Vikings in England
Commense of Viking Raids
Before the vikings attacked England for the first time, the Romans had abandoned England and taken all the knowledge and money with them. Later they were also invaded by the Anglo Saxon and suffered a huge damage. England resulted being a poor and weak country, both in defense and in economy. With time those who had invaded England became Christians; now the church became both rich with an authority of great importance and political po
England lost their power, reflecting the civil war then raging in Scandinavia, but towards the end of the century raids from Denmark increased. On the other hand the Vikings were interested in taking over France because during that time Paris was a big, free trading centre. So they have to have known something about trade. Under the Charlemagne and his successor, Louis the Pious, the Carolingian Empire proved to be too strong for the Vikings, but after his dead they raided the areas rooound the Seine and the Loire. As England, France were prepared to be bought off by ‘Danegeld’ (meaning ‘Dane Debt’ or Dane payment). The Vikings managed to take over the control of France, including the whole trading route. To take control of the whole nation they had to take over the power from the king, whom lived in Paris. Once again they managed to do this because the king had more importanat problems to worry about (such as family issues, hiiis brother).
Goals for Attacks
The reason why the Vikings plundered England was because of the wealth they knew existed in the monasteries, and they used the weak defense around the churches to succeed with their attacks. The English trusted that nothing would happen to them because the rest of europe was as weak as them at that time, but also they believed that Europe’s popaulation was Christian and didn’t think that anyone would attack their own church. But what they didn’t know was that Scandinavia was populated by people who neither belived in God nor Jesus. The Vikings wanted to the power over England. They wanted to rule over the land. This is a similar goal to the goal that the Vikings had when they occupied parts of France, but these Vikings wanted to control Paris because the city was the heart of the trading in Europe. When the Vikings got the power over Paris, they had total controll of the trading in europe and this made them the most powerful. The Vikings also wanted to own land so that they could settle down and live in the country as farmers but also to get closer to other countries that they wanted to colonize. They were not only warriors and pirates, however, but also merchants, famers and skilled craftsmen.
When the Vikings started to plunder France, they raided the small towns along the coast line which resulted in a weaker French defense. And they realized that the closer they came to Paris, the richer the towns were. The French king, Carl the Great died and that made the defense even more weak. The Vikings took the opportunity to attac whenever a country was at its weakest point (e.g. a royal tragedy or a civil war). They managed to take control of Paris because the king had more important issues to worry about at that time (he had disagreements with his brother). And they were able to take over England because the nation was divided into small regions which fought with each other. This made the people weak, tired and easy to manipulate. As other colonizers, the Vikings had certain techniques for their attacks. They usually attacked a country by its coastline (rivers, sea) using their special constructed ships for such landbased occupations. The Vikings used to attack England each year and plunder, but realizing that England had a weak defense, they settled down in small regions. The weak English defense made it easy for the Vikings to disembark and walk straight into the city or land that they wanted to plunder. Another tactic they used was to present themselves as traders, but as soon as they had the opportunity to attack they put down their “scales” and drew their swords.
Methods Used for Taking Over Land
In the beginning of the 10th century, France was ravaged by a ruthless Viking leader named Rollo (also called Rolf/Rollon). Rollo started to negotiate with the French king about a bit land to settle down in. The French king Carl the Foolish invited Rollo and his men to settle down in north-west France, which was and still is Normandy. Rollo accepted the French king’s offer and year 911 Rollo got Normandy which made him the leader of that area, he also had the responsibility to protect it. The French king was not as foolish as he seemed to be, because now that Rollo was the leader of Normandy he had a great protection against Vikings, because other Vikings didn’t attack areas that had already been occupied by other Vikings. They thought it would be an attack against there own people. But some other Vikings did attack France and they attacked the cities by burning them down to the ground and those Vikings were not so peaceful as Rollo. They did not ask the king for permission to go on land. In England they plundered instead of negotiating.. They did not do as Rollo. They just went in and took over the land with violence. Then when they discovered that the country were easy to take over they settle down and started to build up there own community, the Danelaw. There were also other districts in England, and the biggest one was the Anglo Saxons territory. The Vikings discovered that Anglo Saxons’ territory was easy to take over because that area was not so well organized. That made it easy for the Vikings to explore new territories in different parts of the country.
England remained under Danish rule until 1066 when William the Conquerer took back England by defeating the Viking’s last raid. He was also from Northern countries but he was not a Viking. During that period the Vikings had the power over England, but some times there were other people that also wanted take over the country so the Vikings had to retake England. The most important effect of the Viking invasions was that they broke up the existing power structure of the British Isles. The Viking era ended when France got divided into small regions, which also separated the Vikings. The Vikings came closer to the inhabitants and some got married to French women. This resulted into an integration between the Vikings and the French people. Christianity replaced the nordic religion in the most cases.
