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Lecture 4

HISA04 - Lecture 4.docx

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Camille Begin

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HISA04 – World History I Lecture 4 Nordic Seas – The Vikings and their Environment - The Seas travelled by the Vikings o The North, Baltic, and Irish Sea o Some went west – to north Atlantic Ocean o Some went east – to Mediterranean o English Channel - The Vikings settled in various environments, some harsh like Greenland - Different cultures came into contact - Before 800 CE – Northwest Europe and Russia were attacked by groups of people from Scandinavia - The Vikings were from Scandinavia - 3 groups of Vikings o Danes from Denmark o Swedes from Sweden o Norwegians from Norway - Farmers rented land from nobles, but didn’t owe anything to them except for rent - Peasants and slaves – under the farmers - Economic activity o Geography and climate dictated economic activity o Scandinavia – short summers, not a lot of arable (good for farming) land  Mostly raised livestock (sheep, goat, pigs, horses)  Animals would have to be moved inside for the winter  Most of summer – Vikings spent time growing and storing grass (hay), houses would be protected by grass  People fought for control of resources  Society – mostly rural  Production of iron was very important Iron Age Society - Iron was used for tools for farming, household tools, wool, axes, military tools - Needed fire to make iron, a lot of wood, charcoal - Charcoal – gets the temperature in the oven hotter than wood alone o 1 kilo of charcoal needs 4 kilo of wood to be produced th Viking Raids – starting in the early 9 century CE - In England – 783 - Attacked northern England monastery - 794 – second attack - Monk’s description of the attack: terror, violent - Important event in people’s lives - Vikings took agriculture, wealth - Raids increased in size, frequency, and number - 842 – London o Permanent bases were set up in England and Ireland, that were used for further attacks on England - Attacks were largely independent, not necessarily coordinated, no army - Raids were controlled by the Viking Chief - Success of raids o Political factors  Areas of raids experienced political crisis of their own – their own aristocracy = a lot of internal struggle  Vacuum of power in Europe  Vikings made alliances with different parties o Military Advantage: naval warfare  Vikings came in ships and attacked coastal areas, because they were able to navigate the seas  First controlled the coastal areas  Europeans were not used to attacks through the sea/river, used to land attacks, caught them by surprise  Element of surprise was an advantage for the Vikings  Vikings’ tactics and targets made them an object of horror and fear  Tactics: surprise, killed men, seized women as slaves  Targets: open towns, open monasteries (where the monks lived) o Monasteries had the most money, gold, and jewels in Europe o Monks often had large estates o Monasteries were centers of wealth in Europe, they were a target of the Vikings, but to the Europeans – also the attacks were also attacks on their faith Danelaw - Vikings settled in the 9 century - By the 11 century, Vikings ruled over England - First king – Canute the Great - Initially, Vikings were greatly feared, but once they settled and became colonizers, not raiders, they were absorbed into society o To the benefit of the societies because it provided an increase in trade (iron, fur, wool, leather, fish, slaves) o Mix of cultural practices - Also settled in Normandy - Swedish Vikings went east – toward Russia o Kievan Rus territory – settled and set themselves up as royalty  Adopted Russian culture, overtook Scandinavian practices  Attacked Constantinople  Traded with people from Asia  Expanded trade network throughout Europe and Asia Why did they raid? - What was in it for them? - Demographic, political and technological factors provided the right conditions for the Vikings to raid th o Demographic factors – late 8 century: Scandinavia was experiencing population growth, facing a population crisis, unable to support the increasing population, and had a need for new land o Internal political factors – rulers of Scandinavia were attempting to centralize powers, but had conflicts with local chiefs who resisted centralizing powers and wanted increased wealth and power o Technological factors – improved Vikings ships that could carry 100 men (Viking Longship) Maritime Culture - Scandinavian fjords – mountainous landscapes, easier to travel on by ship, and also takes less time - Success in raids – in large part because of skills in building ships and sea navigation - Vikings became masters of the seas – using ships for travel, fishing - By the 8 century, ships could cross the north sea - Ships were larger and more versatile that any other ships in Europe - Archeological evidence provides information on their ships - Gokstad ship th o Found in the 19 centthy in Norway o Dates from the 9 century o 76 feet, 6 inches long – over 23 meters o Built to last – versatility, speed and success in raids o Floorboards were made of pine, not fastened, could be lifted o Had a rudder – that allowed the ship to adjust for shallow waters o Designed for sailing and rowing – the ship could be used no matter the weather o 40-100 men o Up to 10 knots (speed of boat) – approx. 11 miles/hour o Took a great number of captives, which they sold as slaves - Navigation abilities were also important – most sea men were capable of coastal navigation - Scandinavians also crossed the sea – went into open water where there were no landmarking sites o They were the firsts to go into open water instead of going from landmark to landmark - Crossing the sea became everyday affairs - Ships played an important role in military tactics, central aspect of Viking culture Viking Gods: Odin and his son Thor - Most important Viking gods – Thor and Odin (war god) o Thor – sky god, storm god, carried hammer, invoked by Viking sailors  Main god worshipped by Viking sailors - Vikings had contact with thristians – also accepted Christian gods - Vikings – in the mid 11 century o Christianity was well established in Denmark and Norway o Burial customs were influenced by older beliefs o Landowning elite – when they died, laid to re
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