Manual The Vikings: From Marauders to Slavers

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Vikings by the Wadden Sea - The Slave - Episode 4

Garmonsway, Among those slain was the sister of Swein Forkbeard, king of Denmark. The following year they martyred him: Then on the Saturday the host became greatly incensed against the bishop, because he was not willing to offer them any money, and forbade any ransom to be given for him. Moreover they were very drunk, for wine had been brought to them from the south. Then they took the bishop, and led him to their tribunal, on Saturday evening, within the octave of Easter [19 April], and pelted him to death with bones and the heads of cattle; and one of them smote him on the skull with the iron [head] of an axe, so that with the blow he sank down and his holy blood fell upon the earth, and his holy soul was sent forth to God's kingdom.


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Garmonsway, It seemed to the English that the world was coming to an end. The English weren't the only ones who lived in fear of the Vikings. And at the other end of the known world the Arabs were simply appalled. Ibn Fadhlan, an Arab emissary who met a group of Vikings in the s, described them as "the filthiest of Allah's creatures: they do not wash after shitting or peeing, nor after sexual intercourse, and do not wash after eating.

They are like wayward donkeys" Roesdahl, Elsewhere he provides a detached but terrifying eyewitness account of a Viking ship burial on the Volga I provide a conveniently abbreviated version of this; I quote at such length because the account is so astonishing : When a chieftain dies, slaves and servants are asked who will die with him. The one who volunteers cannot alter the decision.

In this particular case it was a woman who was treated with great courtesy while the burial was being prepared. On the day of the funeral the chieftain's ship was drawn up on land and people walked around it and said words. A bier was placed on it and cloths and cushions laid on it by an old woman called the Angel of Death.


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She was responsible for the preparations. The dead body which up to now had been laid in a grave was taken up and dressed in splendid garments specially made for the occasion. He was seated among the cushions in the tent on the ship, with alcoholic drink, food, aromatic herbs and all his weapons. Then a dog, two horses, two cows, a cock and a hen were killed and placed in the ship. The woman who was to die went round to each tent in the camp and had sexual intercourse with its owner.

After this she performed various other rituals. She was raised three times above something which looked like a door frame and said: "I see my master sitting in paradise, and it is beautiful and green and with him are men and slaves [or youths] and he calls me. Lead me to him. Six men followed her into the tent and had sexual intercourse with her, then she was killed.

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The closest relatives of the deceased now lit the firewood under the ship. Others threw more flaming brands on the fire and within one hour everything was burnt.


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Then they built a mound on the spot and raised a pole at its centre with the name of the chieftain and his king on it, and went away. Roesdahl, This picture of the Vikings as primitive, ruthless, and often revolting marauders comes, of course, mainly from their victims, though it is corroborated by onlookers like Ibn Fadhlan.

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The Vikings: Mean, marauding and misunderstood - Telegraph

It is also relatively well known to us; it has, for example, helped inspire some striking artwork. But it is not a picture that has enjoyed any kind of continuous existence, even among the descendants of the people the Vikings traumatized. For a while, it seems, the Vikings were largely forgotten except within Scandinavia itself. There, and especially in Iceland, they were remembered as glorious warriors and explorers, inhabitants of a kind of golden age, until about the end of the fourteenth century.

Then they began to be downplayed even in Scandinavia by historians anxious to claim a place for their countries in the civilized world. Click here to see more Tap here to see more Tap here to see more. Accessibility Links Skip to content. Log in Subscribe. Read the full article. Start your free trial.

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At the beginning of the 9th century Ireland was a rural society, the only larger settlements being the major monasteries. This attack was followed by a raid on the coast of Brega in , and raids on the coast of Connacht in These raids heralded a period of c. From onwards the raids intensified and the Vikings began to establish longphorts - fortified enclosures where they could over-winter.

In archaeological investigations along the route of a new road in the vicinity of Waterford revealed what appears to have been a Viking longphort. You can find a report here….