The story of Ivar's life is a mix of legends and historical facts. He was famous for his attacks on some of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The Vikings who attacked them before Ivar were interested only in plunder, while Ivar wanted to conquer these kingdoms.

Why the nickname?

When it comes to his unusual nickname, "Ivar the Boneless," several sagas claim that his medical condition was related to the fact that his parents did not wait for three nights before consummating the marriage. Some sagas state that he had no bones - only cartilage. 

When it comes to reality and facts, Ivar might have suffered from a condition known as "brittle bone disease," which prevents those who have it from walking. 

Other sources, like the poem "Httalykill inn forni," describe him as having no bones at all, while some mention his strength - Ivar the Boneless was known as a fearsome warrior.

The speculation doesn't end here - some sources attribute a hidden meaning to the attribute "Boneless." One of Ivar's brothers, Sigurd, was known as "Snake-in-the-Eye," so it might have been that "Boneless" carried the meaning of "physically flexible" or "of great agility," like a snake, in the sense that this was a feature of king Ragnar's children - to be like snakes. 

Other theories also comment on the snake-like feature, stating he was cold-hearted and had no feelings for anyone.

According to some sagas, Ivar the Boneless was carried by his brothers on a shield. This may indicate that he was not able to walk. However, this was also a tradition in battles – leaders used to be carried on a shield after the victory.

Did Ivar the Boneless have a wife and children?

As previously mentioned, Ivar the Boneless didn't go down in history (or in legends) as a man of a warm and friendly personality. On the contrary, he was known as a ruthless, cold, and a rather heartless person. 

So how did his personality affect his private life?

Some speculative historical accounts, assuming that this is the same person, mention Ímar. According to these sources, assuming Ímar and Ivar are actually the same person, Ivar had children. 

However, it should be noted that there is no firm and clear proof of Ivar the Boneless having a family and offspring.

The army that attacked Britain was dubbed the Great Heathen Army in Anglo-Saxon sources. During these times, Ivar the Boneless gained the reputation of a bloodthirsty warrior. Photo: Garyuk31 / Pixabay

Ivar the Boneless in the "Vikings" series

The TV series "Vikings" contributed to the popularization of the Vikings and their culture. In this series, the character of Ivar the Boneless is depicted as a married man. 

His wife was Freydis, who convinced Ivar that he could become a father, despite the fact that he himself was aware this was not the case.

When it comes to Ivar the Boneless in the "Vikings" series, he is presented as a man who allowed himself to be influenced by his wife Freydis. She boosted his ego, which, in the long run, made Ivar fall under the control and influence of Freydis. This character trait doesn't really correlate with historical facts and sources which describe Ivar the Boneless as a very independent person. 

Another point in the "Vikings" series that doesn't correlate with historical sources is that Ivar the Boneless had children. In the series, he is portrayed as the father of Baldur, the child he allegedly had with his wife Freydis. 

However, even in the series, it is shown that the child's true father was a servant. Another, unborn child is mentioned in the series, also allegedly fathered by Ivar, but that also doesn't correlate with other sources.

Ivar the Boneless and the Great Heathen Army

Ivar's father, king Ragnar Lodbrok, was brutally killed while raiding Northumbria – he was thrown into a pit full of venomous snakes. 

This gave Ivar the Boneless and his brothers, Halfdan and Ubba, a strong reason to avenge their father's death by attacking Britain in 865 AD and reclaim territories previously taken by Ragnar. 

The army that attacked Britain was described in Anglo-Saxon sources as the Great Heathen Army. During these times, Ivar the Boneless gained the reputation of a very bloodthirsty warrior, also known as a berserker – a warrior who kills in a very violent, uncontrollable state, similar to trance.

Ivar the Boneless disappears from available records around 870 AD. Some sources suggest he died in Dublin, while others suggest he was buried in England.

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