Viking index
The Netherlands
Rorik's headquarters Famous vikings
Viking settlements
Viking mythology
Female vikings
Viking tressure


General history

The Vikings were adventurous seafarers and raiders from Scandinavia who spread through Europe and the North Atlantic in the period of vigorous Scandinavian expansion (800-1100 CE) known as the Viking Age. From Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, they appeared as traders, conquerors, and settlers in Finland, Russia, Byzantium, France, England, Iceland, Greenland and.... the Netherlands.

For many centuries before the year 800, such tribes as the Cimbrians, Goths, Vandals, Burgundians, and Angles had been wandering out of Scandinavia. The Vikings were different because they were sea warriors and they carried with them a civilization that was in some ways more developed than those of the lands they visited. Scandinavia was rich in iron, which seems to have stimulated Viking cultural development. Iron tools cleared the forests and plowed the lands, leading to a great increase in population. Trading cities such as Birka and Hedeby appeared and became the centers of strong local kingdoms.

The Viking ship, with its flexible hull and its keel and sail, was far superior to the overgrown rowboats still used by other peoples. Kings and chieftains were buried in ships, and the rich grave goods of these and other burial sites testify to the technical expertise of the Vikings in working with textiles, stone, gold and silver, and especially iron and wood.
The graves also contain Arab silver, Byzantine silks, Frankish weapons, Rhenish glass, and other products of an extensive trade. In particular, the silver kufic (or cufic) coins that flowed into the Viking lands from the caliphate further stimulated economic growth. Viking civilization flourished with its skaldic literature and eddic poetry, its runic inscriptions, its towns and markets, and, most of all, its ability to organize people under law to achieve a common task- such as an invasion.

Expansion was apparently propelled by the search for new trading opportunities and new areas in which to settle the growing population. By the end of the 8th century, Swedish Vikings were already in the lands around the Gulf of Finland, Danish Vikings had settled along the Dutch coast, and Norwegian Vikings had colonized the Orkney and Shetland islands.

More history