Crowns and Longships: The Lives of Viking Royalty

Crowns and Longships: The Lives of Viking Royalty

Welcome to the captivating world of viking royalty, where power, riches, and epic sagas abound. From their ornate crowns to their legendary longships, the lives of viking royalty have fascinated people for centuries. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history and cultural significance of these rulers, exploring their roles in society, their kingdoms, and their enduring legacy.

Key Takeaways:

  • Viking royalty played a significant role in ancient Norse society.
  • Their lineage and family trees shaped their rule and kingdoms.
  • Viking royals wore ornate crowns, jewelry, and regalia with symbolic significance.
  • Epic sagas recount the heroic deeds of viking royalty and their mythical adventures.
  • The legacy of viking royalty has left a lasting impact on culture and continues to fascinate people today.

The Viking Age: A Brief Historical Overview

Are you curious about the Viking Age? This period, spanning from the late 8th to the 11th century, was a time of great cultural and historical developments. The Vikings, who were primarily from Scandinavia, were known for their seafaring skills, military prowess, and exploration of new territories.

The Viking Age began with the raid on the English monastery of Lindisfarne in 793 AD and ended with the defeat of King Harald Hardrada in the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066. During this time, the Vikings established settlements in various parts of Europe, including Ireland, Scotland, Greenland, Iceland, and North America.

One of the most significant events of the Viking Age was the conversion of many Scandinavians to Christianity. This brought about a profound change in their culture and beliefs, which had previously revolved around Norse mythology and pagan gods. The Viking Age also saw the rise of powerful Viking leaders, such as Harald Fairhair, who unified Norway into a single kingdom.

The Viking Age was characterized by a unique artistic style that is still recognized today. The Vikings were skilled in metalworking, woodcarving, and textile production. They created intricate designs on everyday objects such as weapons, jewelry, and clothing. This style, known as the Viking art style, is still admired for its beauty and detail.

The Viking Age may have ended over a thousand years ago, but its legacy lives on. The Vikings are remembered for their influence on European history, their contribution to art and culture, and their spirit of exploration and adventure.

The Role of Viking Royalty in Society

As the rulers of Viking society, the elite few who made up the viking royalty had an important role to play in the lives of their people. Their power and authority were vast, and they were responsible for ensuring the prosperity, safety, and security of their kingdoms.

The viking royalty commanded armies and led their people into battle, defending their territories from external threats and expanding their borders through conquest. They were also responsible for maintaining diplomatic relations with neighboring kingdoms, forging strategic alliances and negotiating treaties to advance their interests.

At home, the viking royalty were responsible for upholding the law and dispensing justice. They presided over courts and councils, resolving disputes and settling conflicts. They were also responsible for overseeing the economic development of their realms, supporting trade and commerce to increase prosperity and wealth.

Despite their vast power, the viking royalty did not rule alone. They relied on the support and loyalty of their people, and they worked closely with other members of the ruling class, including chieftains and jarls. Together, they maintained a delicate balance of power, ensuring that the interests of the ruling class were aligned with those of their people.

Overall, the role of viking royalty in society was central to the functioning of Viking society. They were more than just figureheads; they were leaders, warriors, lawmakers, and diplomats, responsible for guiding their people through times of peace and times of war.

The Lineage of Viking Royalty

The lineage of Viking royalty played a crucial role in shaping the political and social landscape of ancient Norse society. The royal families, which were often associated with certain regions, held significant power and were responsible for maintaining the safety and prosperity of their people.

The Viking family tree was typically traced through the male line, with inheritance and succession passing from father to son. However, women of noble birth could also have significant influence and were occasionally appointed as rulers.

Family Prominent Members Region
Ynglings Harald Fairhair, Haakon the Good Western Norway
House of Munsö Erik the Victorious, Olof Skötkonung Sweden
House of Gorm Gorm the Old, Harald Bluetooth Denmark
House of Fairhair Harald Fairhair, Haakon the Good, Olaf Tryggvason Norway

Some of the most well-known royal families included the Ynglings in western Norway, the House of Munsö in Sweden, the House of Gorm in Denmark, and the House of Fairhair in Norway. These families often intermarried, forming alliances and expanding their power across the Viking world.

