"It gladdens me to know that Baldr’s father makes ready the benches for a banquet. Soon we shall be drinking ale from the curved horns. The champion who comes into Odin’s dwelling does not lament his death. I shall not enter his hall with words of fear upon my lips. The Æsir will welcome me. Death comes without lamenting… Eager am I to depart. The Dísir summon me home, those whom Odin sends for me from the halls of the Lord of Hosts. Gladly shall I drink ale in the high-seat with the Æsir. The days of my life are ended. I laugh as I die."
Ragnar Lodbrok´s Death Song: "Krákumál"
As a matter of fact, it is supposed that Ragnar raided France several times, using the rivers for drive his fleets righ to the heart of the Frankish empire. Sources mention as his most notable raid, exactly that upon Paris in 845, which was not burned down only because Ragnar accepted a bribery of more than 7 000 pounds of silver, paid by the King Charles the Bald. With an army of over 5000 warriors, Ragnar landed probably at the Seine river estuary, slashing with fierce every city he managed to find on his way, including Rouen, until when he finally arrived to Paris, according to tradition, on March 28th.
After that, it seems like Ragnar spent the rest of his life with a "succesful" pirate activity. It is known by contemporary sources, that one of his favorite tactics was to attack on feast days, as he knew that most of the people and the soldiers would be in church praying. He told people he always sought greater adventures for fear that his sons would eclipse him in fame and honor.
Later, after the French adventure, he turned his attention to England, when he found the death after being defeated and captured by King Aelle of Northumbria, who ordered to execute the Norse man by throwing him into a pit filled with poisonus snakes. It is in here where the legend of the Krákumál( probabily composed in Iceland during the XII century) claims that Ragnar uttered his death song, in which the warrior, rather than being scared, showed proud as his departure to Valhalla was close, and was sure that a bloody revenge would be held by his sons. Indeed, a Viking saga states that his sons ( who was later considered famous Viking warriors as well) Ivar the Boneless and Ubbe, as soon as they knew the details of their father´s death, swore to avenge his killing. They crossed the North Sea in 866 with a huge fleet (named by contemporary sources as the "Great Heathen Army) for meet king Aelle in battle. They succesfully defeted and captured him, just for being sentenced to death by a terrible method met as the "blood eagle". It seems like Ragnar´s prophecy was acomplished despite it all, and his sons could later join him, there in the Valhalla, the hall for the bravest warriors.
a) Ragnar´s dead by Hugo Hamilton. b) Guests from Overseas by Nicholas Roerich c) Map of the main Viking voyages and raids. All pics by wikicommons