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View Poll Results: Are Vikings Over-Romanticized?

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Thread: Are Vikings overrated?

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    Are Vikings overrated?

    Let me begin with this, I don't mean to offend anyone this is just a question I am curious about. There are many who feel that the Viking age has been over-romanticized and they are in fact not as fierce of warriors as many would make them out to be. I am just curious about your opinions on the matter, you can state whether you feel they are or they aren't. Giving reasons to back your answers would also be appreciated.

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    3 members found this post helpful.
    I have to give them a credit for finding niche where they could benefit the most. By nature they were robbers of unsuspected populations using quick attacks and seizing the wealth. I'm not sure why this side of Vikings got romanticized. As skilfull and expansionist as they were they never amounted to building an empire. Probably because they came from north and north never had enough food to produce big population to create big army.
    On plus side they were also hard working farmers, very good sailors and traders with trading posts around Europe. They are also credited of organizing populations around Kiev giving start to the Russ, also known as Russia.
    Be wary of people who tend to glorify the past, underestimate the present, and demonize the future.

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    Elite member hope's Avatar
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    3 members found this post helpful.
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    No, I don`t feel the Vikings [Norse] were overrated. To an extent I feel they are probably underrated.

    In regards to their abilities as warriors, I think you need only look at the lands they settled and held, none of which was done by saying "please"..from Dublin, York, Normandy etc..we all know these things so no need to list them all.
    They acted as personal bodyguards to the Byzantine emperors and fought in their armies [ Varangian Guard] obviously because they were seen as able fighters. I know a little politics was also at play, they were seen more trustworthy because they did not have a personal claim in the land, but this alone would not be the reason they were chosen.
    They took part in the Byzantine naval expedition 902 and 949 to Crete and fought in Syria as part of the army 955.
    Here in Ireland you recall the famous elite mercenaries, the Gallowglass. They were highly prized by the Irish chiefs [who themselves were pretty good fighters!]. These Gallowglass were made up of Norse-Gaels from Scotland. The Irish chiefs employed them also as bodyguards and personal aides
    To be used in this manner, must surely be evidence of their fighting skills.

    On a final note, remember the Beserkers. They fought to the death and worked themselves into such a frenzy that even after battle their own companions could sometimes not approach them until they had cooled off [ probably drug related]..
    Last edited by hope; 19-06-13 at 15:43.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    I think its supposed over-romantization today is due to the impact left by some nationalist English historians of Victorian era when they rediscovered the Icelandic sagas and (which idolized them as 'supernatural- warriors' in literature)..
    But why do you, a Portuguese, care about it, a thing too distant for you? Such one worshipping sounds harmless to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Balder View Post
    I think its over-romantization is due to the Victorian era

    That`s a good point. I know the "Noble Celts" got very much this treatment in the Victorian era.

    Actually when you think about it, did the vikings really get romanticised in the same way? Have they not always been recalled as those horrible "heathen" savages ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hope View Post
    That`s a good point. I know the "Noble Celts" got very much this treatment in the Victorian era.

    Actually when you think about it, did the vikings really get romanticised in the same way? Have they not always been recalled as those horrible "heathen" savages ?
    You are right. From polish schools I knew them only as scary robbers/bandits in boats. I think we can thank Hollywood for making heroes out of them.
    Last edited by LeBrok; 19-06-13 at 18:45.

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    2 members found this post helpful.
    In medieval times, Vikings got an extremely bad press from the anglo-saxon and frankish church for their paganism and raids. This was exaggerated, actually only a minority of Vikings were raiders, most were traders. In later times (19th century) when national movements became popular, the Vikings, among others, were idealized by some as symbols of independence from roman/greek and christian influence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Balder View Post
    I think its supposed over-romantization today is due to the impact left by some nationalist English historians of Victorian era when they rediscovered the Icelandic sagas and (which idolized them as 'supernatural- warriors' in literature)..
    But why do you, a Portuguese, care about it, a thing too distant for you? Such one worshipping sounds harmless to me.
    I`m curious on people`s opinions on the subject, can I not be curious or something? To talk about history or views on it, it doesn't necessarily have to be your own.. I almost thought that this forum was about History but clearly I can't discuss other history other than my own.

