Travel & Leisure

The Viking age and its influence on European history


In the twenty-first century, the image of the Viking in popular culture became one of the most recognizable. Before the modern person appears the figure of a bearded savage in a helmet with horns, the main occupations of which are murder and robbery, but the content of the Viking age is much more complicated. Who were the Vikings and most importantly, what role did they play in the history of both Scandinavia and the whole world? In fact, they were really ruthlessbandits who kept in fear the coasts of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, in general Whatsapp Status , all those territories that could be reached by Drakkar. The Viking Age is an era of aggressive expansion and bloodthirsty conquests but it also had a progressive, civilizational aspect. The Vikings compiled the first nautical charts and, in general, advanced the idea of long-distance travel, which later served as the basis for European domination at sea, for conquering colonies and world trade. Sample of essay from PaperHelp writing service.

Reflecting on the reasons for the Norman expansion in Europe, we are faced with a contradiction: on the one hand, there is no doubt that Viking attacks on other countries were prepared long before the 9th century but, on the other hand, their beginning gives the impression of surprise. The destruction of the monastery in Lindisfarne is considered to be the beginning of the Viking Age. As G. Jones pointed out, the unexpectedness, the swiftness, and the savagery of the Viking raid on the monastery at Lindisfarne in 793 came as a bolt from the blue.[1]From that time they become a permanent disaster for England, France, and other European countries. Since the attack on Lindisfarne, the coastal regions of Britain and Ireland, and soon France and Germany, were continually attacked by northerners sailing on their ships.Although in the eyes of Christian chroniclers, the invasion of the northerners was a punishment for sins, the Viking trips had objective reasons related to the development of Scandinavian society itself. The system of Viking society itself, in which the entire population was scattered in isolated farms surrounded by pastures, meadows and hunting grounds, in conditions of population growth over time inevitably created a shortage of free space.This led to active internal colonization, which began in the early Middle Ages, and then led to active expansion and the desire for external colonization. The irony of the situation is that, being a product of the existing social structure,the Vikings will later play a huge role in its transformation. The development of trade, which brought the North Germans closer to the English, German and French lands of those times, also contributed to the Vikings’ campaigns. The Scandinavians quickly assessed both the wealth of their southern neighbors and their relative weakness associated with the centrifugal tendencies in the Carolingian empire and the fragmentation of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. This led to active internal colonization that began in the early Middle Ages and then led to active expansion and the desire of external colonization.

The irony of the situation is that being a product of the existing social structure the Vikings will later play a huge role in its transformation. The development of trade, which brought the North Germans closer to the English, German and French lands of those times, also contributed to the Vikings’ campaigns. The Scandinavians quickly assessed both the wealth of their southern neighbors, and their relative weakness associated with the decentralization tendencies in the Carolingian empire and the fragmentation of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.It is interesting to notice that while being at home, the Vikings conducted quite peaceful activities. They were engaged in farming and animal husbandry. In the homeland, a typical Viking, in a particular sense, took off the mask of a fierce pirate and turned into a virtuous peasant, that is, a wealthy free farmer. The researchers emphasized the status economy that took place within the Viking society and reflected different degrees of economic complexity in this society, and the adoption of a monetary economy reflected changes in society beyond just economy sphere.[2] For many Scandinavians, predatory activities turned into an almost professional occupation. Thus, those whom the whole world called the Vikings were a kind of a mixture of quite peaceful people who just went to work in a certain season and people who were professionally engaged in robbery and trade. Being in the eyes of the victim robbers and pirates the Vikings could, if necessary, very quickly turn into merchants, colonists or travelers. On the continent, at the same time, coastal areas of the Franks were attacked by the Danes.

However, the bottom line was not just in a robbery. It was a culture whose representatives considered the death in battle the highest joy and wanted to be rememberedafter death as brave warriors. The Vikings despised weakness and therefore believed that they had the right to take away from the weak all that they desired. J. Jesch engaged in the study of ancient Scandinavian cultural monuments and gave a special place toThe Karlevi stone, which was erected around the turn of the last millennium to honor an otherwise obscure Danish warrior and sea-captain called Sibbi.[3] Valor, bravery, courage, fearlessness before death were those qualities that the Vikings valued above all else and from this, to a large extent, there was a desire for long-distance travels and numerous battles.But still, in their attacks on trade centers, Scandinavians pursue more sophisticated goals, for example, to redirect trade routes to specific (profitable for them) regions.

