- Nov 2015
Well the popular imagination brands them as near troglodytes. Now peasants are peasants. But their upper classes (Thegns, Jarls), were probably relatively sophisticated. The 'viking' ship for example is an extremely sophisticated design. The product of centuries of learning from trial and error.I read somewhere that 'wicca' is derived from 'vik'. When some see the Norse raiding activity as crimminal, it's perhaps a bit narrow minded. It can be seen as a for of warfare related to gurerilla warfare and naval infantry raids. In the begining it might even have been a form of defensive warfare after what the Norse saw as prosecution against Åsatru (Norse religion) by christians.
Well the whole thing starting as a religious war, was hotly denied in the 'flower-power' 1970's. But today is receiving broader acceptance. The Franks assault on the Old Saxons must have sent shockwaves through Denmark. A conqueror who comes along and demands no more than tribute is one thing. Another is the threat of having your culture and tradition (the things that engender security) destroyed. The latter feels like the end of the world.
I'd say it caused a complete breakdown in foreign relations. With anything Christian becoming fair game and Scandinavia becoming a safe haven for such. It proved lucrative and that kept it going. Not that raiding wasn't perennial. What changed was the scale. A parallel is the Catholic/Protestant conflict.
Well for the English, 'Buccaneers' were criminals. And also romanticized figures. With every farmboy wanting to run away and become a Buccaneer. They seem to have enjoyed their own wickedness, but also seeing themselves as the dammed, with old Nick for a god. We all play the 'doublethink' on many issues. An man has his 'church' face and opinions. And then a different face in the dark pub corner.
For the English document of the time, 'viking' simply meant pirate. The latter word not displacing the former until later in the middle-ages. With the original word virtually forgotten in the English language until the 19th renaissance of the subject.
Hmmm, certainly the movie scene enjoys the drama of the religious angle. Here Alfred stumps Guthrum.