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How Accurate is Vinland Saga?Is it Based on True Story?

Popularly known as the “Game of Thrones” of the Anime world, Vinland Saga depicts the story of a young boy named Thorsfinn and his struggle to revenge his father’s death. The story is not only centered towards revenge, but, also exploration, life-lessons and the pitfalls of having a revengeful mentality.

When Vinland Saga aired in 2019, it was well received, and quickly became the topic of discussion about “Whether the story is historically correct or not.” What makes Vinland Saga interesting to watch is the mixture of History and Fantasy. In this post, we will learn exactly how accurate is the Manga and whether the characters actually existed!

Before explaining this theory, if you haven’t watched Vinland Saga, then you are really missing a fantastic show. The first season has 24 episodes, but, interesting enough that you will be bound to search when the next season will come out.


Though, there are countless known and unknown characters in Vinland Saga, only few are remarkable enough to be researched upon. Looking closely, you will see that only a handful of characters made up the whole “Vinland Saga” story:

  • Thors
  • Thorfinn
  • Askeladd
  • Leif Erikson
  • Thorkell
  • Canute
  • Sweyn Forkbeard

These are the seven characters that move the entire show. But, did they really exist?

Unfortunately, Thors, with whom the entire story began, never existed. But, looking into historical records, there was a person called “Thord Horsehead,” but, he was in no way a warrior as it is shown in the Anime.

Vinland Saga Thorsfinn
Thorsfinn : Fandom

But, the main protagonist Thorfinn, really did exist. His name was “Thorfinn Karlsefni” and was also an Icelandic. But, here too is a contrast to the reality and fiction. Thorfinn Karlsefni, was not a warrior rather he was an explorer famously known for his expeditions. And, Thord Horsehead was the actual father of Thorfinn Karlsefni. So, you can now understand where the actual relation is.

In the beginning of the Anime, we see Thors in a battle as a Jomsviking and Thorkell acting his warrior buddy. The character, Thorkell actually existed and was famous for his leadership as a Jomsviking. He was called “Thorkell the Tall,” probably for his beastly figure.

Vinland Thorkell
Thorkell : Fandom

But, there was no relationship between Thorkell the Tall and Thord Horsehead. Heck, Thord was not even a fighter and just an average human. Unfortunately very little is known about Thorkell the Tall, only that he was a great warrior and respected among other Jomsvikings.

In the manga after Thors is put to death by Askeladd and his men, we see that Thorfinn goes on a journey with Askeladd, hoping to kill him one day and take his father’s(Thors) revenge.

Here too, Askeladd is a fictional character and looking into historical evidence, there is nothing written about a person named Askeladd. Before dying when Askeladd says that his Mother named him Lucius Artorius Castus because they were the only living generation of King Arthur, it was almost clear that, Askeladd, is a made-up character.

But, certainly, the way the Mangaka has connected Askeladd with other parts of the story is really remarkable. Askeladd is also considered as the one who caused the entire Vinland Saga Manga to grab its momentum.

The other three remaining people, Leif Erikson, Canute and Sweyn are the characters that have played a crucial role in not only Manga, but also in real life.

Sweyn Forkbeard is depicted as one of the most powerful King of his times, and, this was actually true. Comparing the fictional Sweyn and the real-life one, the real-life was far more of a leader than shown in the Manga.

What is totally false as shown in the Anime is Sweyn’s death. As I said before, there was no character named Askeladd, hence, Sweyn Forkbeard did not die with his head chopped off, rather, he fell from his horse and died. Such a common way to die for an uncommon King.

Vinland Saga Canute
Canute : Fandom

One of the most remarkable character in the series is Canute. Why you ask? Before telling you this, the real-life Canute was called “Canute the Great.,” hence showing the powerful position he held when he was in power.

Coming back to the Manga, when Canute was introduced, many thought that he was a Princess rather than a Prince. The way he talked, did things, made him less respectable and gloomy. But, only one incident changed his entire life.

Ragnar is shown as the mouthpiece of Canute in the Manga and he also acted as his best friend and foster-father. But, Ragnar was also a fictional character and in reality it was Thorkell the Tall, who taught Canute all the soldiery. Hence, here too we get to see a stark contrast comparing the Manga and real-life. There could be chance that an another person existed similar to Ragnar, but with a different name.

Vinland Saga Leif
Leif Erikson : Fandom

Leif Erikson, was a real person and is very well know for his expeditions. Funny thing to notice is the relationship shown between Thorfinn and Leif in the Manga and Anime. Thorfinn was an explorer and Leif was too. Hence, in real-life they both did actually set out in many expeditions.

It’s in Leif’s one of many expeditions that he found the land, which later came to be called Vinland. But, what is the reason behind this name?

Is Vinland Real? What is the Meaning of “Vinland?”

Yes! the land Vinland is real. In the Anime, Vinland is shown in the very beginning of the first episode. But, who told them the story about such a land? It was Leif.

In real life, Leif Erikson was an explorer and while in one of his expeditions, he discovered a land where the land was fertile and it didn’t snow when it was Winter. But, the land was covered with vine trees. Hence, Leif Erikson named the land, Vineland or Vinland.

In his expedition, Leif accidentally discovered North America, which he called Vineland.

After the Anime ends with Askeladd’s death, Thorfinn is lost, since all these years he trained day and night to defeat and kill the person who was lying dead in front of him. Later in the Manga, we see Thorfinn joining Leif’s expeditions.

Other things to note regarding the relationship shown between Thorfinn and Canute is that, nothing as such happened. There is no record of Thorfinn having connection with Canute. Maybe, they met, since Thorfinn was an explorer, but having a friendly relation is nowhere mentioned in any History book. Though there are more hidden facts that we will never know since those were never documented.

We must always keep in mind that we only get to hear the stories of a handful of explorers who returned and not the countless who didn’t.


I hope you’re not confused with all the History lesson above!

Here is the list that shows whether the characters existed in real life:

  • Thors: Not Real
  • Thorfinn: Real (But not as represented in the Manga)
  • Askeladd: Not Real
  • Leif Erikson: Real
  • Thorkell: Real
  • Canute: Real
  • Sweyn Forkbeard: Real

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