The Viking raids and also subsequent settlements define the duration known as the Viking period in britain which had profound after-effects on the breakthrough of the society and language. The raids began in June of 793 CE once three pearls docked in ~ the shore by the abbey of Lindisfarne. The abbey"s reeve, Beaduheard, thought he known them together those of norseman traders and, reasoning they had actually lost your way, went out to direct them increase the shore to the estate he assumed they had actually been aiming for. ~ above approaching the ships, however, he to be instantly eliminated by the sailors who then sacked the abbey and also murdered everyone they found inside or ~ above the grounds; this was only the beginning.
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Viking Raids in Britain
The raids continued in 794 CE when Viking ships sacked the monastery the Jarrow in Northumbria, in 795 CE once they struck in ~ the monastery of Iona in Scotland and, in the exact same year, struck sites in Ireland. Raids and military incursions continued in Britain v c. 1066 CE, ending with the intrusion by the an excellent Norwegian king Harald Hardrada (1046-1066 CE), known as “the critical of the Vikings”, who victories end the Anglo-Saxon king Harold Godwinson (1066 CE) contributed significantly to wilhelm the Conqueror"s Norman victory over Harold at The battle of Hastings later on in the same year.
The Vikings were all from Scandinavia however the ax did not designate a homogeneous group; rather, it referred to one that joined an expedition expressly for the function of raiding rather for personal gain. The Old Norse expression fara ns viking (meaning “to walk on expedition”) is taken as definition something closer to piracy and robbery than legitimate trade.
Although the Vikings might have started as little much more than pirates in Britain, they would at some point arrive as great armies under expert military leaders, create communities, and also assimilate with the population. The Viking age is known for legendary Norse leaders such as:
Halfdan Ragnarsson (also known as Halfdane, c. 865-877 CE)Guthrum (c. 890 CE)Harold Bluetooth (c. 985 CE)Sven Forkbeard (986-1014 CE), Harold"s sonCnut the great (1016-1035 CE)Harald Hardrada (1046-1066 CE)
Other remarkable Norse explorers of the time were Eric the Red (died 1003 CE) and Leif Erikson (died c. 1020 CE) who explored and settled Greenland and North America.
In Britain, this was additionally the duration of renowned rulers such together Alfred the an excellent (871-899 CE), Edward the Elder (899-924 CE), and also Queen Aethelflaed that the Mercians (911-918 CE) amongst others while, in France, that was the time of Charlemagne (800-814 CE) whose efforts at Christianizing the “heathen” Norse have been well-known as contributing come the ferocity the the Viking raids in Britain and elsewhere.
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Reasons because that the Raids
The primary reason provided by medieval historians for the Viking raids to be God"s displeasure at the people"s sin and also selfishness. The scribe Alcuin (died c. 804 CE) epitomizes this watch in a letter from 793 CE come Aethelred, King of Northumbria in which he complains around the moral decrease of the country and also attributes the Viking raid in ~ Lindisfarne come God"s wrath:
What may I say around avarice, robbery, violent judgments? – when it is clearer than day just how much these crimes have actually increased everywhere and also a despoiled world testifies come it. Everyone reads the holy Scriptures and ponders old histories and also considers the fortune of the world will find that for sins of this sort kings shed kingdoms and peoples their country; and also while the solid unjustly seized the goods of others, lock justly lost their own. (Somerville & McDonald, 186).
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle likewise attributes the raid to a superordinary cause. The entry because that the year 793 CE reads:
In this year, terrifying omens showed up over Northumbria and the people were wretchedly afraid. Over there were vast flashes of lightning and terrifying dragons were seen flying in the air. A an excellent famine complied with these signs and shortly after that, ~ above the sixth day prior to the Ides the January, the miserable raiding of heathens damaged God"s church ~ above the Isle that Lindisfarne through plundering and murder. (Somerville & McDonald, 184).
