Post-classical history

A Brief History of the Vikings (Brief Histories)

A Brief History of the Vikings (Brief Histories)

'From the Fury of the Northmen deliver us, O Lord.'

Between the eighth and eleventh centuries, the Vikings surged from their Scandinavian homeland to trade, raid and invade along the coasts of Europe. Their influence and expeditions extended from Newfoundland to Baghdad, their battles were as far-flung as Africa and the Arctic. But were they great seafarers or desperate outcasts, noble heathens or oafish pirates, the last pagans or the first of the modern Europeans?

This concise study puts medieval chronicles, Norse sagas and Muslim accounts alongside more recent research into ritual magic, genetic profiling and climatology. It includes biographical sketches of some of the most famous Vikings, from Erik Bloodaxe to Saint Olaf, and King Canute to Leif the Lucky. It explains why the Danish king Harald Bluetooth lent his name to a twenty-first century wireless technology; which future saint laughed as she buried foreign ambassadors alive; why so many Icelandic settlers had Irish names; and how the last Viking colony was destroyed by English raiders.

Extending beyond the traditional 'Viking age' of most books, A Brief History of the Vikings places sudden Scandinavian population movement in a wider historical context. It presents a balanced appraisal of these infamous sea kings, explaining both their swift expansion and its supposed halt. Supposed because, ultimately, the Vikings didn't disappear: they turned into us.

Preface and Acknowledgements

Introduction: Britannia Deserta - The Dark Ages

Chapter 1. Songs of the Valkyries - Myths and Legends of Scandinavia

Chapter 2. Fury of the Northmen - From the First Raids to Harald Bluetooth

Chapter 3. Great Heathen Hosts - Highlands, Islands, Ireland and England

Chapter 4. Brother Shall Fight Brother - Harald Fairhair and Sons

Chapter 5. The Road East - Vikings, Russians and Varangians

Chapter 6. Advent of the White Christ - From Harald Greycloak to Olaf Crowbone

Chapter 7. Beyond the Edge of the World - Iceland, Greenland and Vinland

Chapter 8. London Bridge is Falling Down - From Svein Forkbeard to Olaf the Stout

Chapter 9. The Thunderbolt of the North - The Life and Legends of Harald the Ruthless

Chapter 10. Children of Thor - One Thousand Years Later

Appendix: Rulers during the Viking Age

Family Trees

Maps

FURTHER READING

REFERENCES

Picture Section