what are vikings meaning and their history

The ancestral homeland of the Vikings was Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. They initially raided monasteries along the coasts of Western Europe, gradually expanding their invasions and plunder to other European countries. For over two centuries after the year 865 AD, Viking pirates would annually raid the British Isles during the summer.

who was vikings?

The Vikings, also known as Norse pirates, were ancient adventurers, traders, invaders, and raiders from the Scandinavian Peninsula. Their homeland was in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Their initial activities primarily involved raiding monasteries along the coast of Western Europe, gradually expanding to invasions and plundering of other European countries.

For over 200 years after the year 865 AD, Viking pirates would raid the British Isles every summer. Their incursions and pillaging extended beyond the British Isles to regions such as France, Germany, and Spain in Europe. These actions caused not only economic losses but also had severe impacts on the local social and political stability.

The image of the Vikings is often that of tall, sturdy Germanic warriors, typically with red or blond hair and rough skin due to prolonged exposure to outdoor and maritime conditions. They used longships as their means of transportation, which were narrow, fast, and agile vessels capable of traversing oceans and rivers. In battle, Vikings would often engage with traditional Viking music, characterized by strong rhythms and intense singing styles.

The Vikings had a profound influence on European culture, religion, language, and more. They developed a unique Viking culture that encompassed poetry, legends, and history. Their traditional stories and heroic epics became integral to Northern European culture. Furthermore, Vikings played a significant role in commerce and cultural exchange, promoting connections and understanding among European nations through trade and cultural interactions.

why called vikings?

The Vikings, meaning “people from the fjords,” specifically referred to pirates from Northern Europe. During that time, they used longships as their means of transportation, which were narrow, fast, and agile vessels capable of easily traversing oceans and rivers. Engaging in extensive overseas trade and colonial expansion, the Vikings launched fierce attacks along the European coasts, monasteries, churches, and other sites, earning a reputation as ruthless plunderers.

However, in reality, the Vikings were both pioneers and aggressors, explorers and marauders, diligent traders and ruthless conquerors. Their actions not only profoundly influenced the history and culture of Europe but also became an integral part of European culture.

The traditional stories and heroic epics of the Vikings have become a significant component of Northern European culture, and their commercial and cultural exchanges facilitated connections and understanding among various European nations. In summary, the Vikings were a formidable maritime force, and their actions and influence vividly reflect the history and culture of Europe during that era.

what did vikings look like?

The Vikings were a distinctive northern ethnic group, and their appearance and features have left a profound impression in history and archaeology. Archaeological evidence indicates that the average height of Vikings was slightly shorter than modern humans. The average standing height for men was around 172 centimeters or 5 feet 7 inches, while for women, it was about 160 centimeters or 5 feet 3 inches. This height difference might be related to the Vikings’ living environment and dietary habits.

The physical features of the Vikings exhibited distinct northern traits. They had square-shaped faces, high straight noses, deep-set eyes, large eye sockets, and hair that was typically reddish-brown or light blond. Their beards were dense, and many of them kept beards on their chins, which was considered a hallmark of Viking men. Additionally, the Vikings had a cold and resolute gaze that conveyed determination and decisiveness.

The character traits of the Vikings were also highly unique. They were rugged, combative, courageous, and steadfast, brimming with intense ethnic pride and self-awareness. They placed a strong emphasis on personal freedom and independence, resisting any form of control or domination. The Vikings enjoyed adventure and challenge, excelling in navigation and exploration. They were great sailors and colonizers, engaging in trade and expansion throughout various parts of Europe.

The Vikings’ way of life and values also influenced their appearance and features. Living in a harsh environment, enduring long winters and cold weather, their skin developed a rough texture. Simultaneously, the Vikings prioritized physical strength and combat ability, resulting in well-developed muscles, particularly in their arms and chests.

what did vikings eat and drink?

The Vikings had a diverse range of foods, and here are some of the main items:

Bread: The Vikings made a type of mixed-grain bread from cereals (wheat, barley, oats, and rye), legumes, nuts, ground tree bark, and honey. This bread served as their primary source of carbohydrates.

Meat: Vikings raised sufficient livestock including horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, and ducks, making meat a significant part of their diet. They often stewed or roasted meat or preserved it as jerky for future consumption.

Seafood: With abundant marine resources in the Nordic seas, the Vikings excelled in fishing and hunting, making seafood another vital food source. They used the caught seafood for soups, grilling, or pickling.

Vegetables: In their gardens, Vikings grew vegetables that could survive in colder climates, such as cabbage, turnips, legumes, garlic, chives, and onions. These vegetables constituted a portion of their traditional diet.

Beverages: Viking beverages primarily included beer, mead (honey wine), and milk. Beer and mead were among their favorite drinks, while milk was a main beverage during the winter.

Additionally, the Viking diet included game meats and wild vegetables. Overall, the variety of foods in the Viking diet reflected their way of life and cultural characteristics.

what did vikings wear?

The Viking clothing style is distinctive, combining practicality with cultural significance. Their attire mainly consists of tunics, belted trousers, and high boots.

Firstly, Viking tunics are typically crafted from thick wool material, reaching knee length, with a snug neckline and wide sleeves that extend to the wrists. These tunics not only provide warmth in the cold Nordic climate but also offer protection to Viking warriors’ torso and arms during battles. The colors of these tunics are often dark, such as brown or black, aiding camouflage during combat.