The scribe Dudo (died c. 1027 CE) deadline the raids to overpopulation in Scandinavia and also the typically depraved state that the “barbarians” that were required to find new areas to inhabit overseas:
Now these civilization burn with too much wanton lasciviousness and also with singular depravity debauch and also mate through as plenty of women together they please; and also so, through mingling with each other in illegal couplings, they create innumerable children. Once these have grown up, they clamor fiercely against their fathers and also their grandfathers, or more frequently against each other, for shares that property; and, together they are over-many, and also the land lock inhabit is not huge enough for them to live in, over there is a very old custom through which a multitude the youths is selected through lot and also expelled into the worlds of other nations, to success kingdoms for themselves through fighting. (Somerville & McDonald, 182-183)
This critical suggestion got credence with later writers and also became the standard explanation for the Viking raids, yet there is no more evidence because that it in historical events than the wrath-of-god explanation. The clearest cause for the Viking raids was just the salvation of wealth. Britain, especially, was famed for its rewarding trade centers, and the Scandinavians were mindful of this through their own business with the region.
The very first sites struck to be all religious institutions yet this appears to have had more to execute with convenience than any other consideration; the abbeys and also priories which very first fell to the Vikings were located near the coast. Return the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle gives a January day for the raid on Lindisfarne, various other sources do clear it was in June, and this would certainly make feeling as the seas would have been quieter and provided greater ease in travel. That would have been meaningless to go additional inland upon reaching Britain as soon as there were such basic targets within selection of the sea, and also the Lindisfarne Priory to be an exceptionally rich one.
Lindisfarne had been founded in c. 635 CE and also became the most necessary pilgrimage site in the an ar following reports that miracles associated with the bishop St. Cuthbert (c. 634-670 CE) that presided there. St. Cuthbert was attributed with all manner that miraculous occasions after his death when the monks, who had actually opened his coffin, uncovered his human body in a perfect state of preservation and also elevated him to sainthood.
Following this event, world regularly came to Lindisfarne to pray to the saint, receive answers to this prayers, and also further invoke his defense for themselves and also their communities; in return, they offered the priory rich presents – as much as they might afford – in many thanks for continued miracles and protection. The Viking raid on this particular spiritual community, then, was specifically devastating since St. Cuthbert had obviously fail to defend his own civilization in the priory and also so over there seemed tiny chance he would do better for others.
In the same means that the Huns had actually struck unexpectedly and also brutally versus the eastern cities of the Roman realm in the fifth century CE, the Vikings currently did in Britain. As with the Huns, there to be no means to prepare because that an attack, no understanding of where the devil came from, and also no discernible motive other than slaughter and also robbery. The savagery of the unwarranted attacks, specifically on religious institutions, urged the id that the Vikings had been sent by God to punishment the civilization for their sins; in lot the same means Attila the Hun to be designated the “scourge of God” by the prelates that his time. This new scourge, it was thought, was sent out to damage the shepherds that the Christian flock in brothers which would certainly then result in the damage of everything else.
Religious influence on Raids
It does no seem most likely that the Vikings were targeting religious communities for any type of reason various other than convenience, however. Much from targeting Lindisfarne because that its religious association, the Vikings would have actually chosen it for its wide range or, as scholar Janet T. Nelson observes, “what lured Vikings was movable wealth” (Sawyer, 36). The rich gifts given come Lindisfarne in thanks for answer prayers were, naturally, unprotected as the monks had no weapons nor any kind of need for them. Similar spiritual communities followed this same paradigm and so made tempting targets because that Viking raiders.
Far from targeting Lindisfarne because that its religious association, the Vikings would have actually chosen it because that its riches.
At the exact same time, however, faith did pat a component in these raids, and also this element is intimately bound in through trade and migration. In c. 2300 BCE Germanic-speaking peoples migrated to Scandinavia bringing v them their spiritual beliefs in fierce gods who rewarded brave heroes in battle. This duration is recognized as the beginning of the Bronze age (c. 2300 - c. 1200 BCE) in which people began manufacturing tools and weapons native bronze, one alloy that copper and also tin. Increased need for these materials required the Scandinavians to interact in long-distance trade with Europe and the Mediterranean which lugged them into close contact with these other cultures.
