On May 17th we will celebrate with Norway, Syttende mai, the celebration of the Norwegian Constitution Day. On May 17th, 1814 Norway signed the constitution in Eidsvoll. The constitution declared Norway to be an independent kingdom in an attempt to avoid being ceded to Sweden after Denmark-Norway’s devastating defeat in the Napoleonic Wars. Once again in history, syttende mai, tells the story of yet another victory won. As I researched the Norwegian/Scandinavian culture I was led to the Vikings. So many stories throughout history depict the Viking as heroes and/or terrible people, barbarians. Non the less, it has to be said, “they played a major roll in the development of much of Eastern Europe and the Scandinavian Countries”.
The Viking age was 800 CE -1066CE. Viking: comes from the Norse word “vik”, meaning “bay” or “creek” “to raid”. Adopted by the Scandinavians in the 9th century, it then signified “sea voyage” norron tunga, in Old Norse. (11)
The Vikings believed in 3 different Gods, Thor, Odin & Frey all of which were as passionate, ardent and violent as the ones that developed them. They displayed all that the Vikings valued in themselves-brutality, anger, lust, humor, courage, strength & guile (105) It was their belief that these Gods resided in them and that the Gods directed them as they conquered the world.
As early as the 6th Millennium B.C. the Ancestors of the Vikings plowed the seas in every direction around Scandinavia & Europe in their primitive craft. (12) The Vikings were excellent sea men they built swift moving ships and sailed through treacherous waters of the north seas with an unquenchable thirst for conquest. They raided and defeated all they set out to siege. Though they were excellent on the seas they were equally as adept on land. Quickly they gained the reputation of being blood thirsty barbarians.
From the 8th century all places of English worship were saying the same prayer “Save us, oh Lord from the fury of the Northmen!” (11)The treacherous Vikings had discovered the riches that was held in monasteries, so they quickly became the favorite place to loot. As it goes with most stories of the past; land, riches and religion of people, all believing in their own cause as they strive to divide and conquer. The Viking’s were people of strong conviction. They loved each other and they fought for each other. They created new trade routes, peopled islands, such as Iceland, the Faeroes and the Shetlands, the founding of efficient and realistic states of a totally new kind, like the Duchy of Normandy and the Russia of Keiv, and the creation of commercial towns such a Novgorod and Smolensk.
Whether they were truly barbarians, may be up to debate, but at the end of the day, they lost. A new ferocious Harold the Ruthless William, Duke of Normandy, set sail for England. A page of history had been turned. Another was about to begin. (11)
11 ,12 ,105 ,116 The Vikings Lords of the Seas ; Abrams Discoveries A very good read by the way!