The history of the Vikings

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The Vikings correspond to the Scandinavian population of the thirteenth to eleventh centuries. They were traders, plunderers and explorers who made a sacred mess of the European lands. They were indeed fans of the wealth possessed by weak kingdoms.

Today, the vikings have left us a legacy far better than mere plunder, we find names, customs, unique cultures and a savoir faire that marked the medieval era. In addition to this, they allowed us to discover a magnificent universe, that of Nordic mythology

vikings

Much of what we know today about Viking chronology is based on Icelandic sagas. Many people wrote stories hundreds of years after the events. Keep in mind that in some cases the dates are not accurate, and that is why this is one of the most important criticisms of Viking stories.

The CHRONOLOGY OF VIKING HISTORY

Eighth century

  • 787: The first raid. The Norwegian Vikings sailed to the Isle of Portland in Dorset, and after being mistaken for traders, attacked the village. The first documented attack was the attack on the Isle of Portland.
  • 791: The battles for the British Isles begin. Viking activity in the British Isles took place during the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries. The first targets were monasteries on small islands that were not protected.
  • 793: Norse adventurers sack the Anglo-Celtic monastery of Lindisfarne. The name Lindisfarne is linked to the Viking raid in 793. It seems unlikely that this was the first, but it is the earliest written sources documented in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the famous Doomsday Stone. Alfred the Great was king of the Anglo-Saxons.

loyalty bracelet ravens odin

Ninth century

  • 800: The young Futhark replaces the old Futhark. Craftsmen and landlords found the inscriptions on Iron Age coins, brooches, weapons and other objects. About 260 of the approximately 350 known inscriptions of the Old Futharkare found in Scandinavia. At the beginning of the famous Viking Age in the 700s, the Futhark changed form. The alphabet that included 16 runes was now used and it was called the Younger Futhark.
  • 802: Beginning of the Norse raids on Ireland. The Normans attacked Ireland in 802, leaving disaster among the  brothers Céli Dé and burnt down the abbey.  A King Niall Glúndub, also known as the most powerful king in Ireland, decided to stop the Vikings, but only a few Irish attacks on the Vikings were successful. Irish Vikings devoted much effort to establishing the Nordic kingdom
  • 825: The first settlement in the Faroe Islands. Grímur Kamban was the one who first settled in the Faroes around 825.
  • 862:  The beginning of the Rurik dynasty. The Rurik dynasty began in 862. Rurik came with his brothers and massive entourage, and it became the given name of Novgorod. Many historians have said that Rurik was originally from Scandinavia or Jutland and occupied Ladoga. Rurik is one of the founders of an important formation known as Kievan Rus, the first incarnation of modern Russia.
  • 872: The timeline of the Fairhair Dynasty. The Fairhair Dynasty was a family of kings founded by Harald I, King of Norway. Harald Fairhair, the first King of Norway, united the Norwegian royalty into one kingdom in 885. He was one of the most famous Scandinavian Viking leaders. He controlled the west coast of Norway but did not have as much authority in other parts of Norway.

Tenth century

  • 911: Duchy in Normandy. The Vikings began their raids on the Seine in 820. Over the next nine decades, they raided the region extensively and even established tiny settlements on the lower Seine. After King Charles III and one of the Viking chiefs, Rollo, signed the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte of 911, the Duchy of Normandy was created. The Dutch took their name from the Normans, its inhabitants.
  • 961: The Sonatorrek timeline. Sonatorrek is a poem that appears in Egil's saga and has 25 stanzas. The Icelandic saga was centred on the life of Egill Skallagrimsson.
  • 982: Colony in the East. When Erik was exiled from Iceland in 980, he decided to explore the west coast. He named the country Greenland because he believed that a good name would attract other settlers. He was the father of Leif Erikson, the first man from Europe who reached North America.

