The Vikings were dark-skinned

Famous Vikings: portraits and profiles

The list of Viking rulers is long. We introduce you to five of them and reveal why their names sound funny, but often have a bitter angry background ...

They are not funny

For more than 250 years, the Vikings terrorized Europe, conquered regions, murdered or expelled their kings and put themselves on the throne. On the next five pages we introduce you to five famous leaders!

Harald Fairhair

actually: Harald Halfdansson

born: around 852

died: around 933

Ruler of: Norway (about 870–933)

known for: The alleged unification of the small Norwegian kingdoms into a large one, which he ruled as the first Norwegian king from 870 onwards. However, his influence is said to have been much smaller than the many heroic sagas portray him.

Named after: his beautiful hairstyle, which he had trimmed after he ascended the throne. According to legend, he walked around with a messy head in the previous ten years because he didn't want to have his hair and beard cut again until Norway was united.

Erik blood ax

actually: Erik Haraldsson

born: around 885

died: around 954

Ruler of: Norway (about 933-935)

known for: its brutality. He kills seven of his siblings during his lifetime and thus becomes the sole successor of his father Harald Fairhair. In Viking times, the succession to the throne was dissolved several times. Haakon, Erik's surviving brother, does not accept this. He later overturns Erik.

Named after: the weapon with which he is believed to have killed his seven siblings.

Harald Blue Tooth

actually: Harald Gormson

born: around 910

died: November 1st, 987

Ruler of: Denmark (936 / 958-987) and Norway (970-987)

known for: his baptism. Harald professed Christianity during his rule in Denmark - no one knows whether out of conviction or calculation. Denmark is then Christianized: churches grow into the sky, coins are minted with the cross. Harald also conquered Norwegian territories, which he later lost again. It is said that he is a good speaker and mediator. The wireless technology Bluetooth (English for "blue tooth") is named after him centuries later.

Named after: his comparatively dark skin color, one of the theories - and not his dark teeth. Because the old Norse “bla than” probably means “dark chief”.

Sven Gabelbart

actually: Sven Haraldsson

born: around 965

died: February 3, 1014

Ruler of: Denmark (987-1014) and England (1013-1014)

known for: the expulsion of his father Harald Blauzahn from the Danish throne because he does not want to make him his successor. Sven first conquered Norway and later England through many raids.

But he no longer experiences his coronation there. He died suddenly a few days earlier.

Named after: his “forked” beard, divided into two strands.

Erik the Red

actually: Erik Thorwaldsson

born: 950

died: around 1002

Ruler of: Greenland - unofficial! There are no kings in Iceland or in Greenland. Erik, however, is considered to be the leader on the islands.

known for: the daring exploration and settlement of Greenland, the largest island in the world. Whereby Erik does not set off voluntarily: In order to avoid revenge after a murder in Norway, he sails first to Iceland around 975 and later on to Greenland. Establishes a settlement there that has existed for several centuries.

Named after: his head of red hair, maybe his hands, which are often stuck together with blood. Erik is said to have been contentious, irascible and brutal.