The Vikings: Revision Notes

Revision notes I made in preperation for an essay exam I had on the vikings. I ended up scoring 70 in the exam which is just scraping a first. 

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  • Created on: 29-09-15 16:40
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The Vikings
Viking Time Line
789 - Vikings begin their attacks on England.
793 - Attack on Lindisfarne (most considered date for start of Viking age).
800 - The Oseberg Viking longship is buried about this time
840 - Viking settlers found the city of Dublin in Ireland.
860 - Rus Vikings attack Constantinople (Istanbul).
866 - Danish Vikings establish a kingdom in York, England.
871 - Alfred the Great becomes king of Wessex; the Danish advance is halted in England.
886 - Alfred divides England with the Danes under the Danelaw pact.
900 - The Vikings raid along the Mediterranean coast.
941 - Rus Vikings attack Constantinople (Istanbul).
981 - Viking leader Erik the Red discovers Greenland.
986 - Viking ships sail in Newfoundland waters.
991 - Æthelred II pays the first Danegeld ransom to stop Danish attacks on England.
995 - Olav I conquers Norway and proclaims it a Christian kingdom.
1000 - Christianity reaches Greenland and Iceland.
1000 - Olav I dies; Norway is ruled by the Danes.
1013 - The Danes conquer England; Æthelred flees to Normandy.
1016 - Olav II regains Norway from the Danes.
1016 - The Danes under Knut (Canute) rule England.
1028 - Knut (Canute), king of England and Denmark, conquers Norway.
1042 - Edward the Confessor rules England with the support of the Danes.
1050 - The city of Oslo is founded in Norway.
1066 - Harold Godwinson king of England defeats Harald Hardrada king of Norway at the Battle of
Stamford Bridge
1066 - William duke of Normandy defeats the Saxon king Harold at the Battle of Hastings.
Vikings Cruelty & Brutality
Start of Viking age usually considered as 793 (attack on Lindisfarne)
Many medieval sources discuss the brutality and violence they witnessed from Viking
attacks and raids
Frankish sources are full of fear and revulsion due to the differing religion and culture
- fear of `THE OTHER'
Frankish sources often differed over time, indicating medieval Chinese whispers with
stories of the same raids/attacks altering in detail
Clear evidence of Viking cruelty, also depicted as cunning and smart invaders - sources
stating they disguised themselves to get inside city walls
The Blood Eagle - a Pagan sacrifice to the Norse God, Odin. The Victim would have his
lungs pulled out and spread apart over his chest like wings. Evidence of this from
Viking raids

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Attack on LUNA is a great example of a `snowball story' where the details of the raid
grew, changed and expanded generation after generation continuously growing and
Must be very critical of sources, both contemporary and those wrote later
Vikings were more interested in taking prisoners rather than killing their victims, as
they would sell these prisoners on to slavers.…read more

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Vikings maintained a trans-national network through claims to common Scandinavian
ancestry maintained cultural traits i.…read more

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Trading communities were also open to cultural influences
Intermarriage/trading/people joining Viking militia also lead to the mingling's of
There is much evidence to suggest the Rus (Swedish Vikings) settled in Kiev and
traded with Arab merchants.
There is written evidence from Arab writers (10th c. basing their writing on earlier
The Rus traded furs/pelts, and slaves for coins.
Secondly, there is evidence of treasure hoards, containing both silver and coins in the
Baltic region.…read more

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COUPLAND questions the myths surrounding the Vikings - i.e the levels of violence
and brutality surrounding Vikings tales
SAWYER sees the Vikings raiding activity as an "extension of normal dark-age activity"
this is the REVISIONIST view of the Viking Age.
This REVISIONIST approach has found particular resonance in archaeologists, whose
excavations regularly discover evidence of settlement and trade, but more rarely signs
of destruction and slaughter.…read more

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Scholars have increasingly questioned received notions of national and ethnic identity
in the Viking age
Interpretations of the Viking age through a nationalist framework have a dominant
place in historiography
Early 19TH CENTURY - Vikings were viewed as `romantic noble savages' loved because
of their barbarous warrior ways
In Post-Colonial Society (19TH CENTURY) more emphasis was put on the positive
aspects of Viking; celebrating their strength and enterprise skills and also emphasising
their cultural achievements
In Scandinavia, (19TH C) they were studied and prized through…read more

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The `wave of advance' model is ultimately traceable to post-Viking Age Icelandic and
Norwegian sources in which early pirate settlements in the Northern Isles were
assumed to have existed.
However, there is no evidence from settlement sites, graves, hoards, or documentary
record to suggest that Scandinavian migrants were living in Atlantic Scotland prior to
the mid-9th century.
After this date there is clear evidence of the spread of information and objects around
the Irish Sea.…read more

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Two relevant observations - Assuming the news of wealth travelled quickly, it is
entirely possible that the gold-rush mentality spread to Scandinavia. The earliest raid
on French, English and Irish monasteries would have been the result. However we
must assume this wealth was for Scandinavian consumption not for Arab trade.
According to Arab sources, the Rus brought furs and swords to Baghdad; these were
not major products of Britain etc.…read more

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Alternatively it has also been argued that the expansionistic military and ecclesiastical
politics of the Christian west may have inspired an ideologically driven reaction among
the pagan elites.
IDEOLOGICAL DETERMINISM - Many of the arguments above are established with
archaeological and historical evidence. Thus the `pagan reaction' model and `slavery
hypotheses' are more controversial. Their value lies in focusing attention on social
factors of the Viking Age Scandinavian Diaspora.…read more

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Cultural - Their cultures also intermingled with the native cultures creating new
peoples and new mixed cultures etc.
Raiding- also brought devastation and further increased fear/hatred of Scandinavians
and pagans as many clerical writers accounted their raiding as a Pagan crusade.
Do the Vikings deserve their reputation for extreme brutality?
This is the largest debate regarding Vikings among historians
Traditionally it was thought that the Vikings were barbarous peoples due to the
written contemporary sources.…read more


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