What can possibly be the meaning of “boneless”? Many might think that it is a nickname referring a man who lacks courage. However, the case of Ivar the Boneless, son of Ragnar Lothbrok a Viking legendary hero, literally means what the word denotes: a man lacking of bones.
Family background of Ivar the Boneless
Ivar was allegedly the first son of Ragnar Lothbrok and Aslaug a seeress. Brothers of Ivar included many great Viking heroes namely Bjorn Ironside, Ubba, Halfdan Ragnarsson, and Sigurd Snake in the Eye. According to the legend, Ivar and his family lived within the ninth and tenth century. Yet, the historical existence of Ivar the Boneless is as disputed as that of Ragnar Lothbrok.
According to surviving materials, Ivar was likely to experience the osteogenesis imperfecta. This bone disease, instead of enhancing his performance, weakened him physically as time passed by.
However, medical knowledge in the ninth century didn’t know about this. And the legends had it that, it was a curse from the wife to the husband and the son. When Ragnar Lothbrok came back home after his raiding voyage, he could not resist the tempt of his wife. Although Aslaug, Ragnar’s wife, warned him to wait for three days more or else the curse would befell, Ragnar didn’t care. As a result, Ivar was born with the physical disability.
Rise to Power and Became the Leader
Despite the physical disability, Ivar was famous for his major role in the Great Viking Heathen Army – the most famous Viking company of heroes dating back to the Viking Age. This army of Ivar was credited with their invasion of the Anglo-Saxon in modern day of England.
The company of Ivar was much likely to be a group of warriors from Scandinavian countries now. Because back to those day, no one recognized Denmark, Swede, and Norway as united nations.
The Viking Great Heathen Army destroyed the Anglo-Saxon enemies with a short-lived battle lasting for three days only.
Some sources mentioned that the attacks of Heathen Army was a deed of revenge by Ragnar’s sons. Viking Great Heathen Army was allegedly led by three sons of Ragner, Ivar, Ubba, and Halfdan. Ragnar Lothbrok legendarily died in a pit full of snakes and his executor was King Aella of Northumbria (one kingdom in Anglo-Saxon). There, the sons seek revenge for the deceased father by carrying out the Viking Blood Eagle on King Aella. Viking Blood Eagle was listed to among the cruelest execution methods in history.
Later, little was known about his later life and his death. Yet, Ivar became a great Viking legendary figure. Not only was Ivar a great Viking raider full of courage but he was also a military genius.
whether Ivar the Boneless is a historical figure or not, he embodies values that many of us need in life: that is to seize every opportunity that comes even if we are physically disable. Treasuring every moment in life to live our life to the fullest is what I can interpret from the story of Ivar the Boneless.
The lame can ride horse,
the handless drive cattle,
the deaf one can fight and prevail,
’tis happier for the blind
than for him on the bale-fire,
but no man hath care for a corpse