The Sagas of Viking Royalty

Many of the sagas that recount the heroic deeds and adventures of Viking royalty also provide insight into their lineage and familial connections. These tales often feature the exploits of legendary figures such as Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons, who are said to have conquered vast territories and helped shape the political landscape of their time.

As you explore the lineage of Viking royalty, consider the important role that family connections played in shaping the power dynamics of ancient Norse society. From the early Ynglings to the House of Fairhair, these families left a lasting mark on history and continue to capture our imaginations today.

The Kingdoms of Viking Royalty

The Viking Age saw the rise of several dominant kingdoms, each with its own unique culture and political hierarchy. Viking royalty ruled over these kingdoms, expanding their territories through strategic alliances and conquests.

The most prominent kingdom was undoubtedly that of the legendary King Ragnar Lothbrok, whose reign spanned much of Scandinavia, including Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. His sons continued his legacy, with Bjorn Ironside ruling over Sweden, while Ivar the Boneless took control of Denmark.

Other notable kingdoms included the Kingdom of Jorvik, which encompassed much of northern England, and the Kingdom of Dublin, which controlled much of eastern Ireland. In Norway, the Kingdom of Vestfold was renowned for its powerful rulers, including the legendary King Olaf Tryggvason.

Viking royalty also ventured beyond their traditional territories, establishing settlements in Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland (North America). These explorations were made possible by the development of the iconic Viking longships, which allowed for faster and more efficient travel on both rivers and oceans.

Kingdom Territory
Kingdom of Denmark Denmark, parts of Norway and Sweden
Kingdom of Sweden Sweden, parts of Norway and Finland
Kingdom of Norway Norway, parts of Sweden and Finland
Kingdom of Jorvik Northern England
Kingdom of Dublin Eastern Ireland
Kingdom of Vestfold Southern Norway

The kingdoms of viking royalty were incredibly powerful, with their immense wealth and influence shaping the era of the Vikings. Today, their legacy lives on, inspiring fascination and admiration in people around the world.

Royal Attire and Regalia

Viking royalty were known for their regal attire, adorned with ornate crowns and jewelry that symbolized their power and status. Their lavish clothing and accessories were not only functional but also visually striking, representing their dominance over their subjects and rivals.

The viking crowns, worn by kings and queens, were typically made of precious metals and decorated with intricate designs and gemstones. These crowns were not only a symbol of the monarch’s power but also a tangible connection to the gods. It was believed that the crown conferred divine authority on the ruler, and they were often buried with their crowns to ensure their power in the afterlife.

Other forms of royal regalia included brooches, arm-rings, and pendants, which were highly valued for their aesthetic and symbolic significance. These pieces were often passed down through generations and played an essential role in the continuity of the ruling dynasty.

There were also special garments worn only by royalty, such as the “royal blue” cloak, which was made from a rare shade of dye that was difficult to produce. This cloak was reserved only for the king or queen and was a clear signal of their elevated status.

The significance of attire extended beyond just the aesthetic. The Vikings believed that clothing served as a protective layer against the harsh elements and was essential for survival in their northern climate.

Overall, the attire and regalia of viking royalty were not only symbols of power and status but also had important cultural and religious significance. They represented the link between the royal family and the gods and conveyed the importance of continuity and tradition within the ruling dynasty.

The Great Sagas of Viking Royalty

Step into the world of Viking royalty and discover the epic sagas that have captured the imaginations of people for centuries.

The sagas are a collection of stories and legends that recount the heroic deeds, rivalries, and adventures of viking rulers and their families. These tales have been passed down through generations and offer a glimpse into the world of viking society and the people who shaped it.

The sagas cover a wide range of themes, from battles and conquests to love and betrayal. They feature brave warriors, cunning kings, and fierce queens, each with their unique strengths and weaknesses.

“For every man, there is something in the tales of other men that he would like to emulate, and something that he would like to avoid.”

– Snorri Sturluson, Icelandic historian and author of the Prose Edda

The sagas often incorporate elements of mythology and folklore, imbuing them with a sense of magic and mysticism. They provide a rare insight into the cultural beliefs and values of viking society, as well as its social structures and power dynamics.

Some of the most famous sagas include the Saga of the Volsungs, which tells the story of the hero Sigurd and his battles with dragons and giants, and the Saga of Egil Skallagrimsson, which follows the life of the eponymous poet and warrior.

The sagas continue to inspire and fascinate people today, as evidenced by their enduring popularity in literature, film, and television.

