The Vinland Saga is a dramatic, heartbreaking story about revenge that takes place in a unique place. But what sets this series apart from other action anime is that its story is partly based on real events.
Many of the characters in Vinland Saga are based on people who lived hundreds or even thousands of years ago. But does that mean that the Vinland Saga is true to history?
Some of the things that happen in the Vinland Saga are based on real events. But the series as a whole isn’t true to history. The Vinland Sagas, which are its main source, are only partly reliable.
But that doesn’t mean that Vinland Saga is made up in every way. Let’s find out how close Vinland Saga is to its original story.
Did Vinland Saga’s characters exist in real life?
Some of the most important characters, like Askeladd, are made up. But many of them are loosely based on real people from history.
Thorfinn, the main character of the series, is based on a famous Icelandic explorer named Thorfinn Karlsefni. Karlsefni’s dad’s name is Thord Horsehead, which sounds a lot like Thorfinn’s dad’s name, which is Thors.
The anime is the most accurate in how it shows Thorkell. Thorkell is based on the leader of the Jomsvikings, Thorkell the Tall. In 986, he did take part in the Battle of Hjorungavágr.
During the early 1100s, King Sweyn Forkbeard was the ruler of Denmark. He led raids on England. In contrast to the anime, the historical texts did not give a clear reason for his death.
In history, Prince Canute was the son of King Sweyn. He became King of England after his father. In the Icelandic saga Flateyjarbók, he was said to have “fair skin and a fine, thick head of hair,” which is pretty close to how he looked in the anime.
Leif was a real Norse explorer whose name was Leif Erikson. He was the first person from Europe to set foot in the United States. Wikipedia says that Thorfinn Karlsefni took Erikson’s path to get to America.
Vinland Saga’s Historical Accuracy
The Vinland Saga is set in England in the year 1013. During this time, Denmark and England often fought with each other.
Even though the events in Vinland Saga are mostly true to history, most of the characters’ backstories and reasons for doing what they do are made up.
Danish invasion of England
In Vinland Saga, we saw how Denmark tried to take over England by any means necessary. Histories say that these raids began in 830, but they didn’t get going until Sweyn became King of Denmark.
History shows that Prince Canute did become king of England, but how he became king is different from the source. The first Canute the Great became king because his father helped him get there.
We’ve already said that Thorkell was one of the most accurate depictions of Thorkell the Tall, the real person who lived at that time.
Thorkell betrayed the Danes and joined the English side to fight “better battles,” according to the anime.
Some parts of this story are true. The real Thorkell turned against the Danish army and joined the English side. But he did it for a different reason.
At first, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was a critical hostage for Thorkell, was killed against his will by his subordinates. To stop mutiny, the original Thorkell fought for England.
Portrayal of Vikings
Most main characters, like Canute the Great and Thorkell the Tall, are Vikings.
Even though the show tries to make it less violent, the Vikings still pillage and burn down villages without pity.
In the past, Vikings were raiders who took things from villages and sailed on longships.
They also worked as mercenaries for other armies and did things that any early-medieval European warrior would do, so the way Vikings were portrayed was pretty accurate.
Is Vinland Saga’s setting accurate?
The main places in the Vinland Saga are Iceland, England, Denmark, and Vinland (North America).
The history of these countries is shown in the anime in a more or less accurate way.
At the beginning of the 1100s, Iceland was a long way from the fighting between Denmark and its neighbors. Most of the time, the Vikings used it as a place to live.
In the Vinland Saga, Thors, the leader of the Jomsvikings, left his men to start a new life with other Vikings in Iceland.
So, the anime was based on Iceland’s real history. Thorfinn’s real-life twin brother, Thorfinn Karlsefni, was also born in Iceland.
During the Viking Age, Denmark made violent raids on England all the time.
In the end, King Sweyn’s Danish forces took over the English throne.
But Canute was the one who ruled England.
In Vinland Saga, these things happened in this exact order.
Denmark was where the Vikings came from. During the late Anglo-Saxon period, King Sweyn and then his son, King Harald, were in charge of Denmark.
During this time, most of the Danish army was made up of Vikings, just like in the anime.
Vinland (North America)
America wasn’t an actual location in the anime, but many of the characters talked about it.
The Vinland Sagas, North America was called Vinland.
It was a peaceful and prosperous place where Vikings lived in the past.