Who are the Vikings
The Northmen who originated in modern Denmark, Sweden and Norway expanded across Europe in a remarkable burst of energy for three centuries. The Northmen held pagan beliefs and since their homeland had a population explosion, and what land there was wasn’t very fertile, they looked abroad for an answer to their poverty.
A way to get money, and thence land status and a good marriage was to
‘go a viking’. The word ‘Viking’ means raider
or pirate, and the start of the Viking age is generally considered to
be the landing of a longship near Wareham on the South coast, where the
local king’s Reeve (assuming the northmen were traders) asked them
to follow him to the kings Longhouse to be given permission to trade,
and to make their payment for that privilege. They killed him and attacked
a local farm. This was followed soon after by the infamous raid on the
monastery on Lindisfarne in 793.
Viewing the Northmen merely as pirates, thieves and barbarians is a very
Christian Anglo-Saxon way of looking at them. They had a mighty civilisation,
which extended from Kiev and Novgorod in the East across northern Europe
to Iceland Greenland and North America. The Northmen settled in England,
Northern France, the low countries, and along every river south from the
Baltic. They produced art of great beauty, rugged and elegant ocean-going
ships, and left a spectacular literary tradition.