Secondly, belted trousers are another essential part of Viking daily wear. Made from the same woolen material, these trousers fit closely to the legs and extend to the knees. Belted trousers have a waistband with buckles and belts, ensuring a snug fit and providing storage space for small items like knives and flints.

Lastly, the high boots are a distinctive feature of Viking attire. Crafted from sturdy leather, these boots usually reach knee height. The soles of the boots are often designed with hard, slip-resistant materials, enabling Viking warriors to navigate snow and mud effectively. These boots offer foot protection and prevent the loss of combat effectiveness due to footwear being cut off during battle.

In addition to the aforementioned primary clothing items, Vikings also adorned themselves with metal ornaments and jewelry. These accessories were typically made from metals like iron, copper, or silver, taking various forms such as necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. These adornments not only added to the warriors’ presence but also served as symbols of wealth and status.

what did vikings wear in battle?

Viking warriors did not have entirely uniform attire for combat, but most of them would don their everyday clothing, consisting of knee-length woolen tunics and tight-fitting woolen trousers.

The Viking tunic, typically made from thick woolen material, reached knee length, providing adequate insulation against the cold Nordic climate. These tunics were often in dark colors like brown or black, aiding in camouflage during battle. The tunic’s close-fitting cut allowed Viking warriors freedom of movement in combat. Furthermore, the sleeves of the tunic were quite long, covering the arms and hands to prevent injuries in chilly weather.

Paired with the tunic were the tight-fitting woolen trousers. These trousers clung to the legs, offering comfort and flexibility in movement. The woolen material provided a degree of insulation, helping Vikings stay warm in cold weather.

In addition, some Viking warriors might have added non-historical accessories such as mail gloves and leather bracers for extra protection.

what are vikings weapons?

Viking weapons primarily included Viking spears, Viking swords, and Viking axes.

Viking Swords:

Swords held a special place of honor among Vikings, symbolizing lineage and heritage. Passing down a family sword from one generation to the next was considered a great honor. If a sword had been wielded by a notable warrior or noble within the family, it held even greater value, as it was believed to possess special powers. Vikings often named their swords, giving them more personality and meaning.

However, swords were not the most commonly used weapons in Viking battles. Due to the relatively lower production capabilities of Norse pirates compared to continental nations, swords were considered precious. Repeated strikes between swords could cause significant damage, compromising the finely honed edge’s durability and effectiveness. Swords were not ordinary or inexpensive weapons to Vikings; they were more often used by nobles, chieftains, or leaders of specific factions.

Viking swords were typically double-edged with broad blades, ranging in length from about 60 to 80 centimeters, with some as long as 90 centimeters. Their weight ranged from 1.2 to 4.5 kilograms. Some Viking swords featured shallow grooves, often called “blood grooves,” but these grooves were not used for bloodletting; instead, they helped reduce the sword’s weight and increase its maneuverability.

Viking Axes:

Viking axes were the most commonly used weapons by Vikings and were virtually ubiquitous on the battlefield. These axes were evolved from common woodcutting tools and had crescent-shaped heads. The swinging motion of the axe could deliver powerful blows, with the potential to break through shields, making it a formidable and cost-effective weapon.

Viking axes varied widely in handle length, ranging from short-handled single-handed axes, around 40 centimeters, to long-handled double-handed axes, up to 1.8 meters. Heavier axes were used for forceful chopping, while lighter short-handled axes were paired with shields for close combat or even thrown as projectiles. In combat, Vikings could even use long-handled axes to climb walls.

Viking proficiency in using a variety of axes became iconic, with the image of a Viking warrior wielding an axe and a shield becoming synonymous with Viking culture.

Viking Spears:

Although not as widespread as axes, spears were commonly used by Vikings due to their simple manufacturing and low cost. Spearheads were made of iron and ranged from 10 to 40 centimeters in length. These heads were mounted on wooden shafts, typically measuring 1 to 2 meters.

Spears were versatile weapons, suitable for both throwing and close combat. Some spearheads were equipped with side wings or backward hooks, used for parrying sword strikes and preventing enemy swords from sliding down the spearhead and injuring the spear holder’s hand. Well-built Vikings were even trained to simultaneously throw two spear javelins or engage in close combat using two short spears.

Viking Shields:

Shields were indispensable for Vikings. These shields typically had a diameter of 80 to 90 centimeters, with a few reaching up to 95 centimeters or as small as 70 centimeters. Made of wood and covered with cowhide, the shields were reinforced with metal rims and had a central metal covering to protect the hand holding the shield. Unlike Roman shields, which were rectangular and suited for legion-based tactics, Viking shields were round, reflecting the individualistic combat style of Vikings.

A notable feature of Viking shields was their flexibility, making them effective for single combat. Additionally, Viking shields featured user-friendly leather strap designs, allowing warriors to carry their shields comfortably during marches, saving energy.

what did vikings speak?

This is Old Norse, a language belonging to the Germanic language family. Old Norse and Old English share a common Germanic origin, but over time, they gradually diverged, resulting in significant differences after more than four centuries of development. Nevertheless, many basic vocabulary roots remain quite similar, indicating a close connection between the two languages in their early shared history.

Old Norse is a vital component of Viking culture, finding extensive use in the everyday life and literary works of the Vikings. The poetry and sagas of the Vikings, such as the “Edda” and the “Saga,” were recorded in Old Norse. These literary works provide us with essential insights into Viking beliefs, values, and history.

The influence of Old Norse extends deeply into the development of modern Norwegian and other North Germanic languages. Although no longer widely spoken today, the significance of Old Norse in Northern European culture continues to be acknowledged and respected.

what are vikings religion?

