Testicular Fortitude | Ivar the Boneless
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Testicular Fortitude means having deep seated masculine courage and strength. Balls. Guts. Manlihood.
Testicular Fortitude on the Manlihood ManCast is where we take a look at men who have beat the odds, men whose courage has left a lasting legacy.
The Vikings, feared and ruthless raiders, who plundered and pillaged their way through Europe, spreading terror and destruction wherever they went. But among their ranks stood one warrior who rose above the rest, a man who was as feared as he was respected, a man known as Ivar the Boneless.
Ivar the Boneless
Ivar, son of Ragnar Lothbrok, was a Viking chieftain of Danish origin, whose life story is suffused with legend. He was a man who sought not only to plunder but to conquer.
In 865, Ivar and his brothers Halfdan and Hubba invaded Great Britain at the head of a large Viking force, known as the Great Heathen Army.
Their motivation was to avenge their father, who had died after being captured while raiding the kingdom of Northumbria.
The Battle of Nottingham
After capturing the capital city of York in 866, Ivar led his army to Nottingham, in the kingdom of Mercia. But the Mercian king Burgred called upon Wessex for assistance, and King Aethelred I and the future King Alfred soon arrived to besiege Nottingham. The Danes withdrew to York without a fight.
Ivar and his brothers remained in York for about a year, before returning to East Anglia where they defeated King Edmund in battle.
Ivar did not participate in the Viking campaign to take Wessex from King Alfred in the 870s. Instead, he renewed his partnership with Olaf the White and entered what is now Scotland. Their army overran and destroyed Dumbarton, capital of the Strathclyde kingdom, in 870. The following year the two returned in triumph to Dublin. Ivar, by then known as ‘king of the Norsemen of all Ireland and Britain,’ died in 873.
The Testicular Fortitude of Ivar the Boneless
The meaning of Ivar’s peculiar nickname, ‘the Boneless,’ is not known with any certainty. It might refer to a hereditary skeletal condition such as osteogenesis imperfecta, or to an inability to walk.
It stands in contrast to modern times, when pain or any kind of disability almost gives us an excuse to surrender. Ivar isn’t known for his kindness, or his goodness. He was fierce and brutal. He took what didn’t belong to him. He ruled and reigned in the very ways a viking would expect. As with many of the men we highlight here, we can learn from their moral weakness as much as we can learn from their strength.
In the face of that debilitating pain, Ivar the Boneless was a Viking warrior unlike any other, a man of courage, strength, and determination, whose legacy lives on to this day.
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