Vikings

Vikings were Norsemen who began raiding different parts of Europe during the 8th century. They had their home region in Scandinavia and were expert seafarers who were aided on their sea travels by their speedy longships.

Their raids continued from 8th to 11th centuries, and directly aimed most parts of Western and Central Europe, going as far as modern-day Russian territory, and the English isles, Sicily and other notable island regions in the Mediterranean.

The Vikings would raid a region for slaves and other gains, or use their longships for long-route trading. They had a decisive impact on the dynamics of early medieval Europe in the three centuries of their ceaseless raiding.

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Norse Vikings

The Vikings were fearsome warriors who originated in Scandinavia and began raiding northern Europe by the end of 8th century Read more about the Norse Vikings >>

Viking Art

Discover the History of Viking Art and Viking Art Styles Read more about the Viking Art >>

Viking Civilisation

The Vikings were a highly organised civilization with a distinct class structure, primarily a warrior society.... Read more about the Viking Civilisation >>

Viking Culture

Viking Culture was quite advanced, they had several social classes, but were predominately a warrior society with Pagan Beliefs... Read more about the Viking Culture >>

Viking Facts

The Vikings were an interesting bunch and there are many interesting facts to be discovered about the Vikings, their civilization, customs and society in medieval times Read more about the Viking Facts >>

Viking Games

History of Viking Games during the Medieval Period Read more about the Viking Games >>

Viking Gods

Viking Gods such as Thor, Odin, Loki and Balder are legends in Viking History, they belonged to the Aesir or Vanir group of Gods Read more about the Viking Gods >>

Viking History

Learn about Viking History, The Viking Expansion into British Isles and expansion into mainland Europe... Read more about the Viking History >>

Viking People

Viking People lived in a Social Class system, The Jarls were the elites, The Jarls the Middle Classes and the Thralls the Commoners or lower classes Read more about the Viking People >>

Viking Weapons

Vikings Were renowned for raiding from 'dragon-ships' or 'Longships', to do this they needed good weapons such as Spears and Axes... Read more about the Viking Weapons >>

Vikings Customs

Viking customs included religious festivals and ritual sacrifices, the Vikings had a very organised society Read more about the Vikings Customs >>

Vikings Gods Names List

The Vikings were Pagans and had many different Gods such as Thor'God of Thunder and Odin the God of warfare, death, wisdom and knowledge....

Read more about the Vikings Gods Names List >>

Vikings Sacrifice

Vikings Sacrifice was an important feature of Vikings Society, Strangulation being a common method of human sacrifice for Vikings..... Read more about the Vikings Sacrifice >>


Vikings History

The earliest records of Vikings raiding British Isles date back to the last decade of the 8th century.

By the first half of the 9th century, Vikings were a part of the personal bodyguard of the Byzantine Emperor.

In the 9th and 10th centuries, Vikings not only made frequent raids on British coastal regions, they also encroached upon mainland areas of Britain, Ireland and Scotland.

In 838, Norwegians who had Viking origins gained control important Irish territories and by 865, Danish descendants of Vikings were rapidly taking one city after another in England.

By 11th century, the Vikings had mostly settled down in the areas they had been previously raiding, often becoming ruling dynasties in these regions.

Late 11th century is marked as the end of what is conventionally dubbed the Viking Age.


Factors Leading to Viking Age

The raids of the Vikings on different regions on continental Europe and on England suddenly began in the 8th century.

Although the exact cause leading to the start of these raids is unknown, it has been surmised that Charlemagne’s campaigns against pagan Germanic tribes in the late 8th century may have triggered it.

Charlemagne waged war on Germanic tribes, including the Saxons, in order to Christianize them and he attained this objective as the cost of many wars and a few massacres of the Saxons.

It is also possible that Vikings discerned their obvious naval superiority, thanks to their long ships, and decided to put it to use in raiding and trading.

Vikings Impact on Medieval England

The impact of the Vikings on medieval England was decisive.

After intermittent raiding and pillaging, the Vikings came to power in England when a large Danish army arrived in 865 and conquered most of the territories.

Although the Anglo-Saxon kings put up a fierce fight, they had to compromise with the Danish Kings.

Eventually, England was conquered in 11th century by another group of Viking descendants, namely the Normans.

Ireland was likewise conquered first by Norwegians and later, more decisively, by the Normans in the 12th century.


End of the Viking Age

By the 10th century, Vikings has settled in portions of France, England, Ireland and Scotland.

Towards the 11th century, they emerged as the ruling dynasties of British Isles. Back at the homeland of the Vikings, the kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden and Norway had emerged.

By the 11th century, these kingdoms had significant power with notable populations adhering to Christian faith and dynasties directly allied with the Catholic Church.

With the inclusion of the Viking homelands in mainstream Christendom, the raiding of the Vikings came to an end.

However, by dint of their influence on most of Europe, Vikings were to have a lasting influence on the later development of the continent and of Britain.


Vikings Ships

One of the most notable advantages which helped Vikings raid near and far, carry out long-route trading and move swiftly over large distances in the sea, was that they had longships.

Longship had a long and narrow hull and came equipped with both sails and oars.

The longships were designed in such a way as to offer maximum speed and agility when traveling, and a rapid landing. Vikings used these ships for their raids and in warfare.


Vikings Culture

Vikings were a highly hierarchical society with distinct social classes.

They were fond of games and actively encouraged such sports which involved combat training and the use of weapons. These sports included mountain climbing, spear throwing and stone lifting among others. Board games such as chess were also popular.

The cuisine of the Vikings was quite diverse, comprising of meats of different kinds, seafood, dairy products, fruits and nuts among other ingredients.

The ability to do long-range trading also helped Vikings import different things such as food spices.

 


Viking Warfare

Vikings made use of a vast range of weapons during warfare.

Typically, every Viking freeman was required to own weapons and the outlook and range of weapons of a Viking also reflected his social status.

So while common freemen usually wielded a spear, a Viking nobleman had more elaborate list including a sword, helmet and mail shirt.

An interesting part of Viking warfare was the use of “berserkers”, groups of violent Viking fighters who fought in a fierce style and were claimed to be immune to pain.

It has been theorized that Berserkers possibly used psychoactive herbs.

Viking fierceness in warfare also informed by Norse mythologies related to Thor and Odin.


Vikings Social Hierarchy

The Viking society chiefly comprised of three social classes.

The Jarls were the highest on the social ladder and constituted the aristocracy. They owned huge longhouses, occupied administrative positions and were warrior leaders.

Karls were freed peasants who owned their own land, earned their own bread and sometimes employed Thralls.

Thralls were the lowest on the social rung, usually slaves captured during wars and employed to carry out menial chores.


Vikings Summary

Vikings were Germanic Norsemen who were excellently skilled in sea travel with the aid of their longships.

From 8th to 11th centuries, Vikings raided many areas of Western Europe and British Isles. In time, they settled on British Isles and in Normandy.

The later Normans who came to conquer and rule England were descendants of the Vikings.

Although the so-called Viking Age came to an end in the 11th century, Vikings left a lasting imprint on the culture and politics of Europe and especially that of Britain.

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