History of the Viking Exodus

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Even though Scandinavians joined the European Bronze Age cultures fairly late through trade, Scandinavian sites present rich and well-preserved objects made of wool, wood and imported Central European bronze and gold. During this period Scandinavia gave rise to the first known advanced civilization in this area following the Nordic Stone Age. The Scandinavians adopted many central European and Mediterranean symbols at the same time that they created new styles and objects. Mycenaean Greece , the Villanovan Culture , Phoenicia and Ancient Egypt have all been identified as possible sources of influence in Scandinavian artwork from this period.

The foreign influence is believed to originate with amber trade, and amber found in Mycenaean graves from this period originates from the Baltic Sea.


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Several petroglyphs depict ships, and the large stone formations known as stone ships indicate that shipping played an important role in the culture. Several petroglyphs depict ships which could possibly be Mediterranean. From this period there are many mounds and fields of petroglyphs , but their signification is long since lost. There are also numerous artifacts of bronze and gold. The rather crude appearance of the petroglyphs compared to the bronze works have given rise to the theory that they were produced by different cultures or different social groups.

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No written language existed in the Nordic countries during the Bronze Age. The Nordic Bronze Age was characterized by a warm climate which is compared to that of the Mediterranean , which permitted a relatively dense population, but it ended with a climate change consisting of deteriorating, wetter and colder climate sometimes believed to have given rise to the legend of the Fimbulwinter and it seems very likely that the climate pushed the Germanic tribes southwards into continental Europe. During this time there was Scandinavian influence in Eastern Europe.

A thousand years later, the numerous East Germanic tribes that claimed Scandinavian origins Burgundians , Goths and Heruls , as did the Lombards , rendered Scandinavia Scandza the name "womb of nations" in Jordanes ' Getica. The Nordic Bronze Age ended with a deteriorating, colder and wetter climate. This period is known for being poor in archaeological finds. This is also the period when the Germanic tribes became known to the Mediterranean world and the Romans.

These two tribes, the Cimbri and the Teutons , initially inflicted the heaviest losses that Rome had suffered since the Second Punic War. The Cimbri and the Teutons were eventually defeated by the Roman legions. Initially iron was valuable and was used for decoration. The oldest objects were needles, but swords and sickles are found as well.

Bronze continued to be used during the whole period but was mostly used for decoration. The traditions were a continuity from the Nordic Bronze Age, but there were strong influences from the Hallstatt culture in Central Europe. They continued with the Urnfield culture tradition of burning corpses and placing the remains in urns.

From this time archaeologists have found swords, shieldbosses, spearheads, scissors, sickles, pincers, knives, needles, buckles, kettles, etc. Bronze continued to be used for torques and kettles, the style of which were a continuity from the Bronze Age. One of the most prominent finds is the Dejbjerg wagon from Jutland , a four-wheeled wagon of wood with bronze parts.


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  8. While many Germanic tribes sustained continued contact with the culture and military presence of the Roman Empire , much of Scandinavia existed on the most extreme periphery of the Latin world. With the exception of the passing references to the Swedes Suiones and the Geats Gautoi , much of Scandinavia remained unrecorded by Roman authors. In Scandinavia, there was a great import of goods, such as coins more than 7, , vessels , bronze images, glass beakers, enameled buckles, weapons, etc.

    Moreover, the style of metal objects and clay vessels was markedly Roman. Some objects appeared for the first time, such as shears and pawns. There are also many bog bodies from this time in Denmark, Schleswig and southern Sweden. Together with the bodies, there are weapons, household wares and clothes of wool. Great ships made for rowing have been found from the 4th century in Nydam mosse in Schleswig. Many were buried without burning, but the burning tradition later regained its popularity.

    Through the 5th century and 6th century, gold and silver became more common. Much of this can be attributed to the ransacking of the Roman Empire by Germanic tribes, from which many Scandinavians returned with gold and silver. The early Germanic Iron Age is the period when the Danes appear in history, and according to Jordanes , they were of the same stock as the Swedes suehans , suetidi and had replaced the Heruls.

    During the fall of the Roman empire, there was an abundance of gold that flowed into Scandinavia, and there are excellent works in gold from this period. Gold was used to make scabbard mountings and bracteates ; notable examples are the Golden horns of Gallehus. After the Roman Empire had disappeared, gold became scarce and Scandinavians began to make objects of gilded bronze, with decorations of interlacing animals in Scandinavian style.

    The early Germanic Iron Age decorations show animals that are rather faithful anatomically, but in the late Germanic Iron Age they evolve into intricate shapes with interlacing and interwoven limbs that are well known from the Viking Age. Since prehistoric times, [3] [4] the Sami people of Arctic Europe have lived and worked in an area that stretches over the northern parts of the regions now known as Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Russian Kola Peninsula.

    They have inhabited the northern arctic and sub-arctic regions of Fenno-Scandinavia and Russia for at least 5, years. The Sami have been recognized as an indigenous people in Norway since according to ILO convention , and hence, according to international law, the Sami people in Norway are entitled special protection and rights. During the Viking Age , the Vikings Scandinavian warriors and traders raided, colonized and explored large parts of Europe, the Middle East, northern Africa, as far west as Newfoundland.

    The age of settlement began around AD [ citation needed ]. The Vikings invaded and eventually settled in Scotland [ citation needed ] , England [ citation needed ] , Greenland [ citation needed ] , the Faroe Islands [ citation needed ] , Iceland [ citation needed ] , Ireland [ citation needed ] , Livonia [ citation needed ] , Normandy [ citation needed ] , the Shetland Islands , Sicily , Rus' and Vinland , on what is now known as the Island of Newfoundland [ citation needed ].

