Allow me to clarify right off the bat; when I say the Vikings, I’m referring to the ones that actually walked our planet. Not the ones depicted in the television series titled Vikings, but the show is pretty damn great and I highly recommend it. The series is what has piqued my interest in these people and the incredible (and rather barbaric) things they did while alive, and so I’ve been very intrigued to learn more about them.
This information comes from historyextra.com.
“The Vikings originated in what is now Denmark, Norway and Sweden (although centuries before they became unified countries). Their homeland was overwhelmingly rural, with almost no towns. The vast majority earned a meagre living through agriculture, or along the coast, by fishing. Advances in shipping technology in the 7th and 8th centuries meant that boats were powered by sails rather than solely by oars. These were then added to vessels made of overlapping planks (‘clinker-built’) to create longships, swift shallow-drafted boats that could navigate coastal and inland waters and land on beaches.
“Exactly what first compelled bands of men to follow their local chieftain across the North Sea in these longships is unclear. It may have been localised overpopulation, as plots became subdivided to the point where families could barely eke out a living; it may have been political instability, as chieftains fought for dominance; or it may have been news brought home by merchants of the riches to be found in trading settlements further west. Probably it was a combination of all three.
“In 793, terror descended on the coast of Northumbria as armed raiders attacked the defenceless monastery of St Cuthbert on Lindisfarne. The terrified monks watched helplessly as the invaders made off with a haul of treasure and a clutch of captives. It was the first recorded raid by the Vikings, seaborne pirates from Scandinavia who would prey on coastal communities in north-western Europe for more than two centuries and create for themselves a reputation as fierce and pitiless warriors.
“Their victims did not refer to them as Vikings. That name came later, becoming popularised by the 11th century and possibly deriving from the word vik, which in the Old Norse language the Vikings spoke means ‘bay’ or ‘inlet’. Instead they were called Dani (‘Danes’) – there was no sense at the time that this should refer only to the inhabitants of what we now call Denmark – pagani (‘pagans’) or simply Normanni (‘Northmen’).”
Granted, this is only a tidbit of the history of these powerful men and women, but I figure it’s a good starting point of information for anyone wishing to learn or know more about the people that dominated in past eras.
Believe it or not, there are Vikings still today in Norway who choose to live life as their ancestors did.