History 2173 Lecture Notes - Harald Hardrada, Norman Conquest Of England, Bayeux Tapestry

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Published on 8 Feb 2013
Department
The Age of the Vikings
Introduction:
-Period between late 8th century and the middle of the 11th century when the Normans conquered England and in
the British Isles they committed the first act of pillage that we have recorded when they sacked a monastery at
Lindisfarne in 793
-There may have been raids before but this date was very important
-The end of the age can be considered when they accept Christianity and give us paganism but still others say it
was when they became indistinguishable from other populations through marriage
-Vikings were mainly from Norway and Denmark and they made and impact of the history of Western Europe as
raiders in the beginning but they also carved out kingdoms for themselves across Europe and they made a
reputation as skilled merchants and colonists
-They brought parts of the British Isles under their control and areas north of there and they settled Iceland and
they began to colonize Greenland later and they explored North America but without permanent settlements
-The most adventurous Vikings reached Vinland in search of land to occupy and some of our evidence come from
sagas and they say it was discovered when ships went off course and it was abut Eric the Red and he said his son
discovered it and they were possibly talking about Newfoundland
-L’Anse aux Meadows was a site in Newfoundland that has turf constructions very much like those in Greenland
but the area already had a native population before the Vikings got there and they were very hostile
-The area was a long way from friends or relatives and settlers were few at this site and the weapons were not
superior enough over those of the natives to make a secure holding
-The Leaf the Lucky was Eric the Red’s son and he may have got as far as the Hudson Bay and into Virginia but
there is no concrete evidence for this
-Eastern Europe was a place where they were active but there was not much to plunder so they focused more in
Western Europe but there were furs in the East and the potential for enslaving people to make profit/tribute
-They were successful in the east at times and some immigrated to northern Russia and some went further still to
Constantinople which was still thriving and they had heard that the Emperor always needed people for his body
guards (The Varangian Guard) and they became a part of this group
-One of the most famous members of this group was Harald Hardrada and in 1066 he lost a battle against the Duke
of Normandy while trying to take England before he became king
-They had many names given to them by various groups such as Pagans, Gentiles, Danes, etc
-In the 9th century it was only the English that called them the Scandinavian word Vikings which meant they were
from
Viking Motivation:
-One suggestion was that they suffered from over population and there may have been land hunger and they
would move to other areas to get all the land they could want
-The first generations were craving wealth and then they would go home to spend and display their goods so it was
not land motivated
-Skaldic Verses say honour was also a reason for leaving home to get the spoils and Rune Stones support this
-Western European sources and the Frankish source the Annals of St. Bertin say they were all sinners who brought
retribution upon their selves and they said they were looking for easy money, then trade, and ultimately they
wanted land to dominate other areas and many people cut their ties with their homelands to stay abroad
-There were many chiefs and kings in Scandinavia and some would leave to get away from an enemy or they were
exiled by someone hostile to them and some saw this as an opportunity
-Later whole armies would winter far from home and they were used to this separation and they were the
foundation of all the settlers
-Rollo who was a Viking leader from Normandy was granted the Lower Seine Valley by Frankish kings who wanted
him to stop other raiders in 911
-Other immigrants came home with their wealth and they tried to build up their status and Harald Hardrada did
this and gained military prestige
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Document Summary

Period between late 8th century and the middle of the 11th century when the normans conquered england and in the british isles they committed the first act of pillage that we have recorded when they sacked a monastery at. There may have been raids before but this date was very important. The end of the age can be considered when they accept christianity and give us paganism but still others say it was when they became indistinguishable from other populations through marriage. They brought parts of the british isles under their control and areas north of there and they settled iceland and they began to colonize greenland later and they explored north america but without permanent settlements. L"anse aux meadows was a site in newfoundland that has turf constructions very much like those in greenland but the area already had a native population before the vikings got there and they were very hostile.

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