Vikings are known for being adventurers, warriors and conquerors. They are also infamous for their history of brutality and their barbaric way of life. Often thought of as men with the big horned helmets and huge body armours, they tamed the rough seas of the Arctic and made it their home.
Where did Vikings come from?
Before they took to the seas, Vikings - also known as the Norsemen were common settlers from Scandinavia - mostly from the parts of Norway, Sweden and Denmark. They were farmers, fishermen, seafarers, and also traders and raiders at the sea.
The name Viking came from an old Scandinavian language which means?
The name Viking came from an old Scandinavian language which means 'pirate'.
The Norsemen (Northmen) had a tough life in the coldest regions of Europe. They relied heavily on farming, livestock and fishing. Historians say that they lived in small groups with a chieftain - the head of the clan. Under the Chief were Jarls, who owned big homes and employed other Norsemen to work. The next in line were Karls- the freemen, who formed the largest population of Norsemen. They were farmers, sailors, great craftsmen and also warriors.
The bottommost were the Thralls, who were _____
The bottom-most were the Thralls, they were slaves who were brought mostly from Northern Europe. These were people who had lost wars to Vikings or were in debt; also, children of Thralls would often end up becoming slaves themselves. Thralls trading was huge in the Viking economy. The condition of Thralls would depend on their owner.
Thralls could become freemen if they could pay off their debts. Also a Freeman could become a Jarl by owning more wealth.
Why did they leave their hometowns?
It is not exactly known why the first Vikings left their city. Few theories suggests that some set out in search of better lands and treasures, while some say it was due to overpopulation that drove them to seek new lands. Later, after knowing the easy access to wealth in Europe, other Vikings from across Scandinavia sailed to raid, trade and also settle in different locations. They used Baltic seas and the North seas for their raids in England and Europe.
Norsemen were very skillful people who built their own wooden boats. The three main type of boats Vikings used were; The Faering, the Knarr
and the very famous viking boat used in warfare was the __________
The very famous viking boat used in warfare was the longships.
The Faering, an open boat with two oars pair was used for shorter distances.
The Knarr with a wider capacity was sturdy and was apt for long voyages in the sea. Designed mainly as a cargo ship, they were used for trading and supplying goods and weapons to the Vikings on their journey. They could carry 20-30 crew members. Knarr was also been used during colonisation.
The longships were used as warships but were also used for exploration and trading. The long, narrow and light design enabled it to move at great speeds and was suitable for long voyages. It was also built to sail in shallow waters of up to 1 meter deep. This helped them in their raids across Europe which consisted of large river bodies.
What weapons and armours did the Vikings use ?
They made use of various weapons like knife, spear , sword and axe. Since Swords were costly to make, they were only owned by rich Vikings and axes became common among others. They also used wooden shields.
Which Helmet did the Vikings use for war?
Contrary to the popular belief, Vikings did not wear a Horned Helmet; instead they wore round or pointed iron helmet. This was also restricted to only the rich Vikings. Rich Vikings wore armours made from metal rings called mail armour, while the common Vikings wore leather tunics.
When did the Viking Age start?
In AD 793, the Norsemen from Norway sailed across the North Sea and invaded _________
In AD 793, the Norsemen from Norway sailed across the North Sea and invaded Lindisfarne, an island off the cost of North East England. A holy land, Lindisfarne had abundant unguarded treasures like Gold, Silver and Jewels in their Christian monasteries, which could easily be transported. The Vikings who believed in pagan religion had no respect for the monasteries or the monks. They brutally killed the unarmed monks, looted the treasures and burned down the monastery. They were not just satisfied with the treasures but also took food, livestock and enslaved people. This easy access to the enormous wealth in the monastery overwhelmed the Vikings from across Scandinavia.
This raid at Lindisfarne marked the beginning of the _______, which lasted till the 1066 AD.
This raid at Lindisfarne marked the beginning of the Viking age, which lasted till the 1066 AD.
After the big raid of Lindisfarne, Vikings over the 8th century continued the 'hit-and-run' raids across the isles of British and also entered parts of Europe. The news of huge wealth in Europe spread across Scandinavia. In hopes of better lives, groups of Norsemens united to build longboats and set sail. Some groups even carried along families with them.
It is important to know that Vikings were not just a large group of people under one leader. There were many Viking groups, each under a different leader - each raiding, trading and settling in different lands.
When did Vikings start conquering England?
