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Who Were the Vikings?

  • Date Submitted: 12/06/2012 05:49 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 68.4 
  • Words: 1125
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Who were the Vikings?  The definition of a Viking is “one belonging to the pirate crews from among the Northmen, who plundered the coasts of Europe in the eight, ninth, and tenth centuries.”  Some historical accounts have presented an image of the Vikings as brutal, savage, unfeeling warriors who pillaged and burned with reckless abandon.  This is not the whole story.  While the Vikings were great warriors, they did not kill for sport or burn and pillage without a motive.  They were cunning warriors who sought to make, and ultimately did make, great changes in the lands they conquered.
The period known as the Viking Age started in the 9th century and lasted until the 11th century.  During this time, Viking ships sailed from Scandinavia, at the center of the Viking World, out across the Northern Hemisphere.  They went out on voyages of piracy and invasion, and journeys of exploration, commerce, and settlement.  (The Vikings-Donovan. Pg. 15).  The Vikings expanded their empire over a great distance.  To the east, they traveled as far as the Black Sea and to the west they sailed at least as far as the coast of North America.  No one knows exactly why the Vikings decided to expand.  Some believe their quest for expansion was due to the overpopulation of their homeland, while others believe that climatic conditions and crop failure forced their migration. (From Viking to Crusader. Rizzoli)
Before the year A.D. 1100 the Vikings were polytheistic.  They believed that the leader of the gods was Odin, who was the god of battle, poetry, and death.  He was also the father of all of the other gods.  He presided over Valhalla (“the Hall of the Chosen”), the Viking heaven.  It was believed that when a Viking died in battle, a warrior maiden called a Valkyrie escorted him to Valhalla.  Once the warrior arrived at Valhalla, he began a new life where he fought all-day and feasted all night.  This belief in the conditions of the Viking afterlife shows us that the Vikings held...

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