Askeladd—Traitor or King? What made him faithful to Canute?
In the first season of Vinland Saga, Askeladd plays a significant role as the antagonist-turned-anti-hero. You can’t stand him, first, because he’s responsible for Thors’ death. After that, his history and present acts begin to endear him to you. And now you really despise him since he wiped out an entire town. To put it mildly, this is not a healthy relationship.
He seems neither completely good nor completely bad to me. Of course, he’s no run-of-the-mill mercenary. Askeladd is an idealist who is working hard to provide a brighter future for his people. Yet he is self-aware of his own shadows and doubts his own suitability to rule.
It’s undeniable that Askeladd was capable of horrific acts in the name of doing what he thought was best for his people. Many of his deeds were unethical, prompting speculation about his genuine intentions. Who knew if he betrayed his beliefs or was really a king hiding in the appearance of a commoner?
Was Askeladd a betrayer or the rightful king?
Askeladd broke the trust of his Danish troops and publicly declared his disdain for them, killing several of them in the process. Near the end of the pilot, he severed the head of King Sweyn, paving the door for Prince Canute to ascend to the throne.
It’s true that Askeladd was a ruthless and single-minded leader, but he was also a visionary who wanted to make a better life for his people no matter the cost.
His other name, Askeladd, means “buried in ashes,” and it was used by Lucius Artorius Castus. A mercenary who betrayed the Danes. However, Askeladd was the actual king of Wales because he was descended from the legendary Welsh war general Artorius.
Askeladd responds, “I’m only a Viking,” when Prince Canute questions why someone as selfless as he would not desire to be king.
This comment shows that he is aware of and repulsed by his own personality. He claims he isn’t worthy of being king because he is a cruel murderer while coming from a royal family. Instead, he puts his faith in Canute and encourages him to help him achieve his goals.
What made Askeladd so dedicated to Canute?
It came as a surprise that Askeladd would sacrifice himself so that Canute could become king. But if you look further into his personality, you’ll see that his loyalty to Canute wasn’t fake; it helped Askeladd achieve the one and only thing he cared about in life: the liberation of Wales.
Askeladd remained faithful to Canute because he thought the latter could be influenced with the right upbringing. To protect his homeland of Wales, Askeladd aspired to control the strings of power at the Danish court. After exhausting all other options, he had King Sweyn beheaded so that Canute could succeed him.
To claim he was completely faithful to Canute would be an exaggeration. Remember, Askeladd murdered Ragnar to force Canute to become an adult. Even more surprisingly, the timid prince eventually developed a pair.
What motivated Askeladd?
In the show, Askeladd’s loyalty to Wales informs every choice he takes. Askeladd is the best hope for the Welsh, whose land is much smaller than Denmark.
Askeladd was a selfless man who just desired what was best for his people, regardless of what others thought of him. Askeladd realized he needed to play the hero after Olaf threatened to kill Lydia.
But know that Askeladd would risk all for the sake of his people. At one point, Askeladd massacred a whole community, including women and children. Despite the fact that Askeladd has been hailed as a hero by the Welsh, his reactions in this scene indicate that he finds killing unpleasant.
His father, Olaf, was a Nordic champion who had conquered and enslaved a Welsh noblewoman named Lydia, therefore he was born into slavery. Askeladd’s mother, Lydia, was a descendent of Artorius, a renowned Welsh hero.
However, as Lydia became sick, Olaf stopped caring about her and began treating her like any other slave. As a result, Askeladd was born into a life of servitude and was given the name “Askeladd,” which means “the ashen lad.”
She assured her son Askeladd that Artorius will come to help them someday. Askeladd’s mom lost it when he was 11 and mistook Olaf for Artorius. When Olaf tried to hurt her, Askeladd stepped in to protect her. Suddenly, Olaf saw that his son by another woman had promise.
Olaf took Askeladd in as his own, and he lived with him and his sons for two years as he learned to fit in and win their confidence. Askeladd eventually murdered Olaf and falsely accused one of Olaf’s other brothers. He returned to Wales with his mother, now in his position of authority, and she passed away there.
At this time, he met Gratianus and began to develop a deep respect for Wales as a haven from danger. And as his feelings for his mother and Wales became stronger, his feelings for his father and the Danes only deepened.
History buffs will enjoy Makoto Yukimura’s Vinland Saga comic. This series appears in Monthly Afternoon, a Kodansha manga magazine aimed at young adult males. There are currently 26 tankbon collections available.
In the ancient Viking saga Vinland Saga, Thorfinn’s life goes off the rails after his famous retired warrior father, Thors, is killed on a journey.
As a result, Thorfinn is subject to the authority of his nemesis, the man responsible for killing his father, and he plans to exact revenge on him when he is older and more powerful. The journey of Thorfinn Karlsefni to find Vinland serves as inspiration for this anime.