him as Jack from Clique.

As for the character Leo will play, Netflix has provided the following bio for Harald.

Born into Viking nobility, Harald is one of the last Viking berserkers.  Charismatic, ambitious, and handsome, he is able to unite both followers of Odin and Christians.

Already, viewers can get a sense of this character. However, the sagas of the Vikings give many more details about this intriguing character.

A man dressed as a Viking
A man dressed as a Viking. Pic credit: Pixabay/GioeleFazzeri

What can the Viking sagas tell us about Harald?

There are a bunch of Vikings in the sagas who go by the name Harald. In fact, as Screen Rant points out, Harald Sigurdsson has also been known as Harald Fine-Hair, which is a name that fans of the original Vikings series will remember.

This is a different Harald entirely and viewers should not confuse the two. However, he was a descendant of the Harald Finehair seen in History Channel’s Vikings, according to Iceland’s famous author of the Viking sagas, Snorri Sturluson. He wrote about Harald in his book called Heimskringla, which is also known as The Chronicles of the Kings of Norway.

If Harald’s epithet of “Hardrada” is translated from Old Norse, it translates to mean “stern,” according to Viking Age expert, Judith Jesch. However, traditionally, this moniker has been associated with the terms “stern counsel” or “hard ruler,” and sometimes it has even been interpreted as “tyrannical.”

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If these translations are to applied, then it seems likely that this character will be an unyielding leader. However, the biography supplied by Netflix appears to cloak him in a slightly more endearing way.

According to the historical sources, Harald was born in 1015 in Norway and died on September 25, 1066. During his life, he became the King of Norway.

This ruler was keen to conquer Denmark as well as Norway but according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, his “harsh suppression of lesser Norwegian chieftains cost him their military support” and he was unsuccessful.

When unable to take control of Denmark, the ruler set his sights on England instead. He managed some small gains but was, ultimately, defeated by the English king and perished at Stamford Bridge in England.

Harald also has another tie to the original Vikings series. According to the history books, he was exiled at one point and fled to Russia where he met up with the grand prince of Kiev, Yaroslav I the Wise. Harald would later marry Yaroslav’s daughter, Elizabeth.

Vikings: Valhalla will premiere on Netflix at a later date.


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