From roughly A.D. 800 to the 11th century, a vast variety of Scandinavians left your homelands to seek their fortunes elsewhere. This seafaring warriors–known jointly as Vikings or Norsemen (“Northmen”)–began through raiding seaside sites, particularly undefended monasteries, in the brother Isles. End the next three centuries, they would leave their mark as pirates, raiders, traders and also settlers on lot of Britain and the europe continent, as well as parts of modern-day Russia, Iceland, Greenland and also Newfoundland.

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Who were the Vikings?

Contrary come some popular conceptions that the Vikings, lock were not a “race” linked by ties of usual ancestry or patriotism, and also could not be identified by any details sense of “Viking-ness.” many of the Vikings whose tasks are finest known come indigenous the locations now well-known as Denmark, Norway and also Sweden, despite there room mentions in historic records the Finnish, Estonian and Saami Vikings as well. Their typical ground–and what make them different from the European peoples they confronted–was the they came from a foreign land, lock were no “civilized” in the local understanding of words and–most importantly–they were no Christian.

Did friend know? The surname Viking came from the Scandinavians themselves, native the Old Norse indigenous "vik" (bay or creek) which formed the source of "vikingr" (pirate).

The specific reasons because that Vikings venturing out from their homeland space uncertain; part have argued it was as result of overpopulation of your homeland, yet the earliest Vikings were trying to find riches, no land. In the eighth century A.D., Europe was growing richer, fueling the development of trading centers such together Dorestad and Quentovic ~ above the Continent and Hamwic (now Southampton), London, Ipswich and also York in England. Scandinavian furs were very prized in the brand-new trading markets; from your trade with the Europeans, Scandinavians learned about brand-new sailing technology as well as around the farming wealth and accompanying within conflicts between European kingdoms. The Viking predecessors–pirates that preyed on merchant ships in the Baltic Sea–would usage this expertise to broaden their fortune-seeking tasks into the north Sea and beyond.

Early Viking Raids

In A.D. 793, an strike on the Lindisfarne monastery off the coast of Northumberland in northeastern England marked the start of the Viking Age. The culprits–probably Norwegians who cruised directly across the phibìc Sea–did not damage the monastery completely, however the assault shook the European religious world to its core. Unlike various other groups, these strange brand-new invaders had no respect for spiritual institutions such as the monasteries, which were often left unguarded and also vulnerable close to the shore. Two years later, Viking raids to win the undefended island abbeys of Skye and also Iona (in the Hebrides) as well as Rathlin (off the northeast coastline of Ireland). The first recorded raid in continental Europe come in 799, in ~ the island monastery that St Philibert’s top top Noirmoutier, near the estuary the the Loire River.

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For number of decades, the Vikings confined themselves to hit-and-run raids against seaside targets in the British island (particularly Ireland) and also Europe (the trading center of Dorestad, 80 kilometers from the phibìc Sea, ended up being a regular target ~ 830). They then took benefit of internal conflicts in Europe to prolong their task further inland: after ~ the death of luigi the Pious, emperor of Frankia (modern-day France and also Germany), in 840, his boy Lothar actually invite the assistance of a Viking fleet in a power struggle with brothers. Prior to long other Vikings realized the Frankish rulers were willing to salary them wealthy sums to stop them from attacking their subjects, do Frankia an irresistible target for further Viking activity.