So, if you want to immerse yourself in the world of Viking royalty and discover the legends that have shaped our culture, dive into the epic sagas and prepare to be transported back in time.

Female Viking Royalty: Warriors and Rulers

When you think of Vikings, you might picture a group of fierce, bearded warriors raiding villages and conquering new lands. However, Viking society was much more complex than that. Women held a significant role in Viking society, and some even rose to become powerful rulers and warriors. These brave women defied societal norms and made their mark in history.

In Viking society, women had more freedom and agency than in many other societies at the time. They could inherit property, initiate divorce, and even hold positions of power. Viking queens, like Sigrid the Haughty and Gunnhild Mother of Kings, were known for their cunning political strategies and diplomatic negotiations. They were respected and feared by their subjects, and not to be underestimated.

But it wasn’t just politics that Viking women excelled in. Some were also skilled warriors. Shieldmaidens, like the legendary Lagertha, fought alongside their male counterparts in battles and raids. They were not to be underestimated on the battlefield, and their ferocity was respected by all. One of the greatest Viking warriors of all time, Skuld, was a woman who led raids and battles with her husband, Grim Hairy-Legs, by her side.

The stories of these remarkable women have been passed down through the ages, and they continue to inspire people today. Not only did they break free from societal norms, but they also proved that women are just as capable as men when it comes to leadership and combat. Viking society was not perfect, but it did provide a space for women to thrive and assert their power.

The Role of Viking Longships: Symbols of Power and Exploration

One of the most iconic symbols of Viking royalty is the longship. These impressive vessels were built for both war and trade, representing the power and reach of Viking rulers.

The longship was a versatile and agile craft, allowing viking royalty to navigate the unpredictable and treacherous waters of the North Atlantic. Their designs included sleek, narrow hulls, shallow drafts, and a large, square sail, making them ideal for long-distance voyages. With their ability to travel long distances and carry large amounts of cargo and troops, longships played a significant role in the expansion of Viking influence across the Norse world.

In battle, longships were formidable weapons, with their shallow draft allowing them to navigate rivers and sneak up on unsuspecting enemies. They were also equipped with oars, giving them the speed and agility necessary to evade larger, slow-moving fleets. The longship’s intimidating appearance, with its dragon head prow and intricate carvings, struck fear into the hearts of those who faced them in battle.

The viking longship represented not only the military might of Viking royalty, but also their thirst for exploration. These powerful vessels enabled viking royalty to explore and settle new territories across Europe, Asia, and North America, leaving a lasting impact on the world.

The symbolism of the longship is still present in modern viking-inspired art and media, highlighting the enduring fascination with viking culture and royalty. From museums to movies, the longship remains a powerful symbol of Viking power and exploration.

The Legacy of Viking Royalty

It’s hard to overstate the impact of viking royalty on world history and culture. Their influence is felt to this day in a variety of realms, from language and law to art and literature. Let’s take a closer look at the far-reaching legacy of these iconic figures.

Literature and Language

The viking conquests of the 9th and 10th centuries played a major role in spreading the Old Norse language across northern Europe. This language would eventually evolve into the modern Scandinavian languages spoken today. Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish all have their roots in Old Norse, as do many words in English. In addition, viking sagas, such as the epic “Egil’s Saga” and “The Saga of the Volsungs,” remain beloved literary works to this day. These sagas have inspired countless modern works of fiction, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” to Michael Crichton’s “Eaters of the Dead.”

Law and Government

Viking society was highly structured, with clear laws and codes of conduct that governed everything from marriage and property rights to trade and warfare. Many of these laws and customs were enshrined in the famous Icelandic sagas and continue to inform modern legal systems. In addition, the viking tradition of a strong central government paved the way for the modern nation-state. This concept of a single, unified ruling authority, headed by a king or queen, was a major departure from the decentralized power structures of earlier societies.

Art and Architecture

The vikings were renowned for their craftsmanship, producing exquisite works of art, jewelry, and metalwork. These artistic traditions would later influence the development of medieval art across Europe. The vikings also left their mark on the landscape, with impressive man-made structures such as the Ringfort at Trelleborg, the Romanesque-style Urnes Stave Church, and the fortified city of Birka.


The enduring legacy of viking royalty is a testament to their enduring influence on world history and culture. From their epic sagas to their sophisticated legal systems and stunning art and architecture, these iconic figures continue to inspire and fascinate people to this day.

