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Historical Tidbit Thursdays - Vikings in the Middle Ages - #TidbitThursday

I picked up a wonderful book titled "The Middle Ages" by M. Bishop (ISBN#0-8281-0487-5) which featured an informative section on the Vikings.

Most people don't realize that the Middle Ages encompasses more than just castles and knights. This period of history actually covers a wide range of dates - from the 400's AD up until the 1400's AD.

Vikings began as Germanic farmers in Scandinavia before spreading out to Iceland (9th century) and then Greenland. In 810, they made it to modern-day France. In 859, they arrived at the Mediterranean, eventually moving down to Italy.

Their shallow-draft ships allowed them to attack along river routes and to come close to shores for quick attacks. Their reputations for ferocity terrorized the citizens into easy surrender.

Over a course of forty years, Paris was attacked four times and burned twice.

Drakken or "dragon ships" were sixty feet long. Their keel was made up of a single, straight tree trunk. The ribs were clinker-built whereby the piece were tied to the framework with thongs. The ship carried a single mast with a sail made from strips of a woolen cloth. A typical crew consisted of thirty-five men who lived and slept on the open, exposed top deck. Oars were only used when the wind was too weak to fill the sail. They didn't have compass or instruments to guide them so they relied on "dead reckoning" and by observing the flight path of migrating birds.

Vikings wore ring mail and red cloaks.

In 911, King Charles the Simple of West Francia formed a pact with the Viking Chief Rollo for peace. Rollo became Duke of the newly-created Normandy.

In Britain, Vikings were called Danes who arrived there in 787. In 853, the Vikings set up the capital of Dublin in Ireland. Their territory in England was called Danelaw. The Danes acted as nobles and demanded tribute of silver coins in exchange for peace. This tribute was known as Danegeld.

Search your local library for this book or you can find it on amazon:

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