The Vikings were the Norse people who came from Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, and Denmark). As they left their countries, they travelled with longboats to other countries like Britain and Ireland and as soon as they reached the shores of these countries, they were warmly welcomed but instead, they fought the local people, stealing from their churches, and burnt their buildings to the ground. These people were regarded as fearsome warriors and they raided some monasteries just for pleasure hence they were referred to as a pirate raid. Vikings explored as far as North America and also travelled all over the world including Russia to trade in the Middle East countries. This movements made them to be great explorers.
Generally the Vikings were pagans since they worshipped a pantheon of many gods and goddesses and each one of these represented a specific aspect of the world as they experienced it. Although they were viewed as pagans and plunderers, they were quick to adopt Christianity a longside their gods. The idea of paganism was fueled because there were no churches in these Scandinavian countries and as a result, their religion was highly personalized and varied from one place to another. There were two categories of gods, the Aesir and the Vanir. These gods lived in Asgard, a kingdom that was connected to the mortal earth (Midgard) by a rainbow bridge (Bifrost). The pantheon included Odion who was their primary god, Thor who was their hammer-wielding god of thunder, and Frejya who was their god of fertility and beauty. There was also an existence of various evil giants, dark elves, and dwarves. These evil giants were the greatest enemies of their gods and these resulted to a greater conflict between them. Thor could fight the giants because this god had a lot of strength. Other gods used to rely on cunning in order to fight these giants. Odin had some clever tricks that could be used to fight the giants but when other gods needed a cunning plan, they all turned to the fire god Loki to destroy those giants with fire. The Vikings attacked Christian churches very easily because the monasteries were wealthy but poorly defended thus making it easier for them to plunder into them.
The Viking Era had major changes in the Scandinavian economy since very few people had knowledge about the coinage. The influence of trade with foreign countries led to introduction of some foreign coins into these countries. These coins were valued in terms of their weight in silver or gold and circulated alongside many other forms of precious metals. The weight of the coin and the purity of precious metals were the major determinants for trade and not what the form the metal took. Therefore, this led to what is known as a bullion form of economy. Silver circulated in the country in the form of bars, jewellery, and ornaments. Traders used to carry some small scales that they could use them to measure weights very accurately thus it was easy to enhance trade and exchange even without use of a regular coinage.
Movements of the Vikings from their mother countries were aided by the following reasons. Vikings were fierce, hit and, run raiders who were well known especially when they raided Christian monasteries. Since many of them were farmers, they moved out of their countries to look for agricultural lands and carry out their agricultural activities and trade. Their endless search for wealth and riches also contributed immensely to their migration. Some historians hold their beliefs that the Vikings migrated from their countries in order to increase their materialistic horizons and also believed that it was much better to steal than to work for riches. Another factor that contributed to their migration was their ever increasing population. Due to high population growth, the Vikings lands became scarce and thus wealthy Vikings who had many possessions were in need of more room for their wealth and a comfortable living. The need for this comfort made them to migrate to other countries where they conquered and settled there. The need for large portions of land for their livestock and crops made them to move out of the overpopulated Scandinavian countries to other countries. Trade also played an important role in facilitating their movements out of their countries. The Vikings migrated in order to increase their wealth through trade since they were believed to be excellent merchants in Europe.
The Vikings were successful in their migration because of the following reasons. They possess very effective boats that could easily sail upstream very fast and enable them attack their enemies without having being noticed easily. Their boats were also fast and could navigate well in rivers. They also did not face any organized form of resistance from the people they raided upon and conquered. Therefore the Vikings could sail up a river, raid a village and then go home. The Vikings also tend to attack only the weaker and wealthy communities who had monasteries and a lot of silver. The Vikings also possessed better weapons and boats that enabled them to travel and conquered the inhabitants of the countries that they entered and settled. Lack of well-organized organizations in Europe, Russia, Ireland, and UK made it easy for the Vikings to succeed in their missions since there was no one who could be able to counter them.
As a result of this migration, the Vikings discovered a new land called Newfoundland. They also established a Norman domain in France that in turn conquered England. This migration also led to the destruction of castles, prisoners were taken into exile, and they also took their money. Another impact of this migration was intermarriages with Ireland, Scotland, England, and Germany. Many towns also were relocated inland in order to be away from them.
In conclusion, the history of the Vikings can be traced back in Scandinavian countries, their cultures, how they lived, reasons for their out-migration, and the impacts that this migration had on the people of England, Ireland, France, Germany, Scotland, etc.
Arnold, M. (2006). The Vikings. London: Hambledon Continuum.
Fitzhugh, W., & Ward, E. (2000). Vikings. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, in association with the National Museum of Natural History.
Jones, G. (1968). A history of the Vikings. London: Oxford U.P.
Lassieur, A. (2001). The Vikings. San Diego, Calif.: Lucent Books.