    Swedish settlers were mostly present in Rus, Livonia, and other eastern regions while the Norwegians and the Danish were primarily concentrated in western and northern Europe [ citation needed ]. The western-led warriors, eventually known as Vikings, left great cultural marks [ citation needed ] on regions such as French Normandy , England, and Ireland, where the city of Dublin was founded by Viking invaders.

    Iceland first became colonized in the late 9th century [ citation needed ].

    Ireland's First Viking Age (800-875)

    Viking religious beliefs were heavily connected to Norse mythology. Vikings placed heavy emphasis on battle, honor and focused on the idea of Valhalla , a mythical home with the gods for fallen warriors. Christianity in Scandinavia came later than most parts of Europe. In Denmark Harald Bluetooth Christianized the country around Olaf and Olaf II had been baptized voluntarily outside of Norway. Olaf II managed to bring English clergy to his country. Norway's conversion from the Norse religion to Christianity was mostly the result of English missionaries.

    As a result of the adoption of Christianity by the monarchy and eventually the entirety of the country, traditional shamanistic practices were marginalized and eventually persecuted. Sweden required a little more time to transition to Christianity, with indigenous religious practices commonly held in localized communities well until the end of the eleventh century. A brief Swedish civil war ensued in primarily reflecting the divisions between practitioners of indigenous religions and advocates of Christianity; by the mid-twelfth century, the Christian faction appeared to have triumphed; the once resistant center of Uppsala became the seat of the Swedish Archbishop in The Christianization of Scandinavia occurred nearly simultaneously with the end of the Viking era.

    The adoption of Christianity is believed to have aided in the absorption of Viking communities into the greater religious and cultural framework of the European continent. The countries had given up their sovereignty but not their independence, and diverging interests especially Swedish dissatisfaction over the Danish and Holsteinish dominance gave rise to a conflict that would hamper it from the s until its final dissolution in No more Danish attempts would be made to re-create the Kalmar Union following this war.

    The Protestant Reformation came to Scandinavia in the s, and Scandinavia soon became one of the heartlands of Lutheranism. Catholicism almost completely vanished in Scandinavia, except for a small population in Denmark. The Thirty Years' War was a conflict fought between the years and , principally in the Central European territory of the Holy Roman Empire but also involving most of the major continental powers.

    Although it was from its outset a religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics, the self-preservation of the Habsburg dynasty was also a central motive. The Danes and then Swedes intervened at various points to protect their interests. The period began in and lasted till Christian IV had profited greatly from his policies in northern Germany Hamburg had been forced to accept Danish sovereignty in , and in the Danish heir apparent was made Administrator of the Prince-Bishopric of Verden.

    In he became Administrator of the Prince-Archbishopric of Bremen too. It also helped that the French regent Cardinal Richelieu was willing to pay for a Danish incursion into Germany. Christian IV invaded at the head of a mercenary army of 20, men, but the Danish forces were severely beaten, and Christian IV had to sign an ignominious defeat, the first in a series of military setbacks to weaken his kingdom. The Swedish intervention began in and lasted until Some within Ferdinand II 's court believed that Wallenstein wanted to take control of the German princes and thus gain influence over the emperor.

    Ferdinand II dismissed Wallenstein in He later recalled him after Gustavus Adolphus attacked the empire and prevailed in a number of significant battles. Gustavus Adolphus, like Christian IV before him, came to aid the German Lutherans to forestall Catholic aggression against their homeland and to obtain economic influence in the German states around the Baltic Sea.

    Denmark - The Ancient Web

    From —, they drove the Catholic forces back and regained much of the occupied Protestant lands. The Swedish rise to power began under the rule of Charles IX. During the Ingrian War Sweden expanded its territories eastward. Several other wars with Poland, Denmark-Norway, and German countries enabled further Swedish expansion, although there were some setbacks such as the Kalmar War. Sweden began consolidating its empire. Several other wars followed soon after including the Northern Wars and the Scanian War.

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    Denmark suffered many defeats during this period. Finally under the rule of Charles XI the empire was consolidated under a semi-absolute monarchy. It started by a coordinated attack on Sweden by the coalition in and ended with the conclusion of the Treaty of Nystad and the Stockholm treaties. As a result of the war, Russia supplanted Sweden as the dominant power on the Baltic Sea and became a major player in European politics.

    Both Sweden and Denmark-Norway maintained a number of colonies outside Scandinavia starting in the 17th century lasting until the 20th century. Denmark also maintained colonies in India, Tranquebar and Frederiksnagore. Sweden also chartered a Swedish East India Company. Scandinavia was divided during the Napoleonic Wars.

    History of the Viking Exodus

    Most of the Danish fleet was captured following the Second Battle of Copenhagen in The bombardment of Copenhagen led to an alliance with France and outright war with Britain, whose navy blockaded Denmark-Norway and severely impeded communication between the two kingdoms and caused a famine in Norway.

    Sweden, allied with Britain at the time, seized the opportunity to invade Norway in but was beaten back. After the war, Denmark was forced to cede Heligoland to Britain. Sweden joined the Third Coalition against Napoleon in , but the coalition fell apart after the peace at Tilsit in , forcing Russia to become the ally of France. Russia invaded Finland in and forced Sweden to cede that province at the peace of Fredrikshamn in Since he was childless, Sweden chose as his successor the commander in chief of the Norwegian army, Prince Christian August of Augustenborg. However, his sudden death in forced the Swedes to look for another candidate, and once more they chose an enemy officer.

    Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte , Marshal of France , would be named the next king.