The port town that in Vikings was home to Ragnar, Lagertha and their family is more revered in Valhalla, while also being richer and more influential.
Warning! SPOILERS for Vikings: Valhalla season 1 ahead.
Kattegat spent the six seasons of History’s Vikings being central to the show’s characters’ stories, but it managed to become even more important in its sequel, Vikings: Valhalla. Valhalla takes place a hundred years after the events involving legendary Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), his sons, and shieldmaiden Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), and it focuses on telling stories loosely based on the history of other historical figures such as Greenlander Leif Eriksson (Sam Corlett), his sister Freydís Eiríksdóttir (Friday Gustavsson), and Norway king Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Suter). Contrary to real history, where they never met each other, in Vikings: Valhalla, Freydis and Harald meet in Kattegat and become lovers, with Harald also making the acquaintance of Leif in the important port and later becoming his brother-in-arms.
The fjord town of Kattegat was fundamental in Vikings, as it was ruled by Ragnar and all the raids he led to England departed from it. In Vikings: Valhalla, Kattegat arguably becomes more crucial, as it’s not only suitably situated to welcome all the Vikings arriving at the call of King Canute of Denmark (Bradley Freegard), but it is also the best spot to let the Viking fleet from multiple countries depart for England. In the 100 years that pass from the time Ragnar ruled it to Caroline Henderson’s Jarl Haakon being its current ruler in Valhalla, Kattegat became even bigger and a more pluralist port town.
The main reason Kattegat is so important in both Vikings and Valhalla has a lot to do with its strategic location. It’s a port town, which is especially meaningful as the Viking protagonists thrive as seafaring people, expanding their wealth and empire through raiding or trading, and access to the sea is needed for both enterprises. While Vikings never made Kattegat’s precise position explicit other than it being in Norway, the town’s innate defensibility is crucial. Kattegat’s perfect position, as it is secluded by mountainous heights from one side and protected by the water and the fjord on the other, is emphasized. It’s also shown in Vikings: Valhalla that Kattegat’s strategic location as an important port city has established it as being on a trading route; thus, it has multiple cultures and vendors from all over thriving in its marketplace. That said, Kattegat is the last great stronghold of the pagan Norse religion in Viking culture, a religion that is slowly being wiped out by Scandinavians converting to Christianity. It’s one of the reasons both Jarl Kåre and Olaf Haraldsson desire to conquer it.
Unlike many principal locations in Vikings and Valhalla, Kattegat as a town never existed in the real world, as in reality, it refers to a strait between Denmark and Sweden. While at the start of Vikings, Kattegat’s worth entirely depended on its position alone, Ragnar, his second wife Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland), and Lagertha’s rule all bettered the port town’s standing as a commercial hub. Lagertha’s war against Aslaug to reclaim Kattegat in Vikings season 4 and the siege Ivar (Alex Høgh Andersen) imposed on Lagertha-led Kattegat in season 5 transformed Kattegat into an even more important military center.
Part of the reason why Kattegat oozes power and importance in Valhalla might be ascribed to its convenient position, but the deeper significance the port town has must be attributed to Kattegat’s place both in Vikings audiences’ hearts and in Vikings and Valhalla’s shared history. The Vikings sequel makes it clear from episode 1 that it cherishes the world created by Vikings, with many characters referencing “the great Ragnar Lothbrok” and his feats throughout season 1. Vikings: Valhalla may be a sequel to Vikings that focuses on entirely different characters, but its admiration for it is reflected by the high regard in which Kattegat is held by everybody.
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