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Which of the sagas is Vikings: Valhalla based on?

Key artwork for Season 1 of Netflix's Vikings: Valhalla
Key artwork for Season 1 of Vikings: Valhalla. Pic credit: Netflix

Now that Vikings: Valhalla has dropped and viewers have feasted upon it, many are now questioning which Viking saga it is based on.

Season 1 of the new historical drama series centers around several important historical figures but, mostly, it settles on the stories surrounding Leif Eriksson (Sam Corlett), Freydis Erikssdotter (Frida Gustavsson), and Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Suter).

All of these figures are mentioned in the Viking sagas so let’s have a look at which ones.

Harald Sigurdsson’s saga

Harald Sigurdsson has a saga dedicated to him titled Haralds saga Sigurðarsonar.

This story features in a manuscript called the Heimskringla, written by Snorri Sturluson. This story has been translated to English and can still be purchased today but dates back to around 1230.

However, Harald’s story is much older than that and falls sometime around 1015 when he was born and September 25, 1066, when he died at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Harald also pops up in many of the other Viking sagas due to the fact he was such a prominent king at the time. In addition to that, he is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

In particular, he gets mentioned in the other sagas pertaining to Leif and Freydis.

Sam Corlett stars as Leif Eriksson, as seen in Episode 1 of Netflix's Vikings: Valhalla Season 1
Sam Corlett stars as Leif Eriksson, as seen in Episode 1 of Vikings: Valhalla Season 1. Pic credit: Netflix/Bernard Walsh

Leif Eriksson’s sagas

Leif Eriksson is known to many as the Viking who discovered the New World when he landed at a place he named Vinland. Nowadays, archaeological evidence suggests that is actually L’Anse aux Meadows in northern Newfoundland.

His story is set out in two Viking Sagas. The first being the Saga of Erik the Red.

While this story is about Leif’s father, Erik, it also tells the story of Thorfinn Karlsefni, a man who also took many voyages, one of them being to Vinland with Leif.

During this story, Leif also spends some time with King Olaf Tryggvesson (who is a different Olaf to the one that featured in Vikings: Valhalla and was Harald’s brother). it is here that he converts to Christianity before discovering Vinland.

The second saga is titled Saga of the Greenlanders. This saga has some crossover with the Saga of Erik the Red and further explores his discovery of Vinland.

It is also here where a story is told where he rescued the stranded crew of a ship and they give him the moniker of Leif the Lucky.

Frida Gustavsson stars as Freydis Eriksdotter, as seen in Episode 1 of Netflix's Vikings: Valhalla Season 1
Frida Gustavsson stars as Freydis Eriksdotter, as seen in Episode 1 of Vikings: Valhalla Season 1. Pic credit: Netflix/Bernard Walsh

Freydis Eriksdotter’s sagas

Freydis is also mentioned in the two sagas involving Leif. Both are stories that detail her trip to Vinland.

However, there are some conflicting parts of the story. One saga places Freydis as Leif’s half-sibling, the other as his full sister.

In addition to this, the Saga of Erik the Red sees Freydis the hero who single-handedly scares off the Skraeling (the native people of Vinland as described by the Vikings) by beating her bare breasts with the flat of her sword.

Whereas, Saga of the Greenlanders tells an entirely different story that sees Freydis convincing her husband to kill two Icelandic brothers, Helgi and Finnbogi. She then threatens everyone to remain silent on the matter and not tell her brother about what happened when they returned to Greenland.

Currently, in Vikings: Valhalla, much of Leif and Freydis’ story has not yet been touched upon from the sagas as they are still currently in Norway and haven’t yet made their fateful voyages to Vinland.

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

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