Vikings

JMA_Norway_beyond_the_Polar_Circle


Northern Norway beyond the Polar Circle. Dark, cold, and not a soul around. Even Vikings were not interested in settling there.


The Vikings‘ homeland was lower Scandinavia, the coastal Northern Norway on Lofoten and a small continental region under the Gulf Stream impact. Although much land was available in Scandinavia, the Vikings did not settle there. Their interest was in the South.

The harsh climate and topographic conditions are, however, only one of the explanations, why Vikings preferred to sail and conquer to the South. There are several reasons given by historians for this. Besides territories held firm by the Saxons or Charlemagne >>> and his descendants, Europe had its weaker spots like present British Islands,  Northern France (Normandy >>>), or some Slavic territories (present-day Ukraine). They were comparatively easy targets to conquer and settle in. The climate and geography there were not as severe as in Scandinavia. Life was simply easier. The Viking expansion included further settlements on Iceland and Greenland as well as some presence in Southern Europe vulnerable after the fall of the Roman Empire >>>.

Some raids to the South were also for revenge for battles lost to the Saxons or the Francs. A simple reason would as well be that the warriors needed women, and the only way to find wives was to enslave foreigners. And still, the other reason, an important one, would be the economic development through trades. In the latter case, besides the exchange of the goods, the Vikings engaged, however in less honorable activities.

In line with a common understanding, Vikings were warriors. But many of their undertakings was not just engaging in battles. They were sailors and merchants. But they were also pirates, who raided the coastal cities and villages taking hostages. The kidnapped people were later sold as slaves. Vikings are thus to a vital extent responsible for the revival of slave trades in England in the early Middle Ages with Bristol and Chester as the significant hubs >>>. It was however also a Viking descendant, the Norman King William the Conqueror, who abolished slavery for good on the British Isles.