Monday, 13 March 2017

Viking Age

The Viking Age is the period from the late 8th century to the mid-11th century in European history, especially Northern European and Scandinavian history, following the Germanic Iron Age. It is the period of history when Scandinavian Norsemen explored Europe by its seas and rivers for trade, raids, colonisation and conquest.


In this period, the Norsemen settled in Norse Greenland, Newfoundland, and present-day Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, Scotland, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, and Turkey.


Viking Expansion

The earliest date given for a Viking raid is 789 when, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a group of men from Norway sailed to the Isle of Portland in Dorset. The beginning of the Viking Age in the British Isles is, however, often given as 793. In 794, according to the Annals of Ulster, there was a serious attack on Lindisfarne's mother-house of Iona, which was followed in 795 by raids upon the northern coast of Ireland. From bases there, the Norsemen attacked Iona again in 802, causing great slaughter amongst the Céli Dé Brethren, and burning the abbey to the ground.

Lindisfarne

The Kingdom of the Franks under Charlemagne was particularly hard-hit by these raiders, who could sail up the Seine with near impunity. Near the end of Charlemagne's reign (and throughout the reigns of his sons and grandsons), a string of Norse raids began, culminating in a gradual Scandinavian conquest and settlement of the region now known as Normandy.

Charlemagne

The clinker-built longships used by the Scandinavians were uniquely suited to both deep and shallow waters. They extended the reach of Norse raiders, traders and settlers along coastlines and along the major river valleys of north-western Europe.

Viking Longship

Rurik also expanded to the east and in 859 became ruler either by conquest or invitation by local people of the city of Novgorod (which means "new city") on the Volkhov River. His successors moved further, founding the early East Slavic state of Kievan Rus' with the capital in Kiev. This persisted until 1240, when the Mongols invaded Russia.

Monument celebrating the millennial of Rurik's arrival at Novgorod

Other Norse people, particularly those from the area that is now modern-day Sweden and Norway, continued south to the Black Sea and then on to Constantinople. Whenever these Viking ships ran aground in shallow waters, the Vikings would reportedly turn them on their sides and drag them across the shallows into deeper waters. The Eastern connections of them brought Byzantine silk, coins from Samarkand, even a cowrie shell from the Red Sea, to Viking York.

Black Sea

In 884, an army of Danish Vikings were defeated at the Battle of Norditi (also called the Battle of Hilgenried Bay) on the Germanic North Sea coast by a Frisian army under Archbishop Rimbert of Bremen-Hamburg, which precipitated the complete and permanently withdrawal of the Vikings from East Frisia.


In 911, French King Charles the Simple was able to make an agreement with the Viking warleader Rollo, a chieftain of disputed Norwegian or Danish origins. Charles gave Rollo the title of duke and granted him and his followers possession of Normandy. In return, Rollo swore fealty to Charles, converted to Christianity, and undertook to defend the northern region of France against the incursions of other Viking groups.

Rollo

Several generations later, the Norman descendants of these Viking settlers not only identified themselves as Norman but carried the Norman language (a Romance language with Germanic influence), and their Norman culture, into England in 1066. With the Norman Conquest, they became the ruling aristocracy of Anglo-Saxon England.


In Scandinavia the Viking age is considered to have ended with the establishment of royal authority in the Scandinavian countries and the establishment of Christianity as the dominant religion. The date is usually put somewhere in the early 11th century in all three Scandinavian countries. The end of the Viking-era in Norway is marked by the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030.

Battle of Stiklestad

In Sweden, the reign of king Olov Skötkonung (c. 995–1020) is considered to be the transition from the Viking age to the Middle Ages, because he was the first Christian king of the Swedes and he is associated with a growing influence of the church in what is today southwestern and central Sweden.


The end of the Viking Age is traditionally marked in England by the failed invasion attempted by the Norwegian king Harald III (Haraldr Harðráði), who was defeated by Saxon King Harold Godwinson in 1066 at the Battle of Stamford Bridge; in Ireland, the capture of Dublin by Strongbow and his Hiberno-Norman forces in 1171; and 1263 in Scotland by the defeat of King Hákon Hákonarson at the Battle of Largs by troops loyal to Alexander III.

Harold Goodwinson

Saxon King Harold Godwinson was subsequently defeated within a month by another Viking descendant, William, Duke of Normandy (Normandy had been conquered by Vikings (Normans) in 911) in the Battle of Hastings.

Battle of Hastings

Scotland took its present form when it regained territory from the Norse between the 13th and the 15th centuries; the Western Isles and the Isle of Man remained under Scandinavian authority until 1266. Orkney and Shetland belonged to the king of Norway as late as 1469.

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