Improvements of their Tactics
On their first journies they were not so skilled warriors, neither did they know about power nor the places they were going to. E.g. They accidently found Iceland and Greenland. But later on they developed more effective ways to colonize, they planned well before their journies, they built high constructed ships that helped them along the way. When the Vikings plundered England they didn’t need to be so effective because of the causes we mentioned before. But when the Vikings plundered France they needed to go by the rivers on to land. The Vikings didn’t leave their ships behind instead they made ‘wheels’ of wood so they could drag the ships into the towns. The reason why they could built wheels was that they had tools with them.
The similarities between this two raids are that the Vikings attacked the countries when they were at their weakest. In England they had suffered a huge damaged after Anglo Saxon had colonized them and in France the strong and well knowed king had died. The contrast in their way to take land was that in France they asked for it while in England they didn’t need to. The English people was not a united people as the French were. In the beginning the both countries’s targets were the monasteries and their churches because Christianity had given them both power and money as well as political power. Later on in France, Paris became the target because during that time Paris was a big, free trading centre. When they took over Paris they controlled both the country and the free trading of the known world. The tactics and tecniques were seen as very brutal and unmercyful this was partly bacause they weren’t Christians. In England a new king camed and defeated the last Viking raid in 1066 AD. This was seen as the last try to plunder a country. But in France the country was divided into small kingdoms. The Vikings intergrated the French society and became Christians. In the end the Vikings took over the trading routes in europe. “If a person wanted to trade, they had to pay the Vikings”.
English words from north
bubble (n, vb) Swe bubbla, Dan boble (a bubble).
cake (n, vb) A baked confectionery. Latin => Scan => ME cake. Ice kaka, Swe kaka, Dan kage.
flag (n, vb) An ensign. Dan flag, Swe flagg. From the Ice flögra (to flutter).
freckle (n) A small spot of skin colouring. Ice freknur, Swe fräkne, Dan fregne (a freckle).
husband (n, vb) Ice húsbóndi (the master of the house).
leg (n) Ice leggr (a leg), Dan læg, Swe lägg (the calf of the leg).
mistake (n, vb) An error, to err. Ice mistaka (to take by error, make a slip).
shirt (n) Ice skyrta (a shirt, a kind of kirtle – see above), Swe skjorta, Dan skiorte. So called because of its shortness – Ice skortr (shortness). See also skirt below.
sister (n) Ice systir, Swe syster, Dan söster.
skill (n) Discernment, in the sense of making judgements. Ice skil (a distinction); compare with Ice skilja (to part, to separate, to distinguish), Dan skiel and Swe skäl (reason). Compare with Dan skille, Swe skilja (to separate).
sky (n) Ice ský (a cloud), Dan and Swe sky (a cloud). Allied to the Anglo-Saxon scúa (shade).
trash (n, vb) Refuse, garbage. Scan. The original sense was bits of broken sticks found under trees. Ice tros (rubbish, twigs used for fuel), Nor tros (fallen twigs, half-rotten branches), Swe trasa (a rag, tatters), Swe dialect trås (a heap of sticks – derived from Swe dialect slå i tras (to break in pieces).
welcome (vb, n, adj) Ice velkommin (welcome, in greeting), Dan vel-kommen, Swe väl-kommen. Similar forms throughout the Germanic languages.
Among the results of the Viking invasions of England was an enormous increase in the production of coins. Many of them ended up in Scandinavia. Indeed, far more English coins from that period have been found in Scandinavia than in England! Furthermore, when Scandinavian rulers started to mint their own coins they copied English designs. Today coins are just small change but in those days they could buy much more.
Coins had been used in Britain when it was part of the Roman empire, and even earlier, but after the departure of the Romans early in the 5th century and the invasions of the Anglo-Saxons from across the southern part of the North Sea, coins ceased to be used as money in England for nearly 200 years. Then the Saxons started to produce coins. Most of them were made of silver and they are called ‘sceattas’. The word ‘sceat’ originally meant ‘treasure’ like the word ‘skat’ in Danish or ‘skatt’ in Norwegian and Swedish. Old English resembled the languages spoken in Scandinavia much more closely than modern English does!
Where do pennies come from?
Just before the first of the Viking raids on England the Saxons began minting a new type of silver coin with a much finer, more attractive design. These coins were called ‘pennies’. Some historians believe that the penny (or ‘pennig’ in Old English) was named after a minor Saxon king called Penda. Others believe that the penny, like the Scandinavian words for ‘money’, got its name from the pans into which the molten metal for making coins was poured. In German money there are 100 Pfennigs in a Deutschemark and it is thought that ‘Pfennig’ might come from ‘Pfanne’, the German for ‘pan’. The Danish word for a pan is ‘pande’ but in old Danish a small pan was called ‘penninge’, from which the word for ‘penge’ meaning ‘money’ possibly comes.
Another theory is that ‘penny’, ‘Pfennig’, ‘penge’, the English word ‘pawn’ (in the sense of a pledge), the German word ‘Pfand’ and the Scandinavian word ‘pant’ all share a common origin. Which theory is correct? We will probably never know for certain.