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    Regular Member Barantes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hope View Post
    That`s a good point. I know the "Noble Celts" got very much this treatment in the Victorian era.

    Actually when you think about it, did the vikings really get romanticised in the same way? Have they not always been recalled as those horrible "heathen" savages ?
    Maybe they did, I'm honestly not too sure how the Celts were potrayed in the Victorian era.

    I feel the media have made people view it as a good thing in a way, their savagery is what makes people so fascinated by them, most people I talk to seem to be absolutely fascinated by them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barantes View Post
    I`m curious on people`s opinions on the subject, can I not be curious or something? To talk about history or views on it, it doesn't necessarily have to be your own.. I almost thought that this forum was about History but clearly I can't discuss other history other than my own.
    Sometimes from posts, short written sentences, it is hard to figure out if people are serious, joking, sarcastic, or whatever they feel.
    Try growing a thicker skin to feel better in this international community. Like Vikings did. :)
    Welcome to Eupedia.

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    Regular Member Barantes's Avatar
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    Thanks, and I'm not offended or anything I just don't see what's the point of pointing out that I'm Portuguese has to do with me asking the question. Maybe if I descended from a Viking I would be fit to ask the question or something haha

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    I don't know about their intelligence or morals, but Vikings always fought their own battles, so I respect that.

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    NO.

    The opposite is true IMO.

    The Vikings didn't really ever write their own history. Our sources are mainly Christian monks who ofc despised the pagan Vikings. The image these monks managed to pass on to the later generations is of uncivilised, unwashed savages whose only interests lie in stealing and murdering.

    It is not true of course as the Vikings were great craftsmen (longships were very technologically advanced for example) and, as someone already mentioned, the majority of them (like the majority of most people) would've been peaceful farmers, hunters, fishermen, etc - not murderers or thieves or adventurers.

    I've found however that many Scandinavians love to think of the Vikings as brutal savages.. Men, in particular. They love to talk about how well they fought and aren't interested in finding out what they really were like.

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    That's what I'm getting at, they're being remembered for something that a minority did rather than what the majority actually were, I think they're being remembered a glorified for the wrong reasons. Mainly because, like you said, the Christian monks gave them a bad image and discounted many of their accomplishments and passed them off as murderous, plundering savages etc... you know the story. It's a twisted view of what they were really like

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    I think we can thank Hollywood for making heroes out of them.
    And thet new series running "Vikings" lol. [Actually a bit of a disappointment that one IMO.] ..[except for the theme music which is rather good]

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barantes View Post
    . It's a twisted view of what they were really like
    Not really Barantes, they were pretty brutal. Yet that`s not all they were.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hope View Post
    And thet new series running "Vikings" lol. [Actually a bit of a disappointment that one IMO.] ..[except for the theme music which is rather good]
    I like it, it keeps me entertained for an hour after game of thrones ends

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    Quote Originally Posted by hope View Post
    Not really Barantes, they were pretty brutal. Yet that`s not all they were.
    Like most people in that time, you look through history and people don't really conquer lands through not being brutal. I don't really see Viking brutality as different from other people's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hope View Post
    And thet new series running "Vikings" lol. [Actually a bit of a disappointment that one IMO.] ..[except for the theme music which is rather good]
    I pretty much agree with all of your comments on this thread Hope, except for one. I think the main musical theme of "Vikings" should have been a part of Mari Boine's song which I'm having problems linking to on this site. It has 160,000+ views and the particular piece I'm referring to runs over eight minutes. Give it a few minutes of listening time and you'll see what I'm talking about. EDIT-- Eagle Brother is the title of the song.

