The Ragnar Rag

One of the characters you play in Dragon Quest IV is a knight named Ragnar, and this is also one of the default names for a soldier in Dragon Quest III. And in HeroQuest, one of the quests in the book that comes with the basic game has the players rescuing a knight named Sir Ragnar. So where does this name come from? My guess would be the legendary Viking hero Ragnar Lodbrok, whose surname means “hairy breeches” and is apparently a reference to a coat he wore.

The coat was made of bearskin and dipped in pitch and sand, supposedly making them fireproof. Ragnar Lodbrok seems to be the name of an actual Viking pirate who raided France and England several times, but the legends add a lot more detail. According to the sagas, he ruled for a time over both Denmark and part of Sweden. He won one of his wives by fighting off poisonous snakes in Sweden, and another was the daughter of Sigurd/Siegfried and Brunhilda. He was finally captured in England and thrown into a snake pit, singing a famous song just before his death. It’s doubtful that very much of this additional information is true, but who knows, really?

I’m not sure if there’s any link between Ragnar’s name and Ragnarok, but Ragnar has become a pretty famous name. In addition to the nerdy references I mentioned earlier, it’s apparently also the name of the mascot for the Minnesota Vikings. Interestingly, the Ragnar in DQ4 speaks with a Scottish brogue in the DS remake, despite his namesake being Scandinavian. Not that there couldn’t have been Ragnars in Scotland as well, I suppose.

This entry was posted in Dragon Quest, History, Mythology, Norse, Scandinavia, Video Games and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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