One of the things that Netflix’s Vikings: Valhalla was able to do that we didn’t get to see a lot in the original Vikings series is that it has an ensemble cast of characters that each have their own stories and important roles to play. In that regard, one of the most prominent characters in the series is Queen Emma, who is also a historical character, just like any of the other characters on the show. But who is Queen Emma from Vikings: Valhalla, and what did they get wrong about her?
Emma of Normandy was the widowed queen of King Aethelred. In the series, she ended up marrying King Canute after the Danes took over England from the Englishmen. Historically, she also married Aethelred and Canute, but she never ruled England together with King Sweyn Forkbeard.
Among all of the characters on Vikings: Valhalla, Queen Emma is probably the most spot-on when it comes to her historical counterpart. However, like any of the other characters in the series, there are still a few discrepancies between her series version and her counterpart in history. As such, we are here to get to know more about Queen Emma in Vikings: Valhalla and Emma of Normandy in history.
Who Is Queen Emma From Vikings: Valhalla?
Vikings: Valhalla follows the original Vikings format in the sense that it makes use of historical characters to portray a historical drama that tries to show a dramatization of the real-life events that happened during a certain period of time. In that regard, one of the most important historical characters shown in the series is Queen Emma. But who is Queen Emma from Vikings: Valhalla?
In Vikings: Valhalla, Queen Emma is known as the wife of King Aethelred of England. When Aethelred passed away during the earlier parts of the series, Emma took on a bigger leadership role amidst the threat that was coming from the Danish invaders led by King Canute.
As the step-mother of the newly crowned King Edmund, Queen Emma was able to help defend England against the Norsemen because she was portrayed to be a brilliant strategist in the series. However, it was the timely strategy of Leif Eriksson that ultimately defeated the Saxons of England, despite the amazing efforts by Emma as a military strategist.
Queen Emma and King Edmund were spared by King Canute because the Danish king realized that he needed their help to rule England. In that regard, Canute and Emma were portrayed to be quite familiar with one another, as the series made us believe that they may have met in the past when Emma was still residing in Normandy and before her marriage to King Aethelred.
Canute solidified his hold over England when he married Emma and decided to rule in tandem with King Edmund, who he needed to keep the English noblemen in check. However, Queen Emma’s rule over England saw some resistance when Canute left for another war, and King Sweyn Forkbeard was left to rule in his stead.
While King Sweyn didn’t have any issues with Queen Emma, the conflict arose when Queen Aelfgifu, Canute’s first wife back in Denmark, claimed England because of her status as the queen of Denmark. Sweyn didn’t recognize the marriage because of religious circumstances, but she blackmailed King Forkbeard into recognizing the marriage and exiling Queen Emma.
However, thanks to the machinations of Godwin, Queen Emma was able to recover her post as the rightful queen of England and wife of Canute, as she ended up turning the table on Queen Aelfgifu, who was ousted from her throne as queen at the end of the first season.
Who Plays Queen Emma In Vikings: Valhalla?
Queen Emma of Vikings: Valhalla was brought to life by German actress Laura Berlin. However, Berlin didn’t start out as an actress because she actually rose to prominence as a model when she appeared in fashion magazines like Elle in 2008 and Superior Magazine in Germany back in 2013. However, since breaking into the spotlight as a model, Laura Berlin focused more on acting.
Even though Laura Berlin’s biggest acting job is undoubtedly Vikings: Valhalla, this isn’t her first gig as an actress. She has starred in 40 different films and television shows, as she is actually a staple in the German TV series Notruf Hafenkante. She also appeared in Breaking Even and Einstein.
However, given the fact that she has mostly acted in German shows throughout her career, Vikings: Valhalla is quite arguably her most prominent appearance onscreen, as this series has gained global prominence quickly after premiering.
What Vikings: Valhalla Gets Wrong About Queen Emma
Like any of the other main characters on the show, Queen Emma is based on the historical Emma of Normandy. And while Vikings: Valhalla gets a lot of things wrong about the other characters on the series, a good part about Emma’s portrayal onscreen is actually spot on.
The historical version of Queen Emma was also from Normandy. She was the daughter of Richard II of Normandy. However, because the Vikings were also raiding Normandy just as frequently as they did England, Richard II wanted to improve the relationship between his country and England. That was when he proposed the marriage of his daughter Emma to King Aethelred, who had just become a widower after the death of his queen.
This marriage between Aethelred and Emma strengthened the relationship between the two countries, as Richard II wanted to make sure that they could have a united front against the Viking attackers that were constantly terrorizing them.
Similarly, in history, after Aethelred passed away and when King Canute had invaded England, Queen Emma of Normandy married the Danish royal. The reason why Emma married Canute was to solidify her place in England and to make sure that her children were spared from possible death, as any invading king would want to eliminate possible future threats.
However, there are still some things that the series got wrong about Queen Emma. First of all, Emma of Normandy never ruled England together with King Sweyn. That’s because, in history, Sweyn Forkbeard died before King Canute became the king of England. And that means that Emma never had the chance to rule alongside Sweyn while Canute was away.
Another thing to take note of is that there was no historical conflict between Queen Emma and Queen Aelfgifu. That’s because the name “Aelfgifu” was actually Emma’s Anglo-Saxon name after she got married to King Aethelred. There also isn’t anything in history that suggests that King Canute had a former queen that wanted to take the throne of England away from Queen Emma.