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HISA04 May 29.docx

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Camille Begin

HISA04 May 29, 2013 Nordic Seas The Vikings and Their Environment Northern seas of Europe looking at the Vikings and their environment Baltic Sea, North Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, English Channel, Mediterranean Sea  Vikings also went west and also went towards the east  Raids of Vikings in Europe in the middle ages around 800-1000  Maritime- technology that allowed Vikings to spread across Europe  By looking at the Viking extension – look t the relationship with their environment and the relationship with other groups of people (when they raided or settled in new areas- settling in harsh environments)  Themes of when different cultures come in contact – links, exchanges connections between people  Histories of success and failure  Factors that lead to the collapse of the Vikings  -Who are the Vikings and how did they expand through Europe  -Viking Maritime culture  -westward expansion in the Atlantic  -sources we can use to write history on the Vikings  Archaeological and primary sources, Europeans who invaded area also talked about this topic  For 300 years, just before the year 800, northwest Europe and Russia were under attack from groups of people from Scandinavia  Vikings originate from Scandinavia. They were roughly divided into three groups: Danes, Swedes and Norwegians. Consisted of different classes of people. Top of the society, aristocrats who owned their own land who had peasants and slaves working for them. Under them, free farmers: they probably rented their land from the nobles but did not owe anything other than rent to the nobles. Under them we find the peasants who were under the command of the land owning elite + slaves. What did the economic activity look like when they were in Scandinavia. The climate and geography dictated the economic activities. They farmed in Scandinavia but it Is fairly cold with not a lot of arable land. Thy mostly raised livestock (sheeps pigs horses). Had important consequences on their farming (animals had to be moved inside in the winter). Food needs to be brought to them. Vikings would spend their time in the summer producing hay, growing and rolling grass.  People would fight over the control of resources. Were involved in trade, would find some trade centres but was mostly rural society  An iron age society – they used it to make tools for agriculture, plows but also small tools for the house, knives, scissors and nails. Axes for military  Important consequences on the environment- need wood and charcoal – to make 1kilo of charcoal you need 4kilos of wood. Needed access to wood and large forests. Became a problem in different places where they settled. The kind of farming they did would really shape the Viking experiences  Where did the Vikings raid?  England – 783 attacked northern English monastery  794 – second attack, after an English monk who lived in northern England described the experience. Attacks were violent and were important events in peoples’ lives. Early raids against Britain were done by Danes and Norwegian, were small in scale at first then increased in size frequency and number. All of Britain was eventually subject to frequent Viking raids. Settled permanent bases in England and Ireland. They used these bases for further attacks. These raids- Vikings attacks were laterally independent, no army or navy, not the act of a state. Rather the raids were acts of individual Viking chiefs.  Uncoordinated raids were successful because:  Political factors: many of the areas where they raided, European kings of the area were trying to develop power- kings emerging out of a large aristocracy – internal struggle between kings and aristocracy. Vacuum of power in Europe, the Vikings managed to play their cards well by making alliances  Military advantage: Europeans were not accustomed to naval warfare. Vikings came in their ships and turned to attack coastal areas and rivers. Effectively controlled coastal and river areas. Europeans were not used to these attacks were used to land attacks. Had the advantage of surprise  Viking tactics- surprising and made them objects of fear and power  Surprise, lighting attacks on towns and communities which were not prepared for the raid. Once they were there tended to kill all the men and seize women as slaves, appeared out of nowhere. Had specific targets, very often targeted monasteries (where monks live). Had the most money and power. Monasteries had very large estates and granaries with agriculture and monks would tax landowners. Shocked Europeans it was an attack on their faith and wealth. Eventually the Vikings started settling down after initial attacks and controlled middle part of England which became known as the Dane law and ruled over Canute the great.  Became colonizers and absolved into society, really mixed within the society, means that it was to the benefit of both societies. Increased trade between Scandinavia and Europe, traded iron, fur and slaves  Viking words mixing with native culture, especially in England.  Swedish Vikings went east and penetrated Russian area. They settled down there and succeeded in developing dynasty which became Russia (kievan rus). Also attacked Constantinople from 860-941. Raided and traded with Asia  Raided for a combination of factors  Demographic factors: late 8 century, Scandinavia was experiencing a population growth. This means they were facing a population expansion, didn’t have enough resources for population growth. The land could not take the growing population. Agricultural crises  Internal political factors which explain why they raided, rulers of Scandinavia were also trying to centralize their power which brought them into conflict with local chiefs who didn’t want this. Local chiefs were resisting this centralization would try their luck somewhere else in hope of increased power and wealth  Technological factor: development of improved Viking ships. Sails and ors and could carry crews of up to 100 men.  Combination of these three factors which provided the right conditions for Vikings to leave and raid  Viking’s Maritime Culture  Viking Long ships: skills in building ships and navigating the seas. Scandinavia is a mountainous area. This landscape is called a fjord. It is easier to go on a ship than walk. The landscape stimulated them to develop ships. Became masters of the seas using ships for traveling and fishing and disposing of the dead  Scandinavian Fjords th  By the late 8 century they could cross the north sea. They were larger and more versatile than any other European ships. They could navigate in the high sea but also go upriver. Texts and archaeological evidence of Viking ships th  The gokstad Ship – Norwegian. Found in Fjord in Norway. This ship was found in the 19 century but dates probably around 900. Over 23 metres long. Numerous aspects contributed to its versatility and speed in raiding. Technique used to build it meant it could travel in heavy seas without breaking. Had a rudder could be adjusted for shallow water, could navigate different kinds of water levels. Was designed for sailing and rowing, no matter the weather you could still use the ship. Carried crews of 40-100 men and were capable of remarkable speeds of up to 10 knots – 11 mph. Compares to 19 century sailboats. These ships the Vikings used – also sailed upriver into the interior where they raided areas and took a lot of captives.  The shipbuilding techniques and navigation abilities were also important. Most seamen were capable of coastal navigation. Scandinavians used this method but also crossed the sea (north and Atlantic) – went into open water where there were no landmarks in sight- were the first to do this. Sources point it as normal and a daily affair for Scandinavians.  Ships also played an important role in Viking culture.ibn Faldan- talks about Viking customs – how dead were buried or burned. When the Vikings first appeared in Europe their cultural and religious beliefs were considered pagan. Were polytheistic- Odin and son Thor. Odin was war god and thor was a sky god, he was a storm god and carried a hammer. Being a storm god he was invoked by Viking sailors. Many other gods linked to nature. When they first came into contact with the Christians, they also accepted the Christian god alongside their own multiple gods. Once they set up settlements, Vikings began to adopt Christianity in its own form. By mid th 11 century Christianity was well established in Denmark and Norwa
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