In around AD 865, the Norsemen from Norway and Denmark formed a coalition under one leader. This time it was not the normal hit and run raid but rather a zealous path to conquer the four Anglo-Saxon kingdoms - East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria, Wessex, that constituted England.
This army came to be known as the _______________ that was led by three sons of a legendary king, Ragnar Lodbrok.
This army came to be known as the Great Heathen Army that was led by the three sons of a legendary king, Ragnar Lodbrok.
This army first entered East Anglia. The king of East Anglia however offered a peace deal by presenting them with horses. In AD 866, leaving East Anglia, the army moved to the city of York in Northumbria and captured it. The army then marched into Mercia where the joint alliance of Mercia and Wessex surrounded them, forcing the Vikings to move back to York. In 870, the Viking army returned to East Anglia and with no peace agreement this time, they killed the king and conquered the kingdom. After the victory of East Anglia the army headed to capture Wessex but King Alfred the Great paid them off. In 874, the army tried to conquer Mercia again and were successful this time.
The only Anglo-Saxon kingdom that remained free from Vikings was?
The only Anglo-Saxon kingdom that remained free from Vikings was Wessex.
A Viking army led by Guthrum tried its hands on Wessex in 878, but it could not withstand the army led by King Alfred in Battle of Edington and surrendered. As a term of surrender, Guthrum was baptised to Christianity and had to move back to East Anglia.
In 886, Alfred agreed on dividing England and creating a boundary, allowing the Vikings to rule the Northern and Eastern England which later came to be known as Danelaw.
Did Vikings invade other places?
Vikings from Norway colonised the North and West Scotland. Small Viking groups settled in the southern part of Whales.
In 9th century, a Viking group raided Ireland regularly and finally settled there, where they formed the city of Dublin. In the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, the last major battle of Vikings, they were forced out of Ireland by the Irish army. However, a few Norsemens settled in Ireland and carried out peaceful trading.
In middle of 9th century, a Viking group raided Frankish Empire and seized Rouen, Paris and the Jumièges Abbey. In AD 911, Rollo, the Viking leader captured Paris which led to the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte with King Charles of West Francia. As a part of this treaty the Normandy territory was formed. The treaty also led to the marriage of Rollo with the daughter of Charles.
Rollo's descendants and followers came to be known as the ________.
Rollo's descendants and followers came to be known as the Normans.
The picture above shows Vikings raid and settlements through time.
Have Vikings sailed to the west?
Vikings from Norway were the ones to set sail to new lands. In AD 985, under Erikr The Red, they sailed all the way to Greenland and colonised the place, forming western and Eastern Greenland settlements.
Leif Erikson was the first European to discover North America when he first reached ___________
Erikr's son, Leif Erikson was the farthest to travel West, when he sailed to Newfoundland and became the first known European to have discovered North America - almost 500 years before Columbus. He settled there for a few years and named it Vinland. After coming back to Greenland, he converted the Norsemen of Greenland to Christianity.
Apart from the West and the East, the Vikings might have also travelled to the West coast of Africa through the Mediterranean.
How did the Viking era come to an end?
Few factors that led to the end of Viking era:
Christianization of Scandinavia:
Over the course of 300 years, the Vikings underwent cultural changes influenced heavily by their presence in Europe and England. Denmark, Norway and Sweden saw a rapid conversion to Christianity. Some conversations were forced while some were made as part of political deals. By AD 1066, majority of the Viking settlers were now Christians.
Change in the Social structure:
By the end of Viking era, most parts of Europe had a strict central authority. These authorities were strong and had to be obeyed. The Church which become prominent across Europe, disallowed the use of Christian slaves. This saw a huge downfall in Slave trading, which was one of the reasons for reducing the number of Viking raids.
With the central authority in place, the Monarchs and Kings used freemen for labour in order to generate revenue. The people were now occupied and were mostly not allowed to travel the sea, which also drastically reduced the raids that Vikings were known for.
The end of last raider:
The end of the Viking era is marked by the death of the last Viking raider, Harald Hardrada - the king of Norway.
He died as a result of ______________
Harald Hardrada died while invading England at the hands of the English King, Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Harald had taken an army of 10,000 men but only around 300 survived along with his son Olaf - who was spared by Godwinson . Olaf returned to Norway and ruled with his brother. He renounced the violent ways of his ancestors, instead opting for peace for his Kingdom.
After all the socio-political changes, the Viking raids had come to an end and so had the Viking era.
Cover photo taken from flikr.
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