We can never get enough of historical drama shows that all have their own appeal in terms of how they portray history and how they are able to give new life to characters that lived centuries ago. In that regard, the two most popular shows that tell the story of the history of the Vikings are Vikings and The Last Kingdom. But which between Vikings and The Last Kingdom is the better and more accurate show?
Both Vikings and The Last Kingdom have their strengths and weaknesses. That means that neither one of them is better than the other. However, if you want to know which between them is more historically accurate, there is no doubt that The Last Kingdom is more accurate than Vikings.
Considering that the original Vikings series aired on History, it might seem ironic for it not to have the historical accuracy that The Last King has. Nevertheless, it still is an amazing show that’s full of intense action. In that regard, let’s look at the different strengths and weaknesses of both Vikings and The Last Kingdom so that you’ll know which between them is the right one for you.
One of the things that people will immediately love about Vikings is that it is full of action. Both the original Vikings and Vikings: Valhalla don’t lack action scenes that are just as intense as any other battle you will ever see onscreen. As such, you are going to get immediately hooked on these shows based on the action scenes alone. And trust us when we say that neither Vikings nor Vikings: Valhalla are short on battles.
The original Vikings also depicts an accurate representation of Viking culture while it was transitioning from paganism to Christianity during the 8th and 9th centuries. Viking women at that time held more rights and roles in society than Christian women, who were far below their male counterparts. On the other hand, Viking women not only participated in battle but were also part of a more democratic setting.
Both Vikings and Vikings: Valhalla take pride in the way they develop their characters. A lot about both of the Vikings series focuses on developing the personal stories and the goals of the characters involved. For example, we were able to see how Ragnar was able to rise to royalty from a regular Viking raider living a simple life.
You will also love how the original Vikings has characters that are anti-heroes in a sense that they are the main characters, but it isn’t beyond them to do morally questionable things because the main goal of these characters is to survive and to have a chance at a better future, regardless of what needs to be done. They are, in a sense, very human characters that aren’t perfect.
While Vikings does a good job at developing its characters and creating a good storyline out of the different characters that actually existed during the time of the Viking Age, one of the biggest weaknesses of the show is the fact that it isn’t as historically accurate as some people may think.
Most, if not all, of the different characters that you will be able to find on Vikings are cut out from history. Names like Ragnar Lothbrok, Ivar the Boneless, Leif Eriksson, and King Canute all come from real-life characters that lived centuries ago.
But the problem here is that Vikings seems more interested in creating a good narrative that involves these characters instead of actually telling us the true story behind these names. Both Vikings and Vikings: Valhalla focus more on delivering a storyline that forces these characters into it to the point that historical accuracy becomes the sacrificial lamb that needs to be offered.
While it might be true that these shows do a good job in creating a compelling storyline, no historian or learned person in the academe should ever use Vikings as a source material because of how inaccurate a lot of the different details are.
How Historically Accurate is Vikings?
Truth be told, Vikings is more historically inaccurate than it is accurate. There are a lot of things that are accurate about Vikings, such as the different names of the characters and the events that actually happened in history. However, the problem with how Vikings was able to portray these characters and events is that the focus was more on making them look good than making them look accurate.
For example, the characters themselves are inaccurate in the sense that Ragnar and Rollo were never brothers of the same blood. On top of that, Leif Eriksson wasn’t a part of the Danish attack on England. And as far as the events are concerned, Vikings allows us to see that there are only a few years apart from each battle when, in reality, certain events (like the attack on Lindisfarne and the attack on Paris) are supposed to be several decades apart.
So, with that said, what the Vikings showrunners did was that they simply took different notable names and important events in history and then used those names and events to create a good narrative that should be able to showcase a compelling historical show that’s full of action and drama.
The Last Kingdom
The Last Kingdom tells the story that is based on The Saxon Stories of novels by Bernard Cornwell. That means that one of its main strengths is its plot. The Last Kingdom has a plot that has already been fleshed out properly because it has a good source material to get its story from, and that means that the entire story is as coherent as any story can be.
The acting in The Last Kingdom should also get some props because you can clearly see the actors going the extra mile to deliver every scene in a manner that’s compelling and truly awe-inspiring. This is why it isn’t a secret that the different actors on The Last Kingdom have received their own fair share of rewards.
Another thing that The Last Kingdom does so well is the complexity of the battles. Any story that tells the tale of the wars between the Norse and the Saxons should always have intense battles. However, The Last Kingdom portrays battles that are quite complex in the sense that plenty of strategies are involved in them.
Then there are the villains, who are more menacing in The Last Kingdom. You can easily tell apart hero from villain in The Last Kingdom because every character is portrayed to be either good or bad. That’s why you will clearly get behind the main character, Uhtred, because you will understand that his heart is in the right place and that everything he’s doing is based on something that’s morally upright.
Despite the strengths of The Last Kingdom, there are still plenty of different weaknesses. For one, it wasn’t able to portray Viking culture and tradition very well compared to Vikings. Of course, this isn’t a series that focuses on the Vikings, and that’s understandable. However, the differences between how The Last Kingdom portrays its Norse people compared to the way Vikings handles it are night and day.
Then there is the lack of the philosophical nature regarding The Last Kingdom. It’s difficult to get into the minds of the characters because the series doesn’t allow you to fully understand the philosophy behind their actions and motives.
Of course, character development was also sacrificed in The Last Kingdom for the sake of delivering a more fast-paced story. The entire first season of The Last Kingdom is an adaptation of two novels by Bernard Cornwell, and that means that the pacing is actually very fast to the point that you don’t see a lot of character development.
How Historically Accurate Is The Last Kingdom?
The one thing that The Last Kingdom is no doubt better at than Vikings is its historical accuracy. Almost everything about this series is accurate because of how the source material was written based on historical accounts. On the other hand, the Vikings shows were simply inspired by the different things that the showrunners read about history.
In a sense, The Last Kingdom takes into account a lot of things that are historically accurate because of its accurate source material. On top of that, even the costumes that the characters are wearing are more in line with history compared to Vikings.
The only inaccurate part about The Last Kingdom is the main character, Uhtred, who is entirely fictional in the sense that he was created by the author of the books and was simply made to be fit into the entire narrative during the wars between the Saxons and the Vikings.
However, even if you were to remove Uhtred from the equation, there are still plenty of things that The Last Kingdom did right in how the show was able to portray the characters and the events that truly happened during the time period in which the series takes place.