In time, a number of Scandinavian traders developed permanent neighborhoods in Europe and also became Christianized while their families and neighbors earlier home continued to host to their ancestral belief in the norseman gods. Professor Kenneth Harl notes that by 625 CE:
The West german kinsmen the the Scandinavians had converted come Christianity and had begun to forget their own stories. Between 650 and also 700 CE, new Christian cultures emerged in England, in the Frankish world, and also in Frisia, which resulted in a parting of the ways in between the Scandinavian heartland and the new states in the previous Roman Empire. (25)
While these Scandinavian communities arisen as Christians, the belief in the vikings gods back home go likewise. By the time of the 2nd-3rd century CE, the norseman god Odin had been elevated come a position of dominance in the pantheon the Scandinavian religion, and Odin would come to be “the quintessential god of the Viking Age” (Harl, 15). Odin to be the god the war, battle, armed forces victory but likewise presided end thought, reason, poetry, song, and logic.
Those who followed him devoutly would involved be well-known as “berserkers” who combated fiercely in battle without any kind of apparent fear of death. They go so due to the fact that of their recognition of the presents Odin had provided them in life and their belief in the rewards i m sorry awaited castle after death. According to norse mythology, this heroes live on in Odin"s hall of Valhalla, feasting and also drinking when they were no honing their martial skills, in ready for the final cataclysmic battle of Ragnarok, the end of the well-known world. Odin wanted just the finest warriors because that this last engagement v the pressures of chaos but likewise needed as numerous as he can muster. Ability in battle, therefore, became one of the defining and also most very valued an abilities for the Vikings, followers of Odin.
Since their kinsmen had actually neglected the old faith in donate of the new Christianity, there to be no bonds of genealogy or honor to be thought about when the Vikings encountered the human being of britain or elsewhere. That would have actually been taken into consideration dishonorable because that a warrior to murder unarmed males – as taken place at Lindisfarne – however only under specific conditions. One can not death one"s kinsmen without sound provocation or kill someone who had surrendered in battle (although over there is ample proof of this happening) yet this consideration did not apply to those external of the faith living in other countries.
The religion of the Norse, therefore, urged the raids in britain which lugged not only personal wealth and feasible earthly reputation but likewise immortality, need to one die in battle, and also the promise that a ar in Odin"s elite army for the fight at the end of the world. None of this raids would have actually possible, however, to be it not for the ability the Scandinavians developed in woodworking and, especially, in building ships capable of making these voyages.
Rock piece from Scandinavia dated to c. 4000-2300 BCE indicate that the people already knew just how to build boats, propelled by paddles, come navigate their coasts. Shipbuilding developed past this stage of essentially small ferry watercrafts only about c. 300-200 BCE and would not build further till interactions through Roman traders – and also Celtic and Germanic sellers using Roman modern technology – c. 200-400 CE.
Professor Harl notes the the “first significant ship we have actually is the Hjortspring delivery from Als, an island off Denmark, date from about 300-200 BCE” (42). This ship, however, follows the rudimentary style of the past and is it is provided by paddles. The very first ship able come navigate the sea is known as the Nydam ship, likewise from Denmark, c. 350-400 CE.
Harl notes the “the most necessary innovation the the Romans was the sail” (43). It would certainly be the sail which allowed the Vikings to travel the seas as they did and also raid as they pleased. The various other important facet was the keel i m sorry was emerged in the at an early stage 8th century CE and the keelson, a thick base which might support a big mast and sail. Harl describes one the these later on ships:
The Gokstad burial ship (c. 900-905 CE) is a warship; it is 75 feet <23 m> long and had a keel and keelson qualified of transferring a mast close come 45 feet <14 m> in height. The sail might have to be 750-825 square feet <70-77 square meters>. This ship is a brilliant piece of work-related in combining strength and also flexibility. All such Viking period ships were developed to journey the water, quite than come fight the waves. (44)
In these ships, the Vikings make their trips from the coasts of Scandinavia to the regions known today together Britain, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, and also other locations of the Mediterranean.
