Viking Expansion

Introduction

The Viking Age approximately lasted from 790 to 1066 A.D. During this period, Vikings left their Scandinavian homelands and ranged far and wide in Western Europe.

Viking-Age

They expanded their influence through warfare and built settlements throughout Europe, Central Asia, and England. Scandinavian Norsemen explored many new lands for raids, colonization, and conquest. They left a permanent and very strong impact on the lands they ruled and governed.

Reasons for Viking Expansion

The reason behind the Viking attacks in the early history was for finding secure trade routes because like other countries, they needed to sell their goods to earn money and buy new things for their need. But with time they started looting isolated lands and towns for gold.

They started with coastal lands, especially the monasteries that were undefended. They killed the priests and collected the booty leaving everything destroyed in their way.

Another big reason to move and raid for new lands was the climate changes, population pressure, and harsh winters in their original homelands that forced them to seek land and resources elsewhere.

Start of Viking Expansion

In A.D. 793, the first Viking raid took place against the Lindisfarne monastery on the coast of England. The attack shocked the Europeans and Christians all around Europe.

As compared to other pirates and attackers, this new group had no rules and no respect for religious institutions.

Viking-longboat-raid

After some years, the Vikings raided the undefended island monasteries of Skye and Iona in 799. In the subsequences years, they continued to attack many isolated lands along with the coastal lands in Britain and Europe.

Building on these raids, they began to establish permanent settlements. They took advantage of the internal dispute and conflicts in Europe and England to extend their lands. With time, the Vikings adopted Christianity and settled in France, Italy, and England.

Viking Settlement

Viking Settlement

Viking Raids and Expansion in England

The English coastal lands and monasteries were the first target of the Viking raiders. By the mid-eighth century England, Ireland and Scotland had become the main targets of Viking raiders.

Viking Longboats

They gained control of much of Scotland and founded the first trade center in Dublin, Ireland. Then they launched attacks on England across the Irish Sea.

Vikings Raids on Ireland

Vikings Raids on Ireland – Land in Dublin

After 851, the repeated waves of Viking attacks in England left only one original Anglo-Saxon kingdom intact – Wessex.

Many of the Vikings settled in England as traders and farmers and established a new city called York. In time, a permanent section of England called Danelaw became home to Vikings.

York England

York England

Viking Settlements in Normandy

The Vikings were attracted by the wealth of their neighbors with whom they often traded during the 8th and 9th centuries. They began to venture to France in long Viking boats and raid the coastal lands.

In 845, the Vikings ventured as far as Paris, laid siege to Paris, and then sacked the city. Over time, Vikings established permanent settlements in modern-day Normandy.

To end the threat of Viking invasions, King Charles III of West France conceded the lands as the Duchy of Normandy to Roll, a famous Viking leader.

Summary

  • Vikings began to venture out of their Scandinavian homelands from the 8th century onwards.
  • They first raided the coasts of Western Europe and the British Isles.
  • In time they established permanent settlements in France, Britain, Scotland, Ireland, and other regions.

  • The reasons for their expansion include population pressures, climate changes, dwindling resources at home, and the wealth of their neighboring kingdoms.
  • In time, Vikings established permanent settlements in England.
  • Danelaw was the section in England that was home to Vikings.
  • In France, the Duchy of Normandy was established to accommodate Vikings. Its first Duke was the Viking leader, Rollo.