One of the most interesting and misconceived
groups of all time were the Vikings. The Vikings were the most feared
of all the barbaric invaders. The people who originated from Scandinavia,
which in today’s world are the countries of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden
were called Norsemen. The Norsemen who took part in raids along the
coast of Europe were called Vikings. These men were some of the great sea
traders and warriors of all time.

The word Viking originated from the Norse
language. Vik in Norse means "harbor" or "bay". These Vikings became
powerful at about 740 AD and lasted till about 1050 AD. One major reason
they stayed in power was there ability to travel using the Seas and Oceans
in Europe. The Vikings biggest reason for being skillful seamen
was their Longships. Long, narrow ships packed with warriors helped a few
ships conquer coastal cities. The Longship was made of wood and was
approximately thirty meters long. The boats could hold at least

120 people because there were about 30 rowing benches on each side of the

Early Viking voyages consisted of raiding

Christian churches and monasteries and robing and burning harmless villages.

The Vikings usually had superior weapons and were well trained. Hence,
they usually got what they wanted from these powerless villages. After
the raid they would return to their ships and sail home. As time
went on, trading with other European countries grew. Scandinavian
countries sent salt, herring, and slaves they acquire from Russia to Constantinople,
modern day Istanbul. In return they received silk and spices. During
their time old trade routes between east and west through the Mediterranean
were closed or too dangerous to sail. The Vikings kept the trade route
between Byzantium and the west open. They did this by using Kiev
and Russia.

Home life in Viking culture was different
than other barbaric groups at the time. Because of their trading,
the Vikings incorporated different ideas from the countries they traded
with. The native dress of the Vikings was similar for both sexes.

Both men and women wore fur or woolen hats and cloaks. The Vikings
had few meals that are still made today. Some of these Viking foods
are shortbread, porridge, and meat soup.

Education was not a major emphasis on
life. Since, there were no public schools, children were taught at
home by their mother or nurse. Girls learned how to spin, weave,
dye clothes, and to cook and clean just to name a few things. Boys
played games such as wrestling and fencing. Once a boy turned 15
or 16 he was encouraged to join a ship and try their luck at battle.

After two or three successful voyages most Viking males had enough money
and a high enough noble rank to retire and give their sons the opportunity
to go into battle.

The Vikings had a very advanced government
for a barbaric group of people. They basically had a Medieval democracy,
with an assembly that acted as court and legislative body. There
was also a king of each tribal group, which was how the Vikings lived.

In 930 the oldest recorded Assembly occurred in Iceland. This assembly
was called the Althing.

Religion also had a great influence on
the Viking culture. Vikings had a polytheist belief, which consisted
of many warrior gods. One of the major gods in the Viking culture
was Odin, the chief god, who proceeded over Valhalwhla, which is the warrior’s
heaven. Only through death in battle could a warrior enter Valhalla.

Thus warriors fought unafraid and with pride. When a Viking died he was
buried with many things that he might need in his journey to the Valhalla.

Hence, Viking graves often contain Arab silver, Byzantine silks, Frankish
weapons, Rhenish glass, and other products of an extensive trade. Just
before 1000 AD King Olaf of Norway converted to Christianity and was baptized.

He then made a public law that any Viking that did not convert to Christianity
was put to death so most Vikings became Christians.

In conclusion, I have shown that the Vikings
were a very interesting culture. They had an advanced way of attacking
enemies and raiding communities using their incredible ships and warrior
skills. They were a group of people who changed the way people did
things for many generations after their reign.


The Vikings. The Viking Network.

16 October 1996

"Vikings." Compton\'s Encyclopedia

Online. Vers. 2.0. 1997.

America Online. 11 November 1998.

Keyword: Compton\'s.

Spoon, Andrew. Vikings. 12

November 1996