Who Is Jarl Haakon in Vikings: Valhalla? Is She Based on a Real Person?

Image Credit: Patrick Redmond / Netflix

Jarl Haakon (Caroline Henderson) is an important character in ‘Vikings: Valhalla,’ the Netflix sequel series to History Channel’s ‘Vikings.’ The show is set 100 years after the original series, in the 11th century. The conflict between the followers of the Pagan faith and Christianity has reached a critical stage. The story begins after King Aethelred II of England begins massacring the Norse people who reside in his territory. This leads to a massive invasion by the Viking forces, led by King Canute of Denmark. Jarl Haakon is the ruler of Kattegat, a city and port that prominently features in the original series. Here is what you need to know about her. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Who Is Jarl Haakon in Vikings: Valhalla?

Jarl Estrid Haakon is a follower of the old ways. Paganism is rapidly losing its conflict with Christianity, with its followers either being converted or killed. ‘Vikings: Valhalla’ gives a balanced depiction of the conflict, enunciating the fact that neither party is without blame. Estrid seems to govern over a relatively secular society. Both Pagans and Christians live under her in harmony in Kattegat. Her people are fiercely loyal, and she wins over Freydis quite quickly. The young woman from Greenland commits murder inside her hall. However, after learning her reasons, Haakon takes her under her wing. As the series progresses, Estrid realizes that Freydis is destined to be The Last, which likely implies that she will be the last of the Vikings.

Estrid lets Freydis become one of her shieldmaidens. She leads her people from the front when the war against Jarl Kåre and Olaf Haraldsson comes. After she is grievously injured, Freydis takes her to her home. There, she once more reminds the younger woman of her destiny before seemingly dying.

Is Jarl Haakon Based on a Real Person? Was She Really of African Descent?

Yes, Jarl Haakon is based on a real person. However, significant changes were introduced to the character while creating the show. Haakon Ericsson was a white man who served as the Governor of Norway under Canute the Great from 1012 to 1015. He might have been the Håkon Jarl that the Swedish Komstad Runestone mentions.

The ‘Vikings’ universe is known for using a more egalitarian approach while dealing with its female characters than its setting generally allows. Henderson’s casting in the role seems to be an extension of this. The show also provides its audience with a believable explanation. Estrid’s grandmother belonged to a great family of Africa. Her grandfather fell in love with her. Estrid’s father was a great warrior. And now, Estrid rules over Kattegat. In an interview, Henderson spoke about the traveling aspect of the Viking life and how that took them all over the world, exposing them to new cultures and people, adding that it is quite possible that people of color existed in the Viking society.

Read More: When and Where Does Vikings: Valhalla Take Place?