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Why Were The Vikings So Successful?


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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.

 

Well, slave women were often used sexually against their will. Free women in Viking society were a lot better off and more respected than in other cultures.

 

BTW, I also have read that the Viking raids were "religious wars" against Christianity in retaliation for the forced conversion of the Saxons and the destruction of the sacred pillars of Irmunsill by Charlemagne.

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BTW, I also have read that the Viking raids were "religious wars" against Christianity in retaliation for the forced conversion of the Saxons and the destruction of the sacred pillars of Irmunsill by Charlemagne.

That may have been motivation for Danes, who came to conflict with Charlemagne's empire. Maybe less so for their northernly cousins, but maybe they just emulated the Danes?

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  • 3 years later...

Re: Shield Wall, if you have a group of large, strong, young, healthy fighters (IIRC, the average adult Scandinavian skeleton from the Viking age is ~5'8", while the rest of western Europe is ~5'0"), standing together with large shields against a force that consists primarily of a levy of peasants armed with farm implements- yeah, it was probably fairly effective.

 

At Hastings, a shield wall stood all day against repeated cavalry charges, and was not broken, even under arrow barrages, until the poorly disciplined fyrd followed a feigned retreat.

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Return from the dead, since I am watching Vikings on Netflix. Was the shield wall really that good a defense?

 

Well see what happens when a riotous rabble throws itself against a shield wall held by some of Texas's finest. Then think how that would have gone with sticks with pointy bits being held by both sides? One side with shields, the other without.

 

Well, some of the rabble may have been riding horses.... but contrary to LOTR imagery, few horses are going to hurl themselves on to the pointed bits held by the defenders: hence the success of the Napoleonic square, which was essentially a shield wall with four sides against cavalry.

 

Only missile troops, or cunning, would disrupt a shield wall.

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Return from the dead, since I am watching Vikings on Netflix. Was the shield wall really that good a defense?

 

Yes shield wall was a fantastic defense, trained and disciplined warrior in a shield wall was almost impossible dislodge from the front. One tactic the vikings did use was svinfylking "swine snout" a triangle formation to break a shield wall, but. you need to flank the wall or a heavy cavalry charge to break it effective, but disciplined warrior will break a cavalry charge.

 

Think of shield wall as the trench of WW1.

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  • 4 months later...

I seriously doubt if there was a dominating religious motive for the raiding, I anyway don't know of any sources mentioning it. In some ways you could say that the "raids" only got truly successful when the Norse became Christians - like Svend Forkbeard and Canute the Great's conquest of England in first half of 11th Century.

 

And now we are at sources - if women had been taking part in the raids in anything but a few instances I'm absolutely positive that we would have had numerous sources about. that would also then have been top news. So if you find some skeletons and classify half of them as women your classification probably is wrong.

 

But as others have already stated the surprise element was important in Viking raiding. It was practically impossible to garrison every place against even a single ship (20-40 men) - which could show up, raid and be gone again inside a few hours.

 

In 10th century power was centralised in at least Denmark (Harald Bluetooth 965) and this made it possible for his son and grandson (Svend Forkbeard and Canute the Great) to organise "raids" with hundreds of ships - i.e. full scale invasions. Some sources indicate that raids showed up after Hastings, but were paid off in silver. In 1086 a large raid/invasion of England was planned and ships and men where gathering but some of them got "pissed" and killed the King (Canute IV). He later was made a Saint, as he was killed in a Church in front of the Altar.

 

In the next centuries focus from Denmark shifted to the Baltic areas where the Danish Kings got "Papal license to crusade", but the raids/invasions were organised and carried out very much like the late Viking raids/invasions.

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

so a fine was a better compromise.

 

 

This must be necromancy to make a comment that is so old ;) Murder was a crime but not that serious...as you pointed out... the victim's family could get compensation or know wher to take revenge. However lönmord "murder in secret" (the offender will not be known) was one of the worst crimes you could carry out. So the saga is a bit funny, the potagonist sneak in the night to set fire to his enemy's house, but after deed, he scream out his name in the night and tell that it was he who did it. Now its not a lönmord, the killer his known, hence only a "ordinary" murder.

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Everyone knows that the Vikings fought against the Moors somewhere in the Med, otherwise 'The Long Ships' would never have been filmed.

 

Mind you, riding the Mare of Steel would have been somewhat painful.

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Good film IIRC.

 

Seri Plokhy's book 'The Gates of Europe' gives a very good account of the Vikings using Ukraine as a transit route to the med, and one Viking King was even killed there when they had to get out the boat to carry it up a waterfall. They played a key role in the establishment of Rus. Ukraine can into Baltic? :)

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Good film IIRC.

 

Seri Plokhy's book 'The Gates of Europe' gives a very good account of the Vikings using Ukraine as a transit route to the med, and one Viking King was even killed there when they had to get out the boat to carry it up a waterfall. They played a key role in the establishment of Rus. Ukraine can into Baltic? :)

 

Actually 'The Vikings' of 1958 was just as interesting a movie.

 

 

and it gave Ernest Borgnine an early taste of small ship handling in front of a camera.

Edited by DougRichards
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Good film IIRC.

 

Seri Plokhy's book 'The Gates of Europe' gives a very good account of the Vikings using Ukraine as a transit route to the med, and one Viking King was even killed there when they had to get out the boat to carry it up a waterfall. They played a key role in the establishment of Rus. Ukraine can into Baltic? :)

I think we have this in a thread long ago but Rus comes from the name given the Vikings to row. Or people who row.

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And the Swedish sauna is based on the 'Turkish' (actually the Byzantine baths based on Roman bath houses.....) found by the Vikings who went to Byzantium / Constantinople / Istanbul way back when and then who rowed home with the idea.

 

Meanwhile

 

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You can almost Imagine those Roman longboats piled high with Byzantine Home Sauna Kit's, lamenting they have to wait another thousand years before they can buy one from IKEA. :)

 

And cooking

 

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  • 10 months later...
  • 1 month later...

Must have had a bit of the Viking in him.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thor_Heyerdahl

 

 

Interesting crew members on the Kon-Tiki (from Wikipedia)

 

Knut Haugland (1917–2009) was a radio expert, decorated by the British in World War II for actions in the Norwegian heavy water sabotage that stalled what were believed to be Germany's plans to develop an atomic bomb. Haugland was the last surviving crew member; he died on Christmas Day, 2009 at the age of 92.
Torstein Raaby (1918–1964) was also in charge of radio transmissions. He gained radio experience while hiding behind German lines during WWII, spying on the German battleship Tirpitz. His secret radio transmissions eventually helped guide in Allied bombers to sink the ship.
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