Vikings

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Vikings

Typically, the image of a Viking is a barbaric, bearded man plundering and destroying a neighboring village. This is actually the stereotypical viewpoint. In actuality, Vikings, have a very different image. For example, Vikings did not wear furry boots or furry armor, they did not have horned helmets, they invaded Britain, and they also were the first to discover America! They were also experts in nautical technology, crafts, trading, warfare and many other skills (Jonsson 1). With all of these traits, the Vikings seem like an unstoppable force in the European continent. But, who were the Vikings? The Vikings were actually venturesome seafarers. This means that they were travelers who were constantly exploring and looking for new areas of land. There roots can be traced all the way back to 6000 B.C. were nomadic men traveled in primitive crafts up the Denmark coast. Fast forward two millennia and these nomadic people have established permanent homes, but still using the boat for food and travel. As stated before, they were not just raiders, although they did do this frequently, but they were actually expert traders, trading all around the world. It wasn't until around 793 A.D. that a Viking explosion took place in northern Europe (Jonsson 2). Raids began to take place on neighboring villages and their places of worship. To some this is the only type of knowledge they have about Vikings. However, their culture was something to be admired. Trading, religion, and everyday life are all important parts of a Viking culture. Trading was a critical part to the culture life of a Viking. This task brought in many important goods that the Vikings needed to live an ordinary life. The Vikings were the international tradesmen of their time. In Constantinople (Istanbul) they traded silk and spices for slaves that they had brought from Russia. They Amber they found in the Baltic area and they brought furs, skins, and walrus tusk ivory to the trading towns in Western Europe from the northern parts of the world such as Greenland. The Vikings founded trading cities in Scandinavia such as Birka, Ribe, Hedeby and Skiringsal. In Ireland they founded terrific trade in Dublin and, in England, they made the city of York flourish to become the most important trading town outside of London (La Fay 149-150). At a time when old trade routes between east and west through the Mediterranean were closed or unsafe, the Vikings kept the trade route between Byzantium and the west open by way of Kiev and Russia. It's interesting to note that Viking graves often contain Arab silver, Byzantine silks, Frankish weapons, Rhenish glass, and other products of an extensive trade. Silver coins from the caliphate and Anglo-Saxon coins from England flowed into the Viking lands and further stimulated economic growth (151). As stated before, York was one of the biggest trading areas for that Vikings. This magnificent city for trade was discovered by the Vikings on one of their many raids against England. The Vikings appreciated the cities location and used it to their advantage to gain access to other bountiful trading routes. York grew and grew in importance as a trading center throughout the Vikings rein. Today, it is one of the larger cities in England (La Fay 25). In the beginning, the Vikings religion centered on pagan rituals which center around three main gods, Odin, Thor, and Frey. Odin was the god of warriors and battles, but was also the god of wisdom and poetry. The dwelling place of Odin was the castle Valhall in Asgard, and was the place falling warriors went to when they were killed in battle (Jensen 200). Thor was the god of thunder, farmers and seafarers. When he rode through the sky on his chariot pulled by goats, thunder and lightening were all around him. The weapon he carried was a hammer, which was called Mjollnir, and he used it to protect the people from the monsters of the under world (211). The third god was Frey, the god of...
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