Research Papers

Research Paper on Vikings

The Vikings were mostly medieval Scandinavian seamen in the VIII-XI centuries, who made sea trips from the Caspian Sea to North Africa and from Vinland to Bjarmland. In the bulk, these were free peasants, who resided in what is today Scandinavia and were pushed outside their home countries by overpopulation and the thirst for easy money. By religion, the vast majority were nations.

The Swedish Vikings and the Vikings lived on the Baltic coast, usually traveled to the east and were presented in ancient and Byzantine sources under the name of Vikings.

Norwegian and Danish Vikings were moving mostly to the west and were known by the Latin name Normanni. The Scandinavian sagas can give an inner look at the Vikings existence, but this source cannot be considered reliable due to its often later date of compilation and writing.

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The word “Viking” is derived from Old Norwegian “víkingr,” which, by the most common version, is associated with Scandinavian designation of bays and fjords, and also coincides with the name of the Norwegian region Wick. The name “Viking” (literally, “man of the fjord”) was used to identify the larceners, who acted in the brim waters, hiding in the confined bays and coves. Saxon word “wîk” and Old High German “wîch” (both mean home) are considered cognate. At present, there is another option of the word origin, from old Norwegian word – “Vike” – leave, move away, they referred to the people leaving their homelands in order to plunder or trade.

As a rule, the Scandinavian chronicles did not use the term “Viking” in its present sense. It was described as a rather “social phenomenon,” when landless bonds (freemen) were forced to seek a better life outside the country.

Reasons for Viking expansion, which took various forms (search for new lands and resettlement, predatory attacks, piracy, and large military campaigns, shopping trips, intertwined with piracy and robbery) were varied. Decomposition of the communal-clan system of the Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians was accompanied by strengthening of the nobility, for which the spoils of war served as a major source of wealth, and many ordinary commoners (bonds) left their homeland because of the relative overpopulation of the Scandinavia coastal regions and the lack of cultivable land.

As part of the Vikings movement, there were other non-Scandinavian Baltic nations. Among them Baltic Slavs (Wends), in particular, Wagri and Rine famous for their pirate raids on Scandinavia and Denmark.

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