Vikings were the seafaring Norse people from Scandinavia, including many countries, such as Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Finnish and Estonian Vikings exist in historical records as well. From all of the mentioned Vikings, the Swedish people took part in many battles against many countries.
Viking history records were focused mostly on men. Norsemen used water surfaces to explore Europe for trading, raiding, and conquest. By the late 10th century, some Vikings moved even further westward.
In Europe, the Viking age left its mark in family names, place names, language, customs, and traditions. The Vikings also profoundly impacted the medieval history of France, Estonia, and Kievan Rus' (Rus' people emerged from Norse colonies). Viking kings even ruled from York, but more on that a bit later...
Much of what we know today about the Viking timeline is based on Icelandic sagas. Many people wrote stories hundreds of years after the events took place. Keep in mind that in some cases, the dates aren't precise, and that's why this is one of the most significant criticisms of stories about Vikings.
Without further ado, let's begin.
The Start of the Viking Era
In the 7th and 8th centuries, Europe was very wealthy. In this period, Vikings learned about sailing technology and the politics of Europe. Many things led to this expansion. The Vikings were obsessed with affluent towns and weak kingdoms. They were also forced to leave their homes because of overpopulation, lack of good agricultural land, and political battles arising from Norway.
The First Days of Vikings
787: The First Viking Raid.
Norwegian Vikings sailed to the Isle of Portland in Dorset, and after being mistaken for traders, they attacked the village. The earliest documented attack was the attack on the Isle of Portland.
791: Battles for the British Isles began.
Viking activity in the British Isles occurred during the 8th, 9th, and 10th centuries. The first targets were monasteries on small islands that were unprotected.
793: Norse Sea-raiders Sack the Anglo-Celtic Monastery at Lindisfarne.
The name Lindisfarne is connected to the Viking raid in 793. It seems unlikely to be the first, but these are the first written sources documented in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the famous Doomsday Stone. Alfred the Great was king of the Anglo - Saxon.
800: The Younger Futhark Replaces the Elder Futhark.
Artisans and owners have found the inscriptions on coins, brooches, weapons, and other objects from the Iron Age. Roughly 260 of the approximately 350 known Elder Futhark inscriptions are found in Scandinavia. At the beginning of the famous Viking Age in the 700s, the futhark changed the form. The alphabet that included 16 runes was now used and it was called the Younger Futhark.
802: Norse Raids on Ireland Began.
The Norsemen raided Ireland in 802, leaving the disaster among the Céli Dé Brethren and burned the abbey to the ground. A king Niall Glúndub, also known as the most powerful king in Ireland, decided to stop the Vikings but only a few Irish attacks on the Vikings succeeded. The Irish Vikings spent a lot of effort establishing the Nordic Kingdom
825: The First Settlement in the Faroe Islands.
Grímur Kamban was the one who settled first in the Faroe Islands around 825.
862: The Beginning of the Rurik Dynasty.
The Rurik dynasty began in 862. Rurik came with his brothers and massive entourage, and he became the first name of Novgorod. Many historians said that Rurik was from Scandinavia or Jutland and occupied Ladoga. Rurik is a founder of a significant formation known as Kievan Rus, the first incarnation of modern Russia.
872: The Timeline of the Fairhair Dynasty.
The Fairhair dynasty was a family of kings founded by Harald the 1st, king of Norway. Harald Fairhair, the first king of Norway, united the kingships of Norway into a realm in 885. He was one of the most famous Scandinavian Viking chiefs. He had control over Norway's western coast but did not have as much authority in other parts of Norway.
911: Duchy of Normandy.
The Vikings started their raids up the Seine river in 820. Over the next nine decades, they've raided the area numerous times and even made tiny settlements on the lower Seine. After King Charles the 3rd and one of the Viking leaders, Rollo, signed the 911 Treaty of Saint - Clair -sur- Epte, the Duchy of Normandy was established. The dutchy got its name after the Normans, its inhabitants.
961: The Timeline of Sonatorrek.
Sonatorrek is a poem that appears in Egil's Saga and has 25 stanzas. The Icelandic saga was focused on the life of Egill Skallagrimsson.
982: Settlement on the East.
When Erik was exiled from Iceland in 980, he decided to explore the west coast. He named the country Greenland because he believed that a good name would attract other settlers. He was the father of Leif Erikson, the first man from Europe who reached North America.
1016: King of England.
Canute became King of Denmark, Norway, and England in 1016. Canute was 40 when he died in 1035. He was also known as Canute the Great, King of Denmark, Norway, England, and Sweden. Details of Canute's early life remain unclear because no written record exists.
1030: The Spread of Christianity.
The Battle of Stiklestad is one of the most critical battles in the history of Norway. It is believed it happened in July 1030 in central Norway. The Battle of Stiklestad was the battle where Viking King Olav Haraldsson was killed. Olav Haraldsson was born in Norway in 995 when Christianity took over Scandinavia. When he was younger, he participated in Viking expeditions in many areas such as Great Britain and the North of France. Olav was baptized into Christianity in 1014. His religious code of 1024 is considered to represent Norway's first national legislation. In Sweden, there is an exceptionally high number of churches dedicated to Olav.