The religious beliefs of the Vikings were primarily rooted in Norse mythology. These gods held significant importance in the Vikings’ faith, believed to govern human destinies while also influencing changes in the natural world. Among them, gods like Odin, Thor, and Loki held special significance in Viking culture.

The Vikings believed that after death, individuals would reach Valhalla, a beautiful and glorious realm. There, they could enjoy feasting, drinking, and the pleasures of battle alongside the gods. This belief strongly influenced the Viking emphasis on battle and glory, as many believed that only by dying valiantly in battle could one reach Valhalla and attain eternal honor.

Many stories and legends from Norse mythology also reflect the values and beliefs of the Vikings. For instance, literary works like the “Edda” and the “Saga” depict the courage, determination, and loyalty of Viking warriors, qualities that held great importance in Viking culture.

what are viking boats?

Viking ships were vessels used by the Vikings during the Viking Age for trading, commerce, exploration, warfare, and various other purposes. Their design evolved over thousands of years, starting from the invention of the umiak in the Stone Age, all the way to the 9th-century Nydam and Kvalsund longships. The speed of these ships varied based on the model but mostly ranged from 5 to 10 knots, with the potential to reach up to 15 knots under ideal conditions.

Viking ships had a distinctive design that served multiple functions. They typically had broad hulls capable of carrying a substantial amount of cargo and personnel. The bow and stern of the ships were often raised high, reducing water resistance and improving speed and stability. Multiple openings or portholes on the hull allowed for the discharge of arrows or other weaponry when needed. Moreover, the sails and oars of Viking ships were also unique features; the sails were often triangular in shape, and the oars were long and narrow, adapting well to changing wind directions and water currents.

Viking ships played a vital role in the Vikings’ way of life. They were not only essential tools for trade and commerce but also served as key assets for exploration and warfare. Vikings used these ships to explore large parts of Europe, including the Arctic and the Mediterranean regions. In battle, Viking ships employed swift attacking tactics, leveraging the advantages of their hulls to engage enemy vessels and employing arrows and other weapons to strike foes.

how did the vikings sail?

The Vikings are an ancient people known in history for their maritime, exploratory, and trading activities. Their unique seafaring skills enabled them to undertake long-distance voyages, explore new territories, and engage in overseas trade.

At the heart of their seafaring prowess was the design of Viking ships. These vessels were typically long and narrow, with a wide hull, high stern, and low bow. This design allowed them to navigate narrow rivers and shallow waters with ease and facilitated beach landings. The ships’ construction utilized sturdy yet lightweight timber, with planks assembled longitudinally for added strength. Iron nails were used to connect the different parts of the ship, enhancing its durability and stability.

The Vikings also employed various navigation techniques and tools to aid their journeys. They used sunstones to determine direction, which were stones capable of reflecting sunlight; by observing the shadow of the stone, they could establish their heading. Additionally, they relied on celestial navigation, using the positions and movements of different stars to calculate their ship’s position and direction. The use of these navigation techniques and tools made Viking seafaring more accurate and reliable.

The Viking seafaring activities not only explored new territories but also facilitated economic and cultural development. Through trade and other economic endeavors, they established connections and exchanges with various ethnic groups across Europe. Their maritime skills and culture also influenced other nations, contributing to the cultural and societal developments of countries like Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.

famous vikings

Some famous Vikings include:

Béla Istvánsson: An ancient Norwegian king, believed to be one of the ancestors of the Vikings, and an ancestor of the legendary Viking figure Ragnar Lothbrok.

Ragnar Lothbrok: A historical Viking pirate and a legendary figure in Norse mythology, said to be a descendant of Béla Istvánsson.

Harald Fairhair: A historical Norwegian king, portrayed as an antagonist in Viking legends, known as the “Dark Harald.”

Harald Bluetooth: A Danish king known for having a blue tooth, he introduced Christianity to Denmark and gradually replaced the Norse gods like Odin and Thor with Christianity. He is also associated with the term “Bluetooth,” as he was known for his communication skills, leading to the naming of wireless technology after him.

viking age timeline

In 790 AD, the Vikings began raiding the coasts of Europe and the British Isles.

Throughout the entire ninth century, Viking armies were remarkably active on the European mainland.

In 842 AD, they ruthlessly plundered Nantes (on the French coast) and attacked many inland towns, including Paris, Limoges, Orleans, Tours, and Nimes.

In 844 AD, the Vikings launched a fierce assault on Seville (which was then controlled by Arabs); in 859 AD, they sacked Pisa, but were thwarted by an Arab fleet as they continued their northward journey, prompting them to scale back their activities.

In 911 AD, the King of West Francia granted the Viking chieftain Rollo control over Rouen and its surrounding regions through a treaty, in exchange for his promise to cease further raids. (This land later became known as “Normandy.”)

During the same period, Scandinavians (primarily Norwegians) also began colonizing Iceland, an island in the North Atlantic that had remained unsettled until then.

By the late 10th century, some Vikings (including the famous Erik the Red) expanded further westward to Greenland.

In the mid-10th century, Harald Bluetooth’s rise as the Christianized king of Denmark marked the beginning of the second Viking age.

At this time, the Danes had their sights set on one target: reclaiming lost England. Coincidentally, post-Alfred the Great England was in a fragile state of vulnerability.

Harald’s rebellious son, Sven Forkbeard, led the Danes in a fierce attack on England in 991 AD, and by 1013 AD, he had conquered much of England, forcing King Ethelred into exile.

