I don’t live in the past—I only visit—and so can you!

From the Stereotypes of the Norsemen deliver us… V

With the fifth episode, it feels almost as if the prologue that took up half the series so far has ended, and the actual story has started! Maybe Ragnar will even start to wear the pants the historical character was famed for! The episode, however, is more of the same in many instances. Those who have come to love the series will see nothing to surprise or irritate them, because they have already accepted the new stereotypes! A the same time, those who are upset by the lack of accuracy in the series will not encounter anything to change their opinions.

However, the opening battle scene reminded me of a scene from “Last of the Mohicans” (or more appropriately, “The Patriot.” Eighteenth-century reenactors will understand immediately!).

And I am still waiting for close-ups on the bows and arrows!

Correct

View on manumitted slaves. They were freedmen, between þralls and freemen!

Use of nets in fishing

Fish traps

Use of cauterizing with wounds.

Athelstane’s belt is the proper width! (However, it was probably meant to infer his inferior status as opposed to the wide wide belts of the macho overlords)

Proper use of marriage arranged for family gain; the mother’s attitude is all modern of course.

Good storytelling of the Norse myths, though it seems a little more casual than it should have been and lacked the poetry. See my later comment on what they contained.

Tattoos. We know, if ibn Fadlan is correct, that the Norsemen had them, but we don’t know what they were. These suppositions are as good as any!

Incorrect

Deck on pier

Cavalry charge. Standard battle tactics, until the Normans, was like dismounted cavalry. Horses were used for getting to battles, but not for fighting on. The cavalry scenes reminded me most of B-movie westerns!

Shields. Most shields would have been covered with linen or leather to disguise the grain, since if they saw the grain, foes could aim for and split the wood of the shield.

The vest thing that the henchman wears is even worse than the tabard that Bjorn is wearing!

What kind of armor is the Earl wearing?

Shoulderless dresses. Shoulderless!?

Floki shows his breast with the cut of his clothing. Well, Lagertha’s pants were cause for divorce too, so what do producers care for the actual laws where they can make things up…

Tortoise brooches are not cloak frogs!

Use of white as bridal colors dated from the Victorian age.

Windows in the houses. And they’re not even to help illuminate the shooting since they also have candles burning out of their wazoos!

Uncertain

Why does everyone have swords? Even persons who are too poor to wear mail and just wear scraps of leather have swords!

Chains are too modern and regular unless the smith is very sophisticated and good.

Were there boats with only one pair of oars? I’m more familiar with færings.

Floki coming out bare-chested but wearing pants might seem appropriate for having been interrupted in mid-debauch, but wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to come out in a tunic with no pants?

Bjorn’s axe/hatchet looked a little too modern, but the axe born by the guy searching for Ragnar is a little too ancient, so I guess that it all works out!

Back quiver has no provenance. I’ll forgo comment on recurved bows because there is a controversy about their presence.

Dances and music—the existence of which are documented but specifics were unknown so they had to be created—owes just a wee too much—at least to me—to later dance styles. And not the simple ones!

Sources of Norse legend have been disputed, since a lot of the mythology seems to have first appeared only when told about by Christian authors. For a discussion, see the various blog entries on the subjected by Nancy Marie Brown or see her excellent book, Song of the Vikings.

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3 responses

  1. Comer

    If you are referencing the small boat that Ragnar and Aethelstan rowed up in and I think it’s the same one the family ecaped in, it has another set of oar nocks towards the stern.

    I also noticed the Swede was wearing, not just tight legs on his breeches but what appear to be tights from the knee down.

    As Rollo lay on Haraldson’s torture table, buttons are clearly visible running from the waist to the hip on the left side of his breeches.

    April 1, 2013 at 19:50

    • I’ll have to take another look when I can. There was only one set of oars, so I was obviously looking in the wrong place! Thanks!

      Actually, since there were apparently hose during this time (well, I am uncertain of the time), that did not concern me. On the other hand,when the series is done, I will be having a guest writer who is very conversant with costuming of the time to talk about buttons, buttonholes, etc. Aside from me general sounds of exasperation, I’ll be siccing her on the costumers! 🙂

      April 1, 2013 at 21:05

      • Comer

        I took another look and there was only one set of oars but definitely two sets of oar nocks.

        April 5, 2013 at 12:18

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