Modern Representations of Viking Royalty

In recent years, the viking era has enjoyed a resurgence in popular culture. Its representation in books, movies and television has introduced the fascinating world of viking royalty to a wider audience.

One of the most popular depictions of viking royalty is the television series Vikings. The show tells the stories of legendary figures such as Ragnar Lothbrok, Lagertha, and Ivar the Boneless. Their tales of conquest, betrayal, and honor have captivated millions of viewers worldwide.

“I have seen the gods, and they have spoken to me. They said that you are fated to die.” -The Seer (Vikings)

The viking era has also been the inspiration for numerous video games, such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia. These games allow players to step into the shoes of viking royalty and experience their lives firsthand.

The popularity of viking royalty in popular culture has also generated interest in their historical context. Many viewers and players have sought out books and documentaries to learn more about the period and its figures.

Overall, the modern representations of viking royalty in popular culture have helped to bring their lives and legacies to a new generation. By combining history and entertainment, these works have created a captivating window into the world of viking royalty.


Congratulations on completing this fascinating journey into the world of viking royalty. You have learned about the lives, lineage, and kingdoms of these powerful rulers and the significant role they played in Viking society. You have explored the regal attire and jewelry worn by viking royalty, and the epic sagas that recount their heroic adventures and mythical deeds.

You have also discovered the remarkable stories of female viking royalty who defied societal norms to become warriors and rulers. The viking longship, an essential tool for exploration and conquest, was also an important symbol of viking royalty’s power.

Through this exploration, you have gained an understanding of the lasting impact of viking royalty on art, literature, and culture. Their legacy continues to inspire and fascinate people, as seen in their portrayal in modern books, movies, and television shows.

In conclusion, we hope that this article has sparked your interest in viking royalty and their captivating world. We invite you to continue your journey of discovery and explore the rich history and legacy of these remarkable rulers.


What is the significance of Viking royalty in Norse society?

Viking royalty held significant power and influence over their people. They were responsible for governing their kingdoms, making strategic alliances, and leading their warriors in battle.

How were Viking kings and queens chosen?

Viking kings and queens were typically chosen through a hereditary system, where the throne would pass from one generation to the next within a specific lineage. However, there were instances of non-hereditary rulers who gained power through conquest or marriage alliances.

What were the responsibilities of Viking royalty?

Viking royalty had various responsibilities, including maintaining law and order, overseeing trade and commerce, settling disputes, leading military campaigns, and upholding the religious practices of their people.

Did Viking queens have equal power to Viking kings?

While Viking queens could hold significant power and influence, their authority was often dependent on the support of their male counterparts. However, there were notable exceptions where Viking queens ruled independently and made important decisions on their own.

What kind of regalia did Viking royalty wear?

Viking royalty wore ornate crowns, jewelry, and regalia adorned with precious metals, gemstones, and intricate designs. These symbols of power and prestige represented the status and authority of the ruling elite.

Were female Viking royalty allowed to participate in battle?

Yes, some female Viking royalty, known as shieldmaidens, actively participated in battle alongside their male counterparts. They were skilled warriors and leaders who fought fearlessly on the battlefield.

What were the most famous Viking sagas associated with Viking royalty?

Some of the most famous sagas associated with Viking royalty include the Saga of the Volsungs, Saga of the Ynglings, Saga of the Skjoldungs, and Saga of the Hrolfings. These sagas often featured epic tales of heroic deeds, conquests, and mythical adventures.

How did Viking longships contribute to the power of Viking royalty?

Viking longships were instrumental in the success of Viking royalty as they provided a means for exploration, trade, and conquest. These fast and versatile vessels allowed Viking rulers to expand their territories, establish trade routes, and project their power across the seas.

What is the lasting legacy of Viking royalty?

The legacy of Viking royalty can be seen in various aspects of modern culture, including art, literature, and even our understanding of Norse mythology. Their stories continue to captivate and inspire people, showcasing the enduring impact of their lives and reigns.

How have Viking royalty been portrayed in popular culture?

Viking royalty have been depicted in numerous books, movies, and television shows, often showcasing their fierce warrior reputation, strong leadership qualities, and their connections to myth and legend. These portrayals have played a significant role in shaping our modern perception of Viking royalty.