This is perhaps an attempt to put some of my own doubts to rest

This paper is about Vikings and violence. It is an attempt to transform the violence of the Viking raids, and of early medieval Europe in a wider sense, into something that amounts to more than a terse and uninformative annalistic account. Ever since first being taught about cruel, violence Vikings at primary school and how they raped their way across unsuspecting Britain and Ireland, I have been fascinated by the way the Northmen have been depicted. After reading on the subject as an undergraduate, the subject only became more interesting. This is perhaps an attempt to put some of my own doubts to rest.

It would be impossible in the space allowed to give a full and exhaustive analysis of both the actions of Viking invaders and native English and Irish warriors,a brief look at many issues is necessary for my argument. I have not included a narrative or even an overview of the Viking Age, simply because such information is readily available in many forms and is written by scholars far more qualified in the field. There was originally going to be an entire section on the Vikings in Francia, for which there is perhaps the best and most reliable evidence – and a discussion of the impact of post-Viking Age sagas on modern interpretations of Vikings, but there simply was not enough room.

It must also be said that the impact of neighbouring fields of inquiry such as archaeology and numismatics that have offered so much to the historian are unfortunately largely absent from the discussion here simply due to a lack of space. Although this piece concentrates mostly on written sources, and unashamedly draws from a revisionist tradition in secondary material in the Vikings, the same study could perhaps be conducted with just these disciplines in mind.

Gratitude is extended to Professor Ian Moxon, who though not a medievalist was kind enough to provide me with his excellent and very useful translation of the The Life of Anskar, which hopefully one day will see the light of day as a published piece for the benefit of other students without a good grasp of Latin.

Thanks also to those who read all or some of it during the making, especially Professor Ian Wood, Freddie, Peter and Tamsyn who pointed out the worst of the mistakes. I can only accept responsibility myself for the remainder of them.

Contributor: @psmith
Source: Violence, Society and Communication: the Vikings and Pattern of Violence in England and Ireland 793-860,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s