Viking Activity in the Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Centuries "The pagans from the northern regions came with a naval force to
Britain like stinging hornets and â€¦ robbed, tore and slaughtered â€¦
even priests and deacons, and companies of monks and nuns"
Originating from the sparsely populated, barren and virtually
resourceless land of the Scandinavian peninsulas, the Vikings set out,
in the late 8th century to capture the wealth and resources of their
trading partners. Throughout the 8th, 9th and 10th ...view middle of the document...
Each Viking race, striving to capture
the perceived wealth and fertile lands of their European trading
partners, so different to the barren and resourceless peninsulas of
Scandinavia, efficiently moved throughout areas of Europe, violently
conquering as they travelled. The Norwegians moved towards Western
Europe, invading countries such as Scotland, Ireland, Greenland,
Iceland and Newfoundland. The Danish invaded to the South, conquering
areas such as the Frankish empire, Seville and Southern Gaul. The
Swedish raiders moved towards the East, invading parts of Russia,
Constantinople, Baghdad, and it is suggested moved even as far as
Western China. (David M. Wilson, The Vikings and Their Origins (New
York: A&W Publishers inc. 1980), 65-71) United by a common Language,
the Scandinavian people are portrayed by history as little more than
violent thieves, who used force to invade Europe, and terrorised the
continent for well over a century.
The Viking attacks throughout Europe were perhaps best characterised
by two things: the inhumane violence and savagery of the attacks, and
also the swiftness, stealth and incredible mobility of the people.
Many records of Viking attacks create images of murder, mayhem and
total destruction. A record of a Viking attack on Constantinople in
860, recorded by Patriarch Photius, a native of Constantinople, gives
graphic description of the brutal Viking attacks, encapturing not only
the ruthless nature of the Vikings, but also the extreme fear they
spread throughout Europe. Patriarch Photius states "a nation dwelling
somewhere fare from our country, barbarous, nomadic, armed with
arrogance, unwatched, unchallenged, leaderless, has suddenly, in the
twinkling of an eye, like a wave of the sea, poured over our
frontiers, and as a wild boar has devoured the inhabitants of the land
like grass or straw or a cropâ€¦sparing nothing from man to beast".
(Donald Logan, The Vikings in History (London: Harper Collins, 1991),
190-191) This account of the Viking's attack captures the incredible
violence of the invasion, as do many other accounts on other raids.
The speed and mobility of the Vikings was another of the
characteristics that terrified the people of Europe. Extremely skilled
craftsmen, the ships built by the Vikings were unique, and an enormous
asset to the Vikings. Typically about 24 metres long and 5 metres
wide, the ships could hold up to 40 men each, and were suitable for
travelling along rivers, as well as in the sea. (Anne Civardi and
James Graham-Campbell, Viking Raiders (London:Usborne Publishing Ltd.,
1993), 8-9) These two characteristics made the Vikings formidable
enemies, as they were able to attack swiftly and powerfully, making it
difficult to prepare defence.
It is undeniable that the era of Viking invasion and all the attacks