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Why Did the Vikings Pillage and Plunder?


April 14, 2014 by Jen Cudmore

I spent the weekend finishing up the rough draft of my second Viking manuscript and started getting excited about my series. I can’t wait to share it with you! But for now, here’s a few tidbits about why the Vikings raided….

(The image above was used with permission from Alaskan cartoonist Chad Carpenter and Tundra Comics.)

The Viking age is typically described as a violent time in world history because of all the raids. The attacks, rather than the daily life and culture, seem to be the focus of most historical documentation. The Vikings were clearly skilled warriors who were very tough and intimidating (even without horned helmets!)

However, I found as I did more research for the backdrop for my novels that the understanding of this period and culture is slowly evolving. The more current archaeological findings paint a more ‘passive’ picture of the Vikings who considered family relations a priority.

Clearly the Viking Age was wrought with violence. So why attack and conquer, pillage and plunder? Was it merely due to greed and the desire for power? Scholars can’t seem to pinpoint one exact reason, but from the information I’ve read, there are three common suppositions.

1)      The search for greater wealth. The Vikings came to realize the only way to expand was to leave their homeland and begin trading goods with other countries. Rather than simply trading, they decided to stay and take over some of the places they visited.

2)      The sense of adventure. The Vikings may have grown tired of their simple life and longed for more. Their curiosity and bravery took them to places they’d never been, and each discovery fed their desire to see more.

3)      The necessity of more quality land. The Vikings were mostly farmers and shepherds. The amount of fertile land available in Scandinavia is limited, so in order to expand and meet the needs of the population, they had to find additional land.

I personally think it was probably a combination of all three. Please comment below and share your thoughts on why the Vikings raided other villages and countries!

And join me in a couple weeks for my next post about Vikings – and their ships!

(For other posts Viking posts click here)


Disclaimer: Please note that I don’t claim to be an expert on Vikings! I’ve done  a lot of research as a backdrop for my upcoming novels, and I simply wish to express my interpretation of the information I’ve learned. My goal is to dispel the myths and create a better understanding of the Viking people. If you feel I’ve misinterpreted any of the facts, please send me an email!

©Jen Cudmore 2014, All Rights Reserved

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