Vikings: Valhalla Characters Explained: Who Are Leif, Freydis, Harald, Emma, & Others?

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Vikings: Valhalla is a Netflix original series that continues the Vikings legacy that began during the events of the original Vikings series. And one of the things that you should know about Valhalla is that this series features an ensemble cast that doesn’t necessarily revolve around the story of one character. As such, let’s take a good look at the different characters that are featured in Vikings: Valhalla.

Who Is Leif Eriksson?

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Leif Eriksson is one of the most important characters of the series, as he is arguably the main character (along with Freydis and Harald). He is the son of Erik “The Red” Thorvaldsson, who was described throughout the series as a murderer that was exiled to Greenland due to his crimes in Norway and Iceland. That’s why, throughout the series, Leif struggled with the possibility that he too may have the inner darkness that often engulfed his father to the point that he had an uncontrollable rage.

At the beginning of the series, Leif traveled south from Greenland so that he could accompany his sister in a quest for vengeance. However, he eventually joined King Canute’s war against the Englishmen because of the fact that he was an accomplished sailor and was described as a skilled warrior, much like his father. It was Harald who convinced Leif that he needed his skills as a sailor and as a warrior in their fight against England.

Leif was one of the most important figures in the Siege of London because he saw that London Bridge had a fatal flaw in its design. He weakened the bridge’s structure so that, when King Edmund and his forces would march on it, it would collapse with enough weight. It worked as Edmund’s forces fell into the water, which ultimately allowed King Canute to take the victory over England. Canute proclaimed Leif as a hero following his efforts.

After the war against England, Leif went back to Kattegat to live his life there together with his lady love, Liv, and his sister, Freydis. However, Kattegat came under attack from the Christian Vikings, who wanted to cleanse the city of its pagan believers. In the attack, Leif lost Liv, as he went on a rampage when his rage took over him, much like how his father was often overcome with his anger.

Leif Eriksson is based on the historical Leif Eriksson, who became the first man to ever discover North America. However, unlike the Vikings: Valhalla Leif, the real Leif was not a great warrior and did not participate in the war against England.


Who Is Leif Eriksson From Vikings: Valhalla? (& What They Got Wrong About Him)

Who Is Freydis Eriksdotter?

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Freydis Eriksdotter is the sister of Leif. She and her brother were both raised in Greenland, as they sailed for five weeks nonstop to reach the southern mainland territories of the Vikings. Her goal for sailing south was to seek revenge against the man who raped her and carved a cross on her back to essentially baptized her as a Christian when she was younger. She identified his man as Gunnar Magnusson, a right-hand man of the Christian Jarl, Olaf.

During the beginning of the series, Freydis formed a relationship with Harald Sigurdsson, a prince of Norway and the half-brother of Jarl Olaf. However, she was eventually charged with murder when she killed Gunnar and took her revenge on the Christian missionary. Estrid Haakon, the Jarl of Kattegat, was supposed to judge her for her crime, but she felt that Freydis had a strong connection with the old gods due to the trauma she experienced during her younger years.

Believing that Freydis was going to be the last of the Vikings, Jarl Haakon took her in and made her into one of her shieldmaidens. Freydis proved her worth in battle as one of the strongest warriors serving under the Jarl of Kattegat.

Eventually, Jarl Olaf and Jarl Kare invaded Kattegat in an effort to “cleanse” the land of paganism. Jarl Haakon perished in the battle as Freydis avenged her Jarl by killing and beheading Jarl Kare. Before her death, Haakon reiterated Freydis’ destiny, as we may see her playing a bigger role as the destined last of the Vikings in the upcoming seasons.

Who Is Harald Sigurdsson?

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Harald Sigurdsson is one of the main characters of the series and is a prince of Norway. He is also the half-brother of Jarl Olaf and is the great-grandson of Harald Finehair, who was introduced during the original Vikings series.

At the start of the series, Harald formed a relationship with Freydis, who he met when the Greenlander had just arrived from Greenland after a dangerous journey to Kattegat. Harald was in Kattegat because he was assembling his forces to help King Canute in his invasion of England so that he could avenge his brother Sten’s murder during the events of the St. Brice’s Day Massacre.

Harald was described as a great leader who knew the right words to say to people before every battle. He was also the one who convinced Leif to join him in his war against the Englishmen because he needed his ability to captain a ship. And while Harald was a dedicated Christian, he had no problems fighting alongside pagans.

After the victory in London, Harald accompanied his brother in his quest to convert all of the pagans remaining in the Viking territories. Even though Harald knew that Freydis was in Kattegat, he still accompanied his brother because it was the only way he could get close to Freydis once more.

However, Harald had a secret agenda as well, as he wanted to betray his brother so that he could become the king of Norway, a title that King Canute promised to him. Still, despite the betrayal, Olaf didn’t deal with his brother extremely.

In the end, Jarl Kare branded him as a traitor but was saved by his brother, who allowed him to go to Kattegat to help save the pagans living in the city. While defending Kattegat, he was badly wounded in a battle but was saved by Freydis, who he left with when the city fell to Jarl Olaf’s forces.

