The VIKINGS

errorThe Vikings were people from Scandinavia, who began around the 400’s AD to make frequent raids by boat into Europe, even going into the Mediterranean Sea and raiding Sicily and southern Italy. The Vikings began attacking the Atlantic coast of southern France around 400 in 860 AD, another branch of Vikings migrated south into Russia to trade with Constantinople. Russia, the Vikings gradually mixed with the Slavs who were living there and founded the country of Russia. Together, the Slavs and the Vikings took their boats down the Dnieper river to the Black Sea, where they traded and also raided the Roman territory around Constantinople, through they could not take the City itself. By about 1100, they had converted to Christianity. By 1000 AD, some of the Vikings settled in northern France, where they were called the Normans, or Northmen, and the area where they settled is still called Normandy.

WEAPONS AND ARMOUR

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The Vikings were greatly feared for their strength and skill in battle. They used a vast array of weapons and armour: swords, axes and spears were their main weapons, but some also used bows and daggers. Armour consisted of helmets, shields and chain mail or leather tunics. They fought mostly on foot and used their ships mainly as a transport to the scene of battle.

LONGSHIP AND KNORR

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KNORR (Large merchant ship)

The Vikings were, apart from their other qualities, excellent shipwrights and sailors. They sailed south and east along Europe’s coasts as far as the Black Sea and Turkey, and north and west to Greenland and Newfoundland. As they had no saws, only axes, chisels, knives for their woodwork. They build their ships using straight oak trunks, which were split to rather thick boards and then smoothed with the adze. The ships were relatively thin boards.

Nevertheless they were sturdy enough to survive wild seas and light enough to be dragged overland. They can be devided in two types: the longships, low-slung and slender, used for raids, warfare, to show off and to be buried in when the warlord died, and the knorr, the workhorse:a deeper hull for heavy loads, and a much wider beam. The Vikings also innovated on the use of the square sail: first they used a long boom to push the luff further forward when tacking, which was later replaced by bowlines with the same function.

Facts about Vikings

The word “Viking” was originally a verb, describing the action of seafaring, and so applies only to Scandinavians who were seafarers, not necessarily all Scandinavians. The ancient Vikings naviated by depending on the Instincts of birds. St. Edmund the Martyrs (841-869), king of East Anglia, met his death at the hands of the Vikings, either by having his ribs open to expose the still-breathing lungs or by being whipped, shot through with an enormous number of arrows, and having his head cut off.

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