Vikings Weren’t All That Bad. In Fact, Much Of What They Wrought Was Highly Beneficial.

by Daniel Russ on April 29, 2014

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Beachcombing, blogrolled, here talks about a display of Viking accoutrements over three centuries on display at the British Museum and the stories these historical items tell.

The Vikings are of course remembered most for their unbridled and furious savagery. Sinewy armored strainers with long swords and long ships suddenly sprang upon the English coast in the 8th century; and stayed until the 11th century, the Vikings raided, traded, settled and explored from Kiev to North America. This pioneering and sometimes pernicious force also brought much needed change to the world in a way that can only be seen from afar. The berserkers who brutally killed English clerics and pillaged their sanctuaries in the 8th century themselves became settled Christians in the 10th century, replete with churches and Viking clerics, schools, coin currency, literature, philosophy and banks.

These fearsome people gave the Irish towns like Dublin. They settled Iceland and Greenland and North America which they called Vinland. They founded the first Russian state and made settlements there in modern day Kiev. They settled Normandy and established a Duchy there. Soon their own ancestors were the Normans and went on to conquer Italy, Wales, and Syria. The Picts and the Scots joined forces to fight off the Viking invaders and that resulting country we now know as Scotland. 

The Vikings were traders, in particular, they were slave traders. They conquered towns and then remade them in their own image. often that meant they traded built storage facilities and bettered the roads and established trade networks. Found currency in Viking settlements had “There is no God but Allah,”  inscribed in Arabic, belying the attraction of the Silk Road to the Vikings. 

The Vikings were amazing craftsmen who worked in gold, silver, wood and leather and made the most coveted art work in Europe during their reign. They perfected an historical technique of recording history in stories they called sagas. Vikings created some of the best ships in the world. Their ships were sea worthy and because of their shallow draft , they could go across the Atlantic and all the way up into a river.

Viking sagas were the template for storytelling in English and French traditions. They wrote poetry and law. In a recent archeological dig on Weymouth Relief Road in Dorset archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology have uncovered  a community where 15 Viking youth were tied and beheaded. Apparently Vikings could be victims as well and perpetrators.

It is probably worth noting that the Vikings were remembered for brutality because they raided clerics, the first people who had the means and the motivation to record history. Thusly they painted Viking in the worst light, when history knows tat the Christians were not kind people to those under their purview, the love of Christ notwithstanding.





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