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What Factors Influenced the Viking Expansion?

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Matilda K

on 31 March 2015

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Transcript of What Factors Influenced the Viking Expansion?

Motive - Expanding the Empire
One of the most well known things about the Vikings was their raiding, and the expansion of their empire. The Vikings may have wanted to just raid houses for entertainment, or had a desire to take over the world and gain wealth from the other countries. During their reign, they did take over quite a large amount of land, expanding into many coastal European countries and North America. The Vikings may have built their longboats just to raid, and be the violent people written in the sagas. The Vikings may have also wanted to claim land because of a combination of the reasons mentioned, and struck war with the people they came across. Though their motives to fight people, and whether or not they even did fight people remains a mystery, we do know that they conquered many countries, combining to make a large, powerful empire.
One of the more geographically supported reasons includes seeking flatter land. As mentioned before, Scandinavia has lots of mountainous, rugged terrain, meaning a lot of the land was unfit for living, growing crops, raising animals and even transportation. Transportation of the time, if they weren’t walking, included horse, horse and cart, and by boat. The Viking’s land transport would have significantly limited their ability to trade and and explore in Scandinavia, one of the reasons that they used longboats. As long-distance communication such as telephone didn’t exist then, they would have had to explore to find the trading routes, which relates back to the motive ‘searching for trade routes’. The Vikings needed flat land for their communities to be sustainable, so searching for flat land would have been a logical decision on their part.
Motive - Seeking Flatter Land
One theory for the cause of the Viking expansion was overpopulation. Though the exact population of the Vikings is unknown, their influence on the world leaves us to believe that at least a few thousand existed, most likely a lot more. The Vikings may have not fit inside Scandinavia due to the increased population, but also because of the rugged, mountainous terrain all around them. Due to the large amount of unsuitable terrain, there may not have been enough land for Viking villages to have been established, or room for villagers to raise crops and animals, which may have led to the Vikings looking for more territory.
Motive - Overpopulation
One of the reasons for the Viking expansion may be searching for trade routes. The Vikings, like other societies, required trade routes because they needed items from other countries that they were unable to produce in Scandinavia. Food may be one of the things they needed, as the Scandinavian land has a lot of rock in the soil, and combined with steep cliffs, mountainous hills and uneven ground would have made it quite unsustainable. There is evidence that suggests that a trade route existed between the Varangians (Vikings) and the Greeks, called the Volga route. This route went from Sweden, along the river it was named after, and past the Caspian sea to the Middle East. It is believed that the Vikings used this route to get hold of crucible steel. Many of the Viking trading routes were on land, despite the traveling difficulties, as many of the things they needed were in Central Asia, making the land an optimal route. This also may have been how they overthrew the inland territories, which were along the Volga river.
Motives - Searching For Trade Routes
The Vikings were a Medieval race of people who lived in Scandinavia, approximately in the years 700-1066 AD. The Vikings were notorious for invading other territories and are painted as violent killers; however, this information is delivered through multiple Secondary sources from 200 years after. The Vikings are well known for their longboats and their armour, though some aspects of Viking culture have been exaggerated, such as the modern day horned hats that have shaped a stereotype. The Vikings were also famous for having such a large empire, as the Vikings managed to claim a wide expanse of land through their longboat technology. In doing this, the Vikings sailed away from their Scandinavian origin, but was this their prime motive? Or did a variety of different reasons contribute to the move of the Vikings.
Who Were the Vikings?
What Factors Influenced the Viking Expansion?
Conclusion
In conclusion, we know that the Vikings created a powerful empire outside of their homeland, and that there were many reasons for them to do so. The Vikings are also noted for their large empire of the time, and have significantly contributed to the society of today.
Bibliography
The Danelaw - Population, Culture and Heritage 2014, Viking, accessed 26 March 2015, <http://www.viking.no/e/england/danelaw/e-heritage-danelaw.htm>
Keko, D 2015, Why Did the Vikings Leave Scandinavia?, Examiner, accessed 20 March 2015, <http://www.examiner.com/article/why-did-the-vikings-leave-scandinavia>
PBS 2013, The Volga Trade Route, NOVA, accessed 27 March 2015, <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/volga-trade.html>
Short, W 2015, Land Travel In the Viking Age, Hurstwic, accessed 26 March 2015, <http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/manufacturing/text/land_travel.htm>
Trade and Exploration 2014, BBC, accessed 27 March 2015, <http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/vikings/trade_and_exploration/>
Where Did the Vikings Come From? 2014, BBC, accessed 23 March 2015, <http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/vikings/who_were_the_vikings/>
Wikipedia 2014, Volga Trade Route, Wikimedia, accessed 23 March 2015, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volga_trade_route>
Wikipedia 2015, Viking Expansion, Wikimedia, accessed 25 March 2015, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viking_expansion>
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