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Why Were The Vikings So Successful?


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For starters, they had the initiative and the element of surprise.

 

Their sails could turn up almost any time at any place along the coast, leaving the defenders very little time to react. They might have been gone already by the time the nearest garrison had been alerted.

 

How do you defend against this? A navy of your own that attacks the raider's bases come to mind.

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For starters, they had the initiative and the element of surprise.

 

Their sails could turn up almost any time at any place along the coast, leaving the defenders very little time to react. They might have been gone already by the time the nearest garrison had been alerted.

 

How do you defend against this? A navy of your own that attacks the raider's bases come to mind.

 

We shouldn't forget the political weakness and fragmentation of the areas that they raided.

Raids against the moors in Spain

(that neither paid ransom, allowed the Vikings to secure bases to spend the winter

or gave up in their attempts to destroy all invaders)

tended to end up in disaster.

 

In France for instance, local rulers might find it preferable

to not intervene and pay invading Vikings off, so that they would plunder

the lands of his neighbors or the emperor.

 

In those days, the nobility and royalties functioned like organized crime

(and I'd claim that in Europe, the states of today and the organized crime (notably in Italy),

are essentially of the same origin, only in different places and with different outcome.

 

So we shouldn’t look at the states on the continent as modern states, but as a medieval mafia.

Edited by Olof Larsson
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Silly, weak men...it was because HALF OF THEM WERE WOMEN!!!

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/half-of-viking-warriors-may-have-been-women-says-study/article20331819/

'Previously, archeologists assumed that any Viking buried with a weapon had to be male. But in a study from the University of Western Australia, researchers used bone analysis to verify the sex of 14 Viking corpses.

'They found that six were woman, seven were men and one was undeterminable. At least one corpse buried with a sword and shield was confirmed to be female.

' "These results, six female Norse migrants and seven male, should caution against assuming that the great majority of Norse migrants were male, despite the other forms of evidence suggesting the contrary,” the study said.'

Edited by shep854
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I wonder why the Vikings were so successful at what they did?

 

Three main weapons.

 

Fear.

Surprise.

Ruthless efficiency.

 

And a fanatical devotion to Thor.

 

Four main weapons.

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I wonder why the Vikings were so successful at what they did?

 

They had Joe Kapp, Alan Page, Carl Eller, Gary Larsen, and Jim Marshall?

 

So, so...American... :D

 

 

You know, those Vikings didn't really live up to their fearsome reputation as Vikings until they had landed on the North American continent, and until their later descendants had conquered Minnesota at the behest of the Sons of Norway.

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I wonder why the Vikings were so successful at what they did?

 

They had Joe Kapp, Alan Page, Carl Eller, Gary Larsen, and Jim Marshall?

 

 

Well played, sir, well played.

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Because Las Vegas-style buffets are something new in the Philippines. I frankly find it overrated (if my colleagues/coworkers gush about it, then it is overrated considering their lower standards).

 

Oh sorry, you meant another kind of Viking....

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I wonder why the Vikings were so successful at what they did?

 

They had Joe Kapp, Alan Page, Carl Eller, Gary Larsen, and Jim Marshall?

 

Don't forget Fran Tarkenton, Bill Brown, Mick Tinglehoff, Karl Kassulke, Fred Cox, and Ron Yary among others! Skol Vikings!

:rolleyes:

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I wonder why the Vikings were so successful at what they did?

Three main weapons.

 

Fear.

Surprise.

Ruthless efficiency.

 

And a fanatical devotion to Thor.

 

Four main weapons.

 

 

Ah, Monty Python strikes again....

 

“No one expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise, fear and surprise; two chief weapons, fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency! Er, among our chief weapons are: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and near fanatical devotion to the Pope! Um, I'll come in again...”

 

(and what have the Romans ever done for us?)

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A number of societies, historically, have drawn an unusual amount of their "income" of "GDP" from depredation (treasure and/or slaves). They typically fluorish in a situation where their victims have fairly dispersed or weak armed forces and the raiders have clear superiority in mobility.

 

Arguably, the emergence of fairly unitary / large predecessors of nation states in the areas of influence of the Vikings were a response to that threat and ultimately their undoing. Christianisation of the Norse-Danes also reduced the threat somewhat.

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For starters, they had the initiative and the element of surprise.

 

Their sails could turn up almost any time at any place along the coast, leaving the defenders very little time to react. They might have been gone already by the time the nearest garrison had been alerted.

 

How do you defend against this? A navy of your own that attacks the raider's bases come to mind.

Not to mention they could also get quite far inland using large rivers.

 

Another thing is (was mentioned already) that everyone who went Viking was able and ready (physically and psychically) to fight. Their opponents usually had a levy as bulk of their forces and often until the king got involved, not many "professionals" - and the King's core of warriors was usually smaller than the Viking force. Levies were usually not fully up to scratch unless well motivated and well led.