By the beginning of the X century, the expansion of the Vikings in Western Europe reached the peak of its activity. T. D. Kendrick pointed out four main phases of the Viking expansion: Danish conquest of England, Swedish-Russian principality in Kiev, colonization of Greenland by the Icelanders, and the period of Brian Boru, the high-king of Ireland, who defeats a great levy of the western Vikings at Clontarf.[4]Huge, by the medieval standards,armies driven by sea-captainsput whole states on the brink of death, executed kings and ravaged European capitals. R. Lavelle emphasized that early medieval society, not only the “Germanic” was focused on the pursuit of warfare as a means of achieving political goals and of developing social cohesion.[5]The image of the Vikings created by Christian chroniclers as ruthless robbers, rapists, and murderers, is certainly true for the chroniclers themselves and their compatriots. It was in this appearance that they cameto Western Europe when they plundered the monasteries and burned down the cities to the ground. However, “the Viking movement” was much more multifaceted. As we recalled, if necessary, the military trip turned into a trading partnership, and the Vikings themselves turned into merchants, and vice versa.Peasant colonization also played an important role in the age of the Vikings. After all, even the thirsting for glory and booty the Vikings were still the sons of ordinary peasants who lived in the care of their native land and farms. In general, putting the sword down, the Viking easily took the plow in his hands, and if the thirst for traveling and fighting wandered into his path, he would again sit on the Drakkar. Thus, the most important achievement of the Viking Age was navigation. Innovations in shipbuilding and maritime business allowed the Scandinavians to leave the limits of their region. In the period of the early Middle Ages, the Scandinavians were almost the only ones who had developed navigation and who could be called the sea people. For example, for a Byzantine merchant of the same epoch, to go by the sea with the goods was the same as for a modern entrepreneur to fly on the business meeting to space. People were afraid of long sea travels. Regarding the Vikings, the situation was exactly the opposite: it was more difficult for them to navigate land and organize land military campaigns than to do the same at sea. Being excellent experienced sailors, the Vikings were oriented on different sides of the world and it is obvious that for them, navigation, piracy, and trade often merged into one common activity.

The active expansion of the Vikings was completed at the end of the 11th century. A number of factors contributed to the cessation of campaigns and discoveries that lasted more than 300 years. In Scandinavia, monarchies became firmly entrenched, and orderly feudal relations were established among the nobility, similar to those that existed in the rest of Europe. By the end of the Viking Age, they had created a number of new political powers ruled by the Scandinavian dynasties. Many Vikings eventually adopted the cultures of the conquered lands, even their religious beliefs. For example, one of the Vikings’ leaders Rollo, who conquered a part of France, subsequently called Normandy, converted to Catholicism. One of his descendants was the Duke Wilhelm of Normandy, who was elevated to the throne of England in the 11th century, but this is a quite another story.

In conclusion, itcan be said that the Viking Age is rich in all sorts of military campaigns, bloody conquests, and battles. However, the idea of ​​the Vikings as simply warlike savages with swords and battle axes does not fully reflect reality. The Vikings proved to be not only experienced navigators and warriors, but also skilled merchants and politicians. Moreover, the development of weapons and shipbuilding in Europe for several centuries was determined by the Scandinavian influence. The Vikings developed and opened trade routes, from which all of Europe as a result only benefited; navigation, blacksmithing, agriculture, military affairs, myths, legends and much more, in which the Vikings succeeded. The Vikings had a significant impact on the relationships between different countries, in fact, carrying out the transfer of new discoveries in science and technology and selling goods in Europe that otherwise would never have got there.


Graham-Campbell, James, and Gareth Williams. Silver Economy In The Viking Age. London: Routledge, 2016.

Jesch, Judith. Ships And Men In The Late Viking Age. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 2001.

Jones, Gwyn. A History Of The Vikings. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Kendrick, T. D. A History Of The Vikings. Dover Publications Inc., 2004.

Lavelle, Ryan. Alfred’s Wars. Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 2012

[1]Gwyn Jones, A History Of The Vikings Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

[2]James Graham-Campbell and Gareth Williams, Silver Economy In The Viking Age London: Routledge, 2016.

[3]Judith Jesch, Ships And Men In The Late Viking Age Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 2001.

[4]T. D Kendrick, A History Of The Vikings Dover Publications Inc., 2004.

[5]Ryan Lavelle, Alfred’s Wars Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 2012.

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