The Vikings remain a topic of interest. To some they were pillagers and pirates. To others, they were survivors. Regardless of which category they fall into in your mind, they were some of the most heroic men and Viking women that were ready to do what was necessary.
Their lives were full of excitement, love and the bloody gore that they have become known for. If you’re just beginning to learn about the Vikings or just started watching the hit TV show, this basic introduction is what you need to learn more about the Vikings.
Table of Contents
1. They Weren’t All Pirates
The Vikings were known for being pirates, and some of them were. Some of them came from a land that had little soil, making it impossible for them to grow their own food. With little resources and families to provide for, they often took what they needed from other people and lands.
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Not all Vikings were pirates, though. There were plenty of groups that left their land in hopes of starting small businesses, becoming a part of other nations or starting their own town. These men and women fought hard to prove themselves so that they could be trusted by other people.
2. There Were Plenty of Pirates
All the Vikings were not pirating, but there were quite a few that did not hesitate to sail the high seas in search of merchant ships to destroy and/or steal from. These Vikings did not leave their land in search of new land with better soil or with the intent to become a part of another community. Instead, they left in search of treasure.
Europe was a country plush with opportunities for raids, and the Baltic Sea was full of promise as merchant ships often had to use it in order to transport goods. They were easy targets for people as savage as the Vikings could be, and there were groups of Vikings that did not hesitate to take full advantage of that.
3. They Never Surrender
One thing about the Vikings is that they never surrender. They will fight an enemy to the death, as seen by Bjorn Ironside in the Vikings. These men and women want peace, but that doesn’t mean that they will not do what they need to do in order to defend themselves, their families, or their kingdom.
4. Vikings Came from Various Places
The thing about the Vikings that most people get wrong is that there is a belief that they only came from one country, such as Scandinavia. It is a common misconception that this is what tied the Vikings together, but it is not. The Vikings came from various places, including Norfolk.
These countries were often places that did not have the same opportunities that other countries had, such as rich soil that was easy to plant crops in.
5. Considered Uncivilized
The one thing that did tie all the Vikings together is that they were often considered uncivilized by other nations. They did not have the same table manners or etiquette that most Europeans had developed. Instead, they were bold and brash.
The Vikings were not Christian either. Because of this, most European countries feared them because they were different, and felt that they were less likely to be good people.
6. Attacks Started with the Sea
The famous Vikings attacks that earlier times are known for started with Vikings on ships attacking coastal towns, hence why most people believe that all Vikings were pirates. Vikings would come in fleets of ships to peaceful towns that were within easy reach, stealing what they could and hurting plenty of people in the process.
There were times that Vikings would simply move up and down the coast. They were so ruthless that most towns did not stand a chance.
7. Wessex Was a Problem
The Vikings expanded the areas that they conquered across Europe, but Wessex was one of the few areas that was able to stand up to the Vikings, holding out until the Viking army fell back.
After this, the Vikings joined forces with the Britons during one famous battle in an attempt to defeat the Wessex army. This prevented the Wessex army from expanding further at the time, and helped the Vikings establish a foothold further inland.
8. Monasteries Were Often Raided
Monasteries typically had treasure and other supplies inside them, and these buildings were left unoccupied. Because the Vikings were not religious, they had no qualms regarding invading a monastery and making off with the treasure. Monasteries that were constructed along the coast were particularly vulnerable to being raided by the Vikings.
9. May Have Been First Explorers of North America
According to Iceland history, the Vikings were the first ones to settle the area. After establishing themselves on Iceland, they began to branch out further, exploring nearby lands. They were in Greenland, and many believe that they were the first explorers in North America.
There is no current documentation to prove that there were any settlements in certain areas, such as the United States, as the Vikings did not frequently form permanent settlements.
However, it is believed that they made an exception for Greenland and Iceland, two areas that were not occupied until the Vikings began to call them home.
10. The Icelandic Sagas
It is difficult to learn all that there is about the Vikings because they did not have settlements as the Europeans often did, and so they did not leave behind their culture and traditions as much as others did. The primary evidence that has been left to the world regarding the history of the Vikings is often referred to as Iceland or Icelandic sagas.
When the Vikings settled in Iceland, they wrote of famous and infamous battles, primarily detailing their victories. These writings are a piece of Viking history that continue to be preserved for the world to enjoy. They were used to learn a great deal about the Vikings.
The Vikings often lived as Nomads with few settlements, but they are seen in a piece of history everywhere. Some of the names that are seen in European countries are of Viking descent, and portions of their culture were absorbed by the Europeans and were then considered European culture. These people remain both a mystery and a fascination to many.