The following year, Sven Forkbeard’s son, Canute the Great, ascended to the throne, ruling the North Sea Empire (including England, Denmark, and Norway).

In 1066 AD, the last invasion of England occurred, culminating in the Battle of Hastings and the subsequent conquest of Norway.

when did the viking era start?

The Viking Age was a period in European history that lasted from the 8th century to the 11th century. It began in 793 AD when the Vikings attacked the Lindisfarne Monastery in England.

During this era, the Vikings were a powerful maritime force, utilizing longships to engage in trade and raids along the coasts and islands of Europe. Their targets included monasteries, cities, villages, and even the conquest of certain territories. These raids caused great panic and turmoil throughout Europe at the time, and the Vikings’ reputation spread widely across the continent.

when did the viking age end?

In 1066, King Harald Hardrada of Norway invaded England, and on September 25th, during this battle, a significant portion of the Viking forces was annihilated. The defeated Vikings surrendered to the English army, suffering heavy losses. This event marked the end of the Viking Age.

In this battle, King Harald III of Norway led a Viking army (consisting of 300 ships and 5000 men) in an invasion of England, aiming to revive the glory of the Viking Empire. However, under the command of King Harold II of England, the Anglo-Saxon forces successfully defeated the Viking army. A substantial part of the Viking forces was wiped out, and the defeated Vikings surrendered to the English forces, suffering devastating losses.

The failure of this battle marked the decline of the Vikings, and they gradually lost their influence in Europe. While Viking culture and traditions continued to develop and be preserved in countries like Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, their impact on modern society is no longer as profound as it once was.

where vikings come from?originated

The Vikings originated from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. They were known as Norse pirates and were characterized by their belief in the Norse gods, with Odin and Thor being prominent among them. From the 8th century to the 11th century, they continuously raided the coastal regions of Europe and the British Isles, leaving their mark across the European continent and vast territories extending to the Arctic. This period is known as the “Viking Age.”

The Vikings’ way of life and combat skills made them a powerful force in the European region of that time. They possessed exceptional maritime technology and utilized longships to swiftly navigate the oceans. In warfare, they often employed hit-and-run tactics, utilizing rapid attacks and withdrawals to weaken their enemies’ fighting capabilities.

The Viking culture also had a profound impact on Europe. Their artistic style and carving techniques became widely renowned, and their mythological legends provided rich material for later literary and artistic works.

where did the vikings come from before scandinavia?

what did vikings do?

where vikings attacked?

The Vikings conducted raids and attacks in various regions, including Great Britain, France, the British Isles, coastal islands of the Mediterranean, and along the coasts of the Netherlands. Their raiding activities spanned from the 8th to the 11th century. During this time, they used the fearsome Viking broadsword, a weapon capable of splitting a cow in half with a single swing.

Operating pirate warships, the Vikings utilized their exceptional maritime and combat skills to carry out attacks and occupations along the Baltic Sea coast, inland Russia, and the British Isles, among other places. They even traversed the Strait of Gibraltar and occupied coastal areas of the Mediterranean, casting much of Europe into a state of chaos and turmoil.

The Vikings’ raiding activities not only showcased their formidable strength but also reflected the political, economic, and cultural conditions of the European region during that era. These raiding actions had a profound impact on the development of European history and culture, continuing to captivate the interest and research efforts of scholars and travelers to this day.

Characteristics of the Viking Age

Origins and Social Structure: The Vikings originated from the Scandinavian Peninsula, primarily encompassing modern-day Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. They formed an adventurous warrior-class society, with a social structure based on a system of nobility where the nobles held power and privileges.

Maritime Expertise: The Vikings were renowned for their exceptional maritime skills. They constructed swift and agile longships, characterized by their shallow draft, allowing them to engage in rapid long-distance sea voyages and coastal exploration.

Expeditions and Colonization: The Vikings undertook large-scale expeditionary activities, exploring and settling in various regions. They reached Iceland and established settlements there, subsequently exploring and settling in Greenland. They also ventured to places like the Faroe Islands, Britain, Ireland, France, Italy, Russia, and even Canada.

Trade Activities: Trade was a major livelihood for the Vikings, who established extensive trade networks. They engaged in trade with the European mainland, exporting commodities such as honey, leather, weapons, and slaves to the East. Simultaneously, they imported ivory, silk, precious metals, and other goods from other regions.

Religion and Mythology: The Vikings practiced Norse mythology, worshipping a pantheon of gods. The most significant deities in their belief system included Odin, Thor, and Freyr. They believed in entering Valhalla after death, where they could partake in eternal heroic battles.

Culture and Art: The Vikings left behind a rich collection of unique art and cultural heritage. Common themes in their artworks included depictions of dragon heads, ships, warriors, and mythological figures. They crafted intricate sculptures and decorations from wood, metal, and stone.

The end of the Viking Age can be traced back to the 11th century.

why did the vikings die out?

Several important factors led to the end of the Viking Age:

Battle of Hastings (1066): The Battle of Hastings marked the final large-scale invasion by the Vikings in England. The Viking leader Harald Hardrada attempted to seize the English throne but was ultimately defeated in battle against the forces of English King Harold II. Harald Hardrada himself perished in the conflict. This battle signified the end of Viking control in England and marked the conclusion of the Viking Age in that region.

Spread of Christianity: With the spread of Christianity in the Nordic regions, the Viking belief system gradually waned. Christianity gained increasing followers in the North, leading to the weakening and transformation of Viking religious practices. The propagation of Christianity also brought about changes in the social structure and values of the Nordic societies.