Viking invasion

Ist century

  • 1016: King of England. Canute became king of Denmark, Norway and England in 1016. Canute was 40 years old when he died in 1035. He was also known as Canut the Great, king of Denmark, Norway, England and Sweden. Details of Canut's youth remain unclear as no written records exist.
  • 1030: The spread of Christianity. The Battle of Stiklestad is one of the most critical battles in Norwegian history. It is believed to have occurred in July 1030 in central Norway. The Battle of Stiklestad was the battle where the Viking king Olav Haraldsson was killed.  Olav Haraldsson was born in Norway in 995 when Christianity invaded Scandinavia. When he was younger, he took part in Viking expeditions to many areas such as Britain and northern France. Olav was baptised into Christianity in 1014. His religious code of 1024 is considered to be Norway's first national legislation. In Sweden, there is an exceptionally high number of churches dedicated to Olav.
  • 1066: The end of the Viking Age in England. The Battle of Stamford Bridge between King Harald Hardrada and King Harold of England took place in 1066. The fight was so violent and brutal that many people lost their lives. The Battle of Stamford Bridge is traditionally regarded as the end of the Viking Age in England.

Twelfth century

  • 1171: The end of the Viking Age in Ireland. With the help of Pope Adrian IV, King Hanri seized Ireland with his great fleet. The Irish welcomed King Henry II because he had the protection the Irish kings needed at this time.

Thirteenth century

  • 1240 :  The end of the Rurik dynasty. The Mongol horde, led by Batu Khan, attacked Kiev. After the attack on Kiev, the Russian princes were forced to apply to the Mongol khan for a patent to rule as high princes. The Mongol invasion seemed to be the end of the Rurik dynasty.
  • 1263: The Battle of Largs. The Battle of Largs was a small battle between the Scottish and Norwegian kingdoms. The battle was a complete waste as neither army achieved its main objective.

The Greatest VIKINGS

Ragnar Lodbrok, the most famous Viking

The most important leader and most famous Viking warrior was Ragnar Lodbrok. He led many attacks in France and England. Ragnar was born near Kattegat and gained the reputation of being a strong and intelligent boy.  Ragnar Lothbrok reigned in the 9th century as a Viking king and warrior known for his fantastic warrior skills, tragic death, sons Halfdan, Ivar the Boneless and Hubba. Hubba attacked East Anglia in 865.

ragnar lothbrok

Ragnar was a Dane. The Danes were a tribe inhabiting southern Scandinavia. The earliest written evidence of the Danes dates from the 6th century. During this age, the word " Dane " became synonymous with Vikings who attacked and invaded places.

Erik the Red, the most feared Viking

It can be said that Erik the Red was the most feared Viking. He left Norway as a child. After leaving his homeland, he moved to Iceland with his father. After some time, Erik was forced to leave Iceland. After this event, he began to investigate the land to the west.

Erik earned his nickname because of his hair and beard, but it also reflected his violent character. He was a great warrior. Erik explored the west and north of the country for two years, leaving his mark on the names of the places he visited. He convinced many people that Greenland was an excellent opportunity for them. In 985, he left Iceland with a large fleet of 25 ships to conquer Greenland.  Erik the Red managed to move 500 men and women, domestic animals and all other equipment to Greenland to create a new colony in this region. Many ships were not suitable for such a difficult journey, so they had to leave or were lost in the sea due to bad weather conditions.  However, 14 ships arrived in Greenland. They established the eastern colony and the western colony as two colonies, with many small settlements in between. 

Cnut the Great, the great Viking king

Cnut the Great left an important mark on the history of England and Scandinavia, but his battles and warrior skills have remained underappreciated and barely studied.

He led his kingdom to stability after years of battles. Denmark, Norway and perhaps many parts of Sweden came under King Cnut's control.

He died in 1035, so his son, King Harold Harefoot, inherited the kingdom. Harthacnut, Cnut's other son, ascended the throne, but his death in 1042 marked the end of Danish rule in England.  His impact is still a mystery to most Danes, due to the lack of written evidence and to many people who are unaware that England was part of the North Sea empire that was under the control of King Cnut.

