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Year 8 History Assesment 1- Vikings
Transcript of Year 8 History Assesment 1- Vikings
The Vikings were pagans, meaning that they worshipped multiple gods and goddesses. Each was thought to portray a certain aspect of the world they lived in. The myths they told of their gods fighting against monsters and giants (in a battle known as the Ragnarok) were called Norse Myths. In these myths, it was believed that the gods lived in Asgard, a magical kingdom that was connected to Earth (Midgard) by a rainbow bridge (Bifrost). Gods and Goddesses
The Vikings’ primary god was Odin, who was the ruler of all gods as well as being the god of magic, poetry and war. He had a wife named Frigg and a kind and gentle son named Balder. Next there was Thor, he ruled the skies, storms and thunder. He had iron gloves, a magic belt and a hammer. Thor was very popular among the people but he did not trust Loki, the roguish ‘trickster god’. This was because Loki had caused the death of Balder by one of his tricks. Next there was Freyja, the goddess of love and fertility that wept golden tears. She had a twin brother Freyr. Their sacred animal was the boar. Some Viking gods have survived until later times, thanks to the spread of Viking religion and culture to other civilisations. These gods and goddesses have travelled around the world with the voyages of the Vikings. Their colonies, which are established all around Europe, had influenced the local culture. There is even some evidence of Viking settlement at a place called L'Anse aux Meadowsin Newfoundland, Canada. However, the settlement failed and Viking beliefs and religion did not spread in North America. Even in today’s world, Viking gods are still very well known. In fact, several days of the week are named after Viking gods:
Wednesday: ‘Odin’s day’ or “Woden’s day’
Thursday: ‘Thor’s day’
Friday: ‘Frigg’s day’, Frigg was Odin's wife and the Queen of the heavens/ the goddess of love/ household. Monsters
The Vikings also had magical creatures and monsters in their myths, such as dragons, sea serpents, wolfs and trolls. These monsters were sometimes linked to the gods and goddesses. For example, Odin rode a magical horse with eight legs called Sleipnir. The Dead and Afterlife
A dead Viking person was buried or cremated. Some of their personal belongings were buried or burned with the body, to be used by the dead in the next world where they were able to live with the gods. Some common burial items for Viking men included their weapons and tools of trade, while Viking women were buried with their jewelery and domestic equipment. Food and drinks were also often buried with the deceased, presumably for them on their last journey- the journey to the afterlife.
A better-known burial method was the long ship burial. However, these were less common and mostly used for Viking chiefs and warriors. In these ship shaped burial containers, we are likely to find weapons, treasure and sometimes even the dead's favourite pets. A ship was probably what the Vikings believed was the best way to travel to the afterlife. This could also explain why some Viking graves were surrounded by stones arranged in the shape of a boat (stone boats for the Vikings who couldn't afford a real boat) .
The Vikings believed that only Viking warriors killed in battle were sent to Valhalla (meaning the house of the slain heroes) , the Viking afterlife. It is a great hall where deceased heroes feasted at long tables in the evenings after a day of fighting. Valkyries, warrior-maidens sent by Odin, were believed to have brought the dead warriors to Valhalla. Vikings and Christianity
After a period of paganism, the Vikings switched to Christianity. This process occurred relatively slowly, possibly with the gradual acceptance of being Christian from the people already living in Britain (after the Vikings settled there in the 900s). Soon after, Viking leaders founded churches and built stone crosses in support of their new religion. However, there are still a few Vikings who chose to keep the original pagan religion. Society Social ladder
The Vikings, just like any other culture, had several different social classes. The Vikings had three classes: the thralls, the karls and the earls. Their system, however, is loose fitting. It was not very uncommon for a person from one social class to fall into another class. The thralls were the slaves. They were the ones who had to do the difficult and often tough jobs. If a Viking could not pay his debts or was accused of theft, he was required to become a thrall by law. These people had very hard lives. The karls, or the middle class, takes up the majority of the Viking population. They were freemen and had jobs as farmers, blacksmiths or had other 'ordinary' jobs. Most karls also had their own land. The earls (or jarls) were the Viking noble class. They had great wealth and lived pleasant lives. They often owned several properties and had ships and treasure. The power of a jarl depended on the support he received. So to be successful, an earl must be able to keep the support of his supporters. Warriors /Barbarians
