Harald Wartooth was a gigantic fucking Viking Berserker King who, in addition to running into battle completely unarmored and having spears and axes and other bullshit bounce off his fucking skin like his ridiculously-calloused, potentially-cyborged-out hide was constructed out of the titanium plating hand-shredded off the chassis of planet-vaporizing robots, was famous for being one of the first motherfuckers to ever unite all the frozen lands of Scandinavia under the banner of Viking Badassitude, conquering armies from England to Finland with tactics he'd been taught from the Norse Gods themselves, charging head-long into battle during the Viking version of the Battle of Troy despite the notable setback that he was like so fucking old he couldn't see past his epic white beard, and then having his skull gloriously clubbed into explosive shards by Odin while he was standing in a pile of human corpses he'd created with a pair of swords and his own furious death stare.
The Viking equivalent of King Arthur or Tupac Shakur, Harald Wartooth is one of these dudes we like to call "semi-legendary kings", which is a fancy, pseudo-academic way for smartypants tightwads to say, "This dude was almost certainly a real person at one time in history but shit got out of control over the last couple years and now we're pretty sure he didn't actually lop off heads with liquid metal blade arms, transform into Bear Mode at will, hang out with a dude who could transform men into frogs, or project his life essence into the Astral Plane and transfer his existence into hologram form", without sounding like a psychotic dumbass. We are like 90% sure Harald Wartooth was a real person, and if he wasn't, he was at least based on a real guy, because he's mentioned in a couple different places from a couple different Nordic civilizations. We know he lived around the 8th century, probably in the early 700s AD. We know he united the Viking Kingdoms. And we know he KICKED THE FUCKING SHIT OUT OF EVERYONE, because even 1,300 years after the WARTOOTHPOCALYPSE went down we have the bones and wreckage to prove it. Most historians just aren't exactly convinced that he communicated directly with the Norse God Odin, or that he lived to be 150 years old, or that he allowed himself to die simply because he was really fucking old and wanted to go to Valhalla rather than die a coward's death alone in his bed like a chump.
According to the tale of notable 13th-century Viking historian Saxo Grammaticus (the guy responsible for writing the original version of Hamlet that Bill Shakespeare re-made into a play a few centuries later), Harald Wartooth first came into prominence when his grandfather, a Viking explorer/pillager/badass/nobleman/maniac named Ivar the Wide-Grasping, accidentally killed himself while trying to fight a mythical sea monster that, by definition, could only be killed by the Norse God Thor. Ivar, who I'm pretty sure gets his wide-grasping epithet because he was literally able to grope TWO BOOBS AT THE SAME TIME, was like some super-old bastard who got into a Walter Matheau – Jack Lemmon-caliber argument with some other old geezer over something asinine like how to interpret a weird dream, and the way they decided to resolve the conflict was by jumping off a pier into the freezing-fucking-cold North Sea and engaging in hand-to-hand combat with the Midgard Serpent, a sea monster so intensely tremendor that it's body circled the entire earth, and a fearsome beast with fangs the size of skyscrapers that were poisonous enough to kill the Gods Themselves. Ivar and his buddy both drowned like dumbshits almost immediately, so 15-year-old Harald, the only surviving male from his family (and a member of the royalty both through Ivar and because his mom was a princess or some bullshit), walked into Denmark and told everyone he was in charge now so you n00b chumps better start getting used to the idea. The assembled Viking beards saw this teenage punk coming in and were all like, "Yeah OK cool story bro that sounds great but how about rather than pay tribute to your dumb ass we SHOVE AN AXEHANDLE UP YOUR URETHRA AND BEAT YOUR MOTHER TO DEATH BY SWINGING YOUR IMPALED-PENISED CORPSE AROUND LIKE A MEAT SLEDGEHAMMER INSTEAD??!?!?!?!11111"
Harald Wartooth, who at this point was just going by Harald, stood there, his expression unchanging. He nodded understandingly, did a couple surreptitious finger-stretching exercises, calmly looked around at everyone before him, and casually unsheathed the Danish two-handed longaxe from the holster that slung it across his back.
Then he DESTROYED THEM ALL UTTERLY.
Parasailing through Northern Europe on a fire-nado of human carnage and tempered-steel implements of , the unstoppable Viking warlord conquered every territory in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, crushed armies and cut huge swaths of territory out for himself in Northern Germany and Eastern England, installed his own kinsmen as jarls of the devastated territories, and forced everyone he'd subjugated to pay tribute to him so that they never, ever forgot who had the biggest nutsack in the North Sea. They agreed.
Harald was famous for being a hardcore Berserker, meaning that he became so psychotically pissed and filled with the furious rage of Odin's killbonerrific spirit that he transcended anything mortal humans should be capable of and became an unflinching, unstoppable murder machine capable of grinding entire battalions of enemy warriors into mulch with a frenzy of blood-soaked deathstrokes. A young, impetuous, hardcore fighter, Harald always led his armies personally, screaming into battle like a madman and refusing to wear armor of any kind because he claimed Odin Himself would blind his foes and blunt their spears against him. When he was in full-on PCP Berserker Beast Mode, mostly naked and slathered in human blood and cream cheese, Harald was allegedly immune to fire and steel, incapable of feeling pain, and utterly unstoppable in combat. He wielded heavy oak clubs most of the time because he was notorious for hitting his enemies so hard that he would break his sword, once gave proof of his bravery by allowing the enemy to stab him with spears just to prove he could take it, and got his nickname, "Wartooth", supposedly from losing two teeth to an enemy sword and then having two brand new teeth SPONTANEOUSLY FUCKING GROW TO REPLACE THEM. I envision this going down in slow-motion with a super-extreme-close-up as he grows huge fangs to replace his busted teeth while a flaming 80s guitar solo wails in the background and the sound effect of a wolf howling at the moon blows the speakers on your TV into screaming shards of superheated shrapnel that embed themselves into your shitty couch and CATCH YOUR FUCKING APARTMENT ON FUCKING FIRE BECAUSE HE'S HARALD WARTOOTH NOW.
