The period in world history known as The Viking Age started from around the year 793 and ended in 1066. During this time period, a large number of Scandinavians left their native lands to find fortunes in foreign territories.
These people, who are generally perceived as fearsome and barbaric invaders, were able to dominate a large section of the population for a few hundred years. But their power ultimately came to an end because of several occurrences. Before discussing the end of Viking age and what happened to the Vikings, it would be helpful to know who they were and what they did.
Who were the Vikings?
The Vikings did not belong to a specific ethnicity or religion. They were diverse people who came from different areas of the Scandinavian region, which are now known as Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. There are also some records that mention about Finnish, Estonian, and Saami Vikings.
The fact that they came from a foreign land, were not cultured as per the local values, and most importantly, not being Christians differentiated them from the other European population. It remains unclear as to why they left their homelands and traveled to great distances, mainly by sea and river. It may have been overpopulation, political instability, or a search for wealth.
Perhaps it was a combination of it all that compelled groups of men to follow their local ruler towards a foreign land. These people had a deep impact on the Europeans through trades and mostly through the raids.
The Viking raids
The first raid by the Vikings happened in A.D. 793 on the Lindisfarne monastery in the coastal area of northeastern England. This attack marks the beginning of the Viking age. In the following years, many coastal villages, monasteries, and even cities were raided by these north men.
The raids and expansions during the Viking age transformed into warfare, exploration, settlement, and trade. In the course of this period, around 200,000 Scandinavian people settled in other lands, including Newfoundland (Canada), Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Russia, Sicily, and the islands around Britain. They also traded widely with the Muslim world. However, be the end of the 11th century, the Viking age came to an end, mainly when their raids stopped. Read out the complete viking history, as about their age, era and culture.
End of the Viking Age:
The Viking age started falling when the Northmen stopped raiding. As established by historians, the Vikings were certainly warriors, but they also consisted of tradesmen, agriculturalists, merchants, seafarers, and peaceful immigrants. Raiding was a part-time occupation adapted by a small part of the population.
It was considered to be appropriate for young men only, mature men were expected to settle down, do farming, and raise a family.
Over the period, some changes were made in European society, causing the raiding to become less lucrative and not that desirable. These changes occurred not only in the Vikings but throughout Europe.
● At the beginning of the Viking age, a large number of Vikings were free, land-owning farmers having the resources to participate in raiding. They used to hire help to look after their farms when they were out on a raid. By the end, the number of wealthy men was reduced to a very small percentage as compared to a much larger number of landless men working on someone else’s land. Hence, they were unable to go on raiding.
● In the beginning, several European lands had no main commanding leaders, just petty kings, and local rulers. By the end, most of them had strong leadership as well as trained and professional armies. The Vikings who were neither trained nor organized were unsuccessful against them.
● The desirable targets for raids that did not have much security at the beginning were now fortified or modified, making them less exposed to attacks.
● The arrival of the Christian church in the Viking lands.
As the times changed, raids started to slow down, weakening the Vikings. However, the battle of Stamford Bridge marks the ceremonial end of the Viking age. This was the final Vikings invasion, which was repelled, and their king was killed by the English king and his army.
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By this time, most of the Scandinavian population were Christian and were now adapting to the culture of Christian Europe. Consequently, to the rest of Europe these people became Danes, Swedes, Norwegians, and Icelanders, and so on.
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