When most of us consider vikings, we see horn-helmeted violent blond males raping and pillaging all the things in sight. However, in truth, many of those photos are misconceived – as you’re about to seek out out. The Vikings lived from the late eighth to the early eleventh century and their comparatively brief historical past had had a large influence on western society.
False impression: The Vikings had been a nation
The Vikings weren’t one nation however completely different teams of warriors, explorers and retailers led by a chieftain. In the course of the Viking age, Scandinavia was not separated into Denmark, Norway and Sweden as it’s immediately, as an alternative every chieftain dominated over a small space. The phrase Viking doesn’t check with any location, however is the Outdated Norse phrase for an individual taking part in an expedition to sea.
False impression: The Vikings had been all soiled, wild-looking folks
In lots of films and cartoons, the Vikings are proven as soiled, wild-looking, savage women and men, however in actuality, the Vikings had been fairly useless about their look. In reality, combs, tweezers, razors and “ear spoons” are amongst a number of the most frequent artifacts from Viking Age excavations. These similar excavations have additionally proven that the Vikings made cleaning soap.
In England, the Vikings dwelling there even had a status for extreme cleanliness due to their customized of bathing as soon as per week (on Saturday). To this present day, Saturday is known as laugardagur / laurdag / lørdag / lördag, or “washing day” within the Scandinavian languages, although the unique which means is misplaced in trendy speech generally. Nonetheless, “laug” does nonetheless imply “bathtub” or “pool” in Icelandic.
False impression: The Vikings had been all massive and blond
The Vikings are sometimes proven as massive, bulging guys with lengthy blond hair, however historic data present that the common Viking man was about 170 cm (5’7”) tall which was not particularly tall for the time. Blond hair was seen as very best within the Viking tradition, and plenty of Nordic males bleached their hair with a particular cleaning soap. However the Vikings had been nice at absorbing folks, and many individuals who had been kidnapped as slaves, grew to become a part of the Viking inhabitants in time. So, in Viking teams, you’d most likely discover Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, French, and Russians — a really various group constructed round a core of Vikings from a specific area, say, southern Denmark or an Oslo fjord.
False impression: The Vikings drank from cranium cups
The origin of this legend is Ole Worm’s “Reuner seu Danica literatura antiquissima” from 1636 through which he writes that Danish warriors drank from the “curved branches of skulls” – ie, horns (pictured above), which was most likely mistranslated in Latin to imply human “skulls”. The very fact is, nevertheless, no cranium cups have ever been present in excavations from the Viking Age.
False impression: The Vikings used crude, unsophisticated weapons
Vikings are sometimes proven with crude, unsophisticated weapons akin to golf equipment and crude axes, however the Vikings had been truly expert weapon smiths. Utilizing a way referred to as sample welding, the Vikings may make swords that had been each extraordinarily sharp and versatile. In accordance with Viking Sagas, one technique of testing these weapons was to put the sword hilt first in a chilly stream, and float a hair all the way down to it. If it minimize the hair, it was thought of a very good sword.
False impression: The Vikings lived solely in Scandinavia
The Vikings did originate from the Scandinavian nations, however over time they began settlements in lots of locations, reaching so far as North Africa, Russia, Constantinople, and even North America. There are completely different theories in regards to the motives driving the Viking growth, the commonest of which is that the Scandinavian inhabitants had outgrown the agricultural potential of their homeland. One other concept is that the outdated commerce routes of western Europe and Eurasia skilled a decline in profitability when the Roman Empire fell within the fifth century, forcing the Vikings to open new buying and selling routes to be able to revenue from worldwide commerce. Pictured above is a viking village in Canada. [Image Copyright © Rolf Hicker]
False impression: The Vikings had been hated in every single place
One may think about that the Vikings had been hated in every single place due to their raids, however plainly they had been additionally revered by some. The French King Charles the III – generally known as Charles the Easy – gave the Vikings the land that they had already settled on in France (Normandy), and he even gave his daughter to the Viking chief Rollo. In return, the Vikings protected France towards wilder Vikings.
Additionally in Constantinople the Vikings had been acknowledged for his or her power – a lot in order that the Varangian guard of the Byzantine emperors within the eleventh century was made up fully of Swedish Vikings.
False impression: The Vikings had been unusually bloodthirsty and barbarian
The Viking raids had been certainly very violent, but it surely was a violent age, and the query is whether or not non-viking armies had been any much less bloodthirsty and barbarian; as an example, Charlemagne, who was the Vikings’ modern, just about exterminated the entire folks of Avars. At Verden, he ordered the beheading of 4,500 Saxons. What actually made the Vikings completely different was the truth that they appeared to take particular care to destroy objects of non secular worth (Christian monasteries and holy websites) and kill churchmen, which earned them fairly a little bit of hatred in a extremely non secular time. The Vikings most likely loved the status that they had; folks had been so petrified of them that they usually fled from their cities as an alternative of defending them after they noticed a Viking ship coming close to.
False impression: The Vikings pillaged as their solely way of life
It was truly solely a really small proportion of the Vikings that had been warriors; the bulk was farmers, craftsmen and merchants. For the Vikings who took to the ocean, pillaging had been one amongst many different targets of their expeditions. The Vikings settled peacefully in lots of locations akin to Iceland and Greenland, and had been worldwide retailers of their time; they peacefully traded with virtually each county of the then-known world.
False impression: The Vikings wore helmets with horns
This most be the most important false impression about Vikings, however the reality stays, there aren’t any data of such helmets having ever existed. All depictions of Viking helmets courting to the Viking age, present helmets with no horns and the one genuine Viking helmet that has ever been discovered doesn’t have them both. An evidence for the helmet with horns fable is that Christians in modern Europe added the element to make the Vikings look much more barbarian and pagan, with horns like Devil’s on their head. It must be famous that the Norse god Thor wore a helmet with wings on it, which do look considerably just like horns.