History of Viking Era

Stone Age Scandinavian

It was around 8000 B.C. that the first permanent settlement took place. Several evidences indicate that the German hunters began hunting in Scandinavia around 11000 B.C. on a seasonal basis.

Early and Roman Iron Age

(500bc to 400ad) A small number of ruling classes and strata emerged in Scandinavian society, but they were very fragile.

Many Romanesque artifacts have been found in Scandinavia by archeologists. Danes of this time must have traded and fought with German tribes in southern Jutland.

The graves of several warriors suggest that a small chiefdom of Scandinavians was ruled by a high class of warriors.

The period also saw a lot of human sacrifice. This is the time period when the famous Tollund Man lived.

Additionally, the votive ship fund at Hjortspring provides evidence that raids were already common in Scandinavia at this time

The migration periode 

(400-600Ad) During this time, Scandinavia was at war. As far as we know, neither German tribes nor anyone else evaded. In spite of this, more than 1500 fortifications have been built throughout Scandinavia. There was clearly a struggle for power among the Scandinavian tribes. As a result, Saxons and Jutes will migrate to England.

Rise of Kingdom

(600-800 Ad)  Archaeological evidence suggests a powerful Svear kingdom around Uppland. The king Angantyr ruled another powerful kingdom around Ribe in Denmark. Finally, a smaller but still developing power has been built around Vestfold.

These three kingdoms were the most powerful at this time in Scandinavia, but there were many other kingdoms as well. However, archeologists suggest that the kingdoms of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark forged and unified around these three.

A defensive rampart called Danevirke was also built between the German and Danish empires around 737.

The Raid Periode 

(800AD) Viking raids were once described as barbaric and violent. Today, historians agree that viking raids were not more violent than other army attacks during the early middle ages.

However, a large number of raiding vikings roamed Europe during the 9th century, even north Africa. Frankish empire (France and Germany) was the main focus of the attack.

Britain and Irish island were also major targets for Viking raids. Later on, the emirate of Cordoba (Spanish and Portuguese) was raided frequently by Vikings.

At the time, the expansion of the Frankish empire threatened the Danish empire. Europe's most powerful empire was the Franks. In 840, Louis the Pious died and his empire was divided among his three sons. In this unstable environment, the Vikings had to take advantage.

Conquest in Great Britain

(876-954 A.D.) Three major kingdoms divided Great Britain at that time: Wessex, Mercia, and Northhumbria. Also present were East Anglia, Welsh, and the Kingdom of Scots. Due to these divisions, the area's people are susceptible to the threats of a major power, such as the Danes.

Due to the strengthening of the Frankish empire, the British island became the most attractive target for the Vikings. During the year 865, the great heathen army arrived on the island. After 14 years, they have conquered East Anglia, half of Mercia, and established York Kingdom on top of Northumbria's ruins. Wessex is the only state that survives almost intact.

Wessex and Mercia, now allied, were able to expel the vikings, in a slow process, between 879 and 954.

 Ireland  (841-1014) The Norwegians settled in Dublin in 841 after raiding Irish coats for many years. During the period 841-847, multiple attempts were made to capture more territory but failed miserably. As a result of this, many Viking warriors have gone to Francia, where the opportunities are more appealing.

It was not until 914, however, that raiders returned. Limerick, Waterford, and Wexford have all made permanent settlements. However, there is no doubt that there was another settlement.

The settlements in question were not invaded by bloody battles, but rather were assimilated into the Irish kingdom after being converted to Christianity.

Normandy In 911, Charles the simple handed Rouen over to the viking leader Rollo after Chartres' defeat. A century after the Rollo settlement was founded, its size has doubled.

In spite of this, only a few of the villagers were Vikings, while the rest remained German. Likewise, the economic ties with Scandinavian kingdoms were never strong.

The settlement has been assimilated into Frankish culture and very little evidence remains.

Scotland  (800-1014Ad) Norwegians dominated the settlement of the north of Scotland.

However, the good arid lands remain under the rule of the Scottish kingdom, who are united after the first raid.

Iceland and Faroe Island 

(825-1000AD) Most of these famous voyages were made by Norwegian sailors. There is evidence that exploration began around 825 AD, possibly even earlier. A significant settlement was established around 930AD. Under the reign of king Harald Finehair, many Norwegians were forced to flee to a better horizon. In many cases, they find a better home in Iceland and Faeroe.

Since 895AD, Faeroe island has been under Norwegian rule, but the kings have less power. On the island of Iceland, Iceland was ruled by 430 leaders who formed an oligarchy around the primitive Althing (still in activity today).

Greeland and Vinland 

(983-1410AD) In 900AD, Erik the Red is believed to have persuaded 25 icelander ships to settle in the south of Greenland. It is estimated that there were around 4000 people living there at the peak of those settlements.

The climate changed to become colder around 1300. This caused the eskimo of the north to move to the south, where the Vikings were settling. Two centuries later, the Eskimo have taken over all of Greenland.

It's the son of Erik the Red who travels Canada's coasts. A single settlement has been found in the far north of Newfoundland. In AD 1000-1020, it was only used for a short period of time. It is evident from many sources that Vikings traded and traveled throughout the Gulf of Saint-Lawrence, but their presence was limited.

Kievan Rus 

(800-1054AD) The Swedish kingdom created the Kievan Rus, which was ruled by the Scandinavians but mostly inhabited by the Slavs. The scandinavian influence was therefore limited.

Byzantine culture has far more influence on Russian and Slav cultures than Viking culture. Russian language, for instance, contains only six or seven scandivian words.

This Russian state attacked and raided bulgaria, byzantium, and some caliphate in the middle east. However, this territory served primarily as a trade route. The Vikings gave the Islamic world the loot captured during raids and the Islamic kingdom gave silver to the Vikings.

Around 860AD, the Swedish influence on this state peaked. Novgorod and Kiev have been seized by Rurik and his successor, Oleg, both scandinavians.

However, during the reign of Vladimir I, a slave, the slave culture dominated. Due to its conversion to orthodox Christianity, the Russ became an ally of the Byzantine Empire rather than the Viking Empire.

Conversion and end of Viking Era 

(1000-1200Ad) The dominance of the viking kingdom of west Europe faded away during the next two centuries and was replaced by that of the Christian kingdom. Because of the loss of control over Russia and the expense of having so many colonies, the Viking era declined.

In the 12th century, there were no differences between the three scandivians and any other Christian middle age kingdoms. Nevertheless, this does not imply that Denmark, Norway, and Sweden become small kingdoms. As a matter of fact, Cnut the Danish king ruled most of Great Britain, Norway, and Denmark in 1028AD. Not a small power, but not a viking power that believed in pagan gods and raided Europe's coasts.

Bibliography :

1-John Lindow ''Norse Mythology : A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals and Beliefs ''  New York : Oxford University, 2002

2-Neil Price ''The Viking way : Magic and Mind in late iron age scandinavia '' United Kingdom : Oxbow Books , 2019

3-Lee M.Hollander ''Introduction in  The Poetic Edda''  United State : University of Texas , 1990

4-John Haywood ''Historical Atlas of the Vikings '' United State : Penguin Books, 1995