Bonus Episode – The History Channel’s Vikings

Much thanks to Jim Cartwright who joined me on this episode… and thanks to everyone who has joined the Facebook community!

  9 comments for “Bonus Episode – The History Channel’s Vikings

  1. Curtis
    October 19, 2013 at 7:45 am

    I’m not a historical linguist but … given that the Angles, Saxons, Frisians and Jutes spoke a low German dialect, and given that the Norsemen (or people from the Vik, later referred to as Vikings) also spoke a low German dialect, and knowing that the Frankish Kingdom of low Germanic speakers held great political, religious and probably linguistic influence on at least the area now known as Kent, and knowing that a language needs at least 500 years of separation to become mutually unintelligible, it makes sense to me that the need for translation between the Norse raiders and the Anglo-Saxon monks was far less than suggested in “Vikings” and agreed by you and Jim Cartwright. In fact, it was the first thing I thought of when Athelstan was captured. It seems logical to me that all the languages reference above were still somewhat mutually intelligible at this point. It seems like a good question for a historical linguist. Or, I might simply be full of it.

    Just a thought.

    I also noted that the reference to ‘England’ seemed historically early. I don’t think the audience would have been confused if they called their destination Ænglaland (or Anglaland, or Englaland), though even this might be about 100 years too soon.

    As for the historical inaccuracies of the ‘Vikings’ series, I guess I give them a bit of slack given that when they began the project, they had no idea if they would be renewed for a second or third season. As such, I suppose they went the lazy route of using characters known to contemporary viewers while ignoring the proper timeline in the name of entertainment rather than in the name of accepted historical fact. I also agree that the violence is substantially toned down for the delicate sensibilities of modern viewers. C’est la vie. Or should I say Sen är Fjǫr, Sådan er livet, Det er livet, or Sånt är livet?

  2. Matt
    April 20, 2014 at 4:02 am

    WAs it my imagination, or did Jim do a John Oliver style shout-out to the Bugle at the end?

    • April 20, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      Hehe, he and I are big fans of The Bugle. :)

  3. My_Oath
    August 23, 2014 at 6:48 am

    Re: Your comments about Floki “No one names their kid Floki”

    You are so wrong about that.

    Ragnar is a semi-mythological character. Floki is an actual historical character. He was the first person to deliberately sail to Iceland (after others had discovered it and returned to tell the tale).

  4. jim
    July 20, 2015 at 3:42 am

    Yep seems they were aware of him what with him being an explorer and later having a daughter just adding him in to the mishmash timeline they set up.

  5. Treaclebeak
    July 29, 2015 at 11:26 pm


    I’ve just discovered your very informative series, so I’m a long way behind and some of my comments could be out of date.

    Hollywood, as usual, has indulged in some artistic license. Why? Who knows?

    (1) I’d agree with Curtis’ remarks, Danish and Old English were mutually intelligible, but not so close as to prevent errors in interpretation, and that is one of the reasons that English was simplified and lost many of the inflections and gender that are standard in other Indo-European languages.

    (2) I’d also agree that the time line in the series is just ridiculous, any Viking who participated in the Lindisfarne raid would have been about 150 when Normandy was founded.

    (3) Also completely ridiculous is the suggestion that the Vikings had no knowledge of lands to the West (i.e. Britain) the ancestors of the English came from the same area, and people have been trading across the North Sea since Neolithic times.

    Better late than never.

    Thanks for the series.

  6. Curtis
    July 30, 2015 at 3:02 pm


    1 Agreed, naturally.
    2 See above
    3 That was my very first thought when watching the first e;episode of the first season.

  7. TQ
    August 25, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Floki is to Vikings what Spike was to Buffy. He’s been a great breakout character and has had enjoyable and well-deserved development.

    • August 25, 2015 at 12:31 pm

      Floki really was the one point of enjoyment that Jim and I got out of that show.

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