Vikings

How did the vikings die out?

You have probably heard of the Vikings and the Viking age. They are described as fearless, ruthless, skilled but noble people. They were said to be proud warriors and mostly seafarers. Still, little is known about the Vikings, since most of their culture and traditions were passed down orally. The written records that exist were done centuries after the Viking age by Christians who considered them to be pagans. There could therefore be a bias in the depiction of who the Vikings were.

As a result, many people often wonder, who were the Vikings truly? Where were they originally from and what happened to them? How and when did they die out? If you are a Viking enthusiast, then you are probably asking yourself the same questions. Not to worry, because in this post we will be looking into the origin of the Vikings, when and how they died out, and if there are any Vikings who exist today.

Where Did The Vikings Come From

Where Did The Vikings Come From?

The term Vikings mean raiders and pirates. This was how they were known across Europe where they had gained a reputation of being barbaric villains. This was because of how they raided and pillaged monasteries and defenseless coastal towns. The British referred to them as Danes, but the Vikings were a diverse people from Scandinavian regions including Sweden, Norway, as well as Denmark.

Despite the picture painted of them, the Scandinavian people, wouldn’t be quick to call themselves Vikings. That is because the description given with the name didn’t fully encompass who they were. Aside from being warriors, they were also farmers, traders, seafarers, merchants, and peaceful settlers.

The reason for them traveling all through Europe and other parts of the world wasn’t just for raids. Some would travel to trade their goods. Others did it to find new places to settle, and of course, some did it to gain more riches through the raids and invasions. Through their exploration, the Vikings ended up having a far reach indeed even in places like Iraq.

What Happened To The Vikings

What Happened To The Vikings?

The Vikings migrating from their homeland to other parts of Europe saw the start of the Viking age. The reasons as to why they decided to move are unclear, although some speculate that overpopulation is what pushed them to go seek land elsewhere. Earlier Vikings, however, we’re looking for riches and not land. In the 8th century, Europe was growing richer and from their trade for the highly prized Scandinavian fur at the time, the Scandinavians came to learn about these developments. They learned about the new sailing system, growing wealth, and conflicts between European kingdoms. The Vikings who raided merchant ships in the Baltic sea at the time used this information to expand their riches and fortune into the Northern Sea and far beyond.

Around 865 AD, the Vikings set out across the North Sea, this time with intentions of invading and conquering land as opposed to just raiding them. For many years they battled with kingdoms across England taking control of numerous Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. These included East Anglia, Northumbria, and most of the Mercia kingdom. Almost all kingdoms were under Viking rule by 874 AD, except the Wessex kingdom, which was led by King Alfred the Great. Alfred’s army fought with the Vikings for years before they finally came to a peace agreement that involved an imaginary line dividing England from Chester in the west to London in the south. It was agreed that all lands to the east of the line were under Viking rule otherwise known as Danelaw, and all lands west of the line were Anglo-Saxon lands.

The Vikings ended up settling mostly in the Danelaw, primarily East Anglia, Northumbria, and the five Boroughs, Derby, Lincoln, Stamford, Nottingham, and Leicester. The most important city in the Danelaw was the city of York with a population of 10,000 people. This was because it was an important area to trade goods. Some Vikings however, also traveled to Scotland and made settlements in Orkney and Shetland islands. Others also settled in Dublin, Ireland.

When Did Viking Die Out

When Did Viking Die Out?

Before the peace agreement, the Wessex managed to defeat half of the Viking force in 878 AD during the battle of Edington. This major setback prevented the Vikings from dominating any more Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The peace agreement also gave the Wessex a stringer army and fortification that continued to stifle the Viking rule. This marked the beginning of the end of the Viking age.

Not just Wessex, but all the people of Europe began building organized and string standing armies and fortifications. Even the monasteries also built defense towers where they could easily hide their valuables and form a strong defense against Viking raids. The defenseless coastal towns moved to in-lands where it was difficult for the Vikings to use their hit-and-run tactics. With their strategies rendered useless, in the end, the Vikings’ power and influence were reduced to a point of non-existence. This forced them to conform to the new cultures and traditions of the people whose lands they invaded. Eventually, their identity as Vikings and their Scandinavian cultures and traditions were replaced as they adopted the new practices and religions.

The year 1066 is when most historians estimated the end of the Viking age and when the Vikings eventually died out. The final nail on the coffin is believed to be the defeat experienced in the battle of Stamford Bridge. From there, the Vikings shed the titles of raiders and pirates and were referred to instead as Danes, Swedes, Icelanders, Norwegians, and so on.

Modern Vikings

Modern Vikings

It is important not that the Vikings were not conquered or defeated, they were simply repelled to a point where they had to conform. Still, even with the end of the Viking age, Vikings seem to have a lasting effect even today. This is clear from the TV shows like The Last Kingdom, Vikings, and Marvel’s Avengers. The influence can also be seen in music through genres like metal rock. What’s more, the Norse religion still exists in the form of fast-growing New Norse religions like Asatru.

So, even today, some identity as modern Vikings. But what does it mean to be a modern Viking? This doesn’t necessarily have to do with pirates and pillages. There are aspects of what it meant to be a Viking that can fit in today’s modern age. Being a Viking mainly had to do with bravery, honor, family, and pride, which are values that modern Vikings uphold.

Conclusion

For a culture to survive, it must learn to adapt to the times, which is something the Vikings understood. Throughout their explorations, they were open enough to adopt various foreign cultures into their own. Of course, at some point, these foreign beliefs may have overpowered their own, but one cannot say with certainty whether the Viking culture died or still survives. While the Viking age of raids and pillages came to an end, there are still aspects of the beliefs that are practiced in various parts of the world. Some still identify as Vikings and those who still follow their religious beliefs. So, it is safe to say that the Viking culture never truly died out.