The Vikings in History

The Vikings in History

The Vikings in History

The Vikings in History

Synopsis

The second edition of this lively and comprehensive book provides a forceful reassessment of the role of the Vikings in history. Drawing on archaeological, literary, as well as historical evidence, the author describes the Viking expeditions overseas, and their transformation from terrifying raiders to assimilated settlers whose rich culture played an influential role in European civilization.

Excerpt

A word of explanation to the reader for the intrusion by an historian of the late middle ages into the holy places of early medieval history.

Few epochs are of more genuine interest to the historian than the epoch of Viking-age Europe. Into the consciousness of western Europe came hordes of northmen, spilling out of the lands of Scandinavia, lands hitherto vaguely known and little considered. It is a period which invites the professional historian with other research interests to investigate its general lines of development, to search out results of recent specialized scholarship, and to identify the historical problems being addressed and still to be solved. It is a story worth telling, and the story told here is focused on the Viking expeditions, the Vikings on their way across seas, through river systems, and even overland; the Vikings abroad. The contact of the Vikings with the outside world during the period roughly 800 to 1050 has given a European—perhaps, some might say, even a world—dimension to their story and has given rise to the Viking age. Such a period, it is fervently hoped, can profit from a fresh look by an outsider.

Steering this outsider from perilous shoals and hidden reefs are good friends and faithful guides. Chief among these is Dr Janet Nelson, who read the text throughout and provided me with the benefit of her broad knowledge of the period, her acute historical judgement, and the encouragement needed to persevere. It is a debt only partially repaid by a much improved text. Professor Henry R. Loyn has read the manuscript twice for the publisher, and his perceptive comments and enthusiasm for the project are greatly appreciated. Parts of the text were generously read by Dr Marlyn Lewis, Mr A.F.O’Brien, and Dr David Smith.

Information concerning the Goddard coin was supplied by Dr Bruce J. Bourque of the Maine State Museum in Augusta, Maine. Numerous inquiries to the staff at the Emmanuel College Library were greeted promptly and cheerfully with accurate information,

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