Essay on Vikings: The Scandinavian Raiders of Europe

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  1046 Words
Date:  2023-03-02


The term Viking is commonly used to refer to the people who resided in Scandinavia during the Viking era. Although all Vikings were from Scandinavia, not all were Vikings. Vikings were only the Scandinavians who took part in raiding activities. The Vikings had their homeland in present-day Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Vikings lived in these countries before they became unified. They existed between 793 and 1066. During their existence, they had a significant influence on other European cultures, especially in France, Britain, and Scotland. Due to their organized raids, they were able to colonize Normandy, which is currently in France. Vikings were also responsible for forming Dublin and Danelaw in Britain. They were also the first people to arrive in North America.

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The demise of the Vikings

In 1066 the Viking age came to an end after the defeat of King Haraldr during the battle of Stamford Bridge. The popular misconception that the Vikings no longer exists comes about because other communities and cultures only interacted with the Vikings during their raids ("Hurstwic: What Happened to the Vikings?" 2019). Once the Vikings stopped raiding these communities, they assumed that the Vikings no longer existed. The Vikings abolished raiding as an economic activity after the Viking era ended but continued to live in Scandinavia and the settlements they had established. Changes in the European societies made raiding less profitable, causing the Vikings to abolish the practice. At the beginning of the Viking era, the majority of the Vikings were wealthy enough to pay men to work on their farms while they raided. Several people had ships that were vital during the raids. As their era come to a decline, vessels become scarce, and most men preferred to work on their farms to support their families rather than get hired to work on other people's farms. Lack of ships and men to work on their farms made it impossible for Vikings to go on raiding.

Style of Artifacts

Different Viking artifacts have been discovered and preserved in various museums. Most of the Vikings artifacts that have been discovered were found in the oseberg ship burial mound. The objects found in this burial site include wooden chests, textiles such as tapestries and imported silk. The Buddha bucket was also discovered at the burial mold. The bucket is made of yew wood while the handle is made from brass. The bucket's handle is attached to two figures that look like Buddha since they have their legs crossed,

Industrial organization

Raiding was the Viking's primary economic activity. While young men were encouraged to participate in raiding, mature men settled down with their families and tended to their farms. Overpopulation and leadership struggle between the Viking chiefs were the main factors that encouraged raiding. In the beginning, the raids were small scale, and only a few men would participate. Advancement in ship technology enabled the attacks to grow bigger and well organized. During these raids, the Vikings were able to capture other kingdoms. For instance, in 866 headed by Halfdan and Ivar, the Viking warriors were ready to conquer the capital of York, Northumbria.

Those not involved in raiding stayed behind and participated in agriculture. Their agriculture was based on livestock keeping since the soil in Northern Denmark was not fertile enough to support crop growth. Due to lousy soil and short crop growing seasons, foods made with wheat were reserved for the rich as commoners ate food made from oats. Being avid farmers, the Vikings reared goats, cattle, and ship from which they obtained milk, fur, cheese, and buttermilk.

The Political Organization of Vikings

During the Viking era, the Vikings were ruled by chiefs who were warlords who headed a specific group of raiders. The leaders were in constant power wars with each other. The more warriors a chief had, the more power he would acquire. In the chief's quest to attract more warriors, he would hold lavish parties for his followers. Unlike in other cultures where the heads received tribute from their followers, the Vikings chiefs gave their property to their warriors. The rationale behind this was that the followers would reward the chief's generosity with their loyalty. In a gradual process, the heads transformed into kings. In the eighth century, Denmark was the first Viking settlement to have a king.

The social organization of Vikings

The Viking society was based on classes. The community was divided into three categories: Thralls, who were slaves, Karls who made up the middle class, and finally the aristocrats who were referred to as Jarls. Their class system was quite immobile since only the Karls were allowed to move up their level. In the Vikings, culture women enjoyed much freedom. They were allowed to own property, represent themselves in legal cases, and even choose whether to get married or not (Mark, 2019). Clan elders were responsible for arranging marriages, but women were allowed to choose their marriage partners. Although women were in charge of managing their households and raising children, meals were prepared by both genders.

Monumental Architecture

The oseberg ship discovered in Norway is among the significant architectural findings from the Vikings culture. The ship's bow and stern are decorated with woodcarvings, which are drawn using the gripping beast style ("The Vikings Boundless Art History," 2019). The method is characterized by the paws that clutch the ship's body. Despite the boat being seaworthy, its fragile nature had made experts assume it was only used during coastal voyages.

For ages, The Vikings culture has been misrepresented in and only viewed as barbaric raiders. Apart from raiding, there is so much more about the Vikings' culture. While some practiced raiding, others concentrated on agriculture, where they kept sheep and goats to support their families. The Vikings were also organized into different classes, and they even respected and empowered their women. Viking women were allowed to own and inherit properly. Contrary to the opinion of many that Vikings were just invaders, Vikings had and organized and strategic culture, which enabled them to influence other perceptions.


Hurstwic: What Happened to the Vikings? (2019). Retrieved 27 November 2019, from

Mark, J. (2019). Vikings. Retrieved 27 November 2019, from

The Vikings | Boundless Art History. (2019). Retrieved 27 November 2019, from

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