Possible reasons for Viking raids (víking)
and expansion:
Overpopulation, limited resources
Avoiding enemies and feuds
Objection to rule of kings
Jarls (chieftains) with warrior bands
Karls (free men), usually farmers or crafters
Thralls (slaves)
Women as powers behind husbands, poetesses,
prophetesses. Rights in divorce, marriage,
inheritance, succession
All-father, king of the gods
God of poets (skalds) and wisdom
Hung on tree to gain runes (Futhark)
God of strength, thunder and lightning
Frey: God of fertility
Freyja: Goddess of love, beauty and
Hel/Hela: Queen of Hel (the underworld)
The Valkyries: choosers of the slain
c. 960 Harald Bluetooth of Denmark
(r. c. 958-85) becomes Christian
c. 1000 Olaf I Tryggvason (r. 995-1000) and
Olaf II Haraldsson (r. 1015-30) of
Norway convert population to Christianity
c. 1000 Iceland adopts Christianity
11th c. Conversion of Sweden begins
12th c. Last records of pagan practices
814 Vikings burn monastery on
Noirmoutier, off mouth of R. Loire
841 Vikings plunder Rouen
Map Link: Viking Raids:
843 Vikings winter on Noirmoutier
844 Vikings ravage Garonne valley, attack
857 Vikings have repeatedly sacked various
French cities incl. Paris
859 Vikings raid Morocco, Balearics, winter
at Rhone delta, raid southern France
885 Vikings besiege Paris
887 Charles the Fat (r. 876-87) relieves siege
of Paris
911 Charles the Simple (r. 893-923) grants
Viking leader Rollo area around mouth
of Seine, which forms seed of Normandy.
Viking raids on mainland Europe end a
couple of decades later
9th c. Vikings invade Ireland, occupy Orkney,
Shetland, Hebrides and Isle of Man
874 Viking settle in Iceland, and later in
Greenland, east coast of N. America
13th c. End of Viking rule in Scotland and
Isle of Man
830 Start of Viking Rus raiding and trading
in eastern Europe, Byzantine Empire and
Middle East. Settlements follow along
Volga river and (in 10th c.) in Slavic
lands including city of Kiev. They expand
territory further in 10th c.
c. 988 Vladimir of Kiev (r. 980-1015) converts
to Greek Orthodox Christianity
Map Link: Journeys of the Vikings:
c. 980 Eirik the Red leaves Scandinavia for
Iceland, but is banished from Iceland and
heads west, where he discovers Greenland
985 Eirik leads a party to colonise Greenland.
Bjarni Herjolfsson, following, accidentally
sights N. America but does not land.
c. 1000 Leif (“the Lucky”) Eiriksson lands on
Baffin Island, Labrador and “Vinland”
Annals of St Bertin
Annalistic monastery chronicle
Covers 830-82
Abbo Cernuus (“crooked”)
French Benedictine monk from Paris, born
mid-9th c.
Witnessed siege of Paris, 885-87
Description of siege in Latin verse, De Bellis
Parisiacae Urbis, with description of
events to 896
Chronicle of St Denis
Mediaeval chronicle written long after events
described here
Sources: Dudo (d. c. 1043) and William of
Jumièges (d. c. 1090), monks also writing
long after events
Ahmad ibn Fadlan
Very little known about him. Sent by caliph,
in 921, as ambassador to king of Bulgars
of Middle Volga, to present gifts and
supervise Muslim teachers
Met some of the Swedish Rus after arrived in
922. Impressions recorded in risala