Social Changes: Following the Viking Age, the Nordic regions underwent societal, political, and economic changes. The rise of feudalism resulted in the empowerment of nobility and a relative weakening of the status of peasants. The organization and values of Nordic society shifted from those of the Viking Age.

Commercial and Cultural Shifts: Over time, Viking trade activities and maritime exploration dwindled. Trade networks in other parts of Europe flourished, and the trade prominence of the Vikings gradually gave way to other merchants and nations. Additionally, the distinct cultural traits of the Vikings faded over subsequent periods, and the Nordic regions assimilated into the broader European culture.

how did the vikings die out?

The Sudden Disappearance of the Vikings:

The Vikings dominated Europe for nearly 300 years, instilling a sense of unease among the entire European population. The Viking Age had a profound impact on various aspects such as politics, economics, and more, leaving an enduring influence on subsequent generations. However, the sudden disappearance of the Vikings in the 11th century became a century-old enigma, leaving many puzzled as to why the Vikings vanished so abruptly.

Initially, speculations arose that internal conflicts within the Viking communities might have played a role. As they continued their piratical activities, accumulating substantial wealth, tensions might have escalated and culminated in internal conflicts. This prolonged period of infighting among the Vikings, stemming from their desire for power and control amidst their prosperous piratical endeavors, eventually led to their disappearance.

Yet, the exact reasons for the Vikings’ sudden disappearance remain shrouded in mystery, and no definitive explanation has been provided to date.

when vikings discovered america?

The Vikings were a group of courageous sailors and explorers who had already discovered parts of North America as early as the year 1021. However, surprisingly, after finding North America, they only briefly inhabited the land before leaving without leaving behind any written records. This implies that despite their discovery of the Americas nearly 500 years before Columbus, the Vikings did not publicize this finding to the outside world.

This mystery has puzzled historians and archaeologists for years. Some believe that the Vikings might not have been able to establish a stable community in North America due to various reasons, leading them to abandon the land. However, recent archaeological findings suggest that Viking settlements in North America might have been more complex and enduring than previously thought.

Among these archaeological discoveries, the most notable is the L’Anse aux Meadows site in Newfoundland, Canada. Numerous Viking-made tools, weapons, ornaments, and traces of their presence have been found here. This evidence suggests that the Vikings not only settled but also lived in North America for a considerable amount of time.

Furthermore, some historical documents record the activities of Vikings in North America. For instance, a Norwegian traveler named Saga established a trading post along the North American coast and interacted with the local indigenous population. These records indicate that the presence of Vikings in North America was not merely transient but had a certain degree of stability and continuity.

While there are still debates and mysteries surrounding Viking settlements in North America, their discovery holds significant historical importance for human exploration and understanding of the world. This finding also reminds us that many events in history may be more complex and intriguing than we imagine, requiring further research and exploration to unveil the truth.

when did vikings discover iceland?

The Vikings were a brave group of seafarers and explorers who discovered Iceland as early as 815 AD. Iceland is located in the North Atlantic, far from the European mainland. Despite its high latitude, the island benefits from the influence of the North Atlantic warm currents, resulting in a relatively mild climate compared to the Scandinavian Peninsula. The landscape is dotted with volcanoes, yet the valleys and plains have fertile soil suitable for farming. Dense forests, abundant iron ore, and numerous coastal fish made it a suitable place for habitation.

During this period, Europe was in the early stages of the Middle Ages, characterized by relative dispersion among different regions and a lack of effective governance. The Vikings, on the other hand, were a group of independent seafarers and traders who frequently engaged in long voyages of exploration and trade. In this process, they discovered Iceland and began to explore this mysterious land.

Upon discovering Iceland, the Vikings conducted preliminary exploration and settled in the area. They found the climate mild, the soil fertile, and the resources abundant, making it an ideal place for survival. Over the next century, a significant number of Vikings migrated to Iceland and embarked on their colonization journey.

The Viking way of life in Iceland primarily revolved around agriculture and fishing. They utilized the local soil and climate to develop farming and animal husbandry, cultivating crops such as wheat, barley, and oats, while raising livestock such as cows and sheep. Additionally, they harnessed the fishing resources of the region, catching fish and marine creatures. The development of these industries provided the Vikings with the means to sustain and thrive in Iceland.

In addition to agriculture and fishing, the Vikings in Iceland also fostered commerce and craftsmanship. They used local resources like wood and stone to create exquisite crafts and handmade items, which they traded across various regions of Europe. The growth of these artisanal industries not only brought wealth and status to the Vikings but also supported local economic and societal development.

why vikings are famous?

Vikings are famous for several reasons:

Exploration and Expansion: Vikings were skilled navigators who explored and settled in distant lands far beyond their Scandinavian homelands. Their journeys took them as far as North America, Russia, the Mediterranean, and even the Middle East. Their adventurous spirit and willingness to explore new territories captured the imagination of people worldwide.

Seafaring Prowess: Vikings are renowned for their mastery of shipbuilding and seafaring. They designed and built innovative longships that were both swift and versatile, enabling them to navigate rivers, oceans, and coastal waters with ease. This seafaring prowess allowed them to raid, trade, and settle across vast distances.

Warrior Culture: The Viking reputation as fierce warriors is legendary. They were skilled in combat and were known for their brutal raids on monasteries, towns, and villages along the coasts of Europe. Their fearsome reputation was fueled by their combat skills, distinctive weaponry, and the longships that facilitated surprise attacks.