1066: The End of Viking age in England.
The battle of Stamford Bridge between king Harald Hardrada and King Harold of England happened in 1066. The struggle was so violent and brutal that many people lost their lives. The battle of Stamford Bridge is traditionally considered the end of the Viking era in England.
1171: The End of the Viking Age in Ireland.
With the help of Pope Adrian IV, King Hanry II takes over Ireland with his large fleet. People from Ireland welcomed king Henry II because he had the protection that Irish Kings needed at the moment.
1240: The End of the Rurik Dynasty.
The Mongol horde, led by Batu Khan, attacks Kyiv. After the attack on Kyiv, the Russian princes were forced to ask for a patent from the Mongol khan to rule as grand princes. The Mongol invasion seemed to be an end to the Rurik Dynasty.
1263: The Battle of Largs.
The Battle of Largs was a small battle between the Scottish and Norwegian kingdoms. The battle was a complete mess since neither of the two armies achieved its primary aim.
The Most Famous Viking
The most important leader and the most famous Viking warrior was Ragnar Lodbrok. He led many attacks in France and England. Ragnar was born near Kattegat and earned a reputation as a strong and smart boy. Ragnar Lothbrok ruled in the 9th century as a Viking king and warrior known for his fantastic warrior skills, tragic death, sons Halfdan, Ivar the Boneless, and Hubba. Hubba attacked East Anglia in 865.
Ragnar was a Dane. The Danes were a tribe inhabiting southern Scandinavia. The first written evidence of the existence of the Danes dates from the sixth century. During this Age, the word 'Dane' became synonymous with Vikings that raided and invaded places.
The Most Feared Viking
We can say that Erik the Red was the most feared Viking. He left Norway when he was a child. After he left his homeland, he moved to Iceland with his father. After a while, Erik was forced to leave Iceland. After that event, he started to investigate the land to the west.
Erik gained his nickname because of his hair and beard, but it also reflected his violent character. He was a great warrior. Erik has explored west and north of the land for two years, leaving his mark on the names of the places he visited. He convinced many people that Greenland was an excellent opportunity for them. In 985, he left Iceland with a large fleet of 25 ships to conquer Greenland. Erik the Red succeeded in moving 500 men and women, domestic animals, and all the other equipment to Greenland to create a new settlement in that area. Many ships were not suited for such a harsh voyage, so they had to go back or were lost in the sea due to bad weather conditions. However, 14 ships arrived in Greenland. They established the Eastern Settlement and the Western Settlement as two colonies, with many small settlements in between. After the turn of the millennium, Erik died from injuries that falling off a horse caused.
Cnut the Great - One of the Great Viking Kings
Cnut the Great left a significant mark on the history of England and Scandinavia, but his battles and his warrior skills remained under-appreciated and barely studied.
He led his Kingdom to stability after years of battles. Denmark, Norway, and possibly many parts of Sweden came under king Cnut's control.
He died in 1035, so his son, King Harold Harefoot, inherited the Kingdom. Harthacnut, Cnut's other son, ascended to the throne, but his death in 1042 marked the end of the Danish rule in England. His impact is still a mystery to most Danish people, due to lack of written pieces of evidence and with many people who do not know that England was part of the North Sea empire that was under the control of King Cnut.
The Last Great Viking Leader - Harald Hardrada
Harald Sigurdsson was born in 1015. He participated as a teenager in the Battle of Stiklestad, which happened in 1030. Harald Hardrada joined the army with his brother, Olaf II, subverted by Cnut the Great. At the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030, Olaf was killed, and Harald was injured but managed to save his life.
It's interesting to mention that one of Harald's invasions helped William Duke of Normandy, known as William the Conqueror. If Harold's forces hadn't been so weakened by the many battles they fought, they would have been prepared to win the Battle of Hastings. Harald Hardrada is remembered as the last great Norse King.
What Happened to the Vikings?
The Viking raids were the only recorded and documented parts of the Norse culture. In historical documents, the conquerors were called Northmen, the people who arrived from the northern countries. The end of this Age is traditionally marked in England by the failed invasion attempt by the king of Norway, Harald III, in 1066 at the Battle of Stamford Bridge.
We don't know what happened to the last Vikings in Greenland. Vikings stopped raiding because of the changes in Europe and its society that made conquest less desirable, profitable, and more complex. In time, most European countries also built great armies trained capable of defeating the Vikings. As time passed Viking raids became the past and just like that, the Viking era was gone.
However, the Vikings still exist through many stories, documents, and their legacy. The Norsemen continued to live in Scandinavia and the settlements created during the Viking era, Iceland and Greenland, but in a whole new era.
Until our next meeting,