In addition to granting secret mutant powers of superhuman carnage-creation, Odin also supposedly personally came to Harald before battles and told him how to win. Typically this involved forming his men in a wedge and having them run straight ahead into the middle of the enemy forces screaming and swinging their axes and spears like their lives depended on it, which seems like a pretty straightforward tactic but apparently wasn't super common at the time because only one person ever used that strategy back against Harald. All the Lord of Valhalla asked in return was for Harald Wartooth to brutally sacrifice all captured Prisoners of War to Odin by hand-cleaving out their screaming guts on a stone altar with a sharp rock and pulling out their entrails. Harald was happy to oblige.
Unsurprisingly, after conquering his foes to shreds, Harald Wartooth ruled unopposed for over 50 years. The only action his warriors saw was when they went on their infamous raids throughout the North Sea and the Mediterranean.
Well one day, when Harald was allegedly 150 years old (this seems unlikely), his nephew, a guy named Sigurd Hring who was related to Harald through Harald's mother's second marriage to a guy named Radbeard (seriously!), decided he was sick of paying tribute and bullshit to the Wartooth. Sigurd Hring had been put in charge of the Swedes and the Goths, and he was getting all butthurt about not being the King of Denmark so he told Wartooth they should fucking fight it out in search of the One True Hring. Wartooth, who was old as hell and just survived an assassination attempt where a couple dumbasses tried to kill him while he was taking a bath, was happy to have the opportunity to die a Warrior's Death, and was also more than willing to take his uppity nephew, turn him inside-out and SHOVE HIM UP HIS OWN FUCKING ASS.
The two Kings assembled every fighting man in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. They recruited mercenaries from Saxony, Germany, England, Russia, and Eastern Europe. Harald Wartooth chopped down two entire forests to build a fleet of dragon ships so massive that if you laid them all out next to each other you could have walked from Denmark to Sweden without stepping on the water.
What went down would be the biggest inter-Viking battle ever recorded, either in history or in the sagas. It's the Norse version of Troy or the Mahabarta. The language used for the battle by Norse skalds closely resembles that of the description of Ragnarok, the battle at the End of the World. And Harald Wartooth plays the starring role.
The two opposing armies stood across from each other. When Harald Wartooth noticed Sigurd Hring had positioned his men in a wedge as well, Harald got a little worried. This did not stop him from wedging up his men, and going point-to-point to hump his foes into submission.
The battle that followed is worthy of the greatest epics in literary history. Harald's warriors, Are the One-Eyed, Dag the Fat, Hothbodd the Indomitable, and many other awesomely-named motherfuckers cleaved their way through the greatest warriors Hring had to offer. Wartooth's greatest champion, Ubbe from Friesland, waded into the meat of the action, covered in blood up to his shoulders, killing 22 men and wounding 11 more "warriors of note" (Saxo differentiates "warriors of note" from "nameless jobber nobodies") with a gigantic waraxe before being gloriously massacred to death by four sword cuts and two dozen arrow wounds. Wartooth's warrior-babe Veborg, a tough-as-shit chick who commanded a battalion of 300 hardass shieldmaidens, sliced Hring's greatest warriors so hard that she bifurcated his face at the jaw and the guy ran off carrying his beard around like a loaf of bread, then double-killed Thorkell the Stubborn after "many wounds and much verbal arguing."
Despite these acts of towering badassitude, the battle was turning against Wartooth, and, rather than sit back and let all his lieutenants have all the fun, the old-as-fuck, half-blind Berserker King decided, fuck it, I'm getting in on this bullshit. Seated in his Royal Chariot, the ancient king pulled himself up onto his knees, drew an iron sword in each hand, spurred his horses ahead, and kneeboarded straight-on in the center of the action, ready to kick fucking asses and then senile-y forget the names.
"When Harald saw the great slaughter among his troops,
he threw himself on his knees on his chariot, being unable to stand,
and took a short sword in each hand; he then caused the chariot
to be driven into the thickest of the fight, hewing and striking on both sides,
in this manner killing many, and he was considered very valiant,
and to have done mighty deeds for his great age."
After eviscerating a swath through the enemy army with an epic drive-by cleaving, Harald Wartooth, the greatest of the Viking Kings, was mortally wounded when, according to the story, Odin Himself clubbed him in the back of the head with an axe, knocking him out of the chariot. When Sigurd Hring saw the empty royal chariot scream past him, he immediately ordered a cease-fire. Both armies stopped in their tracks, and spend the rest of the morning searching for the body of the fallen king to prove the Wartooth was no more. They found him, covered in blood, lying dead under a stack of corpses that were piled so high you couldn't drive a wagon in there because the bodies were stacked higher than the wagon's axle.
That night, a huge funeral pyre was built for the fallen king, and every man and woman on the field threw one item onto the blaze to honor their dead king. Sigurd would take over as King of Denmark. His son, Ragnar Hairy-Breeches, is the guy that History Channel Vikings show is about, and Sigurd's grandson, Ivar the Boneless, is the man responsible for conquering the rest of England in the 9th century.
Cronholm, Neander Nicolas. A History of Sweden from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. 1902.
Geijer, Erik Gustav. The History of the Swedes. Whittaker and Company, 1845.
Howorth, Henry Hoyle. The Early History of Sweden. 1881.
Jones, Gwyn. History of the Vikings. Oxford University Press, 2001.
Speidel, Michael P. Ancient Germanic Warriors. Routledge, 2002.