Who Is Emma Of Normandy?

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Emma was born in Normandy to a Danish nobleman, who married her off to King Aethelred of England when she was just 15. The reason for the marriage was to unite the two countries against the Vikings that were raiding both England and Normandy for many years. 

However, when she first came to England, she felt like she didn’t belong because she didn’t speak the language and was never really cared for by Aethelred. She was an outsider who had to work her way up to a position of power, as she needed to prove her worth to the king and to England.

When Aethelred died during the earlier parts of the series, Edmund became the new King of England. Meanwhile, Queen Emma assumed the role of an adviser to her step-son, who had the unenviable task of defending England against the Danish invaders that wanted to seek revenge for the events of the St. Brice’s Day Massacre.

In the battle against the Danish, Queen Emma displayed her wisdom as a strategy by using tactics that nearly defeated King Canute’s army. However, it was the mistake on the part of King Edmund that ultimately allowed the Danish attackers to take over England.

Impressed by Emma’s brilliance, Canute spared the Queen and even offered her to be his adviser as the new King of England. As such, Emma agreed to marry King Canute so that they could rule England together.


Who Is Queen Emma From Vikings Valhalla? (& What They Got Wrong About Her)

In a quick turn of events, King Canute had to leave England so that he could take part in a battle against an army that was invading Denmark. He left King Sweyn Forkbeard, his father, to rule England in his place. At first, Sweyn and Emma actually got along well had it not been for the intervention of Queen Aelfgifu, who was Canute’s first wife back in Denmark but was deemed an unlawful queen by Sweyn.

Sweyn initially didn’t recognize Aelfgifu as the rightful queen of England. However, she blackmailed Sweyn by hiding the Danish fleet, which he was supposed to use against the treacherous Olaf. As such, Sweyn was forced to recognize Aelfgifu as the rightful Queen of the English and exiled Emma back to her home country of Normandy.

However, through the help of Godwin, who Aelfgifu thought was on her side, the new Queen of England was convinced that she needed to broker a peace treaty between the Vikings and the Mercians. Throughout that time, King Sweyn searched for his missing fleet so that the queen could no longer use it as a bargaining chip against him.

When Aelfgifu returned to London, she found Emma ruling the city, as it was discovered that she had been tricked by the trio of Sweyn, Godwin, and the rightful queen in an attempt to distract her. As such, Emma was able to achieve her rightful place as the queen of England.

Who Is King Canute?

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At the very beginning of the series, King Canute was introduced as the Danish king that wanted to take revenge on the Englishmen for what they did to the Vikings in England during the events of the St. Brice’s Day Massacre. He assembled an entire army that was big enough to take over England in a war against King Aethelred and, later, King Edmund.

King Canute was able to successfully invade England and even take London away from the Englishmen with the help of Leif Eriksson, who he proclaimed a hero. Meanwhile, he also promised Edmund’s head to Harald so that he could take revenge for what Aethelred did to his brother.

However, after the successful invasion of London, Canute changed his mind and spared Edmund instead. It appeared that his true goal was not to take revenge on what happened to the Vikings in England. Instead, he scrutinized the political situation in England and realized that he could take over the country due to Edmund becoming too young and too weak to rule after Aethelred’s death. As such, he used the political tension in England to his advantage and took over the country while it was still recovering from Aethelred’s death. 


Who Is King Aethelred From Vikings: Valhalla? (& What They Got Wrong About Him)

As such, the choice to spare Edmund was a way for him to make sure that none of the other English nobles would dare challenge his rule. He used Edmund as a puppet co-ruler so that the other English nobles would recognize him as the new King of England.

On top of that, King Canute also married Queen Emma because he saw how brilliant of a strategist she was during the Siege of London. By making these strategic moves, he was able to solidify his power over England.

When Denmark came under attack, King Canute had to leave England, to the delight of King Edmund. However, Canute was smart enough to leave his father, King Sweyn, in charge of England while he was away.

Who Is King Edmund?

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King Edmund was the king that reluctantly took the throne of England when he was recognized by the people as the new ruler following the death of King Aethelred. As a result, he was placed in the unenviable position of defending England from its Danish attackers.

However, throughout the season, Edmund was portrayed as a childish and immature boy who thought that he had the world in the palm of his hands. This allowed Godwin to make strategic moves while acting as the boy’s adviser, even though it looked like he was simply manipulating the king.

Through Godwin’s machinations, it was actually Queen Emma who was ruling England during Edmund’s reign, as the boy king was not fit to rule the country. And while Emma did well in her tactics against the Danish invaders, Edmund’s immaturity ultimately became the downfall of the Englishmen.


Who Is King Edmund From Vikings: Valhalla? (& What They Got Wrong About Him)

After King Canute took over London, he decided to spare Edmund’s life because he wanted to use the boy as a puppet to force the other English nobles to side with him. This worked, as Edmund was installed as a puppet co-ruler alongside King Canute.

When Canute left and allowed his father to rule in his place, Edmund thought that he could use that to his advantage, especially with Godwin helping him strategize a way for him to return to the throne as the sole king of England.