The Vikings were well known for their fierceness in battle. In fact, they were feared across Europe for their brutal attacks and their deadly battle axes. Their fighting style was close range rapid attacks, where warriors storm in all at once. This has lead their victims to call them barbarians, as they did not have organised formations like other armies. Brutality is to be expected from an intensely warlike culture that believes battles were stages where men could prove themselves. However, the Vikings were in no way barbarians. They had a very complex society that the modern world still gets influences from. An example is the type of the government/laws they had, which is related to democracy today. - Exploration: Longships
The long ship was probably the greatest invention of the Vikings. While not the first ships built, they were arguably some of the best vessels of their time. Used by the adventurous Vikings on their numerous voyages, these boats had some very useful features. One of the most notable was its flat bottom. This allowed the vessel to be steered up and down shallower waterways such as inland rivers, which could be very helpful to Viking settlers. The hull was made by overlapping wooden planks and securing them together with iron rivets, which allowed a strong structure that could endure violent seas. The source of power was mainly wind in a square sail on a mast, but sometimes it was necessary to use oars to row the boat for faster speed. A distinctive feature of a Viking longship is that it is pointed at both ends, and at the prow, there are dragon head figures believed to repel sea monsters and spirits. Interestingly, the dragon figurehead could also be removed when a longship is returning, to prevent it scaring away friendly land spirits. Adventurers and Raiders
The Vikings were excellent sailors. They had the ability to navigate to lands as far away as North America and Asia. Although the reasons are still debated, their willingness to discover new lands is most possibly due to the overcrowding of their homeland. Not surprisingly, these enthusiastic Vikings were able to find new lands all around Europe to settle on (Britain is an example).
Vikings were also well known as raiders. Coastal monasteries were the preferred targets as they made easy hit and run targets (easy to attack as monks did not carry weapons for defense) and they kept valuable treasures. The pagan Vikings did not mind the fact that they were attacking religious sites, as the monasteries were often Christian. Leif Erikson Most people would credit Christopher Columbus as the first European settler to arrive in North America, they do not know that a Viking explorer had set foot on the continent 500 years earlier in the year 1000. Leif Erikson was born in Greenland, with his father being the infamous Erik the Red (known for establishing a settlement in Greenland after being exiled from Norway). The exact events in his life are not clear, this is why there are several different accounts of his discovery of North America (from Icelandic literature, or Sagas). It is widely believed that after Erikson had converted to Christianity in Norway, he was sent back to Greenland to spread the religion. However, on his way back to Greenland, he sailed off course and arrived at Vinland (Newfoundland) by chance. The other theory is that the voyage to North America was well planned and prepared for by Erikson, after being encouraged by an Icelandic trader who had reported spotting new lands. Whatever the story, Erikson’s discovery of the North American continent has had a great impact on the history of North America and Europe. In 1962, the discovery of the ruins of a Viking-type settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows (Newfoundland) proves to us that European settlement of North America had began 500 years earlier than thought, by the seafaring Vikings instead of Christopher Columbus. Although Erikson had returned to Greenland after living a year at Vinland, his success had encouraged other Vikings to settle on the newly discovered lands. This is how their culture and traditions managed to travel to the other side of the world. Most interestingly, Leif Ericson had never returned to North America after the accidental discovery.
It is also a less known fact that Erikson had spread the Christian religion to Greenland, with the disfavour of his father, Erik the Red. Trade With the advanced longships and seamanship of the Vikings, they were able to become successful international traders. They had a complex trading network with many cultures around Europe. This even included trading silk and spices which they had brought from Russia with Constantinople (Istanbul). Common trading items to Western European towns included furs, skins, timber and walrus tusk ivory. The trading routes went as far as Russia and Arabia. Legacies Viking Trade Routes: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_0T5BRI_9Cfw/RksHvpSIi0I/AAAAAAAAADA/o46p8mz8GvM/s320/viking%2Btrade%2Broutes.gif The Vikings had left us with many legacies. Their shipbuilding skills has influenced many features on modern day vessels. The flat-bottomed hull designs of the longships were a first and had made maritime travel in shallow waterways possible.
