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The City The Vikings Sacked Before Paris, And Why It Matters.

The City the Vikings Sacked Before Paris, and Why It Matters.

**Painting by Édouard Jolin, can be seen in the cathedral of Nantes. Depicts the murdering of bishop St Gohard by the Vikings in 843. The Vikings loved France. They loved it not because they wanted live there, but because it was full of undefended monasteries and churches filled with valuable treasure. Charlemagne’s Empire was the favored realm of Christendom, and under it the church prospered—and they made themselves rich. Unfortunately for the Vikings, Charlemagne was a keen tactician and an astute politician. His grip on his empire was firm as steel, making the river systems therein nearly impenetrable. Not until…

The Vikings: An English Teacher’s Worst Nightmare?

The Vikings: An English Teacher’s Worst Nightmare?

It is the question parents and teachers alike struggle to answer: why does English break all of its own rules? Children are seldom given satisfying answers. In fact, if modern public schools are any indication, most people simply do not know why English is such a mess because (surprise!) the Viking Age is either entirely absent from, or a mere footnote in, the curriculum. To most, English just is what it is. Therefore the following revelation may be come as a surprise to many. If you’re an English teacher, you owe a great deal of your daily struggles to the…

The Vikings Had A Culture Of Learning

The Vikings Had A Culture of Learning

History has falsely remembered the Vikings as brutish, amoral barbarians with no respect for anyone but themselves. What we know of the vikings comes to us primarily from the works of Christian clerics (the only literate people of the Viking Age in Europe) who happened to be the Vikings' favorite victims. Thus, monastic orders made sure to vilify their foe. Initially, these were the only sources available to scholars of the 19th century who began to piece together the history of the Viking Age. Their early conclusions, steeped in the values and prejudices of the day, have lent to the stereotypical…

Three Vikings Who Were More Interesting (and Notorious) Than Ragnar Lothbrok

Three Vikings Who Were More Interesting (and Notorious) Than Ragnar Lothbrok

History Channel's Ragnar Lothbrok, although remarkable, is a character from legend. There is no telling whether he was real or a fable because there simply no concrete evidence one way or the other. His recent ascension to fame in popular culture is without a doubt a good thing for Norse studies, but now it is time to take a look at those Vikings who we know for sure existed and whose lives were, in fact, more remarkable than the legendary King of cable television. Hastein A supposed son of Ragnar Lothbrok—although he likely claimed this for prestige, similar to how the nobility…

The Vikings: Divine Retribution Against The Franks?

The Vikings: Divine Retribution Against the Franks?

The Carolingian Empire was the greatest superpower of its day. It was unmatched by its rivals, and its most famous leader, Charlemagne, was revered by the papacy for his efforts to spread Christianity. At its height, the empire stretched from Spain to Denmark, and from Brittany to Austria. Europe would not see another empire of its size until Napoleon. Under Charlemagne, all seemed well, until his grandsons unravelled everything. The Franks had not developed the concept of primogeniture, meaning their lands had to be divided equally amongst all of their sons. Charlemagne was lucky, for he had only one legitimate…

Long Or Short: How Did The Vikings Wear Their Hair?

Long or Short: How Did the Vikings Wear Their Hair?

It should be obvious. Vikings were barbarians, fitting of the description of “Noble Savages” who would have sported long, flowing locks of hair and immensely dense beards. Or were they? Recent revisions to Viking history have painted a starkly different picture of what life was like for Scandinavians during the Viking Age. We’ve since learned that they were cleanliness-oriented, bathed weekly, and paid particular attention to their appearance. We know now that women decorated their clothes with colorful beads among other shiny objects, and the men groomed their beards daily. So with all of this new information available to us,…

7 Wonders Of The Viking World

7 Wonders of the Viking World

The Vikings didn’t leave much behind in the way of brick and mortar buildings, but what we do have from them is all tremendously awe-inspiring. They are not the hanging gardens of Babylon, but the following are seven of the most wondrous finds dating back to Viking Age Scandinavia. 1. Gokstad Ship It seems appropriate to begin with the ship that began our modern fascination with the Vikings. Prior to the discovery of the Gokstad ship, no one in the 19th century had ever seen a Viking ship up close. The only evidence for the style and build of Viking…

Normandy’s Other Founder Who History Forgot

Normandy’s Other Founder Who History Forgot

The first ruler of Normandy, the mighty Viking Rollo, did not accomplish all that he did alone. Described as a tall, powerful man, he made a most surprising transition from sea rover to monarch, and in so doing transformed himself from a pagan marauder into a legitimate Christian ruler. Normandy is an interesting case because the Vikings who settled there as rulers recognized the need to adapt to their new home to maintain legitimacy. Rollo, by example, married into French royalty and played the game of politics well. Norman rule over the region would eventually become the guiding hand of…

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