The Vikings

The Vikings
Photo by Steinar Engeland / Unsplash


The Vikings were a group of seafaring people from the Scandinavian region of Europe who existed from the 8th to the 11th centuries AD. They were known for their long-distance voyages, exploration, trade and raiding activities throughout Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. They distinguished themselves by their ships, which were fast, strong and could navigate in shallow waters. The Vikings also had a great influence on the politics, culture, and language of Europe.

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The Vikings were a group of seafaring people from the Scandinavian region of Europe, known for their long-distance voyages and exploration of new lands and seas. They were active from the 8th to the 11th centuries AD and travelled throughout Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. During their voyages, they were engaged in both trade and raiding activities. The Vikings originated from Norway, Denmark and Sweden, and were fond of sailing in shallow waters in vessels known as longships or drakkars. These ships were fast, light, and could move without the need for wind. They also had a distinct design, with high curving ends featuring dragon or serpent heads.

The Vikings were well-organized and their society was divided into three classes: Jarls (nobles), Karls (peasants) and Thralls (slaves). They worshipped the Norse gods and had a rich mythology and culture, which can be seen in their artwork, legends, and sagas. Viking mythology has remained a significant part of Scandinavian culture until today, and has also influenced Western culture. Viking gods like Odin, Thor, and Loki have gained popularity through modern popular culture, movies and TV shows.

The Vikings were also known for their raids, as their seafaring culture and their fascination with wealth and conquest drove them to raid coastal towns throughout Europe. The Vikings were not just plunderers, and there is evidence that they were also involved in trade. As a result of these commercial activities, they had significant influence on the trading network of Europe. The Viking Age ended around 1066 AD with the Norman Conquest of England and with the spread of Christianity in Scandinavia.

The Vikings had a significant impact on the political landscape of Europe. They were instrumental in the establishment of Russia under the banner of the Kievan Rus and were involved in the governance of the place until the 12th century. They also shaped the history of England, with the Viking invasion of 865-878 AD leading to the defeat of the Anglo-Saxons and the establishment of a Viking kingdom in the North of England, known as the Danelaw.

The legacy of the Vikings can be seen not only in the language, culture, and mythology of Scandinavia but also in many places around Europe. Words like ‘berserk’, ‘ransom’, ‘thrall’, and ‘law’ are descended from the Viking language. Their influence also extends to various aspects of modern society such as the sport of rugby, where the sport gained its key features from Rugby School's Headmaster, who was a firm believer in the superiority of the Norse way of life. The Vikings may have been raiders and traders of the past, but they continue to play a significant role in shaping the world today.