Some Viking achievements are still honoured today. An example is Leif Erikson day (October 9) in the United States. It was first made into a holiday in 1964, in recognition of the Viking’s discovery of the continent.
One of the major legacies of the Vikings was their society. Their system worked so well that some ideas in modern law and democracy are based on this ancient society. An interesting fact that demonstrates Viking influence is that the English word law is derived from a Viking word. This leads to another Viking legacy- the language. With the frequent voyages of Viking traders and settlers, few words from their Scandinavian language were caught in the vocabulary of locals. This is the reason why several European languages have words with Viking origins. Bibliography:
Grabianowski. E, How the Vikings Worked, Viewed 29 July 2012, <http://history.howstuffworks.com/european-history/viking2.htm>
Viking Beliefs and Stories, Viewed 29 July 2012, <http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/primaryhistory/vikings/beliefs_and_stories/>
Vikings, Viewed 29 July 2012, <http://www.history.com/topics/vikings>
Viking Gods, Viewed 29 July 2012, < http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/norse-mythology.php>
Kirst, K, L'Anse aux Meadows, Viewed 29 July 2012, <http://archaeology.about.com/cs/explorers/a/anseauxmeadows.htm>
Days of the week, Viewed on 29 July 2012, < http://library.thinkquest.org/4626/days.htm>
Viking Burials, Viewed 29 July 2012, < http://www.lore-and-saga.co.uk/html/viking_burials.html>
Short, W.R., Social classes, Viewed 29 July 2012, <http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/society/text/social_classes.htm>
Viking Warriors, Viewed 29 July 2012, <http://www.legendsandchronicles.com/ancient-warriors/viking-warriors/>
Ryne, L . 1995, Leiff Ericson, Viewed 29 July 2012, <http://www.mnc.net/norway/ericson.htm>
Leif Erikson, Viewed 29 July 2012, <http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/erikson_leif.shtml>
Leif Ericson, Viewed 29 July 2012, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leif_Ericson>
Viking Trade, Viewed 29 July 2012, <http://www.viking.no/e/travels/etrade.htm>
Viking Legacy, Viewed 29 July 2012, <http://www.skwirk.com.au/p-c_s-14_u-473_t-1288_c-4951/vic/history/t>
Harvard Style Referencing, Viewed 31 July 2012, <http://www.library.uq.edu.au/training/citation/harvard_6.pdf> http://www.working-boats.co.uk/RS_01.jpg A modern day flat bottom boat http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/images/index_vikings_large.jpg Thanks for reading :-) http://www.mnh.si.edu/vikings/images/homeship.gif http://getasword.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Thor-Viking-gods.jpg Thor http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-uQssBrzpXKg/TsaXwuHqwPI/AAAAAAAAGFU/-KE9TJSEIbg/s1600/1%252Bboat.JPG Viking ship burial site Source 1: In 2011, a Viking burial ship was found on Ardnamurchan peninsula in Scotland. The ship contained the body of a Viking who was highly respected ( probably a chieftain) and some of his belongings. His shield was placed on his chest and his elaborate sword and spear lay by his side. Nearby, a battle axe and a knife could be found. These objects show us the closeness of the Vikings with their weapons (they were important enough to be key burial items). It also tells us that the Vikings thought highly of their warriors as they gave them ship burials, which were expensive and thus reserved for the higher class. http://www.mnh.si.edu/vikings/voyage/subset/vinland/pop_archeo2.jpg The Maine Penny One of the only artifacts found today showing the connection between Vikings and native Americans is a silver Norwegian penny. The penny is thought to have been minted around 1070 AD, during the reign of Olaf Kyhre. It was first discovered at Penobscot Bay in Maine (United States). This meant that a penny from Scandinavia had somehow traveled all the way to North America, almost certainly through Viking trade. It was near impossible that the native Americans were the ones that brought the coin back to North America from Europe as they didn't have the nautical ability. So the penny tells us for certain that the Vikings had been able to reach North America. Source 2 A small Viking trader's scale http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~opus/exhibits/viking_waxe.jpg A typical Viking warrior