You might think that everything I know about Vikings came from the TV show. But, you are partly wrong. Yes, I have become quite the fan of the History channel’s “docudrama” but, what the show did was just amplify my need to further my History knowledge.
I was first introduced to the Vikings when I was a little girl and like most, pictured them in their savage ways, wearing their horned helmets, brutally conquering lands, and pilfering their assets. But as with most things that piqued my interest, I would search the volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica until my hunger was satiated. I remember my grandfather always defending the expensive purchase to my grandmother whenever he found me buried in the volumes of information. That encyclopedia was my Google at the time and really had everything I hungered for. It helped me through my elementary and high school years…
As with most things I researched at the time, I looked them up and then I was done. But, not until I burned my grandparents’ ears off and anyone else who would listen to my long monologues filled with what they saw as useless information.
The Vikings were romance at its best! Not romance lovey dovey, but romance as in dark, depressing, fatal… I was into all that stuff after being exposed to Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee”.
Sadly, because of a lack of written language, our knowledge of Viking history is not as full as it could be. It is through the writings of English monks that we know what we know of these people and the Icelandic sagas, written down 200 years after the conversion to Christianity.
A Little on Vikings
They came from the areas we now know as Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. We also know they were not civilized, and that they were Pagans. They did not have formal education and their main reason for conquering the British Isles and other parts of Europe was to gain riches. They were, however, enticed by the lush lands and many decided to stay and farm the land.
They were ruthless. They raided and pillaged many monasteries for their gold and gemstones. They were also an astute people taking advantage of the turmoil in the lands they entered and making pacts to defend one side over the other. One notable case was in Frankia (Germany and France) in the year 840, when the son of emperor Louis the Pious, Lothar sought the support of a Viking fleet in a power struggle with his brothers. This led to other similar cases where riches were exchanged for protection.
In the mid-ninth century, Ireland, Scotland, and England had a large population of Vikings. They settled there and continued their raids. They controlled the Northern Isles of Scotland, the Hebrides, and much of mainland Scotland. They also founded Ireland’s first trading towns and used this base on the Irish coast to launch attacks within Ireland and across the Irish Sea to England.
Similar waves of conquests and attack continued and have been recorded from 800 to 1066, when Harold Godwinesson, the son of Edward the Confessor’s most powerful noble was defeated by William, Duke of Normandy also of Scandinavian descent.
All of this fascinates me: the love affairs (Pagan/Christian), the sibling rivalries, the conquests, the clothing, the rituals… Ahhh, and the Religion and symbols.
Viking Religion and Symbols
The Vikings had several Gods and believed that many lived among them. And, like Christians, they had one God: Odin. Not the only God but the Allfather, God of warfare, justice, death, wisdom and poetry. So, unlike what most people think, the Vikings had no problem with Christianity’s God. They understood that He was their God.
- There was Thor known for his strength. He defended the Gods from the Giants with his hammer Miollnir. He was also the God of thunder.
- The God and Goddess of fertility were brother and sister Frey and Freyja.
- Loki was the God of fire and did many things that benefited the gods (and, some not too beneficial…).
- Tyr is also a Norse war God, but also the god who, more than any other, presides over matters of law and justice.
There were many other minor deities and spirits that roamed the Earth. Norse cosmology revolved around a World Tree known as Yggdrasil, with various realms existing alongside that of humans, named Midgard. These include multiple afterlife realms, several of which are controlled by a particular deity.
From their cosmology many symbols were born. Thor’s Hammer is probably the most recognizable. The World Tree is found in other religions and nowadays there are many adaptations and renditions.
Here are others you may not be familiar with or did not know were Viking!
knot of those fallen in battle
THE HELM OF AWE
magical defense against enemies
that which shows the way
There are many more Viking symbols but these are just a few that I like.
*I chose not to include the swastika, which among other positive things means luck and prosperity, because of its misuse by the Nazi party and the atrocities it represents to me. It simply lost all positive vibrations and I simply cannot add it. I know that my aim is to bring you information of the nature of Tesoros Jewelry, but I do not use it as inspiration. It is worth mentioning though that it was once a central symbol that was found as far back as the Bronze Age.
So, What do you think?
Leave me a comment!