Viking Culture

Vikings were a Germanic tribe of people, who were known for their fighting, ships, and rugged way of life. For over 300 years they spread throughout Europe and Asia, after leaving Scandinavia. People feared them in all of the places they went, and the first of their raids was in England in 787. Several ships pulled into Portland Bay, Dorset, though it was thought to have been a bit of an accidental raid, after an agent of the king tried to tax them, after mistaking them for Merchants. They killed him.

But the first planned attack was much worse, as they attacked a monetary on the island of Lindisfarne. They killed many people there, then left with loot.

But though they were known as blood-thirsty war-men, they did have thriving civilizations. They started as a pagan nation but later converted to Christianity, one of my favourite pieces of info about the kings is this.

It is generally believed that kings like flattery, but king Canute is said to have rebuked his courtiers when they flattered him. On one occasion, when they were talking about his achievements, one of them said to him:

“Most noble king, I believe you can do anything.”

Canute sternly rebuked the courtier for these words and then said:

“Come with me, gentlemen.”

He led them from the palace grounds to the seashore where the tide was rising and had his chair placed at the edge of the water.

“You say I can do anything,” he said to the courtiers. “Very well, I who am king and the lord of the ocean now command these rising waters to go back and not dare wet my feet.”

But the tide was disobedient and steadily rose and rose until the feet of the king were in the water. Turning to his courtiers, Canute said:

“Learn how feeble is the power of earthly kings. None is worthy the name of ‘king’ but He whom heaven and earth and sea obey.”

Canute converted many people during his reign to Christianity

Three of their most famous gods were called Odin, Thor, and Freya. Odin was the father of Thor, and you probably know Thor from the Marvel movies. He is their god of thunder. All three of their names are still known today, as they were their origins of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Their language consisted of runes, and they can be found on many stones called Rune-stones. They were used for events, burial places, and several other things. The stone told, its purpose, who erected it, and if it marked a grave, the relation between the deceased and the person who erected it. Their status was often displayed by the weapons that they had. The richest would wear full armour and have expensive weapons. Axes were the most common weapon, and bows were considered un-honourable. There are also a lot of myths about them, the largest one being that they wore horns on their helmets, but they did not, and the only times they were found were as burial decorations,

Their professions vary, but the most common were farmers, raiders, metal workers, ie, black-smiths, white-smiths, and jewellers.

Women also could hold high status, and would often run the household. They would wear all the keys on a loop on their belt, and if their husband tried to take them from them, they could divorce him on the spot.

They were seafaring people, as they lived by the coast. They had two types of ships. The longboat and that is what most people think of when they think of Vikings. It had a long hull, and both ends were the same, so it could reverse quite easily which was helpful when docking. The other was called the Knarr. They were merchant ships, and would often carry lumber, Ivory, crops, and livestock.

Their fighting style was very ruthless, and chaotic as most people think and they were feared by most surrounding civilizations. They attacked many places as they would sail far and wide. A Viking names Leif the Lucky even discovered Greenland, and found the first route from Europe to North America, beating Colombus by five hundred years.

And finally, the Vikings controlled many parts of Europe at different times, reaching all the way to the Black Sea.

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