There was once a legendary nation in Nordic history, and that was the Vikings. The period from the 8th to the 11th centuries was called the “Viking Age” in Europe. The Vikings were the maritime overlords earlier than the sun never set. The Viking pirate’s dragon ship tomahawk has paniced Europe. Despite having such a powerful fighting force, the Vikings were only brilliant for centuries in European history and disappeared into the torrent of history.
When it comes to the Vikings, the first thing people think of is the “Viking pirates”. They relied on dragon ships and tomahawks to plunder and plunder the wealth of other countries, creating centuries of terror in medieval Europe. But the Vikings are not just pirates, they also have multiple identities, such as farmers, merchants, colonists, navigators, and the earliest discoverers of some continents.
To this day, there are still many unsolved mysteries in the Vikings, and even the origin of the word “Viking” is unknown. In the 9th century AD, they were called “Northern”, “Dane”, “Norwegian” or “Pagan”, while the Anglo-Saxons directly called them “pirates”. The word “Vikings” was originally used only to refer to people from the Vic area, but later it was gradually used to refer to people from Scandinavia, which is now the Vikings in a broad sense. .
Vikings living environment
There are many fjords and islands on the winding coastline of Northern Europe. The sea traffic conditions are very good, but the land is full of mountains and mountains, and the traffic is inconvenient. The area of cultivated land is quite limited. It is also difficult for crops and livestock to survive on such land. . As a result, the Vikings have faced a series of tests of survival since birth. The population has expanded, resources are scarce, and the weather is harsh. When the limited arable land cannot support the growing population, they are on the road to expanding from the sea.
Scandinavia’s abundant forest resources provided wood for the Vikings to build a large number of warships. On this basis, they built the Vikings’ maritime warship, the leading ship. The dragon boat embodies the Vikings’ superb shipbuilding skills in every detail. The bow is a dragon head carved from wood, and the hull is also carved with a dragon totem as decoration. This is because dragons symbolize courage in their culture. , Strength and fear. The material of the hull keel is taken from the tall and straight trunk. The middle of the keel is curved to increase the load bearing. The two ends of the keel are gradually narrowed to form a streamlined channel to reduce the resistance to navigation in the water. Such a dragon boat can accommodate four Fifty people.
The Viking-designed dragon boat had the characteristics of shallow draught and flexible steering. It was subsequently used in large numbers in the Viking overseas plunder war. The Vikings also gradually developed from the initial plunder to the beginning of conquering the mainland and islands in order to gain a wider living space. This large-scale operation not only kicked off the Vikings’ conquest of Europe, but also accelerated their assimilation process by other European countries.
The Vikings believe in the Nordic gods. They believe that war dead can enter the Hall of Spirits, where they can drink and drink with Odin. Driven by this belief, the Vikings are particularly brave and valiant on the battlefield without fear of death.
According to historical sources, the Vikings launched an attack on the north coast of England at the end of the 8th century. The first target they chose was a monastery. During the attack, the Vikings washed the entire church in blood like wolves, and also cut off the church’s altar and took away all the treasures. After more than a decade of this small-scale plunder, the Vikings began large-scale combat and conquest operations, and their footprints spread across continental Europe and even to North America and the Arctic.
Although the Vikings’ expedition has a burning, looting, and violent side, they also have peaceful activities such as developing commercial trade and promoting cultural exchanges in their overseas expansion. It is undeniable that the Vikings made important contributions to the integration and development of European trade and culture at the time. The Vikings are not a group of barbarians, they also have some beautiful moral qualities. For example, they are generous and loyal to their peers, and they even respect women more than other ethnic groups of their time. And the Vikings not only worship the warriors, they also respect the craftsmen. Their ships, weapons, farm tools, and even the collars of livestock are meticulously carved with exquisite patterns. They not only see these as tools, but also treat them as works of art. The pieces of Lewis that are now housed in the British Museum are the work of the Vikings. These pieces are carved from walrus ivory, with precise cutting methods and beautiful decorative lines, which are early Scandinavian elements. It is perfectly integrated with Roman elements, reflecting the good art of Vikings and superb tooth carving technology.
Vikings on Greenland
Speaking of the Vikings, it is necessary to mention the “red-haired Eric” who is famous in their history. He was also the first person to discover and name Greenland. In 982, Eric, known as “red hair” because of his red hair, was exiled from Iceland for homicide. He found a continent on his way west and named it “Greenland” (Greenland).
After returning to Iceland, he described Greenland as a place with rich resources and beautiful bays, and successfully attracted 25 ship followers to follow him to settle in Greenland. In 986 AD, Red Hair Eric and the first settlers from Iceland settled to the south of Greenland. Since then, more settlers have moved from Scandinavia, the island’s Vikings. People formed two settlements, east and west, with the largest population of 3,000 to 5,000.
In 1408, a wedding was held in Hvarese church on Greenland. This wedding was the last record of the island’s Vikings. After that, Greenland’s communication with Europe was interrupted and there was no longer any The news came. Scientists’ radiocarbon dating on the island shows that by 1400, settlements in western Greenland were abandoned, and in 1450, residents of the eastern settlements on the island also disappeared. From this, scientists reasoned that between 1480 and 1500, the Viking immigrants on Greenland eventually died out.
At present, there are still many hypotheses about the disappearance of the Vikings on Greenland. Most people believe that the cooling of the climate is the most important factor leading to their disappearance. Gerald Diamond in the book “The Collapse: Tomorrow of Human Society” points out that the five reasons why civilized society will collapse are: 1. The impact of people on the environment. 2. Climate change. 3. Relations with neighboring friends. 4. Relations with enemy countries. 5. Political, economic, and cultural factors. These five socially destructive frameworks are all applicable to Greenland where Vikings live.
Greenland, like other polar regions, has experienced multiple climate changes. When the Vikings first arrived in Greenland, it was the warm period of the Middle Ages, and the arrival of the Little Ice Age in 1300 AD put the life of the Vikings on the island in trouble. Frigid weather and short growing seasons have caused a shortage of forage supplies for animal husbandry. Vikings can only rely on seals and fish for their livelihoods, but they lack the technology in this area. The movement of the ice line to the south also forced their trade with Europe to be interrupted, and they could not obtain wood and iron from the outside world, and could only rely on local resources.
According to scientists’ speculation, the process of disappearing the group of Vikings isolated overseas should be long and painful. Because archeologists found from the carbon isotope analysis of local Vikings that when the Vikings first arrived on the island, only 20% of the food they ate was seafood, and by the time they were about to become extinct, the proportion of eating seafood was as high as 80%. They inferred that cold and malnutrition were the two main causes of death for Vikings.