If you’re a fan of History’s binge-worthy show Vikings, then you may or may not already know that Ragnar Lodbrok and his son Bjorn Ironside may have been real guys. Though history isn’t entirely sure if they were actual men or merely myths, their tales are incredibly old and come down to us from ancient lore. While all of their conquests were super impressive, there’s one that’s also accidentally hilarious.
Bjorn sets his sights on Rome
As the show depicts, Ragnar and his many sons loved to get their raid on. At the height of Bjorn’s power, he decided to try and pillage his way out of the shadow of his father, whom he had always admired for his conquest of Paris. That’s when Bjorn decided to set his sites on an even bigger prize: ancient Rome.
So in 859, Bjorn and his brother Hastein set out with 62 Viking ships with visions of Roman conquest dancing through their heads. After raiding their way down the French and Italian coasts, the brothers decided it was time to come up with a killer plan to breach Rome’s walls.
Hastein and Bjorn’s brilliant plan
When they finally docked at Rome, Hastein had a couple of guys go in and explain that “Oh, woe is us, we are weary travelers looking for refuge.” Wisely, the townsfolk were not initially impressed.
So next, Hastein had the guys go back and lament, “Oh no! Our Cheif is dying right after he just had a deathbed conversion. He really wants a Christian burial. Can’t you help a guy out?” So the city finally agreed and had a bunch of Vikings carry in a casket which contained Hastein. The kicker came mid-funeral when Hastein lept out of the casket, cut off the Bishop’s head, and helped his guys raid the living hell out of the city.
Oops, our bad
At this point, the brothers were feeling pretty good about how their sneaky tactics had played out. Hastien took the opportunity to leap up and demand that everybody bow to him because he was now the new ruler of Rome. That’s when the no doubt longest, most awkward silence ever ensued.
Finally, some poor guy managed to pipe up and say, “Yeah, bro, this is actually not Rome. It’s the Italian city of Luna.” As you can imagine, the news that the Vikings accidentally raided the wrong damn city did not go over well. Furiously, they proceeded to inflict horrible punishments on the city for daring to not be Rome. According to some accounts, they cut off the heads of every man in town while the women and children were taken as slaves. Where’s a good GPS when you need one?