Harald Hardrada, the last Viking leader

Harald Sigurdsson was born in 1015. As a teenager he participated in the Battle of Stiklestad, which took place in 1030. Harald Hardrada joined the army with his brother, Olaf II, who was overthrown by Cnut the Great. At the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030, Olaf was killed and Harald was wounded but managed to save his life.

Harald Hardrada

It is worth mentioning that one of Harald's invasions helped William Duke of Normandy, known as William the Conqueror. Had Harold's forces not been so weakened by the many battles they fought, they would have been prepared to win the Battle of Hastings. Harald Hardrada is known as the last great Norse king.

COUTUMES OF THE VIKINGS

Their dependence on agriculture

To preface, the Vikings were for the most part farmers, since the topography and ecology of Scandinavia allowed them to surround themselves with barley, oats, rye, wheat, grains as one of the oldest ingredients of a healthy and simple strategist's meal. Crops are most likely to survive in 90% of the soils on the entire planet, all that mattered was that the soil was not sandy, dry or poisoned.  Besides crops, pig, sheep, chicken and goat farming came after ploughing as main activity. They also had stables with horses, being their number two transport vehicle next to the super thin and fast boats they had built at that time.

In Scandinavian quarters, wooden houses (timber) were their easiest and quickest way to make a shelter from the sharp seasons. However, some Scandinavian regions lacked wood, so as a replacement material they used grass (grass/earth) and stone.  Obviously, since Scandinavia is stationed on the northern surfaces of Europe, leading into the Baltic and North Seas to the south, the Norwegian Sea to the west and the Barents Sea to the north, fishing was also a lucrative activity in order to keep strong men's stomachs full.

Whaling also existed at the time. This is why whales are an endangered species today! Due to the short-term freshness of freshwater fish, merchants who travelled across the Scandinavian peninsula during the Vikings' sojourn in search of blood, those carrying salt as a commercial asset were eventually appreciated.  Salt was highly valued as it was used to preserve meat, mainly fish after a plentiful catch every time they took out the net. Usually it was used during bitter and icy winters when it was impossible to hunt without risking being buried by snow and freezing to death.

Their homes

Viking house

Houses and shops were made of wood as I said earlier. They rarely made it from stone or any other material, usually using thatch and roseaux for roofing. Houses were rectangular in geometry and long, and it was mostly middle class.  The poorer inhabitants had only one room with a fireplace in the centre as a heating medium and instead of chimneys there were only openings to vent the smoke. No silicon was used as a degradant in them, which meant that no windows and interiors were dark and dull. Besides the fireplace, being one of the components of lighting, there were also oil-based lamps and candles.

Their clothing

The equipment the women made was mainly made of linen or wool. During the harsh seasons, the animal skin kept the Vikings warm from the breezes and the biting cold. The men wore trousers like leggings and over tops they had shirts or tunics, long sleeved mainly to protect them from all the weather conditions.  Women knitted long dresses for themselves and had aprons to keep their dresses clean from household chores. Winters forced men and women to wear coats that were tightened by a clip. Speaking of clothing, here are ours. We created unique logos featuring Nordic symbols, and made them into clothes!

 

Their food

As for their food, as related earlier, the animal farms produced meat, i.e. beef, pork, chicken, then there were herring, fish, seals, whales, and during the winter they salted the remains of the animals they hunted. down so that it would remain edible and preserve it from rotting over the months.

As for drinks, they drank mead with yeast water and honey on top. Beer was also one of the alcoholic beverages that women brewed on the farms, and of course wine, for those who were richer than others. They drank from wooden bowls and dishes and from horn or iron spoons.  As legend has it, they sometimes drank from horns. Out of curiosity, did you know that they did not use spoons, they picked their food with knives!! They are brutal in every way you perceive them ! Even during their non-battle days.

Board your ship, head east, towards our other blog posts:

The world of the Vikings

 

 

 

 

 

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