The Viking Age in Western Norway
Vikings, Norwegian and Danish, from Old Norse víkingr, were Germanic Norse seafarers, speaking the Old Norse language, who raided and traded from their Scandinavian homelands across wide areas of northern and central Europe, as well as European Russia, during the late 8th to late 11th centuries.
The Vikings have earned their place in history as a seafaring warrior culture with a fine eye for design and a good ear for storytelling.
Before the millennium, the iron was introduced into agriculture, and there was a shortage of land to cultivate. In the same period, the kings’ power increased, and large tax claims made that many would seek freedom and fortune abroad. Many emigrated, and looting became an alternative source of income.
Effective boats and weapons made the Vikings feared among contemporary Christian Europeans. But the images of Vikings as bloodthirsty plunderers are not complete. The Vikings were involved in a wealthy merchant trade, not only in Europe but also including the Byzantine Empire and the Baghdad Caliphate.
Historically Vikings often are introduced with the Viking attack on Lindisfarne in 793, when they really made their mark in European history. The era ends with the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066.
Vikings seaworthiness and wanderlust did that new areas were developed. North along the Norwegian coast, westward to Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Shetland, Orkney, Scotland and Ireland. Later, also Greenland. The Norwegian Vikings also discovered Vinland, present-day America, long before Columbus.
The Vikings were pirates who came to plunder and kill, and they spread terror along Europe’s coasts. But their posthumous reputation is not entirely fair: They were not just ruthless warriors, but also skilled traders, administrators and craftsmen in metal and wood, producing beautiful jewellery and artefacts that survive to this day. They were also some of Europe’s best storytellers and the Norse sagas continue to fascinate modern audiences.
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