‘Vikings Valhalla’ Kinng Yarolsav the Wise Controversy Explained

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King Yaroslav in Vikings: Valhalla – Picture: Netflix

Netflix has landed in hot water thanks to a historically inaccurate post from the administrators of the official Vikings Valhalla Twitter account.

For context, on November 21, 2022, the official Twitter account of vikings valhalla began posting new promotional material, mainly introducing new characters to the show for its second season. It was announced that season 2 of the show will arrive on Netflix on January 12, 2023.

One of the prominent figures in the series of tweets is King Yaroslav the Wise, one of the most famous rulers of Kyivan Rus.

However, the administrator erroneously listed King Yaroslav the Wise as the ruler of ‘Northern Russia’. Which is extremely controversial considering the historical inaccuracy of it and the current political climate in Europe.

Why is this controversial?

First of all, the post itself is historically inaccurate.

King Yaroslav the Wise was the ruler of Kyivan Rus, and not of Russia. At the time of King Yaroslav’s death in 1054, Kyivan Rus’ territory encompassed much of present-day Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. All three aforementioned nations claim Kyivan Rus to be their cultural ancestor.

It was after the death of King Yaroslav that the decline of Kyivan Rus took place. Over the next two centuries, new powers established themselves in the region, such as the Grand Duchy of Moscow, the Novgorod Republic, and the invading Mongol Empire. These new powers, including multiple new principalities, saw the territory of Kyivan Rus’ divided between them.

The Tsardom of Russia succeeded the Grand Duchy of Moscow in 1547, almost five hundred years after the death of King Yaroslav the Wise. Kyiv would not come under Russian rule or influence until 1654, when the Cossack Hetmanate became a Protectorate of the Tsardom of Russia.

With many hundreds of years separating the decline of Kyivan Rus and the formation of the Tsardom of Russia, many different customs and traditions are separating the two regions.

Also, geographically, the city of Kyiv, the capital of Kyiv Rus, was not located in the region we know today as North-West Russia or North Russia.

Labeling King Yaroslav as the ruler of the Russian North is historically, politically, and geographically inaccurate.

Since both Russia and Ukraine share King Yaroslav as an important part of their cultural heritage, recognizing him as a Russian ruler and not a Kyvian ruler is not hard to understand. Why would any Ukrainian be upset about this?.

As many Ukrainians have discussed online, mislabeling King Yaroslav can be seen as erasing their history and culture.

Historical adaptations, fictional or not, it is the responsibility of the production studio and the distributor that cultures are represented correctly, especially when a culture is at risk of being eradicated due to war.


You can read our full preview to Vikings: Valhalla season 2 in our preview.

What are your thoughts on the historical inaccuracies of Vikings: Valhalla? Let us know in the comments below.

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