Armies & Settlements
The early on raids and also the affluent plunder they generated encouraged much more elaborate armed forces expeditions. In 865 CE the great Army under the leadership of Halfdane and also Ivar the Boneless arrived in eastern Anglia in a enormous fleet and marched throughout the land. In 867 CE the city the York fell, in 868 CE Mercia was raided, and also by 871 CE Halfdane had beat every force sent versus him and was so powerful that Alfred the great had no selection but to pay him one exorbitant lot to leaving Wessex.
Alfred"s payment did not average the Vikings had actually to leaving Britain, however, and also Halfdane ongoing exercising his power after Ivar the Boneless had gone home. He put down rebellions in his territories and also established Danish legit practices and customs therefore that, by 875 CE, that had created a Viking kingdom in Britain and partitioned floor in Yorkshire as rewards because that his veterans. In 879 CE that was powerful enough to be able to install Ceowulf II (r. 874-883 CE) together a puppet-king in the Kingdom the Mercia. His plans were continued by the warlord Guthrum who ruined Wessex till his defeat by Alfred the great at the fight of Eddington in 878 CE which led to the partitioning the Britain into the kingdom of wessex under Alfred and the an ar of the Danelaw under Halfdane in eastern Mercia and Guthrum that took eastern Anglia.
In the TV collection Vikings, the Viking occupation of brother is compressed and also various events are switched around or telescoped in the understanding of the narrative. Ragnar Lothbrok never made the type of inroads into Britain as depicted in the show and also never made any contracts or treaties v Egbert that Wessex about Mercia or the return that Queen Kwenthryth come the mutre throne. The succession in Season 3:5 wherein Aethelwulf massacres the Norse settlement in wesdex is fictionalized however raids ~ above Norse negotiations by Anglo-Saxons or West saxons did occur very much follow me the currently of that episode. Also so, there to be numerous areas established by the Vikings i m sorry thrived and also grew.
While other Viking armies and also explorers were busy widening Scandinavian influences throughout the remainder of the world, those that had settled in brother went about domestic work as castle would have once done earlier home. The Danelaw region operated under laws familiar to the Vikings, and also they continued to observe their old religion. Back home in Denmark, however, the king Harold Bluetooth had actually converted the Danes to Christianity i beg your pardon his son, Sven Forkbeard, objected to. Possibly since of this religious difference – though clearly influenced by various other factors too – Sven deposed his father.
The Viking Legacy
Sven invaded Britain, accused in an answer to a massacre the the to dance there, in 1013 CE. His son, Cnut, marched through him together a command of part of the force. ~ Sven"s fatality in 1015 CE, Cnut to be proclaimed king of Denmark and united it with Britain under his rule. He would after that claim the thrones that both Norway and also Sweden and bring those areas tightly under his control. Later historians refer come Cnut the good as one of the most effective rulers the the Viking period – or even any age – because that his legit precepts and also skill in both military and also political spheres.
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The last good Viking king, Harald Hardrada, rose from modest beginnings to offer in the prestigious Varangian Guard for the oriental Emperor and also eventually come to be king of Norway. His intrusion of britain in 1066 CE walk not an outcome in to win the crown, together he had actually hoped, but significantly dilute the Anglo-Saxon pressures under Harold Godwinson come the suggest where william the Conqueror"s victory was virtually assured in ~ the battle of Hastings.
The Norman conquest of brothers in 1066 CE sent immigrants fleeing from their land come all components of the west world, influenced the language and culture of the brother Isles, and essentially set the course because that the breakthrough of the west native that point forward. That occupation was made feasible by the Viking invasion which preceded it, and also the society of the British isles had developed from 793 - c. 1066 CE in solution to Viking raids, assimilation, culture, and law. The world today, in fact, would be unrecognizable there is no the Vikings raids. Back they started as an easy means to wide range and an individual glory, the Viking raids on brothers would pertained to define the culture not only of that region but that the west world.