There were no individual warriors who founded empires for the Vikings. When the Vikings went on raids, they had to establish groups to carry out the attacks and build villages to preserve their land and resources. Thus, they had a hierarchy.

Viking kings were more like chiefs than traditional monarchs, despite the fact that some of them pretended to be monarchs in their constantly shifting domains. The strongest, wealthiest, or most intelligent among the Vikings were considered to be the most competent of leading the clan.

Staying in control means maintaining victory and devotion, as well as having enough cash to keep their troops from thinking they could do better.

What, then, made Viking chieftains stand out from the other valiant Viking soldiers who battled alongside them? Rollo, Erik the Red, and Olaf all had their own unique personalities. To what extent can we attribute the success of Erikson, Cnut, and Hardrada? Wearing Viking chieftains are profiled in 12 mini-profiles.


In the early 10th century, Rollo became the first ruler of Normandy. Norsemen acknowledged him as their greatest warrior, and he was recognized as the new ruler of France after the monarch abandoned the kingdom to them in 911.

A combination of ruthlessness and cunning kept him in power, sometimes pitting his adversaries against one another.

The region for the following 300 years, and a series of Norwegians who succeeded him established what came to be known as “Normandy” (English for “Norman” or “Norwegian”).


One of Rollo’s Norman descendants, William the Conqueror governed England from 1066 until his death in 1087 after conquering the country during the Battle of Hastings.

a.k.a. William I of England

His early rise to the throne as Duke of Normandy was punctuated by a series of political intrigues. As a result of this, he learned how to crush insurrection and cement his power through intrigue.

William was a great administrator as well as a great fighter. Domesday Book, a list of England’s landowners before and after the Conquest of England, was compiled by him. As a historical resource, this book is invaluable.


Erik the Red was the founder and leader of the Viking settlement in Greenland in the later half of the 10th century. Because he had been exiled from the rest of the Scandinavian Vikings, he may have felt compelled to do so.

His father was expelled from Norway, where he was born, for the murder of another Viking. The family relocated to Iceland, the same place Erik had been forced to flee in exile.

He set sail for new horizons after being compelled to leave his home. Upon his return from exile, he found more settlers eager to join him. A clever marketer, he dubbed his new area Greenland so that it would appear more appealing.


During Olaf Trygvasson’s reign as king of Norway, in the years 995 to 1000, he forced a large portion of his country’s population to embrace Christianity.

TV series about Viking King Olaf

As the sagas claim, Olaf was the son of Viken’s king, who was compelled to flee to the east after his father’s death. After being sold as a slave, he rose to prominence among the KievanRus Vikings as a warrior leader. When he arrived in Ireland, he married a princess and established an alliance with an emperor.

When disgruntled rebels sought to remove Norway’s current king, he could use this and his illustrious birth to establish himself as a legitimate heir.


The son of Erik the Red, Leif Erikson is considered the first Viking to lead a group of warriors to the New World, specifically to Newfoundland in Canada, in the early 10th century. Although he was not the first Viking to set foot on land.

Leif Erikson, Viking warrior

But Leif Erikson did not colonize the new world, but rather succeeded his father as Viking leader in Greenland. He had a great influence on the conversion of the Greenland Vikings to Christianity, much against the wishes of his father Erik the Red.


Better known as Cnut the Great, this Danish Viking conquered Denmark, England, Norway and parts of Sweden in the early 11th century, creating a territory often known as the North Sea Empire.

He stabilized trade routes and revised laws to create uniform penalties for crimes committed in his territory. But, unfortunately, his successors lacked his cunning and fortitude, and his empire collapsed quickly after his death.

Although some of the surviving sources suggest that he thought he had supernatural powers, the majority of evidence suggests that Cnut was a rational ruler who did not tolerate fools.


HaraldHadrada was the king of Norway from 1046 to 1066, and tried to claim the leadership of the Danish and English throne during this period. He always had an eye for conquest, and probably wanted to recreate the North Sea Empire of Cnut, but never succeeded.

Forced to leave Scandinavia when his family lost its throne, Hardrada was another Viking who learned the ways of war as an exile living with the Vikings of KievanRus and fighting as a mercenary for the Byzantine emperor.

In the chaos that followed Cnut’s death, Hardrada returned to Denmark. He eventually negotiated to share power with the current strongman, Magnus the Good, and then became the sole ruler when Magnus died suddenly the following year.


A leader of Viking glory, he is probably an amalgam of several Viking warriors rather than a true historical figure.

He was both a Danish and a Swedish king, and is claimed to have slain dragons during the 9th century. He is credited with leading many successful raids on France and England. But, as an accomplished warrior, he also seems to have had an ego.

Ragnar’s downfall came when he decided he could take England with only two ships. Instead, he was captured by King Aella of Northumbria and thrown into a snake pit to die.


One of RagnarLothbrok’s many sons, no one really knows why he is called the boneless one, but it may be because he was crippled. But Ivar had an iron will and that didn’t hold him back.

Ivar and his brothers were exiled from Ragnar’s territory to make way for his older brothers, as was the custom. A shrewd tactician, Ivar led his brothers on their raids in Scandinavia. After the death of his older brother, he returned to Ragnar’s territory. Thanks to his cleverness, Ragnar entrusted Ivar with the responsibility of his kingdom before embarking on his ill-fated raid on England.

Ivar then goes with his brothers and the Great Pagan Army to avenge Ragnar’s death. While his brothers fought and lost in numbers, Ivar made alliances and gained a foothold in England. He was eventually responsible for the capture and execution of Aella.


Daughter of Erik the Red and sister of Leif Erikson, Freydis was a Viking warrior in her own right. She followed her brother to the new world with her own band of warriors to claim booty and glory in the early 11th century.

According to one story, one night her camp was attacked by the locals, and while most Vikings fled in fear, Freydis fought the natives alone while eight months pregnant.

She is also believed to have been ruthless. She is said to have convinced two Icelandic brothers to join her in an expedition to a new world for an equal share, but later claimed that the men abused her and that her own men killed them so they would not have to share their spoils.


Hastein was a Danish Viking who actively raided France, Spain and the Mediterranean in the ninth century. He is often associated with Bjorn Ironside.

In the Italian city of Luna, which the Vikings believed to be Rome at the time, it was Hastein who devised the ploy to enter the Christian city. He claimed to have been mortally wounded, converted to Christianity and wanted to be buried on consecrated ground. The city let in the body and 50 men dressed in black robes for the burial.

Needless to say, the Vikings sacked the town before moving on. Though they never made it to Rome.


SweynForkbeard was a Danish king who also managed to take control of Norway for a brief period in the early 11th century.

He also made his way into England, and was made king of England in December 1013, only to die in February 1014. But his son Harald held England after him, and then passed the territory to become part of the empire of his brother Cnut the Great.

So, according to the stories of these great Vikings, what does it take to be a Viking leader? Strength, bravery, cunning? What does it take to be a leader among the Vikings? If you are a true viking lover, don’t hesitate to see these viking rings on a specialize shop