A Viking Age depiction from the Tjängvide image stone, on Gotland.[1]

Vikings[a] were the seafaring Norse people from southern Scandinavia (present-day Denmark, Norway and Sweden)[3][4][5] who from the late 8th to late 11th centuries raided, pirated, traded and settled throughout parts of Europe.[6][7][8] They also voyaged as far as the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East, and North America. In the countries they raided and settled, the period is known as the Viking Age, and the term 'Viking' also commonly includes the inhabitants of the Norse homelands. The Vikings had a profound impact on the early medieval history of Scandinavia, the British Isles, France, Estonia, and Kievan Rus'.[9]

Expert sailors and navigators aboard their characteristic longships, Vikings established Norse settlements and governments in the British Isles, Ireland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Normandy, the Baltic coast, and along the Dnieper and Volga trade routes in what is now European Russia, Belarus[10] and Ukraine[11] (where they were also known as Varangians). The Normans, Norse-Gaels, Rus' people, Faroese and Icelanders emerged from these Norse colonies. The Vikings also voyaged to Constantinople, Iran[12] and Arabia.[13] They were the first Europeans to reach North America, briefly settling in Newfoundland (Vinland). While spreading Norse culture to foreign lands, they simultaneously brought home slaves, concubines and foreign cultural influences to Scandinavia, profoundly influencing the genetic[14] and historical development of both. During the Viking Age the Norse homelands were gradually consolidated from smaller kingdoms into three larger kingdoms: Denmark, Norway and Sweden.[15]

The Vikings spoke Old Norse and made inscriptions in runes. For most of the period they followed the Old Norse religion, but later became Christians. The Vikings had their own laws, art and architecture. Most Vikings were also farmers, fishermen, craftsmen and traders. Popular conceptions of the Vikings often strongly differ from the complex, advanced civilisation of the Norsemen that emerges from archaeology and historical sources. A romanticised picture of Vikings as noble savages began to emerge in the 18th century; this developed and became widely propagated during the 19th-century Viking revival.[16][17] Perceived views of the Vikings as violent, piratical heathens or as intrepid adventurers owe much to conflicting varieties of the modern Viking myth that had taken shape by the early 20th century. Current popular representations of the Vikings are typically based on cultural clichés and stereotypes, complicating modern appreciation of the Viking legacy. These representations are rarely accurate—for example, there is no evidence that they wore horned helmets, a costume element that first appeared in Wagnerian opera.

  1. ^ The article Tjängvidestenen in Nordisk familjebok (1919).
  2. ^ Whitelock, Dorothy. Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Reader, OUP 1967, p. 392
  3. ^
    • Mawer, Allen (1913). The Vikings. Cambridge University Press. p. 1. ISBN 095173394X. The term 'Viking'... came to be used more especially of those warriors who left their homes in Scandinavia and made raids on the chief European countries. This is the narrow, and technically the only correct use of the term 'Viking,' but in such expressions as 'Viking civilisation,' 'the Viking age,' 'the Viking movement,' 'Viking influence,' the word has come to have a wider significance and is used as a concise and convenient term for describing the whole of the civilisation, activity and influence of the Scandinavian peoples, at a particular period in their history, and to apply the term 'Viking' in its narrower sense to these movements would be as misleading as to write an account of the age of Elizabeth and label it 'The Buccaneers.'
    • Holman, Catherine (2003). Historical Dictionary of the Vikings. Scarecrow Press. p. 1. ISBN 0810865890. Viking is not merely another way of referring to a medieval Scandinavian. Technically, the word has a more specific meaning, and it was used (only infrequently by contemporaries of the Vikings) to refer to those Scandinavians, usually men, who attacked their contemporaries...
    • Simpson, Jacqueline (1980). The Viking World. Batsford. p. 9. ISBN 0713407778. Strictly speaking, therefore, the term Viking should only be applied to men actually engaged in these violent pursuits, and not to every contemporary Scandinavian...
    • Davies, Norman (1999). The Isles: A History. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198030737. The Viking appellation... refers to an activity, not to an ethnic group
  4. ^
    • Campbell, Alistair (1973). "Viking". Encyclopaedia Britannica. 23. Encyclopaedia Britannica. p. 11. ISBN 0852291736. The term "Viking" is applied today to Scandinavians who left their homes intent on raiding or conquest, and their descendants, during a period extending roughly from a.d. 800 to 1050.
    • Mawer, Allen (1922). "The Vikings". In Bury, J. B. (ed.). The Cambridge Medieval History. 3. Cambridge University Press. p. 309. The term Viking... is now commonly applied to those Norsemen, Danes and Swedes who harried Europe from the eighth to the eleventh centuries...
    • "Viking". The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology (2 ed.). Oxford University Press. 2009. ISBN 9780191727139. Retrieved 3 January 2020. Viking... Scandinavian words used to describe the seafaring raiders from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark who ravaged the coasts of Europe from about 800 ad onwards.
    • Crowcroft, Robert; Cannon, John, eds. (2015). "Viking". The Oxford Companion to British History (2 ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780191757150. Retrieved 3 January 2020. Viking is an Old Norse term, of disputed derivation, which only came into common usage in the 19th cent. to describe peoples of Scandinavian origin who, as raiders, settlers, and traders, had major and long-lasting effects on northern Europe and the Atlantic seaboards between the late 8th and 11th cents.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Viking". Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Archived from the original on 5 May 2019. Retrieved 30 September 2018. Viking, also called Norseman or Northman, member of the Scandinavian seafaring warriors who raided and colonized wide areas of Europe from the 9th to the 11th century and whose disruptive influence profoundly affected European history. These pagan Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish warriors were...
  7. ^ Linton, Michael I. A.; Nokkentved, Christian. "Denmark: The Viking Era". Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Archived from the original on 30 September 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018. Viking society, which had developed by the 9th century, included the peoples that lived in what are now Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and, from the 10th century, Iceland
  8. ^ Roesdahl, pp. 9–22.
  9. ^ Brink 2008
  10. ^ Archaeologists find evidence of Vikings’ presence in Belarus Archived 15 July 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Lepel Regional Executive Committee.
  11. ^ Ancient Ukraine: Did Swedish Vikings really found Kyiv Rus? Archived 15 July 2018 at the Wayback Machine Business Ukraine.
  12. ^ Logan, Donald F. (1992). The Vikings in History. ISBN 0-415-08396-6.
  13. ^ Batey, Colleen E.; Graham-Campbell, James (1994). Cultural Atlas of the Viking World. New York: Facts on File. p. 184.
  14. ^ Margaryan, A., Lawson, D.J., Sikora, M. et al., "Population genomics of the Viking world", Nature, 585, 390–396 (2020). "...we see substantial ancestry from elsewhere in Europe entering Scandinavia during the Viking Age..."
  15. ^ Bagge, Sverre (2014). Cross and scepter : the rise of the Scandinavian kingdoms from the Vikings to the Reformation. Princeton. ISBN 978-0-691-16150-1. OCLC 861542611.
  16. ^ Wawn 2000
  17. ^ Johnni Langer, "The origins of the imaginary viking", Viking Heritage Magazine, Gotland University/Centre for Baltic Studies. Visby (Sweden), n. 4, 2002.

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