A Brief History of The Vikings View larger

A Brief History of The Vikings


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The last pagans or the first modern Europeans? 

By Jonathan Clements.


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'From the fury of the Northmen deliver us, O Lord.'

Between the eighth and eleventh centuries, the Vikings surged from their Skandinavian homelands to trade, raid and invade along the coasts of Europe. Their reach stretched from Newfoundland to Baghdad, their battles were as far-flung as Africa and the Arctic. But were they great seafarers or desperate outcasts, noble heathens or oafish pirates, the last pagans or the first of the modern Europeans?

This concise study puts medieval chronicles, Norse sagas and Muslim accounts alongside more recent research into ritual magic, genetic profiling and climatology. It includes biographical sketches of some of the most famous Vikings, from Erik Bloodaxe to Saint Olaf, King Canute to Leif the Lucky. It explains why the Danish king Harald Bluetooth lent his name to a twenty-first century wireless technology; why so many Icelandic settlers had Irish names; and how the last Viking colony was destroyed by English raiders.

Looking beyond the traditional 'Viking age', Jonathan Clements places Scandinavian population movement in a wider historical context. He presents a balanced view of these infamous sea wolves, examining both their supremacy and its supposed end. Supposed because Vikings never really went away. Instead, they became part of us.

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