Norse Mythology and Gods: The Vikings had a rich mythology centered around gods like Odin, Thor, and Loki. Their mythology and sagas are filled with epic tales of adventure, heroism, and battles between gods and giants. This mythology has captured the imagination of countless people, leading to its continued popularity.

Cultural Influence: Vikings left a lasting impact on the regions they interacted with, both through conquest and peaceful interactions. Their influence is seen in language, place names, legal systems, and even genetic heritage across Europe and beyond.

Archaeological Discoveries: The uncovering of Viking settlements, artifacts, and burial sites by archaeologists has shed light on their culture, lifestyle, and achievements. These discoveries have fascinated historians and the general public, contributing to the Vikings’ enduring fame.

Pop Culture: The romanticized image of Vikings as daring warriors and explorers has been popularized through literature, movies, television shows, and video games. Characters like Ragnar Lothbrok from the TV series “Vikings” and depictions in various media have contributed to their continued fame.

Mystery and Intrigue: Despite the wealth of knowledge about Vikings, there are still mysteries surrounding certain aspects of their history, such as their sudden disappearance from certain areas. These mysteries intrigue

The word “Viking” derived from “vick” in Old Norse, which meant “small bay”. In the 9th century, Scandinavians used this word to refer to their maritime expeditions. Accordingly people in later times called this nation which brought infinite panic to Europe in the early Middle Age as “Viking”.

The Scandinavian Peninsula is located at the northern part of European continent. It is separated from the European continent by the Barents Sea, Norwegian Sea, North Sea and Baltic Sea, with only its northeast part connecting to the continent. As it is located at high latitude, the climate there is very cold and the night is long in winter. And because of the complex terrain, the land traffic on the peninsula is discommodious. However, as the long and narrow peninsula has a twisting coastline, countless fjords and unnumbered islands, the marine traffic there is convenient.

As early as the 6000 BC, the northern tribes shuttled between islands near the coast and fed on marine animals such as fish. Over two thousand years later, people who were engaged in agricultural cultivation appeared on the peninsula. Even so, as there were so many fjords and islands, ship was the main means of transportation for Vikings. And the dense forests on the peninsula and nearby islands provided them with the best materials for housebuilding and shipbuilding. Besides, as the land yielded not so well, fish and shellfish were their primary food sources.

As time passed, three independent countries emerged on the Scandinavian Peninsula: Norway, Sweden and Denmark. But the borders between the three countries was obscure till the 8th century. Therefore, Vikings in the Middle Age could be divided by nationality into three branches: Norwegian Vikings, Danish Viking and Swedish Vikings.

 Custom and habits

Every nation had their legends. There were also many myths and legends widely spread in Scandinavia. Apart from Norse mythology, which was as well-known as Greek mythology and Roman mythology, the most known legend-related works were the “Saga” and “Edda”. The earliest Norse mythology appeared in the form of songs, and was widely circulated in Scandinavia. Norse mythology reflected the polytheistic belief of primitive Scandinavian tribes and the magnificent imagination of their struggle with snow and ice. “Saga” was the oral creation of ancient Scandinavian inhabitants recorded by Icelanders and Norwegians around the 13th century. Apart from myths, there were more battle stories of Scandinavian heroes, and most involved historical events took place between the mid-9th century and mid-11th century where Vikings swept the Europe. “Edda” was the Norse mythology recorded by medieval Icelandic scholars, and there were only two Edda survive to this days.

There were three stratums in Viking society: slaves, freemen and headmen. With time passing, a new stratum of professional craftsmen (such as blacksmiths) emerged. In Norse mythology, dwarves were good at making weapons and artware, and therefore were much respected by both deities and human. In the Viking world, blacksmith was also a respectable profession. Blacksmith processed iron, turned it into weapons and other necessities of life. And Vikings had the best ironwork technology at that time.

 “Thing” was the Viking parliament where all the decisions regarding the life of Vikings were made. Before the introduction of Christianity, the kings and headmen were elected in the “Thing”. Sometimes, “Thing” also acted as the court. “Thing” held one or two outdoor meetings every month.

 Vikings had a strong sense of family and paid much attention to their families. Therefore, they usually lived in a big family in a farm or communal courtyard. Polygamy was implemented in Viking society. A man could marry more than one wives: a lawful wife who was in charge of family properties and household duties; the others were slaves.

 In the computer game Age of Empires II: The Conquerors, the characteristic units of Vikings were the Berserkers and dragonboats. In games and literary works, Viking warriors wore ox-horn helmets or comb helmets. Ox-horn helmet was one of Viking warriors’ symbols. Viking warriors’ weapons were axes or swords. They usually used the single-blade axe with a thorn at the top end. In the battle, when using this axe to rip into enemy’s bully, it made great harm. Viking warriors generally carries shield. In early time, these shields were made of hard wood, but later they were made of iron. In the battle, some Viking warriors took certain kind of stimulant and could not feel pain even when they got wounded, so as to enhance the morale. That was also why they were called the Berserkers.

Vikings heavily relied on boats in the battle and life. Vikings had advanced shipbuilding technology. The boat they built had two upwarped pointed ends and a dragon-head shaped bow, and thus was called the “dragon boat”. It had a long and narrow hull, which enabled fast movement, and reverse movement without turning the boat around.