Jorvik (York) as a Trading Centre
Under Roman then Anglian control, Eboracum/Eoforwic had some trading links with continental Europe. But the Vikings, through their travels and seagoing adventures, had extremely well-developed routes and contacts which they were able to use for selling and exchanging goods over a very wide area. Once it became Jorvik, the town’s prosperity and importance as a trading centre grew rapidly. An unknown writer described Jorvik in 1000 AD as “...filled with the treasure of merchants, principally Danes”. This tells us that Jorvik was not only growing rich on trade, but also that it was the Vikings who were mainly involved in this. Many of the objects found by archaeologists at Jorvik show that trade extended well beyond northern England – and well beyond Britain too
Trade goods – Finds from Anglo-Scandinavian Jorvik include bowls and vessels made from soapstone, a soft rock which can be easily shaped into useful household containers. The soapstone probably came from the Shetland Islands or Norway. There have been finds of jewellery and dress items which came from Scotland and Ireland; lava quernstones, pottery and cloth from the Rhine; cloth from the Netherlands; and special stones from Scandinavia for sharpening tools and weapons. Also from Scandinavia came clubmoss, which was used to make colour dyes for cloth. Even pieces of silk have been found and this material came from the eastern Mediterranean. A coin from what we now call Uzbekistan has been found. Amber was also brought to Jorvik to be worked. A cowrie shell is amongst the archaeological finds at Jorvik and this type of exotic sea shell can only have come from the Red Sea area, which shows how far the Viking trade routes reached.
What was made in Viking Age Jorvik (York) ?
Jorvik (York) was not only a centre where goods were traded but also a place where things were made. There was manufacturing as well as commerce. There were those items made in the home, for use in the home – sort of one-off ‘do-it-yourself’ items; then there were the goods made in larger quantities and meant for bartering or selling in a wider market.
The working of iron and other metals was an important industry in Viking Age Jorvik (York) and the archaeological finds include manufactured items and a variety of metalworking tools.
Before the Vikings settled in Jorvik (York), pottery seems to have been fairly crude and hand-made as one-off, home-produced items. When the Vikings settled there appeared more-standardised, wheel-thrown and kiln-fired pottery, which could be mass produced for local sale and for trading elsewhere. This was probably due more to influences from continental Europe in general and not the Scandinavians in particular. No remains of Viking Age pottery kilns have yet been found in Jorvik (York) but some must have existed quite close by.
Glass vessels and window-glass were not very common in Viking Age England, yet there is evidence at Jorvik of glassmaking on a small scale, probably for small items such as beads and finger rings.
As well as glass, a number of other materials were used for jewellery-making, including amber, jet, copper and precious metals. Jewellery-making in metal seems to have been carried out in Jorvik (in part, at least) by the same smiths who mainly worked with iron, though there were also probably specialist jewellers with whom the smiths may have cooperated from time to time.
This was very important in Jorvik (York). Lathe-turned plates, bowls and cups made from wood seem to have been in wider use in Jorvik than pottery ones. Indeed, the present-day name of the street where the Jorvik Viking Centre is situated, Coppergate, has nothing to do with copper but comes from the two Old Norse words ‘koppari’ (= cup maker) and ‘gata’ (= street). Evidence of the presence in this area of Viking Age woodturners has been found by archaeologists in the form of both finished items and waste materials. It is probable that, like the smiths, woodturners were plentiful and were serving a large market. Other woodworkers would include the makers of ‘stave’ items (barrels, churns and buckets), shipbuilders, and constructional carpenters.
The excavations at Jorvik have shown that wool and flax textiles were produced there. Finds include wool combs, spindles and whorls, loom weights, pin beaters, needles, shears and linen smoothers. The Jorvik textile producers used a range of natural dyes for their cloths. Textile production was a home-based activity and much of the production would have been for home use. It is not clear whether a surplus was produced for export to places further afield. Silk offcuts and a silk headscarf suggest that at least some textile workers were handling imported material.
Leather-working was carried on in Jorvik as an industry. Shoe lasts and well-preserved shoes have been excavated, along with a great quantity of leather offcuts and some tools. Leather was used for shoes, belts, straps, weapon sheaths and harness. The raw material would be the leather made by tanning the hides of animal skins, after they had been butchered for meat.
Bone and antler
The bones and antlers of animals were the ‘plastic’ of the Viking Age. They are easily carved, shaped and drilled and were used for a range of items such as spindle whorls, scoops and strainers, ice skates, whistles and flutes, combs, gaming pieces, pins and needles. Bone and antler were also used to add decoration to such things as wooden chests and boxes. There certainly seems to have been a great demand for combs and perhaps there is some truth in the story that Anglo-Saxon women preferred to take Viking husbands as they bathed regularly and combed their hair ! Then again, the abundance of combs may simply show that they were an essential item for getting rid of head lice.!