Netflix’s Vikings: Valhalla is the legacy sequel to the original Vikings series, as it continues the story of the Norsemen that were prominent during the Viking Age. In that regard, while we are often introduced to strong and powerful Viking men, Vikings: Valhalla has a strong woman leader in the form of Jarl Estrid Haakon. However, who is Jarl Haakon, and what does Vikings: Valhalla get wrong about her?
Jarl Estrid Haakon is the traditionalist pagan Jarl that rules over Kattegat during the events of Vikings: Valhalla. She eventually took Freydis under her wing as one of her shieldmaidens. However, there is no historical Estrid Haakon, but she could be based on Haakon Ericsson or on Hakon Jarl.
One of the biggest themes in television today is inclusiveness. Considering that the Vikings are northern people, it would be difficult to make a story based on historical Vikings more inclusive. That’s why the showrunners of Vikings: Valhalla became a bit more creative in handling their characters, as they introduced a black woman as one of the most important leaders of the series. In that regard, let’s get to know more about Jarl Estrid Haakon.
Who Is Jarl Estrid Haakon From Vikings: Valhalla?
Vikings: Valhalla is a series that explores a lot of different characters that each have their own stories as well. This departs from the original Vikings in the sense that the series began with a heavy focus on Ragnar. However, Valhalla allows us to see different stories from various characters coming together to form an entertaining narrative.
One of the characters that contributed to the entire narrative of Vikings: Valhalla is Jarl Estrid Haakon, who was one of the most important leaders in the series. But who is Jarl Haakon in Vikings: Valhalla?
Jarl Estrid Haakon is introduced as the leader of Kattegat, which we know was one of the most important settlements during the events of the original Vikings series. Instead of ruling as a monarch on Kattegat, Haakon is a Jarl, which is basically the equivalent of an Earl. And she plays a huge role as one of the most important leaders in the changing times that the Vikings were in during the tail end of the Viking Age.
Throughout the series, Jarl Haakon is portrayed as a traditionalist leader in the sense that she was loyal to the Vikings’ pagan beliefs in the traditional Norse gods. And that is an important narrative to stress because of the fact that, during that era, Christianity was growing in the northern lands.
Because more and more Norsemen were converting to Christianity, paganism was losing its appeal to the people. The pagans were either forced to convert or were slain by the extreme Christians that wanted to “cleanse” the land of pagan beliefs. Despite that, Jarl Haakon stayed true to her pagan beliefs and led Kattegat without discriminating pagans from Christians.
Jarl Estrid Haakon also had an important impact on Freydis, who is one of the main characters of the series. Haakon’s devotion to her beliefs won Freydis over, as she immediately pledged her allegiance to the Jarl. Freydis eventually becomes one of her shieldmaidens, as Jarl Estrid Haakon believes that she would be the last of the Vikings.
Eventually, Olaf attacks Kattegat because of Jarl Haakon’s pagan beliefs. Even after the Christian attackers gave Haakon and Kattegat a chance to convert, the Jarl declined the offer because of her devotion to the old ways.
Olaf and his army successfully attack and take over Kattegat, which led to the death of Jarl Haakon, as she told Freydis of her destiny before death took her. While she appeared in only one season, Jarl Estrid Haakon’s impact on Freydis should be something that we would feel and see in the future seasons.
Who Plays Jarl Estrid Haakon In Vikings: Valhalla?
Vikings: Valhalla is actually a series that is full of different actors and actresses that haven’t been in the business for a long time. That’s understandable for the younger members of the cast that portray the younger characters. And while Jarl Estrid Haakon is by no means a young character in the series, you might be surprised to know that she is portrayed by an actress that hasn’t been acting for a long time.
At 60 years of age as of this writing, Vikings: Valhalla is only Caroline Henderson’s seventh onscreen acting appearance as she portrayed Jarl Estrid Haakon in the series. The reason why she hasn’t acted for a lot of movies and TV shows is that she is more of a singer than an actress.
Caroline Henderson has been an internationally recognized jazz and pop singer for more than three decades. She rose to prominence during the end of the 80s when she was a member of Ray Dee Ohh, a band known for the song Jeg Vil La’ Lyset brænde. Since then, Henderson has seen her fair share of success in the music industry and went on to have a great solo career.
What Vikings: Valhalla Gets Wrong About Jarl Estrid Haakon
It isn’t rare for the Vikings series to feature historical characters that were altered by the showrunners to create a more dramatic series. The same goes for Vikings: Valhalla, which features plenty of characters that aren’t exactly historically accurate when you compare them to the people they were based on.
But while a lot of different Vikings: Valhalla characters are based on historical characters that the showrunners altered, one of the things that you should know is that Jarl Estrid Haakon doesn’t actually have an exact historical counterpart.
It might be possible that Jarl Haakon is based on a real person that existed in history, but what we can say for sure is that she doesn’t have a 1:1 historical basis, unlike all of the other characters in the series. Significant changes were introduced to the possible historical person that Jarl Haakon was based on.
There is a good chance that Jarl Estrid Haakon is based on Haakon Ericsson, who was a white man who went on to serve under Canute during the king’s reign. However, it might also be possible that she is based on Hakon Jarl, who existed during the tenth century.
As such, what we can say for sure is that a lot of the things about Jarl Estrid Haakon are new and original, considering that she is a woman of color at a time when white men were the more prominent characters in history. Of course, it is understandable that white men were more prominent during the Viking Age because, at that time, people of color were hardly found in the northern regions of the European continent and that men had bigger roles in society than women.
Introducing a character like Jarl Estrid Haakon allowed the showrunners to have more freedom in the way they handled the series, especially when it comes to the diversity of the members of the cast.