All historical references in Vinland Saga revisited

All historical references in Vinland Saga revisited

Makoto Yukimura’s historical references in Vinland Saga use real Viking legends like Thorfinn Karlsefni. While there are several historical references altogether, artistic licensing has allowed additions and changes here and there. However, Vinland Saga follows the actual search for Vinland by Thorfinn. It is possible that a major chunk of the side characters and battles might be loosely related to some historical event, but in this article, we will look into only those events in history that have been actually portrayed or imitated in Vinland Saga.

All Historical References in Vinland Saga

1. The titular Viking settlement of Vinland and the character of Thorfinn Karlsefni

All historical references in Vinland Saga revisited
Thorfinn Karlsefni. (Image credit goes to Wit Studios)

Thorfinn Karlsefni is an actual figure in history and his relationship with Leif Erickson has been historically documented. It is therefore clear that Thorfinn followed Leif’s route to Vinland, as the latter is a historically renowned seafarer. Thorfinn supposedly settled in the land that Leif founded, and roughly 140 settlers accompanied him. The saga of the Greenlanders and the Saga of Erik the Red together make up the common text of the Vinland Saga.

2. King Canute is real but his rise in the series is fabricated

All historical references in Vinland Saga revisited
King Canute. (Image credit goes to Wit Studios)

King Canute is a cunning schemer. The anime and the manga show that he was supposed to die when he was taken hostage by Thorkell but he became the successor of the English throne after his father Sweyn was killed. It also shows that he also went on to obtain the Danish crown after poisoning his brother Harald.

But in real life, King Canute did become the King of Denmark and England but not due to an assassination or murder. The character of Canute is also shown as friendly to Thorfinn in the manga but documented history doesn’t account for such an event.

3. The Invasion of London is based on a historical anecdote

All historical references in Vinland Saga revisited
Thorfinn and Askeladd. (Image credit goes to Wit Studios)
  • In the story of the manga, Thorfinn serves under Askeladd and they invade London as part of King Sweyn’s Danish forces. They claim England for Denmark and he does all of this to avenge his deceased father Thors and to get closer to his archnemesis.
  • However, the quest for vengeance is not actually real, but the invasion of London as a historical anecdote definitely is.

King Sweyn was in charge of London when England’s King Ethelred went into exile after a culmination of rising conflicts. The transfer of power to Denmark is an actual historical reference being made in the Vinland Saga.

4. The Jomsvikings and Thorkell the Tall

All historical references in Vinland Saga revisited
Thorkell in Vinland Saga. (Image credit goes to Wit Studios)

Historical references in Vinland Saga supersede even the larger historical events and focus on individual characters as well. Thorkell the Tall is actually documented as the leader of a mercenary force called the Jomsvikings. He was known as an important associate of King Canute and he fought against the Danes for Saxon England.

Historical sources reveal that Thorkell the Tall joined King Canute in 1016 CE and became the Jarl of East Anglia. He was also exiled to Denmark in 1021 CE but later became the Earl of Denmark.

5. The battle of Hjorngavagr

All historical references in Vinland Saga revisited
Thorkell the Tall. (Image credit goes to Wit Studios)

The battle of Hjorngavagr was an actual battle which took place in 986 CE. In the anime, it was shown that Thorkell the Tall and his Jomsvikings fight with Thors against the Norwegians. While Thors is a fictional character, the battle was an actual historical event. It was part of King Harald of Denmark’s attempt to reclaim Norway from King Haakon Sigurdsson. The naval skirmish led to the Norwegians winning the battle and bought Norway their independence.


Historical references in Vinland Saga include a lot of material and events that are partly portrayed to assist and uphold the essence of the narrative. Moreover, it substitutes the storytelling as a fictional narration of actual history, making Vinland Saga an absolute masterpiece of war, revenge, and exploration.

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