The Viking Age : An Invention Of The Romantic Era

1977 WordsFeb 16, 20178 Pages
The Scandinavian Vikings – in contemporary sources known as “Northmen,” “heathens,” or “foreigners” – are imagined as rough, wild and unkempt men in horned helmets, plundering, pillaging and raping in early medieval Europe (Somerville & McDonald 2014; xv). However, this image of a wild, barbarian nation which is popular in modern fiction, TV-shows and movies, is far from true. The horned helmets are an invention of the Romantic era in the nineteenth century and the Vikings were more than raiders and were renowned merchants, seaman, explorers, mercenaries and poets (Somerville & McDonald 2014; xv-xvi). The Viking Age is considered to have begun in the late eighth century, when the Scandinavian raids in Western Europe started (Somerville &…show more content…
This resulted in a period of unrest. In Anglo-Saxon England, the kingdom of Mercia rose to power when two kings of stabilized kingdoms were removed and one took the power: King Offa (Keynes in McKitterick 1995; 28). So we see stabilized kingdoms and the growing power of Mercia as the kings of Wessex and Kent were removed. In the Carolingian empire, there were definitely periods of political unrest; after the conflict between Louis the Pious and his sons for example (Middleton 2015; 151). However, this period of political weakness and unrest in the Carolingian empire was not contemporary with the earliest Viking raids. The first Viking raids started by the end of the eighth century, when Charlemagne ruled the Carolingian empire and when the king of Mercia ruled a stabilized kingdom in Anglo-Saxon England: ‘The earliest recorded Viking raids were paradoxically contemporary with the existence of strong hegemonic powers in both Anglo-Saxon England (Offa’s Mercia) and continental Europe (Charlemagne’s Frankish Empire), (Barret 2008; 678). This shows that the Vikings did not start raiding Anglo-Saxon England and the Carolingian empire to profit from the political unrest and weaknesses in these regions. In later raids, political unrest may have been a reason for the Vikings to raid, however,
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