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Transcript of The Vikings!
In 843 - Charlemagne's kingdom is split between
two grandsons - Charles "the Bald" and Lothar.
The weakened kingdoms of Charles and Lothar were attacked on all sides - by the Maygar horsemen from the east, the Muslims from the south, and the Vikings from the north. Of the three - the Vikings were the most destructive, and had the longest impact on the region.
The power of the Franks was so weakened by these
raids and the infighting of the descendants of Charlemagne that the Roman church decided it needed a new Holy Roman Emperor - and picked Otto I of Germany - a Saxon king - by 962 CE.
During this time - the "Vikings" - Danes, Swedes
and Norwegians - were busy finding a place to fit
into this new world order. Historians theorize it was a combination of forces that drove them:
By all accounts the Vikings were an unstoppable force. There was even a common prayer written by those who feared them - "From the fury of the Northmen, Good Lord deliver us."
By the time Charlemagne's kingdom was being frittered away by his successors, the Vikings had claimed sizeable chunks of France and England, and had settled Iceland, Greenland, and even explored North America. Thus, the "the Viking Age" (793 - 1066) marks an intense period of exploration and conquest of Europe by the Vikings.
How did they accomplish this? They were the most advanced sailors of their age - when European sailors wouldn't leave sight of land, the Vikings were skilled enough to sail the open ocean using stars and the sun for navigation, with only 40 or 50 sailor/warriors.
Their ships were simple - they were open rowing
galleys with a single
length of oak for a keel.
The Norwegians - or "Norsemen"
800 CE - settled islands north and west of Scotland
820 CE - dominated England's coastline
950 CE - settled Iceland
980 CE - settled Greenland
1000 CE - land on North America
In 835 CE - Danish Vikings sail up the Thames
and plunder for the next 30 summers
until there wasn't a church standing within
a day's ride of the sea.
Meanwhile . . .
845 CE - (two years after Charlemagne's kingdom is split into two), a Viking raiding party sails up the Seine and proceeds to sack Paris, and for the next 60 years, Frankish and German cities live in fear of their next visit from the Vikings.
911 CE: the King of France - Charles "The Simple" (grandson of Charles "The Bald) "invites" Hrolfur or "Rollo" the Viking chieftan to become the lawful ruler of the lands at the mouth of the Seine - in return for protection from further Viking raids.
Charles the Simple giving his daughter, Gisela, to Rollo the Viking chief, in marriage. Guess who's the Viking?
"Rollo" and his Vikings eventually converted to
Christianity, learned French, and their territory,
"The Duchy of Northmen" becomes "Normandy."
Normandy rises in fortune, and 200 years later, Rollo's descendent, William the Conqueror, becomes the king of England, much the same way Rollo came to control Normandy - through violence.
Charlemagne's kingdom, split by his successors, was ultimately carved up by the Vikings, who - for roughly 300 years, claimed chunks of Europe for their own.
In fact - we could term this "the Viking Age" following Scandinavian historians - a period of time (793 - 1066) from the earliest Viking raids on England to the time of the Norman conquest of England.
a population surge and a quest for better farmland;
a "pagan" response to Charlemagne's Christianization.
One thing to think about - in Scandinavian, a "viking" was a pirate - and to go "a-viking" meant to go on an adventure overseas. Maybe they were just a group of people looking for "adventure."
While it would be nice to imagine Charlemagne's
reign gave a lasting peace and unity to the territories he controlled - history took a turn the other way.
To this day, historians still debate what made the Vikings begin their 300-year reign over the lands of modern-day western Europe. What is clear, however, is once they started, nobody could stop them.
They were strong enough for a sail, could reach 12 mph, and had a steering oar on the right side of the hull - steer-board (starboard).
Not only could these boats sail the open ocean - they could also sail up most major rivers, enabling the Vikings to explore and raid far beyond the coasts.
In 879 CE - "Danelaw" created - a Danish-ruled
kingdom in England, constantly at war with
King Alfred of Wessex, the strongest English
kingdom, who finally defeats them in 892 CE.
Not all Vikings were raiding - some, like the Danes, set up a new Viking state
After 60 years of Viking raids into France, the Vikings stay for good.
He agrees - and the Vikings here become a part of France - permanently.
In what ways do the Viking seem similar to the barbarians who "invaded" Europe - and in what ways are they different?