However, Godwin ended up betraying King Edmund and killed him in what he planned to be an “accident.” This allowed Emma to rule as the sole monarch of England, as both King Canute and King Sweyn were left fighting a war against their own people.

Who Is Jarl Estrid Haakon?

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Jarl Estrid Haakon was the Jarl or the ruler of Kattegat during the events of Vikings: Valhalla. Throughout that time, she was portrayed as a traditional Viking who valued her pagan beliefs. At a time when paganism was making way for Christianity, Haakon was devoted to the old ways. And despite her devotion to the old gods, she still allowed Christians to live in harmony with the pagans in Kattegat.

Haakon was supposed to render judgment on Freydis after the latter killed Gunnar and exacted her vengeance on the man who raped her. However, when Haakon saw how deeply devoted Freydis is to her Norse gods, she went on to believe that this girl could possibly be the last of the Vikings at a time when the Viking Age was nearing its end.


Who Is Jarl Estrid Haakon In Vikings: Valhalla? (& What They Got Wrong About Her)

As such, Jarl Estrid Haakon took Freydis in as one of her shieldmaidens. In turn, Freydis showcased her dedication to the Jarl up to the very end when she became invaluable in the battle against Olaf and the other Christian Vikings.

Jarl Olaf and Jarl Kare invaded Kattegat so that they could convert all of the pagans into Christians. However, even after the invaders offered to spare the lives of the people of Kattegat if they converted to Christianity, Jarl Haakon refused to give in because of her devotion to the old ways.

This led to a war between the Christian Vikings and the pagans of Kattegat, as Jarl Haakon’s forces were soundly defeated. She died in the process, but Freydis avenged her death by killing Jarl Kare. As she died, she reiterated Freydis’ destiny.

Who Is Olaf Haraldsson?

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Olaf Haraldsson was the half-brother of Harald Sigurdsson and is actually the treacherous leader of the Christian Vikings. He is the King of Norway, as he used to be a member of the Royal Kingsguard that helped King Aethelred build the defenses of London. As such, he was invaluable during the attack on London because he knew the secrets behind the defenses of the city.

At the same time, while he was working for Aethelred, he also saw the king’s vast treasury, which he coveted. However, Emma concluded that this treasury was just a myth because not even she, the queen, knew anything about this.

Throughout the entire series, Olaf Haraldsson was portrayed to be someone who hated pagan Vikings, and that’s why he sought to attack the different pagan Viking settlements as a way of converting the people to Christianity. He had the power to do so as the king of Norway.

While Olaf had promised the throne to Harald after his reign, the truth was that he was only using the throne of Norway as a bargaining chip so that his brother would stay loyal to him. In truth, he had a son that he hid in secret and that this son would become the king of Norway after him.

On top of the fact that he was deceiving his brother, Olaf also betrayed Canute by going to Denmark, where he told Aelfgifu’s relationship with Queen Emma so that he could use this to his advantage. His plan was to take over Denmark as well by having Aelfgifu quarrel with the new English Queen and King Sweyn.

In the meantime, Olaf used the distraction to attack Kattegat. He succeeded in taking the city while killing Leif’s lover, Live, in the process of doing so. However, just moments after he took Kattegat, his men retreated because they saw King Sweyn’s fleet heading towards the city in an attempt to drive the invaders out.

Who Is Earl Godwin?

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Earl Godwin was one of the most intelligent and scheming characters throughout the entire Vikings: Valhalla series because he was seemingly capable of seeing both sides of the war between the English and the Vikings. He could predict his different moves because he was a sharp observer of the actions that different people took, and that was what made him an invaluable member of the court.

Back when Aethelred massacred the Vikings, it was Godwin who helped Harald escape England. That’s because Godwin already foresaw the effects of the massacre. Helping Harald allowed Godwin to live after the Danish had taken over London because Harald returned the favor.

Godwin was also able to gain Canute’s trust when he helped Emma find her children, who were kidnapped by Olaf as bargaining chips against the queen. As such, Canute turned Godwin into one of his most important advisers. However, Godwin was also secretly advising King Edmund throughout the entire time but was actually just manipulating the boy king.

After Canute left England, Godwin became the new Earl of Wessex when King Sweyn killed the former Early. He knew that he could also trust Godwin, and the new Earl proved his worth by strategizing a way out of the mess with Aelfgifu.

Godwin fooled Aelfgifu into thinking that he had turned on Queen Emma. However, he was merely plotting with both Emma and Sweyn so that Aelfgifu would become too distracted. He convinced Aelfgifu to broker a truce between Mercia and the Vikings, as Sweyn used the distraction to search for the missing fleet that the queen was using as a bargaining chip against her.

It was also Godwin’s machinations that killed King Edmund so that Queen Emma could rule England by her lonesome. Thanks to his plans, Queen Aelfgifu was ousted from her position as queen of England, and King Sweyn was out to drive away Olaf’s army. This allowed Emma to return to London as the rightful ruler of England, all while the other monarchs were away.

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