History of the Vikings
The Viking Seamen
The Viking seamen were warriors who terrorised Europe between the 8th and 11th centuries. Most of the Vikings came from the northern countries of Europe and hence were also known as ‘Norsemen’ (meaning people from the north).
‘Viking’ means ‘a pirate raid’ in the old Norse language. Most of the Vikings went all over Europe and the Atlantic Ocean in their ships. These ships were long and narrow in shape, so they could sail easily in vast oceans as well as in narrow rivers.
The Vikings could tell their location while sailing, by looking at the position of the sun and the stars. They also studied the colour of the sea and the direction of the wind and the waves. They looked out for birds and could smell if they were near land.
Most Vikings sailed to the other parts of Europe in search of better land for their farms as the land back in their hometowns was not suitable for farming. Norway had a rugged hilly terrain, Sweden was covered with thick woods, and Denmark had sandy soil.
The golden age of the Vikings lasted for about 300 years. It was in 1066 that the famous Viking, William the Conqueror, vanquished the British forces in the Battle of Hastings and became the king of Britain.
The word ‘by’ was a Viking word that meant farm or village. The places in Britain that end with ‘by’, for example, Derby, tell us that the Vikings were there!
The Vikings worshipped a number of gods for their success and well being. Odin was the leader of the gods and also as the god of knowledge and war. Other gods worshipped by the Vikings were Thor, the god of thunder, Frey, the god of agriculture and fertility and Freya, the goddess of love and beauty.
Ultimately, the Viking influence died down, as most of them converted to Christianity and adopted the cultures of the lands in which they settled.
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