    Close your eyes and picture yourself a member of an opposing tribe while you're listening to this music, a tribe that the Vikings are going to invade next.

    It's a cold, misty evening. Like most of the evenings you've experienced in your life. The sun is setting. The same peoples playing this song are coming for you. Their boats are faster than your boats. They are bigger than you. They are stronger than you. They are meaner than you. Death does not scare them... they are all looking forward to dying... in battle. They want only to take part in the great hunt in the next world.

    Instead of guitars, picture those guys in the video carrying battle axes. The Grizzly Adams look-a-like isn't banging on his drums, he's now paddling his boat. And don't get me started on the Viking women... they are part of this impending invasion.

    They mean harm. And they are looking forward to it.

    End scene.
    Last edited by nordicwarrior; 20-06-13 at 03:39.

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    **EDIT**

    Eagle Brother... Oslo Opera House 2009 Mari Boine

    Goaskin... can't spell it.

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    I also do not consider the Norsemen [Vikings/Varangians] as "overrated" or over-romanticized;

    Bold adventurers and warriors that created a settlement and trade-network from Greenland - Nowgorod;
    All connected with a great culture which is everlasting manifested in the Norse Mythology and Sagas;


    Sure, the Norseman also suffered great defeats, like the Siege of Dorostolon;
    But their reputation in bravery and loyalty (also cruelty) was so greatly appreciated that they were largely employed as mercenaries and guards by other foreign Kingdoms and Rulers;
    Their christianised descendants the Normans, were masters of the pitched battle; (tragically) defeating the Varangian Guard (Byzantine) in the Battle of Dyrracheum; [Varangians were the only ones fighting, the Byzantines largely fled the field]

    The Norsemen did get a good press in the medieval times from Ahmad ibn Fadlan;
    very interesting chronicle and account;

    Also to note (trade) the settlement of Haithabu (Queen of the Baltic);

    Famous Piraeus Lion - inscriptions from Norse mercenaries [in Byzantine service]

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    Quote Originally Posted by nordicquarreler View Post
    I pretty much agree with all of your comments on this thread Hope, except for one. I think the main musical theme of "Vikings" should have been a part of Mari Boine's song which I'm having problems linking to on this site. It has 160,000+ views and the particular piece I'm referring to runs over eight minutes. Give it a few minutes of listening time and you'll see what I'm talking about. EDIT-- Eagle Brother.

    Close your eyes and picture yourself a member of an opposing tribe while listening to this song, one that Vikings are going to invade next.

    It's a cold, misty evening. Like most of the evenings you've experienced in your life. The sun is setting. The people playing this music are coming for you. Their boats are faster than your boats. They are bigger than you. They are stronger than you. They are meaner than you. Death does not scare them... they are all looking forward to dying... in battle. They want only to take part in the great hunt in the next world.

    Instead of guitars, picture those guys in the video carrying battle axes. Grizzly Adams isn't banging on drums, he's paddling the boat. And don't get me started on the Viking women...

    They mean harm. And they are looking forward to it.

    End scene.


    Yes, I will check that piece out

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    Quote Originally Posted by hope View Post
    And thet new series running "Vikings" lol. [Actually a bit of a disappointment that one IMO.] ..[except for the theme music which is rather good]
    I have same feelings about this series. Maybe my expectations were too high. :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nobody1 View Post

    Also to note (trade) the settlement of Haithabu (Queen of the Baltic);

    [in Byzantine service]
    Did you ever find any references of Vikings in Island of Volin (Wolin), between current Poland and Germany.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nobody1 View Post
    Their christianised descendants the Normans, were masters of the pitched battle; (tragically) defeating the Varangian Guard (Byzantine) in the Battle of Dyrracheum; [Varangians were the only ones fighting, the Byzantines largely fled the field]
    It is a great argument to the discussion who is more social and who's more individualistic. Bunch of brothers sticking together til death.

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