Traveling with the Vikings
The history of the Vikings is an epic journey into the past with a multitude of sensations! There was a clash of cultures, epic battles, land discovery, among many other things.
It was a time of religious hysteria and continual fighting in what was once the Roman Empire. Almost without warning, those so-called "pagans" from the unknown northern Europe burst in to put both Christians and Muslims in serious trouble ... The Vikings!
In the little more than three centuries that the Viking Age lasted (793-1100), the Scandinavians left an indelible mark on the history of Europe. And yet, the history of the Vikings is still largely unknown.
Where did they come from?
The Vikings are part of the Germanic peoples. Therefore, they shared diverse cultural similarities such as animistic religion and a common idiomatic root. Northern Europe had always been a region not only remote and isolated from the rest of Europe, but economically poor. The cold and mountainous land prevented the development of agriculture.
There are very few references to the Scandinavians by Roman historians and chroniclers. In his work Germania, for example Tacitus speaks of a people called Suyones who were fierce warriors whose ships had a bow at each end. These descriptions were probably based on the rumors of legionaries and traders venturing beyond the Rhine.
It is known that various Germanic tribes invaded the Western Roman Empire, settling throughout its dominions from the third century. We are referring to peoples such as the Goths, the Franks, the Angles, the Saxons, the Suevi, the Vandals or the Heruli. The Scandinavian tribes, for their part, did not begin their expansion until a few centuries later.
Three main families of Vikings are distinguished: the Danes, the Norwegians and the Swedes. They all spoke the same language, Old Norse, with small variations that over time would lead to the current Danish, Norwegian and Swedish languages.
The Danes were the largest Viking group. They were based in a place of great strategic importance that allowed them to control the trade routes between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Its solid military organization was key to undertaking not only daring pillages but also real conquests in the West.
The Norwegians were, above all, excellent navigators. With their drakkars they patrolled the North Sea and expanded with colonies across the Atlantic Ocean. Iceland, Greenland and even Vinland, in North America. At first they were exclusively dedicated to trade, but later they organized raids to conquer land.
The Swedes, unlike their 'cousins', the Swedes focused more on Eastern Europe. They used the rivers to enter the continent. Among other feats, they founded the Kiev Rus and even reached Constantinople.