Who were the Vikings?
•The word Viking means one who lurks in a
“Vik” or bay, in effect, a pirate.
•the Viking age lasted for more than 300 years,
from the late 8th century to the late 11th
•The Vikings, or Norse, were a phenomenal race
of Scandinavian warriors (from Norway, Denmark
& Sweden) who raided Northern Europe, Eastern
Asia, and Eastern North America.
Who Were the Vikings?
•By the end of the first millennium the Vikings
reached North America five hundred years before
• Viking raids
to trade and
• The Viking
whole new age
the mid 700 to
How do we know about the Vikings?
•Archaeology provides physical
evidence of their conquests,
settlements, and daily life.
•Many popular ideas of Vikings are
19th century misconceptions - such as
having horns on helmets.
•Few historical records and
contemporary written sources exist
•Most information about the Viking
period is recorded by monks in
monasteries giving an account of
•The Vikings were considered heathens
for their attacks on monasteries and
as a result were portrayed in the An early Icelandic
worst possible way. Manuscripts in Old
Norse- the Viking
•“Saga” is a Norse word meaning tales.
•Originally oral storytelling, when recorded they
provide all the historical knowledge of the
•There are about forty sagas that include
descriptions of historical events and voyages
across the North Atlantic from Norway, Greenland
and Vinland (Newfoundland).
•The sagas also have records of family history
such as Erik the Red who founded Greenland, and
his son Leif Erickson who discovered North
•The Sagas were compiled in the 13th and 14th
century andbased on stories that originated as
early as 400 and 500 years before that.
•Norse oral religious
traditions written as poems
were collectively named Eddas.
•Considered folktales of the
•Eddas and Sagas were written
on vellum-sheepskin or calf
•Called vellum it is more
resistant to rot and preserves
much better than paper – this
allowed historians to refer to
•Vikings used symbols called
'runes' instead of an
•Runes are made by mostly
•They carved the runes into
wood or stone. It is much
easier to carve straight
lines than curves!
Why did they invade Europe?
• Raids and loot were not the whole story
of the Vikings.
•Coming from mountainous Scandinavia -
land to farm was also a commodity, they
wanted more agricultural land
•They were interested in Europe because
they saw it as technologically and
politically superior to their culture.
What were their goals?
•Unlike many other invaders in
history, the vikings weren’t
trying to spread their
religion –they were pagans.
•They had to find food, live
off the land, and set up shop.
•They drove people out and
took any valuables they had.
•Vikings targeted the church
A depiction of what
and monasteries because they a Viking looked
were the major sources of like.
wealth at the time.
•We know about how their ships
were built because Viking burials
often included their valuables –
some were buried with their boats
• They had swift wooden long
ships, powered by sails and oars.
• The shallow drought of these
ships meant they were able to
travel inland by river or stream Figureheads on
to attack before local forces ships were
could respond. raised at stem
and stern as a
sign of war.
•Ships had overlapping planks, and measured
between 17.5m and 36m in length.
•They were steered by a single oar mounted on
the starboard side.
•Went as fast as 10 to 11 knots
•Crews of 25 to 60 were common, but larger ships
could carry over a hundred people.
• Sea battles were rare. They fought close to
•Ships were roped together in lines to face an
Domestic Boats • For fishing - Boats
were small shallow
vessels used to catch
fish in rivers, lakes
• For trading - Heavy
ships or knorrs were
trading vessels used
for carrying cargo to
trade with other
• The Vikings used local materials to build their
• They used stone, timber, wattle and daub for
Battles and Tactics
•Vikings did not have an
official army or navy
•Weapons training began at
youth in hunting, sports,
•The fought mostly on foot
•A line of young warriors
would create a shield wall
for better protection.
•They would either capture
or kill their enemies Those
captured would become
•Primarily the spear, sword,
• Weapons were for battle and
also as a symbol of the
•Weapons were decorated with
inlays, twisted wire and other
accessories in silver, copper,
• The spear was the common
weapon with an iron blade 2m to
3m in length.
•Swords were a sign of high
status because they were
costly to make.
•The blades were usually
double edged and up to 90cm.
•Often warriors gave their
Protective Armor Viking
• There were circular shields up to
one meter across that were carried.
•The shield may have been leather
•Around 1000, the kite shaped
shield was introduced to the
Vikings to provide more protection Hollywood Helmet
for the legs.
•Helmets could be leather or metal-
metal more likely for the leaders
•Thick padding absorbed the force
of blows or arrow strikes – they
often used Reindeer hide
•Vikings wore tunics of
reaching below the
•Very heavy, and not
•They took a long time
to make, so were
probably expensive and
work by chieftans.
•The first Viking raids were hit- and -run affairs. They
sailed into a settlement, attacked and took what they could
•The British Isles and the Western portions of Europe were
the main targets
•During later invasions, the Vikings developed settlements.
•They conquered much of Northern England in the 9th
century, and established a kingdom in Ireland.
•In return for cash Vikings negotiated peaceful coexistence
and conversion to whomever they attacked. Some leaders paid
ransom to Viking armies.
•In 911 AD Charles III of France gave Normandy (“French
for territory of Norsemen”) to the Viking leader Rollos
who became a Christian.
• Vikings adopted the French language and organized a
strong state in Normandy.
• The Vikings
– it become a
• 982 Erik the Red
• Leif Erikson
later landed on
What happened to the Vikings?
• Vikings became citizens
of the places they
• As more became
Christian, the Norse
religion and culture
• Kings instituted taxes
and the economy changed
– Vikings changed from
raiders to traders.
• European kingdoms
improved defense and
increased trade as a A Viking End
The Vikings’ Legacy
• Many styles of the Viking ships were adopted
by other European powers.
• Brave navigators sailed west to explore
Iceland and Greenland.
• Historians have also proved that the Vikings
were the first settlers on the American
• The jury of English common law was a an
outgrowth of Viking ideas about community
obligations and sworn investigations.
The Vikings’ Legacy
• Signs of Viking influence are found in
languages, vocabulary, and place-names of the
areas they settled.
• They had an impact on medieval technology and
trade, which was an important part of
789 -Vikings begin their attacks on England.800
840 -Viking settlers found the city of Dublin in Ireland.
862 -Novgorod in Russia is founded by the Rus Viking, Ulrich.
866 -Danish Vikings establish a kingdom in York, England.
871 -Alfred the Great becomes king of Wessex; the Danish advance is halted in England.
872 -Harald I gains control of Norway.
886 -Alfred divides England with the Danes under the Danelaw pact.
900 -The Vikings raid along the Mediterranean coast.
911 -The Viking chief Rollo is granted land by the Franks and founds Normandy in France.
941 -Rus Vikings attack Constantinople (Istanbul).
981 -Viking leader Erik the Red discovers Greenland.
986 -Viking ships sail in Newfoundland waters.
995 -Olav I conquers Norway and proclaims it a Christian kingdom.
1000 -Christianity reaches Greenland and Iceland.
1000 -Leif Eriksson, son of Erik the Red, explores the coast of North America.
1000 -Olav I dies; Norway is ruled by the Danes
1002 -Brian Boru defeats the Norse and becomes the king of Ireland.
1010 -Viking explorer Thorfinn Karlsefni attempts to found a settlement in North America.
1013 -The Danes conquer England; Æthelred flees to Normandy.
1015 -Vikings abandon the Vinland settlement on the coast of North America.
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.
1066 -Harold Godwinson king of England defeats Harald Hardrada king of Norway at the Battle of
1066 -William duke of Normandy defeats the Saxon king Harold at the Battle of Hastings.