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The Vikings were a group of Scandinavian raiders that were around from about the 8th century to the 11th. They mainly attacked the British Islands , the Frankish empire, England, but they also plundered places such as the Iberian peninsula and northern Africa. Vikings did not always settle into the places that they found, for instance after exploring North America they left the place never to return again. Even so, after landing on Greenland they colonized themselves there, and ancestors of the Vikings still live there today. So now that you know a little about the history of the Vikings lets go into detail about the specifics of the Viking age. (Peter Sawyer, Oxford Ill. History of the Vikings p. 1-19)
On the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne, which is located between England and Scotland Irish monks had built a monastery; there they wrote many holy and beautiful books, called the Lindisfarne Gospels. These monks were peaceful people, wouldn’t hurt a fly, pity they were chosen by the Vikings, on the 8th of June in 793 to be the first major victim of one of their raids. Their arrival was seen first far off, they could see dragon head carvings on their well crafted ships slowly coming closer and closer to the shore. As soon as they got out of their boats the Vikings poured onto land ripping off the monk’s clothing and tearing their bodies apart with their sharp swords, and sometimes drowned them. Viking raiders tipped over the cross of Bishop Ethelwold, which was built out of stone. Before they left that hot day the Vikings had taken all of the monk’s treasure, set each building aflame, and killed the monk’s cattle to feed themselves on. Then, in an instant they got into their ships and left.
This was the first major Viking attack, as you can see it was pretty gruesome, but they were just getting started. The next summer there were several places on the British North Sea coast attacked. After 799 the Vikings managed some raids on Friskan-Frankish coast, forcing them to set up a coastal watch to warn citizens of the area. (Oxenstierna, Eric, The Norsemen p. 49-74)
The Vikings in the 8th century mainly centered in places along the Dutch coast, but the Norwegian Vikings were settled in the Orkney and Shetland islands. Throughout the 9th century the Viking’s expanded their empire to engulf Ireland, and Northwestern England. In the 10th century they settled in Iceland then claimed Greenland and set up shop there. Here in the late 900’s Vikings raids thinned out due to civil wars in Scandinavia. Even so in the 11th century they set up temporary residence in North America in what they called Vinland. (Barnes & Noble New American Encyclopedia Vol. 19 p. 594-596)
The first Viking attack on Ireland was in 820, and like the monk’s attacked in 793, the people of Ireland had no chance against the powerful Viking army. In the years following the first attack Viking’s gained leadership, and by 839, a brave Viking chieftain named Turges, declared himself king of Ireland. Turges sacrificed the Irish kings Armagh and Clonmacnois, to Thor, a Viking god.
The Vikings organized attacks very well, they set more and more extravagant goals, and soon met them. Their attacks on England were successful mostly because no one expected them. In May of 841, Danish Vikings led by a man named Asgeir sailed the River Seine, and they burnt the city Rouen to the ground. Next they moved into St. Denis, but decided that it was in their best interest not to provoke the passing Frankish army. But they went right back at it again in 842 they destroyed Quenstovic, the Frisian harbor town. In 845 they attacked the tri-divided Holy Roman Empire, all at the same time!
Ragnar Lodbrok, a legendary Viking hero and his army sailed up the Loire River and conquered Paris by defeating half of Charles the Bald’s army. The other half were on the other side of the river and watched as Ragnar hung 111 of Charles’s men as a sacrifice the another Viking god, Woden. The Vikings finally left after Charles gave them 7,000 pounds of silver. After a while paying the Vikings off was the best way
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Viking exploration of North America, Vikings, Viking Age, Viking ships, Erik the Red, Viking, Vinland, Viking expansion, Viking raid warfare and tactics
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