The Viking Conquest

Before the 8th century AD, there were only two million inhabitants on the Scandinavia peninsula. As the climate became warmer, the crop yield increased, people became stronger, the death rate of the old and the newborn dropped. Besides, the Viking population grew rapidly due to the polygamy. With the growth of population, there was not enough land in Scandinavia. Many young people were jobless and had to go out to make a living. Vikings also had a legal tradition, exiling criminals. In addition to the social factors above, the Viking characteristics was also an important reason why they became sea raiders later. Owing to the harsh living environment, Vikings were tough and courageous. They respected heroes, loved adventure and tour.

Therefore, in the following centuries, a large number of Vikings left Scandinavia for elsewhere in Europe by sea. But they were not migrating there, but plundering and conquering there. The dark age for Europe came again.

 On the European continent in the 5th century, alien races began to migrate from northern and eastern Europe to the territory of former Roman Empire after its collapse. As early as that time, some Scandinavian inhabitants followed the crowd and swamped in western Europe. In the 8th century AD, the famous Charlemagne founded the strong Carolingian Empire. He swept the continent in the attempt of restoring the order in Europe and reproducing the glory of Roman Empire. But no matter the territory or strength, his empire was no match for the Roman Empire. From then on, Vikings began their three century long exploration. After the death of Charlemagne and his successor Louis I (Louis the Pious), the Carolingian Empire began to decline, and the Viking invasion also reached the peak.

During the conquest, three Viking countries had their respective paths: Norwegian Vikings invaded and plundered the British Isles and the Mediterranean; Danish Vikings attacked the western Europe and looted along the major rivers; and Swedish Vikings went eastwards to the land of Rus tribes, founded the Russian Empire and became a new nation.

 The Norwegian Vikings

 In the June of 793, several drakkars appeared near the English coast. The Vikings onboard quickly got ashore and plundered the nearby Lindisfarne Priory. This plunder marked the opening of Viking Age. Within a few years, Norwegian Vikings raided the Patrick Monastery, St Columb Priory and St Paul’s Monastery along English coast, as well as some British coast areas such as the Island of Iona (Scotland) and the Isle of Man. In the Middle Age, the Christian Church had amazing power and wealth. Therefore, Vikings often raided churches near the coast and plundered a large amount of wealth. Usually, Vikings took drakkars to quickly get ashore, plundered wealth and livestock, then quickly went back aboard. Sometimes they captured adult men and women for slavery trade.

In 837, Danish Vikings landed in northern part of Ireland, established the city of Dyflinn and began to rule Ireland in 851. In order to retake the dominion of Ireland, Norwegian Vikings had a long-lasting struggle with Danish Vikings, and at last successfully founded an Irish Viking state, which included Ireland, Island of Man and the western England. In 1000 AD, Irish people drove Vikings out of their land under the lead of Brian Bórú. At that time, the Viking Scandinavian civilization and the Irish Celtic civilization had been fused. Many Vikings in Ireland converted to Christianity; and back in Norway, there were also many people, including the monarchs, became Christians.

 Conquest would never end. The conquest of Norwegian Vikings was not limited in Britain and Ireland. Their scope of plunder gradually expanded all the way to the Mediterranean waters near Portugal. In 843, in France, Norwegian Vikings plundered Nantes and went upstream the Loire to Tours. In 844, they invaded Spain, plundered Cadiz and Seville. In the 10th century, another Norwegian Viking fleet plundered Lisbon, Portugal.

 Norwegian Vikings’ last hero was King Harald III. In 1066, to get the throne of England, Harald III allied with the Earl of Northumbria Tostig Godwinson to fight against the new King of England Harold II. After landing, Viking army quickly marched on York, and defeated English army in Fulford on September 20th. This battle exhausted the English army, and had a profound effect on the outcome of the Battle of Hastings. But Harald III did not see the final victory. He was defeated and killed by Harold II’s army in the Battle of Stamford Bridge on September 25th. William the Conqueror seized this opportunity to land in England a few days later, defeated Harold II and became the ruler of England. The death of Harald III ended the centuries-long Viking Age.

 The Danish Vikings

In 797, Danish Vikings invaded the Carolingian Empire ruled by Charlemagne for the first time, and frequently invaded this empire in the following decades. But at that time, the Carolingian Empire was in its prime time, and the most invasions of Danish Vikings were repelled by Charlemagne and his son Louis I. In 834, Danish Vikings made another massive invasion, plundered Frisian financial and business center Dorestad, looted Rouen and Tours.

In 840, the successor of Charlemagne Louis I passed away, and the Carolingian Empire began to decline and split, providing Danish Vikings a great opportunity.

On the Easter of 885, 30,000 Danish Vikings took 700 warships to sail up the Seine and arrived in Paris (the Old Town of Paris, located on Ile de la Cite). After landing, Vikings launched heavy attacks on Paris. At that time, the King of France Charles the Fat was away in expedition and there were only Duke Odo of Francia (the Count of Neustria and the King of West Franks later) and 200 cavalries in the city. The Parisians repelled Viking attacks. Vikings had to surround the city and make a long siege. The siege of Paris was not raised until Charles the Fat and his army returned in the next year. But Charles the Fat did not completely defeat Vikings, instead, he signed a trade agreement with Vikings. Later, Vikings repeatedly went up the Seine and plundered the riverside areas. In 911, King of France Charles the Simple signed the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte with the leader of Danish Vikings Rollo, and put the estuary of Seine River in northern France under Viking rule. Rollo became the Duke of Normandy while his Viking warriors became the Normans.

