We have all seen images of axe-wielding Vikings raining destruction upon the shores of medieval Europe — but who were these berserking Norsemen and where did they come from? What society produced them? How did the Scandinavians of the Viking age understand the world and their place in it? We examine the Norsemen’s complex and mysterious cosmos described in the poems and prophesies of the Eddas, and compare it to the realities of survival, trade, kingship, politics, warfare, art, gender, and the family in Scandinavia from the eight to eleventh centuries, as reconstructed from surviving documents and the latest archaeology.
- The Middle Ages: Anglo-Saxon England and the Vikings, 757-1066
- Middle Ages 2: The Dark Age — The Beginning of the Medieval World
- History of the United States in 100 Objects # 4: The Maine Norse Coin
Image: top section of the Hunninge picture stone, island of Gotland, Sweden, 8th century.
Music: “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” from Peer Gynt suite, composed by Edvard Grieg, performed by Czech National Symphony Orchestra, published by Musopen.
Suggested further readings: Neil Price, “Children of Ash and Elm”; Else Roesdahl, “The Vikings”
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