 

Another thing is good intel - often raider ships went trading while not raiding, and Norse traders were usual sight in ports.

 

Another thing is that apparently once they quenched resistance, they were not actually much worse (and often might have been better) that previous local nobility.

 

So basically it was often cheaper to settle with their conquest/formalise it (Normandy). If country wanted to fight them, it needed good central command and long struggle (which happened eventually in England).

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A number of societies, historically, have drawn an unusual amount of their "income" of "GDP" from depredation (treasure and/or slaves). They typically fluorish in a situation where their victims have fairly dispersed or weak armed forces and the raiders have clear superiority in mobility.

 

Arguably, the emergence of fairly unitary / large predecessors of nation states in the areas of influence of the Vikings were a response to that threat and ultimately their undoing. Christianisation of the Norse-Danes also reduced the threat somewhat.

The "Little Climatic Optimum" or global warming of the period produced bumper crops and a population explosion in Scandinavia. The excess population became land hungry and needed an outlet either through raiding/trading or emigration. With global cooling and the resultant famines plus the Black Death, populations in Scandinavia shrunk back to what the lands could support and the Scandinavians could not support the overseas colonies (Greenland went kaput, the natives of the British Isles took over the Scandinavian enclaves, and Iceland came very close to being wiped out).

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Richard, are you implying that Global Warming will bring, on top of rising sea levels, more tornadoes, more hurricanes, more Gore smugness, etc., also more Viking Raids?

 

OMG, OMG, OMG!

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It appears to me that Norse society was much more dynamic than other European cultures at the time. Viking expansion is notable as it was relatively small - and seemingly more primitive - culture colonizing richer & more populous ones. In this sense Vikings compare to Mongols and other Eurasian nomadic cultures. One reason perhaps is that much of the population was made up of free landowners: although Scandinavia had slavery, there was no serfdom.

 

Though, Viking colonization was mostly limited to coastal regions, they seldom made much inroads against powerful European inland cultures, with exception of Russia, to where they were apparently invited. They don't seem to have been too interested about less developed regions: there were very few attempts to colonize Baltic region despite its close proximity, and North American colonization seems to have been abandoned largely due to lack of interest. The Vikings seem to have been driven by the principle of 'go big or go home'. They went for the big prizes, high risk-high return regions to raid, trade or lord over. Fighting over scraps with warlike, but materially poorer American or Baltic natives was apparently not worth it.

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It appears to me that Norse society was much more dynamic than other European cultures at the time. Viking expansion is notable as it was relatively small - and seemingly more primitive - culture colonizing richer & more populous ones. In this sense Vikings compare to Mongols and other Eurasian nomadic cultures. One reason perhaps is that much of the population was made up of free landowners: although Scandinavia had slavery, there was no serfdom.

 

Though, Viking colonization was mostly limited to coastal regions, they seldom made much inroads against powerful European inland cultures, with exception of Russia, to where they were apparently invited. They don't seem to have been too interested about less developed regions: there were very few attempts to colonize Baltic region despite its close proximity, and North American colonization seems to have been abandoned largely due to lack of interest. The Vikings seem to have been driven by the principle of 'go big or go home'. They went for the big prizes, high risk-high return regions to raid, trade or lord over. Fighting over scraps with warlike, but materially poorer American or Baltic natives was apparently not worth it.

You had a very small colony in Iceland trying to support an even smaller colony in Greenland trying to get a foothold on the North American continent. Remember that European colonization of the North American mainland only succeeded by the massive die offs of the native population through European diseases and the population resources of England, France, and Spain. Jamestown and Plymouth would have been overwhelmed by the Indians had it not been for the fact that the Indian populations were decreased by 80-90%. The small boatloads of Vikings never could have made a permanent place in Newfoundland and later Canada without immediate followup by fleets of ships with reinforcing pioneers.

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Didn't you hear that global warming oppresses women? Just add Viking raids to make their oppression even worse.

 

Actually (AFAIK) there is not a single contemporary source that mentions vikings raping.

Murdering, plundering and taking peoples as slaves. Yes

Raping. No.

 

There are however sources mentioning local christians raping for instance nuns after a viking raid.

 

It seems that rape was one of three crimes that was always punished by death.

They were rape, stealing the iron tip of a ard and...well draft dodging.

 

In some areas at least, the "fiery cross" used when the local militia was called up was an arrow,

with a burnt string tied to the rear end, with the meaning that it's time to go to war (the arrow)

and if you fail to show up, we will burn down your farm and hang you (the burnt string).

 

Murder was not that serious, and besides the victim might have said something to deserve it,

so a fine was a better compromise.

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