Apart from France, the British Isles were also the victims of Danish Vikings. Since the year of 835, Danish Vikings had launched multiple attacks on England. They went up the Thames River, occupied islands in the river, used them as strongholds to expand inland and seized almost half of England. In 878, Alfred the Great defeated Danes in the Battle of Edington (Ethandun) and made the Treaty of Wedmore in the next year. According to the treaty, Danes ruled northeastern England (historically known as the “Daneslaw”) including York, Nottingham, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire. Old Norse became the official language of this region. In the early 10th century, Danish power decayed and gradually withdrew from England.

In 1002, King Aethelred II of England ordered to execute all the Danes on English territory, resulting in the revenge of the Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard. Sweyn’s successor Cnut the Great conquered the whole England and took over the throne. After becoming the King of Denmark in 1019, he defeated Norway and Sweden in 1028, seized the throne of Norway, occupied southern Sweden, and founded the “North Sea Empire” whose territory included England, Denmark, Norway, the bulk of Scotland and southern Sweden.

 Cnut the Great passed away in 1035, but his descendents failed to maintain the great empire. The death of Harthacnut (Knud III Hardeknu) in 1042 marked the dissolution of North Sea Empire and the end of the age of Danish Vikings.

The Swedish Vikings

When Norwegian and Danish Vikings were plundering western Europe, Swedish Vikings focused their attention on the east.

In the 9th century, Swedish Vikings set off from Swedish coast and arrived in the Slavic region in eastern Europe. Vikings were referred to as Varangians or the Rus by local people. According to the The Russian Primary Chronicle written by Orthodox priests in the 12th century, in 862, Slavs suggested to the Rus: “We have a country of vast territory and abundant resources but in chaos, please come and rule us.” While in some other records, Swedish Vikings were not the ruler, but mercenaries.

In the 9th century, the leader of Swedish Vikings Rurik founded the famous Rurik Dynasty in the history of Russia. As the remoteness of Novgorod led to many negative factors for development, Oleg, the successor of Rurik, invaded the Dnieper region, captured Kiev in 882 and designated it as the capital. Oleg made great effort to expand his territory, and conquered many surrounding Slavic tribes. In 907, Oleg led 7000 warships and over 80,000 soldiers to attack the capital of Byzantine Empire Constantinople, forced the Byzantines to signed a peace treaty and pay tribute to Vikings.

Oleg’s grandson Sviatoslav continued to march on the Volga and the Danube, where he defeated the Bulgarian tribes. Later, Sviatoslav was killed in an ambush. His son Vladimir repelled the enemy and consolidated the growing Russian Empire. In 988, the King of Byzantine Empire visited Russia, made a proposal of marriage between his sister and Vladimir, with the condition that Vladimir became a Christian. Vladimir accepted the proposal, received baptism and forced his people to convert to Christianity. And so, this eastern European Viking regime quickly fused with the Christian culture and became a new nation, the Russian nation.

Back in Sweden, the Viking conquest never ended. Swedish Vikings also organized several expeditions in a few centuries. In 1040, Ingvar the Far-Traveled, the leader of Swedish Vikings, led 30 ships to leave Swedish coast for the Central Asia. In the next year, Ingvar died in Syria. His death ended the conquest of Swedish Vikings.

 During the centuries-long conquest, Vikings went across the Europe. Meanwhile, this period became the last chapter of the epic of Viking civilization. During the conquest, the Viking civilization fused with local civilizations and formed many new nations, such as Normans, Russians. Vikings also lost their civilization and belief in this process. The force of Christianity infiltrated into the thought of these “barbarians” and then expanded to everywhere in Europe.

Navigation and discoveries

Apart from pirates and conquerors, Vikings were also great navigators.

In 815, Vikings discovered Iceland. Iceland is located in the North Atlantic Ocean and far away from European continent. Despite being in the high latitude region, the climate there is warmer than Scandinavia due to the influence of the North Atlantic Current. Volcanoes spread all over the island, but the soils of valleys and plains is very fertile for planting. This is a habitable place with dense forests, rich iron ores and abundant fish. Therefore, in over a century after it was discovered, a large number of Vikings settled down here.

But Iceland was a small place without much land for habitation and farming. As the Vikings flocked in, the resources on the island became poorer. This situation urged Vikings to go farther and conquer new lands.

In 982, Viking leader Erik the Red was sentenced to three year exile for murder. He sailed westwards and discovered a new land. He named this land as “Groenland”, which meant “green land”. Erik highly eulogized that magic land after returning to Iceland. Therefore, many Vikings decided to migrate to the “green land”. The first group of 500 men left for Greenland in 25 ships loaded with livestock and necessities of life. In the end, 15 ships arrived in their destination while 10 were swallowed by storm.

 As the latitude of Greenland is too high, there was only 90,000 square kilometers of total 218,000 square kilometers land was not covered by ice, and there was neither much iron ores nor enough timber resources, Vikings on the island soon got into difficulties. By the 11th century, there were only 3000 men living on the island in over 300 farms.

In 992, the son of Erik the Red Leif Erikson led 35 men to leave Greenland. He sailed westwards to look for new lands. He discovered the North America, and arrived in the coast of Labrador in eastern Canada, and then kept going south to the Newfoundland. In the next year, Erikson returned to Greenland and announced his discovery. After that, some other Viking fleets arrived in the New World, but they had to leave due to the conflicts with local Indians. The New World remained a secret until Columbus “discovered” it again in the Age of Discovery.

In conclusion, the Vikings were a formidable ethnic group that left a profound imprint on European history. Their bravery, resilience, and spirit of adventure became a symbol for the people of the Nordic region.


 viking pendant