Vikings and fierce are two words that always come together. They were known to be great traders of the sea, settlers, and explorers of lands. While they were often stereotyped to be wearing horned helmets (not true), had a huge and insatiable taste for war (not always true), they also spent most of their time peacefully raising cattle, goats, sheep, and plowing their fields for a good portion of their year. Although, there was no denying that when it came to battles, the Vikings bred some of the toughest and fiercest warriors of all time. Here are three of the fiercest Viking warriors in history:

Harald Hardrada

Harald would not be called Hardrada for no reason. The word can be translated to “Hard Ruler” or “Tyrannical” or “Resolute,” depending on how you see his ways. At a tender age, he was already involved in bloody power struggles. It was not a surprise that when he became a teenager, Harald joined forces with Olaf II of Norway, his half-brother who had been exiled by Cnut the Great of Denmark. When Olaf was later killed at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030, Harald was left to wander on his own as a warrior. He found himself in Constantinople, in Byzantine. There, he joined the Varangian Guard, a group of elite Norse fighters who protected the Byzantine Emperor.

Harald Hardrada
Harald Hardrada. (Colin Smith / Harald Hardrada, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

From there, he rose to power as a cold, ruthless, and ambitious leader. The result was a large sum of wealth that he was able to amass with his aggressive approach. He decided to conquer Norway, where Olaf’s son named Magnus was just recently crowned as its king. In the end, they decided to compromise and co-rule. When Magnus died just a year after their agreement, Norway was left in the hands of Harald.

As a king, the first thing he did was eliminate and crush the resistance groups to his reign. He turned to England and launched an invasion in September of 1066, where he was defeated at the Battle of Stamford Bridge by Harold II. It was said that Harald fought while in berserker trance without body armor. As a result, an arrow to the throat claimed his life, and his death marked the end of the Viking Age.